the dream of not realizing I’m dreaming

Huh. So usually going to a bathroom with a broken toilet and using it anyway is a sign that (a) I am dreaming and (b) I am about to wake up. I haven't dreamed this in a while, but I did tonight – I was in the house I grew up in, and the toilet was just gone, with a neat little hole in the floor, and I still casually pissed all over the floor where it used to be.

I even asked myself “hey, this feels like a dream toilet, am I dreaming?” but kept on proceeding as if it was not. Go figure. Maybe next time this happens I'll actually have a lucid dream or something. I would say that would be nice but I'm not sure I really have any idea what I'd do in one.

Oddly enough I did not wake up with a bursting bladder, either. Or in a puddle.

There were also some brief appearances by my mom in this dream. I haven't dreamt about her much lately. Not sure I've really dreamt much that lingers after waking at all, lately.

A fragment of memory

So. Let me tell you about a little sore tooth in my mind. A fragment of memory that just doesn’t fit with the narrative of the rest of my life as I remember it. Every now and then it bubbles up and I wonder what the hell was happening; the other day I went for a long walk through the park and… poked at it.
The scene: upstairs in a sunny house in New Orleans. Probably summer. Probably next to Bayou St. John. Probably around 1986-88.
There are two children sitting there listening to a man, dutifully taking notes. One of them is a skinny boy with black hair, who would eventually grow up to be me. One of them is a girl. Was she someone I knew in school? I don’t know. I don’t even have a solid memory of her ethnicity, let alone her name. The guy is white. I want to say he’s slim and possibly balding. I don’t have a solid memory of that either.
My brain says this is somehow related to Future Problem Solving, which was a thing I did in high school. Which is where I get the 1986 guess from.
But the content of what this man is telling me and this girl doesn’t seem to match with any kind of preparation for this very rational exercise in Creative Sci-Fi Thinking. Because I am being told a bunch of New Age sounding stuff about… well, that’s misty too. I mostly recall being shown diagrams. Concentric circles. Rounded off teardrops. A general sense of the text being about the Shape of Reality. Mystical stuff. In a relatively new book.

Something vaguely like this? I dunno. There were labels.

I dutifully took notes on a yellow legal pad. I don’t know if I copied any of the diagrams. Or wrote down the name of this book.
I don’t know where those notes went.
I don’t remember talking to this man ever again. Or anything else along these lines.
I have a memory of wondering what the hell this new age bullshit had to do with anything but this might actually be a memory of remembering this later on and wondering just that.
I’m pretty sure my mother was there. As was the other kid’s mother. I don’t know if she was listening to all this. I don’t remember talking with her about it later. And I can’t ask her about this any more; I’d have to perform a seance for that.
I can’t recall any more details. And to be honest I would be suspicious of the truth of any more details I managed to dredge up; I’ve read enough about how easy it is to get people to remember things that never happened.
It feels weird. It feels like something that tugging on hard enough could be the start of a paranoid conspiracy novel set in the eighties, with children being recruited and programmed into… well, pick your own narrative here, really. Indigo Children becoming soldiers in a secret psychic war or whatever.
My memory of most of my teenage years is a tapestry of holes. I’ve always just assumed it’s due to the depression I fell into after my father died; when every day is grey and sad despite the blazing New Orleans sun, it’s easy to disassociate and just… forget. But pulling this out into the light suggests an alternate story of… something. Something secret and buried and hidden from me.
Part of me is reluctant to talk about this publicly. What if there is some kind of Secret Society involved? What if They see this and decide it’s finally time to activate my programming or whatever? What if I really am in a Phillip K Dick novel instead of the sensible mundane life I’ve always thought I had? Maybe you’ve only ever heard of me because this was a test that I failed, so I was left to make my own way through the normal world instead of being a character in a real-life version of Psychonauts. Or the X-Men I guess but I’d rather imagine the goofy cartoon version.
I wish I could remember anything about the title of that book with the diagrams. Anything to ask Google about. But I can’t.
It might just be a dream I had. I’m pretty sure the time I walked into my parents’ bedroom at night when I was five and saw a glittering crystal cavern hidden behind their dresser was a dream, for instance. But this feels like a thing that really happened.
Welcome to the hole in my head. I don’t know how deep it goes. I don’t know if I want to find out.

the dream of the abrupt ending

So I was in a dream, looking for a broomstick with which to combat this guy who keept trying to take stuff off my dinner plate with his fork, as you do in dreams, when I flipped the light switch a couple of times.

There was an electric BZOWNF sound and everything went dark. Not all at once, there was a very quick left to right transition of, like, an all-encompassing grid of bright blue-white wire frames of cubes popping in and being replaced by the dark room within which I was now floating, kind of lying on my side in the air.

“helff”, I muttered, through a mouth pressed into a weird shape, as I drifted.

And then I was wide awake. Lying in the pillow pile in the same position I'd been lying in in the abruptly terminated dream, with my mouth mushed into the pillow.

