When Chris woke
up he realised that it must all have been a dream, but unusually for
him it wasn't one that he'd forget in a hurry. He could not open his
eyes; the light was so bright in the room. His head hurt and his body
was numb. What could cause symptoms such as these, he thought? Perhaps
the after effects of a hard night's drinking? In this case though, it
must have been an extremely heavy one. The trouble was he had no recollection
of such an event taking place. He had forgotten bits of an evening before,
due to excessive alcohol consumption, but never the entire session.
He decided the only solution was to lie still and allow himself to doze
off again, hopefully giving the mother of all hangovers the time to
pass. Chris was uncomfortable though with the thought of going back
to sleep, in case, as can often happen, the dream he'd awoken from resumed.
Chris hardly ever
remembered dreams. Experts think that this is fairly normal - the human
brain dreams a lot, the exact reasons for this are still not properly
understood. But they do know that we usually only remember dreams when
we wake up during a specific phase of sleep. The only one Chris ever
remembered was a recurring dream; this was based on the bodysnatchers
story and he initially found it quite disturbing. Friends and family
would one by one become infected by an alien lifeform. Before long everyone
he trusted was one of "them" and they joined together to hunt
him down. He was getting used to that one as it happened fairly often.
This dream however was entirely different.
It had started a
bit like the opening credits to Doctor Who, a view down a long swirling
tunnel. It differed though in that it was bright and golden, not a dark
black void like the one on TV. Next he saw a baby at a christening.
As the vicar touched the baby's head he could feel the cold water on
his fingers, as if it was his head that the vicar was touching. The
baby let out a scream at the top of his lungs, obviously upset by the
The church then
faded from view and the baby with it. Next he was watching a young boy
running; laughing so much that he was finding it difficult to catch
his breath. But then he snagged his foot on a paving stone and came
crashing down to the ground. He took the brunt of the fall with his
outstretched hands, grazing the skin on his palms. It must have been
at school because shortly after the fall someone rushed up to the boy
and led him into a classroom. As they patched up his wounds and comforted
him until his tears had subsided, Chris sensed the boy's feelings of
relief as the pain and trauma died away.
Throughout the dream
there was a soundtrack. It was the album Music, by Madonna. This was
something of a coincidence as Chris had only just bought this record.
What struck him as odd was that he was hearing tracks that he hadn't
yet listened to. He hadn't got round to playing the whole album yet,
knowing only the singles, but this dream seemed to be giving him the
opportunity to hear his record collection in his sleep. Only once did
he get a glimpse of the source of the music. It was coming from a car
stereo in a smashed up Ford Fiesta. It must have been in an accident,
its bonnet was crumpled and glass lay shattered over the road, reflecting
the blue flashing light coming from what he assumed was an ambulance.
He saw more of the
boy as he passed through his school days. He felt the nervous excitement
muddled with awkwardness when the boy got his first kiss. He shared
in the feelings of delight and pride when he scored his first goal for
his football team. Then sensed his disappointment when he discovered
that his A-level results were worse than he had hoped. Things like this
Chris had experienced in his own lifetime but his memories of such incidents
had become very hazy. It seemed that in this dream his brain had suddenly
decided to go through the archives and replay some long forgotten moments
of his past.
It was the end of
the dream that he found most disturbing. He saw himself lying in an
ambulance. No longer was he watching a boy that might have resembled
himself when he was younger. This was definitely Chris, as he was now,
but he was in a bad way. His body had a greyish hue; it was bruised
and splashed with blood. He had tubes protruding from various veins
in his body. Doctors busied themselves around him, concentrating their
attention on a monitor that displayed his heart rate. "We're losing
him, he's had a cardiac arrest" shouted one of them. Following
this was a flurry of activity as they started resuscitation procedures,
CPR then defibrillation. He saw a paramedic fix paddles to his chest
and watched as his body jerked when the current was applied. Eventually
one of the doctors straddled the stretcher and thumped Chris's chest
shouting "Come on, breathe you bastard!"
That's when the
dream ended. The point where he had woken up. Confused by the bright
light and the pain in his head his initial thoughts were that he must
have a severe hangover. But as he tried unsuccessfully to return to
sleep he began to realise that this wasn't a plausible explanation.
The numbness was fading fast and he started to feel the pain that his
body was suffering. He began to open his eyes and saw a scene exactly
like that in his dream, but this time he was lying down on a stretcher
looking upwards. In his dream he had been viewing the scene and his
own body from above. He recognised the man closest to him, it was the
same person that had thumped his chest. They were starting to move now,
the ambulance was driving away. He could just make out Madonna's version
of American Pie fading quickly as they drove off, to be replaced by
the wail of the siren.
© Jim Johnson