Hands down the worst dream I’ve ever had – a nightmare I had while living in London. This would have been 1998. We found out about this stuff called Wild Lettuce which gives you “intense dreams”. I offered myself as the guinea pig, and because I wanted it to work I smoked two joints of the stuff before going to sleep.
I was in this flat in London, a housing estate. My grandmother was dying. My family was all on holiday, somehow I’d been landed with the task of looking after Granny while she died. So there I am, on my own in her apartment, listening to her laboured breathing from the next room.
Phone rings in the middle of the night. It’s my girlfriend, except she’d stoned or drunk or something. She’s cold and distant, sort of sarcastic. This other guy (my best friend) comes on the phone and starts cracking jokes and innuendoes.
Something has happened between these two, like they’ve had sex and they’re calling me to celebrate. They want to come round, and I say “fine” – I’m angry, going out of my mind, but I need to know what’s happened.
So finally they show up. And my friend is all hands, he’s making it obvious my girlfriend is with him now. I’m looking to her for some kind of signal to the contrary, except she’s so high she can barely speak. She may as well be a doll, she’s just sprawled out on the couch talking nonsense and non-sequiturs.
My friend’s gloating. He’s looking for some kind of reaction from me. He wants to know he’s won.
I’m furious. I tell them about my grandmother, I tell them I don’t give a shit, I ask them to leave. I walk over to the door and hold it open. Slowly, and with a lot of resistance, they leave. I tell him: “get fucked”. I say nothing to her. He makes some kind of final wisecrack and they walk away across this courtyard, off into the night. There are trucks parked everywhere, tail-lights flashing, engines idling.
I slump into a seat beside the door, listen to the sound of my grandmother’s breathing, and wonder how my life could have turned into such a nightmare. I fall asleep.
And then I wake up to someone screaming. I’m still in the chair, still in the dream. It’s the next morning. And there’s someone screaming out there, out in the housing project. Then from somewhere else – more screaming, someone else. I edge the curtains aside, and then because I can’t believe my eyes I pull them wide and look out into the courtyard.
It’s full of coffins. Coffins laid out in a grid, with their lids open. The trucks are still there, in fact there’s more of them, with the backs rolled open and the engines idling.
There are teams of men walking around. They’re wearing boiler suits and masks, and they have tools – hammers, rope, things like that. More and more people screaming now, and I can tell what they’re doing. The teams of men are walking off into the buildings, breaking into the flats and pulling the people out of their homes. Dragging them by the hair, by their wrists, dragging them into the courtyard. Pushing their struggling bodies into the coffins. I’m watching them do this, this is happening in front of my eyes, I think: oh shit I have to protect my grandmother from this. Pushing the people into the coffins and hammering the lids shut with massive iron nails.
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