Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dreams (Rated R for gruesome images)

Not the "I want to be rich and famous" kind of dreams. The other kind. The literal kind.

I had one last night. Many of the details now escape me, but not all of them. I was on the Burnside Bridge (a bridge over the Willamette River here in Portland). There was some kind of serious problem and traffic was completely stalled. A traffic accident, a crime scene--something.

Anyhow, some of the vehicles on the bridge needed to back up to clear the area. I watched one vehicle back up (there was, surprisingly, plenty of space behind the vehicle in question so this was possible). I saw that another vehicle, a minivan, also needed to back up.

For some reason I felt it necessary to run over to the railing on the walkway at the edge of the bridge, darting behind the minivan in question just as the backup lights came on. I knew I had acted dangerously, but I'd made it. So the van starts backing up at ridiculous speed, then abruptly swerves toward the outside lane, as if trying to back into a parking space. Van smashes into the concrete railing, smashes through it, then topples over the side of the bridge.

I'm horrified, but not surprised. Somehow, I knew things were going to go badly. I lean over the side of the bridge to watch the van plummet, spinning as it falls. It smashes to the earth below, onto the sandbar which doesn't actually exist there in real life. There are also quite a few people down there, also watching in horror. I'm wondering--and bystanders are shouting their concerns about--whether the driver will survive, or be thrown from his vehicle and crushed.

And then exactly that happens. I'm beginning to suspect that this is all too convenient. It's not a lucid dream yet, but it's close. The minivan bounces, spins on it's long axis, and the driver slips neatly through the open moon roof to land on the ground right where his minivan then lands, crushing him.

The worst part is that it doesn't kill him immediately. There's screaming and thrashing, and horrified screams from the onlookers. After a few seconds, some of the nearest bystanders decide to try to lift the vehicle off of the hapless driver (said vehicle at this point resembles a soda can that's been crushed flat), but it's too late. He expires before they can rescue him--and I've cataloged several points that don't jibe with reality and realized at this point that I'm dreaming, so I wake myself up.

It's 5:30 a.m. and I'm lying in bed thinking, "Wow. That was a really vivid and unpleasant dream." I much prefer the lucid dreams in which I realize I'm dreaming much early and can do fun things like fly or manipulate reality to suit myself. Those are much nicer.

Does that dream qualify as a nightmare? I suppose it does, but I never think of them as nightmares; I think I've internalized the Hollywood image of a nightmare as a horrible dream that you wake up screaming from, and I never do. But I do have very unpleasant dreams occasionally, of which this was obviously one.

Fortunately, they don't happen very often.

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