Last night I had the strangest dream I ever had before...
But unlike that old song famously covered by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, I didn’t dream the world had all agreed to put an end to war, no, it would have been a nice dream if I had, but what I actually dreamt last night was perhaps the freakiest series of events that I’ve ever experienced while asleep.
As a fan of H.P Lovecraft, I have grown up fascinated with the stories about the Dreamlands, especially “Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath” and the idea that there is this entire parallel reality accessible through dreams and sleep always lured me in. Even though most diehard Lovecraft fans do not really like Lovecraft’s dream cycle because it is not as cosmic horror-y as his other works, the world building alone was enough to hook me in and consider that cycle of stories to be my absolute favourite in Lovecraft’s mythos.
Yet, even though these stories fascinated me, I always knew such tales and such concepts of interdimensional travel during sleep were relegated to the realm of fiction, and as an atheist I wasn’t ever inclined to believe in the metaphysical or the supernatural even though the concepts of which interested me a great deal. As much as that idea of travelling through different realms through dreaming felt alluring and an amazing prospect, I never really believed in it (and in truth, am sceptical about it still) or thought of it in terms of real life experiences until last night.
I don’t really believe I WAS actually transported to a different realm or reality, but it damn felt like it. Everything on that dream felt real, I could touch things, smell things, and I remember every detail of it vividly as if I’ve actually been there. Even though I had many freaky dreams before, nothing quite felt like it, and nothing has ever left the aftertaste that it did.
It felt like it meant something, that there was something in that very vivid experience that I was meant to remember, learn or record. Like, it was almost as if I had a mission in that place that needed to be fulfilled, either there or here in the waking world. It’s hard to describe what it felt like other than that it felt more like a memory than a dream. I still remember the interactions I had in it, the physical sensations and the sounds as if I’d actually heard them in reality. I cannot stress this enough; it felt real, not like a dream at all.
So what was this dream like? What was the incredibly freakish experience that stayed with me long after I have awoken? How did this whole experience made me feel like a modern Randolph Carter? Well let’s dive into this then, and I’m telling you, I’m not making any of this stuff up. Of course, many of you will call bullshit on me, and you have every single right to do so. Trust me, I would call bullshit on myself If I was in your place, but I can assure you this story is 100% real. Nothing in that dream was (at least not consciously) made up by me, everything fully came into being while I was asleep, you’ll understand why I’m saying this, because starting from this point onward, stuff is about to become SURREAL.
I was walking through a large, endless desert expanse, one that was at the same time both cold and snowy. One where patches of snow blended in with the rolling sand dunes, and sandstone cliffs in the background. It reminded me of those pics you see of the Gobi and the Taklamakan during wintertime, with more light snowfall falling from the sky and the wind blowing both sand and snowflakes through the dunes. The sky looked absolutely otherworldly, fractal shapes and dazzling colours raced through like a show of lights. It was impossible to tell if it was either morning, evening, afternoon or night-time. I felt the mind-numbing cold of that place.
I have been to some very cold places in my life, and while this place has nothing on Svalbard, I will tell you that I was still shivering. For what seemed to be literal hours, I walked through that desolate landscape until I saw a figure standing atop of one of the tallest dunes.
I came closer to inspect who the lone fellow stranger was, lost amidst this surreal plain of desolation. It was a woman, not much older than me, it appeared. If I were to guess her age it would probably around the mid-30s, although I have no actual way of knowing. Her long flowing hair and her skin were both the colour of the omnipresent snow; she was an albino. Something else was also different about her, as I came closer, I noticed her eyes, red like a red sports car, were also weird in a strange way.
For one, they had no sclera (you know, the white part of the eyeball) and their pupils were slit and sideways oriented, like the eyes of a goat. She was clad in a weird set of colourful, even dazzling robes that had a vague oriental feel to them. Sort of like the traditional dresses of some Indian and Middle Eastern cultures, yet it closely resembled neither of these. A large headdress somewhat similar to a turban also sat on her head and was similarly garishly coloured.
This strange woman, or creature, then looked at me with an expression that I remember vividly yet was not able to read, and motioned me to follow her, so I did. For another many hours, we walked through that barren, yet in a way, very beautiful landscape. All the while, I was there, it felt like I had been to this place before, like this was a place I actually remembered being in physically before, and every sensation, the noise of the wind rushing through the sand and snow, the sting of the winter cold… All felt very real and there, throughout this whole thing. I never realized or thought of it as a dream. We walked until we reached a large sandstone cliff, with a large, ominous cave opening; again, a feeling of familiarity overcame me.
