I had a dream. It was surreal. It was real.
I've heard that the power of imagination is scary. And I'm translating it to prose. And will forever do so.
I'm blind. It takes time for my eyes to get adjusted to the light in the dead of the night. It's surprisingly bright for a sepia toned dream. For a second I almost think I'm wide awake, thinking about my past.
'Something is familiar about this place', I tell myself. It feels like I've been here more often than necessary. It's a doorstep. And I'm sitting on it.
As the light slowly fades away, I begin to recognise where I am. An old apartment building, which almost looks defunct now. I still cannot figure out which year it is. And because it's a dream, I don't even care. I can hear a lot of noise around me. In spite of the desolate ambience the place bears, it feels like there are a lot of people milling about.
I'm outside the very house I used to live in, in the early nineties. And I hear a girl's voice next to me. She's sitting next to me on the doorstep. I don't know how I didn't notice her before, even though I'm already in the middle of a conversation with her.
I'd like to hope she's pretty, but I'm not allowed to see her face. I know it's as easy as just looking at her, but I'm unable to. She has a nice voice though, and that calms me down enough to not bother about who she is or where she came from. She has a soft voice and breathes words into my ears. The serene monotone is resonant with a lifetime of patience. She's a listener. And it reassures me, even though I have nothing to tell her.
We sit in silence, barring the incessant murmur of voices that I haven't been able to shake off since the dream began. Her head is leaned on my shoulder and I hear a sigh. All of a sudden, the door opens and I witness a torrential downpour of wails and laments. That's when I realise someone is dead.
It's clearly a time and place for mourning. Everybody sits brooding, shrouded in a cloak of obscurity, hiding from what I can only assume is fate. 'I'm afraid it's a little too late for that', I tell them, in my mind. I still cannot recognize anyone. The reason could perhaps be that I am not really going to be thrilled to find someone I know, amongst the weeping crowd.
“He's dead”, she says. The woman, who I assume to be the mother of the person who died, has just walked up to me with her arms open, not in an embrace, but in a way beggars ask for alms. I'm queasy and ask the obvious question.
'How did it happen?' I still have no idea who the deceased is, but I realise that it is too late for such a question to seem appropriate.
'He was just taking a shit. And he died.'
I'm aghast, both at her incredulous use of the word 'shit' and at how my dream was taking such a bizarre turn.
I stutter, unsure of what to say or do.
'I'm sorry', I murmur.
I'm ushered out by the girl because she knows I'm uneasy and she says so. We walk right upto the top of the winding stairs.
As far as I can recollect, the apartment I used to live in did not have a long winding staircase. This is a different place, from a different memory. And that's when I hear someone groan.
We look down and find a woman working her way up. It's looks like quite a struggle. The stairs are really steep. The woman is really large. In fact, the more I look at her, the more I come to the conclusion that this woman could easily be the biggest woman I have ever seen. She scorns every time she looks up at us peeping down at her.
She heaves herself over the steps with surprising gait and I'm half-scared because I expected her to lumber along at a pace reserved for crippled people. I suddenly don't want her to come up. She frightens me. She trails all the way to the final landing, cocks her head to one side and looks keenly at the last flight of stairs that separates us and her. It seems like an eternity. She smiles. In the way a predator smiles to keep his prey calm and relaxed. It creeps me out.
And then the old woman gives us an exasperated look.
'It's too much', she says.
She looks tired and on the verge of giving up. I feel a tiny bit victorious and I'm not ashamed of it. She trudges down the stairs. The girl giggles. I shoot her a silencing look, which makes her laugh even more. I am not sure if it was the look on my face that prompted the loud, raucous laughter, or if she just did not like being told what to do.
She grabs my hand and runs up to the roof. I protest all the way, even though I realise I'm sprinting at an unbelievable pace. We arrive at the top, a little out of breath.
'Let's do it!', she says.
My face is as blank as it can get.
What is 'it'?
She walks to the short wall overlooking the road and shows me what 'it' is. She wants to jump.
