Last night I had a very odd dream, with references to previous (recurring) dreams, interspersed with appearances from people I’ve met since:
The dream begins in rough marshy ground. There is a dredger visible in the distance, but only one of it’s two pumps appears to be working. I’m there with Claire, and we’re trying to pick our way across the reducing land to escape from the marsh, as the waters rise. Claire seems concerned that we may be cut off and stuck out here. A fog begins to fall around us, and visibility is reduced. The sun can just be made out, close to the horizon.
I find my way to a road – unmarked and single-track, but with tarmac. I’ve lost Claire somewhere, but this doesn’t seem to be of any major concern. I make my way along the road to a village, somewhat reminiscent in architecture and surroundings to those in the Yorkshire moors. The fog is clearing somewhat as I make my way through it’s streets and enter a public house. There, I order a drink and sit down.
At this point I realise that these things are not actually happening, but that I am telling them as a story. I am in the office at SmartData, sat at the meeting table. With me is my friend Sandy (a.k.a. Kink), and it’s to her that I’m relating this bizarre tale. The story is, in itself, based upon a recurring dream I had in about 1999/2000, in which I was spending a reasonable amount of time with Sandy, but I had not yet met other people who appear in the dream, such as Claire and Paul – these have been ‘added’ later. The story continues:
I sit at a corner table in the pub and sip my drink. Later, it begins to get busy. Three women come and join me at my table, and strike up conversation. Meanwhile, Paul wanders in and sits at one of the centre tables. For some reason, I recognise him, but cannot remember who he is or from where. He looks very thoughtful.
I large man with black hair and pale, drawn-out features enters the bar. Suddenly I am very afraid, because this man wants to kill me. I hide underneath the table as he announces that he’s looking for me. I wait until he leaves, and then reappear. The ladies I’m sat with are, of course, curious, and so I explain that it is me that the man is looking for. I decide that I am not safe here, finish my drink, and leave. Once outside, I continue down the street, wondering what to do next.
I see the man, at the opposite end of the street, running my way. I turn down a side street, and, upon reaching the next crossroads, am struck by a revelation – I’ve dreamt this before. The memory of this dream is fragmented within itself, but I can remember it nonetheless. I am still not aware that this, too, is a dream, but it starts to make sense: I foresaw this when I dreamt it before, and it is this same precognition that is having me recognise people (like Paul) that I’ve never met. I think hard, and remember that in the dream I turned right at this crossroads, and was later caught, and so instead I turn left. As the man rounds the corner I duck into a toy shop.
No, that’s not right – I did that last time, too. Same toy shop, but I’d turned right last time. No: maybe I made a mistake… or maybe I really can’t escape. I hear the man approaching the shop, so I rush down into it’s basement floor (childrens’ clothes, by the looks of things) and hide under a pile of coats. The man enters, and I hold my breath. But my cover worked, and he leaves. Again I’m struck by the memory of my dream, and I realise that this is what happened there, too: is there no escape from the increasingly-inevitable finale?
The sales assistant seems pissed off at my intrusion, so I buy one of the coats. Somehow, it’s too big for me, and I conceal myself within it. Every step I take, I remember as having already done, in my previous dream, but never soon enough in advance to reconsider and take a different course. And so it goes on, step by step, as I return to the bar, each step preordained – yet still unanticipated – as it falls.
I pause in my storytelling in anticipation of the next bit – the bit I’d been looking forward to telling Sandy. In this ‘reality’, the occurrences in the village are not dreams – not any more than the action of telling them to her was, in any case. However, I talked of it as if the dream I was remembering was just that; a dream. Within this convoluted little nightmare she was fascinated by the story. As I came to this, a convenient break point, Claire and Paul appeared in the hallway outside. Paul was wearing exactly the same clothes as he had been in the story.
During this break in the storytelling, I produced a hardback lined A4 pad, reminiscent of the ones in which I kept a diary during the years that I was at college, and for a little while afterwards. In the dream, I had kept several separate books, one for each of several friends who I saw less frequently than I would like, and whenever I’d had the chance to meet with them, I’d had them write a page or so in their book with an update of their life since their last entry. Sandy obliged, looking over some of her previous entries and reminiscing awhile, before adding a new entry. Then, I continued my story (again, feeling as if I am ‘acting it out’ at the time):
Re-entering the bar I am immediately confronted by my pursuer. I hide underneath the hood of my coat, and affect an accent when I talk in order to conceal my identity. It works, and, thrown off by my disguise, the man turns away, giving me a chance to escape. I retreat to the street, where I leap onto the back of a passing bus, and hang on as it drives off. The village disappears behind me.
At about this point, my alarm clock went off, bringing an end to the dream. Interpretations and comments welcome.