I felt I knew this strange place, and that I had been here before, that I had something to do inside that cave. The woman spoke to me in a bizarre tongue unlike anything I have ever heard before. It did not sound like any sort of tongue from earth. Yet, even though I could understand nothing of what she said, I still understood that she wanted me to keep going into the cave, which became clear as she motioned me to keep going.
As we followed through the dark and expansive corridor, the woman lit up an oil lamp (Think Aladdin, you know, that old fashioned type of middle eastern style oil lamp) and I could clearly see the walls of these cave tunnels were covered in the most fantastic sorts of frescoes and reliefs that I had ever seen. These frescoes depicted events, places, animals, beasts and peoples unlike anything I have ever seen on earth and I remember many of them in vivid detail. For example, one of these frescoes had the very detailed image of a ruddy brown gorilla like creature, covered on a unique set of vaguely medieval near eastern-ish set of lamellar armour.
It was fighting what seemed to be a sky-blue skinned humanoid with bright blue feathers and bird legs from the waist down. The ape was carrying a long barbed lance and the birdman, who wore no armour or any clothing at all, defended itself from the ape’s blow with a very unique engraved trident, the engravings of which are also unlike any of real world’s cultural motifs. There were many other different scenes and things depicted in the walls of that cave, I could really write over 10 pages worth of descriptions of everything I saw painted in those halls, each one of them more fantastical than the next. But, perhaps one thing that was even more out of the ordinary was the architecture of the place.
The cave, which I quickly noted as I saw the frescoes and large vaguely arabesque arches and pillars sustaining the ceiling, was clearly artificial, and its geometry genuinely non Euclidean. The rooms bent and turned in all the possible wrong ways, some rooms made turns in ways that, as we walked, we theoretically should have backtracked, yet we kept going forward. In others, it felt like the room was going down when it was going up and ultimately was actually going forward.
It is very hard to describe what it felt like going through those tunnels; you had to be there to understand it. The pillars and arches were all covered in what seems like either some sort of script or hieroglyphics, yet they did not look like any sort of those things from Earth either. The Glyphs looked circular, like the best way I could explain it is this: imagine a circle, with smaller circles and sometimes an arrow inside of it, and all possible variations of thereof. I have no Idea what those Glyphs were saying or what they meant, yet, I knew they meant something important, like throughout this whole thing I felt like what we were doing here was part of a larger mission, and that I felt like there was something this place was trying to tell me.
After descending throughout more and more rooms and hallways, we reached a larger hall where the wall frescoes gave way to large stone statues. The statues were clearly of important figures, were they gods? Spirits? I could not tell.
Their poses vaguely recalled those of Hindu gods, but they did not resemble Hindu deities at all, indeed, they were just as wild and weird as the frescoes in the rooms before. For example, one of the statues resembled a large, wolf like creature with a humanoid head, and riding atop of this beast was a small imp like entity with the head of a cat and the tail of a scorpion.
Another image had this bare-chested woman with a very long torso and a very many teats in it, sort of like a cat or a dog in that regard. In her hands, this woman statue carried a large, multi-headed snake that looked peacefully into her eyes. In her mouth she displayed a pair of large tusk-like teeth, like those of a boar or a warthog. Those are just two of the many weird god statues in that room. There were so many that I scarcely remember all of them in detail, but I do remember many more of them. After going through the hall of the god statues, we finally arrived in this large, expansive antechamber that was, again, entirely covered in the weird frescoes but this one had a few weird god statues. Yet, the hallmark of that room was in the centre of it.
A large, colossal brass or bronze idol of what I can only describe as a goat man. However, it was not any sort of Baphomet or Demonic/Evil entity, no; indeed, it did not feel like that at all, there was nothing even remotely malign looking about it. It felt a lot more like those old forest gods and satyrs of classical mythology, like a forgotten spirit of nature or fertility. The Idol had a goat’s head and long, backward spiralling horns that resembled those of the wild Ibex, its enormous tongue stuck downwards from its mouth, ended in a spear like shape, and beneath this idol laid a small altar.
From somewhere near the altar, the weird albino woman spoke a few words in her strange tongue and motioned something to come nearer. It was a child, a boy, albino like her and with the same goatish red eyes and covered in the same strange colourful robes. The boy carried a large cage with him, inside it a bird that I as a biologist and “bird nerd” instantly recognized as a Houbara, a large bustard like bird native to the Middle East. He brought the cage into the altar, and as he was removing the screaming large bird from it, the woman then pulled me by the hand close to the altar and gestured me something, which I instantly knew meant she wanted me to kneel. So, I knelt beside the altar.
