Some people ask why I’m into horror. For my part, I don’t understand how someone could not be into horror.
Here’s a dream from a long time ago. I’m not sure when – I might have been 22 or 23:
The train rattles along, trees rush past in the grey light.
I have my own compartment on the train. I set a leather case onto my lap, pop the clasps and open it. I check the contents, make sure that everything is there, in its correct place – each item easily reached should it be needed.
There’s a mirror, a cross, a chain of garlic. Small vials of salts, chemicals, and holy water. A gun, a knife, a mallet. Five wooden wickets, each a foot long, sharpened to points.
I close the case and try to concentrate. I try to keep myself calm.
In the bathroom I wet my face, wash my hands. I see myself in the mirror – tall, thin, very pale. Black hair to my shoulders, a white dog-collar, black cassock down to my feet. I’m a priest.
The train rattles, the trees rush, the grey light grows dimmer and dimmer.
I’m running out of time. I’ll get there too late.
I try not to think about it.
By the time the train pulls in to Brighton the sky’s a dull pink, striped with grey metal clouds, and the sun hangs low over the water. *
It’s been many years since I was last here, but I still know the way.
Almost. I make a couple of wrong turns, stupid mistakes which cost me time.
Too late anyway. But I have to try.
Finally I recognise the streets, I’m in the neighbourhood. Here’s the switch-back, where the cobbled street leaves the coast and winds up the hillside. I’ve thought about this street many times before, and it’s exactly as I imagined / remembered it. It’s narrow and climbs sharply. The buildings have clay / stucco walls – stained pink with sunset. A Mediterranean street. **
My destination is halfway up, the old cinema. Like most things in Brighton, it’s been dead for a long time. Closed down, boarded up.
I have maybe twenty minutes left.
The doors are locked. Of course they would be. I step back, check the alleyway beside the theatre – a fire escape goes halfway up, to a small door (also locked). I climb onto the handrail, then the doorframe, sling a rope around something on the roof, hoist myself up. It is dangerous, exhausting and costing me time.
The wind catches and billows my cassock. There is an enormous round window in the roof, a stained glass skylight.
I smash one of the panels
lower myself through the jagged mouth
glass teeth, orange and purple
drop down onto the plush red carpet. A landing, the top of an ornate staircase. It winds down into the heart of the building, electric lights in wall sconces, which shouldn’t be on, but they’re on. The theatre has power.
And as I look around I see no evidence of dust or decay, the inside of the theatre is intact and luxurious. These doors open onto the theatre’s highest gallery. The passages to the left and right lead to opera boxes. I've been here before, a long time ago. I'm from here.
But then I hear a booming from far beneath me – a single crash of stone falling onto stone.
In the dream I actually feel cold sweat on my face and hands. The vampire is awake, he’s thrown aside the lid of his sarcophagus.
I think: he’s fast. I stand no chance against him. I have to –
Too late, he’s demonstrated his impossible speed, he’s now standing in front of me.
The vampire is terrifying, an extremity of fear. He wears white
– white jacket, white pants –
His skin is black,
not African but black/black/black
the eyes are huge and black, they swarm and reflect the light, I think they are made of nesting flies.
The mouth hangs loose, it’s filled with teeth – squirming black needles.
He can move in the blink of an eye, I understand this. I know that it’s by his (momentary) indulgence that I’m still alive.
I say: “Look.”
Do I have enough time? Will he allow this?
Staring at me with swarming black cavities.
I hold up the case, at arms length.
With the other hand I reach over and unfasten the clasp – it all spills out.
The cross, the holy water, the stakes. All of the “weapons”, useless anyway. They’re symbols.
I dangle it, let the last of it fall, then I drop the case and step back.
The vampire steps closer to the weapons, and I step back again. He’s confused, but maybe he is starting to understand the message:
“Here are things which could hurt you – I won’t use them”
“Because I’m not here to kill you.”
And I’m not. He scares the shit out of me, but the vampire and I are not enemies.
He steps forward – so do I. Facing each other, my white face to his black face, black clothes to white, another step and we’re together, holding each other,
melting together, our heads meld with each other
and incredibly (***) I can see in three hundred and sixty degrees, I can see every part of the landing
then I’m on the street outside, three hundred and sixty degrees
not a character of the dream anymore, a roving point of view –
– I wake up,
I feel incredible,
an immense feeling of satisfaction, of wholesomeness hangs about me, it has been months or years since I have felt this good. I can’t wait to get out of the house, I have a sense that nothing can stop me today.
And people actually notice. Over the next couple days people say:
“What’s happened to you? You see really happy.”
“You look really good today.”
(always a nice thing to hear)
I’ve had similar dreams (some of them a little "weirder" – hahahaha, I’ll keep those to myself), but never any as complete and coherent
& I’ve had better dreams, certainly happier dreams, but I’ve never had that same feeling of satisfaction from a dream again
though I do sometimes find it in real life
– e.g. me & Q are coming up on four years! –
so I’m not complaining
FOOTNOTES (because my dreams have footnotes) (so fuck you)
* which is wrong of course, since Brighton’s on the East coast, but it’s a dream, so.
** it feels exactly like a road I used to know as a kid, a dirt road up a wooded hillside – feels like it, but doesn’t look like it. This old dirt road used to hold a magic fascination for me, even now thinking about it gives me a strange chill
*** I’m serious, I really dreamt this
First female Doctor Who
6 months ago