She is still laughing from before. I'm a bit annoyed to discover that the quiet girl I liked has now dissolved into complete mayhem.
'Someone will catch us', she says, smiling reassuringly, and jumps.
I don't scream. I run to the edge because I'm curious to find out if she was telling the truth.
She had a parachute. I never knew!
I watch her lithe frame float it's way down to the black road. I check myself thoroughly and am a bit relieved to find that I do not have a parachute. I make the trek back to the doorstep in solitude.
I'm back at 'home'. But there's nobody here, except for two people I assume to be my parents. I still cannot see anyone's face or features clearly. There are also 2 policemen and a dog.
They are here to investigate the murder, I'm told. I have no knowledge of a murder, but I don't want to get in anybody's way. I act like nobody's there and walk towards what I think is my bedroom. I pick up an old shirt. I think it's mine, even though I have never seen it before. There's some dried up blood on it, but I don't really care.
I walk back to the living room, still clutching the piece of cloth. That's when I hear the growl. The cops have let the dog stray on it's own, free to wander the house. And it looks up at me with such ferocity that my stomach twists into complex knots. I realise I have stopped breathing in the hope that the dog would ignore me and carry on. I also notice that the only thing separating me and the dog is a thin passageway and I contemplate ways to escape, each one less successful than the last.
Even before I'm done thinking, he charges. I see flecks of saliva left behind in still air, it seems, judging by the pace of his leaps and bounds. I also see the large, inhuman canine teeth meant primarily to tear and devour flesh. I blank out and I don't know what to think for the next 3 seconds.
He leaps. I duck. I hear the sickening crunch of the dogs muzzle hit the wall with such force that I find myself feeling sorry for the dog. I look up to see a mixture of saliva and blood on the wall and the dog whining on the ground below.
What happens next is just a blur. I only remember the cops walking away in a huff. I have no recollection of the dog.
The next morning, I find a handyman in the house. I don't know if something needs fixing, but it isn't my concern in any case. There are other people in the house who take these decisions. He looks like most handymen do, with a uniform and a tool belt on his waist. He also looks lecherous. I hate the sight of him and long to throw a punch at his sneering face everytime I look at it.
I shrug my shoulders and go online.
A good two hours have passed and I'm still sitting on the chair. I stretch. And I freeze. I get the uneasy feeling that there's somebody over my shoulder. I look back to see him frozen in place, with the same sneer on his face. I do not know how long he has stood there, so I ask him.
'All the time you've been here', he says.
I clench my fists in revulsion. He peers over my shoulder and scans the computer and then licks his lips.
'She's pretty', he says.
I have no idea what he saw, or who he looked at, or if I knew her, but I was already pushing him with all my strength, out of the room, through the passageway, through the living room and out of the front door. All the time, he looks transfixed, and I would give anything in the world to not know what he was thinking.
As I heave him out the door, I find 6 construction workers waiting for him. They are covered in grime and are wearing hard hats. I am intimidated because they look strong and all I want to do is just close the door and bolt it shut from the inside. But something told me that a simple bolt wouldn't stop these men.
Standing still, I feel a surge of adrenalin and glare at them viciously. A few of them look startled and I feel pleased and decide to continue with my new found bravado.
I look at one of the men. He is black. And he looks like Laurent (from 'Twilight', the movie). He is large, has dreadlocks and speaks in a fluid accent that I would never be able to master if I was awake. Still, in the dream, he sounds exactly like he would, like he was meant to.
I'm repulsed by the sight of him. He moves his mouth constantly and I imagine him uttering vile curses not comprehensible by my untrained ears. I call him a pussy. He glares back at me and says, 'Call me that 20000 times.'
I am not aware what significance the number twenty thousand bears, but I'm least bothered. I'm tired and want to call it a night. I lift a pair of garden shears and scissor his head off.
I see a fountain of blood spurt from where his head should have been.
And I wake up, fists clenched, feeling completely satisfied.