7:17, the tablet said when I picked it up to write this. And now it's a few minutes later, and my alarm is about to go off, because I need to get up and get ready for the third day of Emerald City Comic-Con.

What the fuck. My brain just did a “turned off the holodeck” transition and threw me out of dreaming into full awareness. Good morning.

I can usually will myself to wake up at a certain time, if I do it when I go to sleep and am getting enough sleep between then and my intended wake time. But I didn't do that last night. I just set a few alarms. And I've never had a dream end that decisively and abruptly. What the hell, brain.

the dream of the constantly moving library

I was in a giant library, mostly full of pulp novels and comic books. Some parts of the floors were covered in boxes of books, and constantly moving as if there were conveyor belts underneath, moving the books around under the shelves.

There was also something about being locked in there by a couple people who wanted to kill the two protagonists of this dream for some arcane reasons I cannot remember. We snuck up on one and killed them and took their flamethrower.

Morning came, I and four other people left the library to certain death unless our plan succeeded, and then I woke up with the title track from BÖC's “Fire Of Unknown Origin” in my head.

the dream of horrible printing fuckups

I dreamed that I got the advance copy of the omnibus while preparing for a con. It looked great up until the middle, when it started having pages of other comics, and falling out of the binding, and then was just pages of solid color to the end of the book.

Then I looked at it again and it looked fine. And then I woke up. Guh.

the dream of the impossible printing error

I dreamed that my books had come in! The Rita omnibus was printed, huzzah!

But the body of the book was just big dark grey spaces. After a moment the images would slowly load in. Somehow I had sent the printers an InDesign file that linked to images on my website instead of having them embedded in the file, and somehow they had managed to print books that loaded the images off the net. Slowly.

Charlie Stross had a copy and tried to console me, saying it looked wonderful anyway, but I knew he was wrong. “It does when the net dies,” I moaned. “I've got to come up with $10,000 to reprint it. Oh god.” And then I flipped forwards onto the ground, miserable, and woke up in exactly the same position.

Luckily I am pretty sure this is not a problem that is physically possible to have.


the dream of cartoon pitches

I dreamed I was looking at a few pitches for cartoons.

One was about a bunch of foxes, and every time the size of the device you were watching it on changed, there would be more or less foxes. Obviously you would have to rotate your phone/tablet regularly to show this off. It did not have a name. I don't think The Mobile-First Foxes is a hit.

The other one was one of those shows set in normal suburbia with a twist. This shows twist was that everyone was a cartoon thigh bone with little legs at one end and a face on the other. It was called The Bonely Walking Boners, and was mostly an excuse to say “boner” a lot. I don't think my subconscious is allowed to come up with tv show ideas any more.

And now I get up and go to the last day of ECCC.

the dream of going home and visiting my mother’s shade

So there I was riding on top of a car, on my way back to the house I grew up in. I'd lost my socks on the way and my feet were chafing inside my shoes.

It was a bit of a post-apocalyptic hellscape but there were still a lot of cars on the road. Nobody was turning down onto Press, though. Everyone was staying on Chef Menteur. I hopped off the car and stood on the neutral ground, looking about. Even the fast food chains were abandoned on boarded up. Nobody wanted to live in this area any more.

But I went in. Passed a couple people walking. Got hassled by a dude on a bicycle with a lot of attitude. Who clearly was looking for someone to kill but I managed to get him to give up with the force of charisma. Hey, it was my dream, I can be incredibly charismatic if I like.

I made it to the house I grew up in. It was a giant mess. But my mom was there. Well, mostly. Her bedroom was dark and there was a vague shape on the bed, and a couple of things I was pretty sure were store-bought Get Well Soon balloons attached to various weights. But I couldn't see a damn thing in there. She was also puttering about the house, pointedly ignoring the fact that we both suspected that was her corpse in there.

Between intermittent attempts by that guy to kill me (and rollbacks when he succeeded, sometimes by really over the top methods like four airplanes firing grapples into the house and dragging it up off into the sky to uncertain doom), my mother took me up to a second floor that didn't exist in reality and showed me an old Bible. It was my grandfather's, and she wanted me to have it. I wouldn't read it, you know, I told her. And that was okay with her. She didn't care. But it meant something to her that I should take it. I dithered a bit, and accepted it.

Briefly it looked like things were getting better for the neighborhood – we thought we saw a taxi, there was a big crowd of policemen on bicycles passing through – but then it was just us and the guy who wanted to kill me, and the IR-sensing killer robot in the guise of a 3' tall grey-fur-covered rabbit, and his missile launcher. Cue a bunch of rapid rollbacks where I managed to evade this combo for about ten seconds longer each time, while trying to explain what was going on to my mother and pull her to safety too.

I woke up in the middle of that.

I'm going back to sleep. I don't feel ready to deal with the world after a dream like that.

the dream of the underground show pitch

I dreamed.

