I experienced an odd trend in dreaming recently. Normally (at least as I experience it), you are the protagonist of your own dreams.

Take this recent dream, for example:

I inhabit several stages of my life at once. I’m in college. I already know Tee, and we appear to be the same age. She’s hanging with the girls who were her social circle when I met her (still are, to a lesser degree), and she’s dating her longtime ex-girlfriend. I’m also in the writing group to which I belonged many years ago and, in fact, I’m reading something of Kay’s for Next Time.

In college, I knew Tony and the lads. He and his chums were lads in that scandal story sense, prone to heavy drinking and crude womanizing. On one drunken night they stole furniture from the lobby of a four-star hotel to furnish their lodgings. I did not really hang out with them, though some of our circles overlapped.

But in the dream I'm on my way to a party with them, though I don’t plan to stay. We're somewhere in the East End. I get bored quickly, pour some unidentified alcohol in a flask, and slip out a backroom window, just in the Nick of Time. The party has gone overboard, something has been set ablaze, and the police are on their way.

I slip past the coppers on the street. As I note that Kay's ms is safe, I run into T and her longtime girlfriend and we head into the center of an imaginary London part cyberpunk and part Star Trek,
futuristic and filled
with glass, neon, fiery rooftops, and outsized screens.

Odd, but pretty typical, really.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I experienced one that was a prelude to the shift:

In this dream, I was making a movie. It starred a red-haired, expressive-faced teenage girl who was variously my sister's daughter or one of my friend Lee's daughters. I could not tell which daughter. It wasn't Reb, because she appeared in the dream with her mother. She has two other, older ones. One appeared in a wheelchair, getting out of the back of a van. The other was the sometimes-star of my work-in-progress. The dream provided no indication which stand-in was which. None of these people have red hair in real life, or require wheelchairs. In any case, I had a cheap corder, and we were trying to film around the various people visiting the labyrinthine home that was our setting. At one point, the plot involved her reaching out the door and pulling up the artificial tarp in the garden, beneath which she had hidden a stash of marijuana.

So far, still typical. But it inaugurated three dreams over the next two weeks in which I was not the protagonist. I was watching movies.

In this one, I'm in a second-floor apartment with Dee and some unidentified people, playing a film on DVD. The movie takes place in London. The cast are mainly of east Indian background. Initially, it appears to be a gritty comedy/drama, but silly and impossible elements keep entering the story. The characters crowd into a small apartment maintained by a quiet middle-aged woman. In this version of London, laws regarding occupancy are rigidly enforced by an army of bowler-wearing inspectors. They use fake doors to suggest the building has more rooms than it actually does. When the inspector visits, people hastily rearrange furniture, switch personal belongings, hide in drawers, and roll out through secret passages. Other plot elements include a bouncy invention like flubber. In the background of a street scene, Supergirl intervenes in a crime.

Someone wants to get a closer look at something and I try to rewind, but I accidentally put the DVD back to the movie’s start.

In the next dream, I'm watching a movie, but I seem to be in a theater, rather than a private apartment. The film should be creepy as fuck, but it's played like a comedy, with the protagonist acting like, say, a younger Dudley Moore or Michael Caine.

It's also missing pieces. I never see the main character tapping away on the internet, but it strikes me that's how he must be communicating with the object of his desire. Then again, maybe he only imagines he’s been in touch with her.

We’re either on a cruise ship or a hotel. Our protagonist has a wife. A couple of her friends are staying in the same resort. They laugh a lot, and the comedy, presumably, comes from his having to sneak around in an isolated location. Except he’s not quite having an affair.

He has been in contact with a girl of 12 or 13 or, at least, someone claiming to be one. Our protagonist wants to meet her, but he's afraid she's a trap, a police plant. He does not want to have sex with her. He wants to spank her. He found her in an ad in which she says this is her fantasy, and she seeks an older man to fulfill it. Possibly she read her mum's copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.

We see her briefly, discussing meeting a stranger with a friend. Or maybe it's a trick, and we're seeing some other precocious girl, not the one he seeks. I don't think we specifically hear her reason for meeting an older man. The director wants to keep us in suspense. We never learn if he's been lured by police or not. For that matter, we never learn if the entire (online?) contact exists in his head. It's sort of a parody of sexual obsession, I think. I'm seriously thinking these things in the theatre, like I’m preparing to write a review.

The next one takes place at a drive-in. We even get one of those dancing hot dog sort of snack ads that used to play before and between features. This movie involves a family reunion, a picnic somewhere on an island in a park where everyone eats marshmallow cereal. The younger kids actually pick marshmallows of the campfire variety from marshmallow trees.

Last night, I returned to regular dreaming.

I'm driving in a car into an unknown city, on a highway overpassing another highway. Above I see a train on tracks elevated absurdly high, like in all those old pictures of the future. Then I am a child on the train, looking out the window on the dizzying vista of retrofuturistic buildings and tiny cars.

We cut to an older, familiar house. It feels like the 1960s.

From the other end of a hallway, a monster oozes out of multiple doorways, an impossible prolapsed intestinal thing with a mouth filled with razor teeth.

Unreel.

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