As I did so, the woman removed all of her weird clothes, stripping herself bare. It was then that I could fully grasp how alien this woman- no- this creature, was. Hidden underside her robes, her legs from the knee down were those of a white goat, her digitigrade feet ending in a pair of hooves. The headdress that once covered her head now exposed two small goat like horns and I noticed her fingernails were actually claws. Her body was also covered in weird circular tribal tattoos, encircling her torso, her arms and around her breasts.
Looking at the boy’s hand, I could notice the same thing about his fingernails, as in, he and the woman were definitely of the same “species”, although I could not see his hooves or horns as he was still wearing the robes. The woman then produced a bronze coloured knife from the mess of robes that she had left on the floor, took the bird from the boy’s hands, grabbed it by the neck and unceremoniously gutted it, slicing it open from the throat to the cloaca, blood and guts spilling everywhere over me and over the altar.
It was, of course, a gruesome and brutal scene, yet I could not look away. It was like I had to watch it, there was something I needed to see, to understand about that ritual.
I don’t quite know what it was but something in me didn’t let me avert my eyes. And I felt all of it in me, the blood, the guts, it was as if they had physically spilled through my actual body. Again, NONE of this ever felt like a dream. It was happening and it was real, at least as far as my mind and senses were concerned. Hell, even the smell of blood and the strong smell of spilled bird guts (everyone who ever plucked, gutted and prepared a quail or a chicken will recognize the smell) was very real. Every single sensation I had in that dream felt like a real one. My mind, by all possible means, thought I was actually there.
As this sacrifice was performed, the statue of the brass goat idol came to life and stood upright, it moved with unnatural fluidity for something apparently made of solid metal and grabbed me with one of its large hands. I was in AWE at the sheer presence of the living bronze colossus in front of me, and it gently held me in a way that I could see its large bronze eyes. The living statue then recoiled its tongue, and I noticed that it was about to speak something to me, then, when it motioned to speak, before it could even start…
I woke up.
That’s it. I just woke up the next day with the realization that… It was just a dream, that this very lucid and vivid experience, one unlike anything I have ever had, had just been a figment of my imagination, and that none of these things actually happened…
Yet, they felt like they did. They felt like something that actually happened. I did not recall it as I would recall a dream, I remembered the desert and the caves as if they were real places, as if I have physically been in them. It all lingered in the back of my head a lot more like a memory than like a dream, yet no place like those I described exists in real life, neither do any albino goat people. So why? Why did it feel so real? Why did I imagine all of those things for absolutely no reason?
Again, I don’t believe this was actual interdimensional travel, heck, I don’t believe that is even possible but, that was certainly the on closer side to it that a human could experience. In a way, I felt a lot like a modern day Randolph Carter.
I know what you folks are going to say, “C’mon mate, tell me what sort of psychedelics you’ve been doing”, but that’s the thing- I do not really do psychedelics or any illicit drugs at all, yet I was tripping balls in my sleep without a single need for them. I swear that I was 100% sane and sober when I dreamt this and have no Idea where all this Guillermo Del Toro-tier imagery all came from and why it felt so real. Most importantly, it felt like that dream wanted to tell me something, yet I have no idea what or why.
Again, I am an atheist and very sceptical of the supernatural and of things like interdimensional dream journeys, but really, what was that? Do I just have a very overactive imagination? I heard some people interpret dreams and that dreams often have a meaning, what the hell was the meaning of that?
I do not really believe in those things, dream meanings and such, but at this point, I am very curious as to what people who do believe would think about such an experience.
I'm going to start by suggesting you break down those walls of text just a little bit.
As for the plot itself, it has the fatal flaw of being just a dream which kills any possibility of it being scary. Being just a dream, and can't actually hurt anyone in real life, makes anything you could possibly come up with not scary at all.
Nightmares are a part of life, everyone gets them, and as terrible as some are, you just can't make them scary. Some people even stop being afraid of them after they've ended.
There is a bit too much that comes before the dream itself, and more than what we care to read after it.
The dream itself really isn't scary at all, it is just mostly the main character walking around and seeing strange, only slightly disturbing, and out of the way things.
Yeah, again it's only very loosely a scary story, not really scary as much as unnerving. The thing is, this one IS an actual retelling of a dream of mine, I didn't invent it, It was more about retelling what I saw and the sensations that came with it, and more about arguing what it could exactly mean. I guess the intention wasn't exactly to be scary as much as to recount something that's out of the ordinary, surreal, not really paranormal but by all means not normal either...