Harvesting Nightmares

Nightmares can be a harvesting delight for the would-be storyteller….a juicy portal into the psychological “bump in the night” terrors…a rich cramming of subconscious symbols and archetypes.

For me, the latest nightmare sequence complete with freshly awakened “creep out” started with me simply chatting with someone (a blend of people) that I know. We are walking down a hall and we walk past a door from my childhood. I feel a shiver of cold across my shoulders.

There is a noise behind that door. It’s like a combination of a cat hacking a hairball, a child crying and something evil laughing, all rolled together. I’m not sure what it is but the more I listen, the more I can hear pull out the sound of weeping.

The person I’m talking to says she’s just laughing. She’ll fall asleep soon.

I said no. Something isn’t right. I grip the doorknob and twist.

The room inside is dark…. A wide contrast to the sunlight beaming through the windows on the other side of the door. And the feel of the air is brooding and heavy.

It’s a bedroom. My little grandson’s former bedroom but it’s my daughter at age 3 sitting there in his small bed.

From the faint light I can see she is covered in blood. Her hair is in her face and her eyes are rimmed with black….but it isn’t her eyes that are looking at me.

They are cold fire. I’ve seen those eyes before in other dreams but it never looked at me from a loved one’s face. It is a demon and it’s wearing my daughter’s flesh.

I stare at her heartsick, afraid and unsure for the space of maybe two heartbeats before I run. I scoop her tiny body into my arms and run for the bathroom.

The water is running in the sink. I can’t see where any physical injuries are. I’m chanting an Indian protection song because nothing else is coming to mind. It’s like my memories and knowledge have been wiped or suppressed. The demon says in my head that It’s useless…I can’t save her. But I keep chanting….

My daughter, in her sweet child voice, says she’s thirsty but I can feel the demon rippling under her delicate skin.

I can’t trust to let go to fetch her a proper drink.

I feed her water from the bathroom sink with my hand. She drinks. And then she struggles. I’m washing blood from her face using the water and my hand. Sharp teeth, a mouth, opens from the hollow of her neck. The teeth, unnaturally sharp, graze my hand. I want to cry but I don’t.

I keep chanting.

I am angry. I am heartsick. I am determined to not let go. I feel the demon’s presence receding within this tiny body but so is my daughter’s life force…what can I do? I have no good choices.

What can I do?

I keep chanting because that’s all I can do. If I let go the demon will possess her forever, she will be devoured and I will unleash a terror on the world. But if I don’t … I can feel her slipping away. There has to be a way that I can save her.

I wake up chanting. It was only a dream….but though I’m awake I feel a cold, brooding dark presence lingering beside me in my bedroom.

It was just a dream.

I remember Emily telling me an old lady died in that room. I remember finding another pin hidden in the bedroom carpet, not one of mine, making it five in three months. Have I disrupted a protection circle? The fan’s blowing. I’m cold and it sounds like the hint of dark laughter.

The feeling of something dark in that room with me increases.

I turn on the light.

It’s a long time before I sink back to sleep. I tell myself I am a warrior and I’m steeped in God’s love. And I realize if I find that demon wearing a loved one’s skin in another dream though I feel revulsion for the evil I must also remember to pour love as well because love and joy evaporates evil like sun to the fog and humans thrive on love.

So now….I am writing the entire experience down in case I can use elements of it later for story. Some sort of positive for the awful experience of dreaming it. I have some ideas.

And I wonder—how many storytellers and artists use their nightmares…

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