It started out as a web series. A man with an usual hobby: there were a few abandoned underground installations nearby. He would find his way in, go to the bottom, then challenge himself to find his way back up without ever using stairs/elevators/etc – he was constantly cutting his way through the ceilings, MacGyvering solutions up. Lots of first-person views with narration over it. Lots of cameras dropped here and there to watch him doing stuff.

Then the plot thickened. There were old experiments in there. Changed humans. Who wanted out, who wanted things he'd found. Just one or two or three. All fast, each deadlier than the last. He was hunted through the place, having to take them out one by one.

Until he defeated the last one in a way that had him and the last experiment thrown into a parallel world. An industrialized world, full of city, full of highways, where he knew nothing of the language. He had a moment of realization when he saw the same word on a packet of snacks and on a truck; he followed the truck and discovered the snacks were some kind of curled potato snack, began to decipher the language. Hid the envelope full of Dark Secrets (which may have been slightly malignly sentient?) from the underground installation's depths in the back of a file cabinet in the trucking office, while befriending the truckers and learning the language.

Then there were other shenanigans in this parallel world. The whole place felt vaguely run-down; not quite post-holocaust but post-something. A little post-communist Russia, perhaps. Standing on a rarely-used freeway overpass, throwing fireworks at soldiers who were firing back with live weapons, because he was just supremely devil-may-care and wanted to impress some gang of juvenile delinquents. Getting chased by some pack of semi-tribal lunatics, caught, and thrown into a weird death trap of some sort of little sprawling complex of asbestos-lined rooms they were ritually setting on fire, that was hung far off the ground. He managed to escape by finding a place it was *just* close enough to the massive pile of mattresses? part of it was hanging near, and sliding out of one of the many mockingly large windows in it. (There was something about how this death trap was designed as a huge instrument, where his agonized dying screams would mix with the air pulled through by the flames to create music, as would his screams if he chose to leap from its large windows to certain death below.) The people who'd put him in there gave chase, he avoided/killed most of them, and then was caught by a last few. Apparently he'd blinded one, and their code demanded that he must now serve as that one's eyes… he was being dragged off to further adventures as I woke up. And what about the nemesis from the underground complex this started in, who may have been thrown into this parallel Highway Exchange World with him?

How would he get home? Because clearly he would, the whole thing was told as first-person narration. Well, maybe I'll find out in some other dream.

the dream of the magical girl and the season ending battle

“I have an adorable secret to tell you. You're brave.”

That's what the wizened matronly mentor figure told her young charge before I woke up. Said young woman was holding a naked sword in a large hall in an old mansion, waiting for the villainess who had been waiting for the whole season's length to show up for a long-promised duel with our heroine.

Right now the big bad was monologing. And nobody was really listening to her. At any moment she was going to get pissed off and start striking out with her firey body, mostly at our heroine. Who was standing there with a dumb grin as her sphinx mentor told her that secret.

A little earlier our heroine had been watching a couple of her housemates get drunk with some absurd pump/straw contraption hidden in the hilt of a sword. There were a bunch of half-monsters and magical people living in an old mansion, you see. And there were Halloween party shenanigans going on when the omens finally came together and the big bad came out of her room down the hall with doom on her mind. She had a grudge against our heroine but I don't remember why.

There was another dangling plot hook that might have been a factor in this fight: a magician forgotten in his room, busily doing a bunch of Western hermetic tradition majgick to Immanentize The Estachion. Which is something only our heroine knew was his goal, without knowing the significance of that phrase (basically, “make the apocalypse happen”). I thought that was going to come to a head at some point but evidently we got this other hanging plot hook first.

Also she was not entirely a magical person; there had been some stuff earlier with her pointing guns at people and losing one to a grumpy, very floofy black and white cat. The guns were weird little folding things that were improbably compact and had safeties that could pick multiple modes. Probably some high tech or magical multi-weapon, I guess. But she didn't have one handy. I guess this is where the cat that grabbed her gun in its mouth, got its head stuck in a box, and vanished, was going to reappear at a climactic moment.

She'd been living in a sort of igloo made from flattened cardboard boxes, in the middle of a room. Probably a library, I want to say, though I'm not sure why.

The whole story (which felt like highlights from a whole season's worth of character-establishing meandering) had taken place mostly in a huge pile of an old mansion. Not quite Gormenghast levels of Giant Crumbling Gothic Pile, but it probably filled a significant chunk of a city block. Everyone felt like they were college age, there's a good chance it was a frat house – well, or white, given that it was mixed gender. Maybe it was at a Magical School taking place in House Fuck You I'm A Dragon, I dunno. (Motto: Efutue; sum draco.) I'm pretty sure I could turn this dream into a show pitch with a few week's work…

Anyway. “I have an adorable secret to tell you. You're brave,” said the sphinx lady to the young heroine. Freeze frame, cross-dissolve to a messy painting of the scene. Cliffhanger for the next episode full of Exciting Fight, because that's where I woke up.

I gotta pee.