I have the most riotous dream life. I've mentioned it in this blog before. Some of my dreams are very enjoyable. Some of them are absolutely horrendous. The night before last was one of the horrendous variety.
I woke up in the early hours unable to breathe. At the same time I felt an incredible tension in my solar plexus, as if that was where the seat of my consciousness was located rather than in my brain. Why could I not breathe? Panic flooded my system as I became convinced that I was dying. Then suddenly the sensation was over. I sat up, drawing in great lungfuls of air and feeling incredibly grateful that I had not died.
I lay down again and fell back to sleep but what seemed only moments later exactly the same thing happened. This time I got out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. I washed my face and stared at myself in the mirror. I felt very disconnected from the image that gazed back at me. On my way back to the bedroom, it seemed to me that the atmosphere in my house had been altered in some way that I could not quite put my finger on.
I got back into bed and fell asleep for the third time, except that now my dream was merely a continuation of my anxiety. In the dream I picked up the torch beside my bed (perhaps I really did pick it up) and shone it on the window frame. It seemed to me that there was something not right about it. The edges had become blurred, and they shifted as I gazed at them.
Now I was certain that something was badly wrong and it came to me that I had to concentrate very hard to keep things from getting worse. I focused all my attention on the window frame, willing it to behave like a proper, solid object instead of this shifting, devious simulacrum. I felt that by doing so I was behaving like the boy who put his finger in the dyke to plug the leak and hold back the sea.
But the sea would not be thwarted. Suddenly there was a blinding flash of light and a creature leapt into the room from nowhere. It was about four feet high, looked more or less human but it was blue-green in colour and glowing with hypnagogic intensity. Its features were coarser than a human being's and they radiated malice. I had not the slightest doubt what it was doing here. It had come to kill me. Or possibly worse. Utter terror consumed me. I sat up in bed, yelling at the top of my voice.
Gradually I became aware that my wife had her arms around me. 'It's only a dream, Brian,' she was saying as I continued to stare into the corner of the room, hyperventilating, mumbling incoherently and refusing to accept that the creature had gone.
I know it sounds ludicrous - a four foot high blue-green demon. But at the time it was utterly real. More real, in fact, than anything that has happened since.