This node is in honor of the Everything Quests: Scary Stories event, if not eligible for it because it's not scary to anyone but me.
This is my most vivid nightmare as a child and the only one I still remember in its entirety. It occurred when I was maybe six or eight, about a week before Halloween. I woke up with a scream and could not sleep the rest of the night. I was afraid to sleep for weeks and almost didn't go trick or treating that year because I was terrified.
I usually dream in color. Almost always in living, vivid color. I dream but rarely black and white, but when I do they are still sharp and clear. It is this all or nothingness that makes this dream so odd, so distinct.
The entire room--a modified, two-dimensional fishtank with large bubbling vents beneath it--and everything contained within was awash in sepia tones. Mostly sepia, a little burnt sienna here and there, and a few gray-browns and shades of ash. Three little patches of white and miniscule smatterings of black but most of all sepia everywhere.
This room, this odd bizarre little room that at once captured three dimensions in two like a pressed leaf or a preserved butterfly, felt like looking through sand. It was grainy and unclear and fuzzy like an old static-ridden television or one of those ancient brown-washed photographs before technology allowed them to be clear. It was like viewing at the world through a glass of ginger ale or perhaps karo syrup.
The beings in the room, though, were clearly defined and identifiable even through their fizzy wall. A duck who somehow flew through an ocean of pop, never needing to breathe; a platypus who looked perpetually confused by the complex world around him, not the brightest of creatures; and a washcloth. Not a bath cloth, not a dishcloth or even a dishtowel. A washcloth, good and proper. Not anthropomorphic in any way, just a living, breathing washcloth, flowing about amoeba like through his liquid universe.
The duck looked like a simplified, animated (but not cartoon) duck reminiscent of the ones from duck hunt for the Nintendo. Sepia body and feathers, darker brown head and light tan feet and bill, and a bright clear white ring around his neck.
The platypus, all fur and confusion, was a solid mid-brown with a lighter bill. He appeared to have bad eyesight and often had to get close to things to see.
The washcloth was an indescribable shade of white-tan-brown-black-gray-mustard-every brown shade ever mixed. Most important was his texture. Very detailed texture, he was terrycloth all over and it was entirely impossible to deny it. Everything about him was texture and feel and cloth.
These three swam about and played and joked for a while. Oddly enough, they did it in silence. There was never any noise at all except a light fizzy hiss and a deep throbbing "wub-wub-wub" that sounded like hammering inside the ear passages, more felt than heard, great waves of pressure throbbing. No word was ever spoken. And none were needed.
They played and interacted for a bit, seeming to be the best of friends. They went about their business like so many fish or sea monkeys, never knowing they were being viewed. The two billed animals grazed on seeming-nothingness for a while while the washcloth seemed to filter nutrition from the liquid. They went still sometimes, and it appeared as if they slept, although neither of the creatures with eyes closed them.
But one moment, in the midst of frolicking, the washcloth suddenly changed. It seemed bigger, swollen, fuzzier than before and much more ... intense should never be used to describe a washcloth, but there is no other word. Without any noise but the faint swish of him sliding through the space, the washcloth sidled up to the duck in a seeming-friendly manner he'd displayed a million times before.
Then this washcloth paused and lunged and tied itself around the neck of the duck, who emitted surprise without a sound. He struggled, of course, but he could not free himself from this relentless chokehold and finally went limp.
His corpse slowly sank to the bottom of the tank and out an air hole, out of sight and view forever.
The washcloth made a minute movement, but it was enough, it was the beginning of a lunge at the poor bewildered platypus who didn't understand what had just happened to his friends.
And that is all there is.