Monday, September 01, 2008

Night Mare

My friend "Sojourner" sent me an email, all curiosity and enquiry, about my nightmare I related in my previous post.

So: in the interests of a creative "push" to see the FULL drama of this story, which I only ever dreamed about, in a terrified state as a young child, I will now present as a fully developed 'story'.

This means that much of what I remember about this nightmare will become embellished as I write with details I cannot actually recall from the dream itself. I'm simply going to make this dream, I once had on a regular basis, become its own story here.

Perchance, I might find some interesting perspectives now about this dream that I could never have envisaged or mused about at the age of 5. I'm going to write this on the fly so it will not really be edited much. I'm just going to let it come out in the here and now.


The morning beckoned bright with sunny promise. It was a beautiful day outside.

I lived on a mixed farming enterprise along with my Farmer father, exasperated mother and younger sister. My sister and I shared a bedroom in the big rambling homestead where life was secure and cloistered. I spent much of my days playing in make-shift cubby houses making mud-pies with my toy dog and my rather insistent little sibling.

The house was central to an array of various farming buildings. It was ringed almost entirely with a variety of different fencing styles and thus it seemed like a kind of oasis in the midst of a set of very different kinds of oceans...these oceans being fields of grain or sheep, ducks, pigs, geese and cows. There were also large open spaces for machinery to turn and move.

Out the 'front' of the house - which was never used by anyone but travelling salesmen - was "The Timber", a scraggly, but rather large grove of Bulloak Trees, all dark grey and spindly. The Timber contained vast, unanswerable mysteries begging to be explored. There was a kind of old junk heap with interesting artifacts of farm machinery gone wrong or obsolete. My father rarely threw anything made of metal away, inclined as he was to engineering perfectly good, and brand new items of machinery with old bits of metal and bits, cannibalised from other ancient machines so as to satisfy some innovative or inventive streak within.

At the back of this exciting and morphologically wondrous junk pile, behind the ancient hay thrashers and an old grey truck with its wooden floor eaten away under the drivers side seat, was a huge dam.

The dam was deep and had high sides of piled earth, long since smoothed over and grass covered since it had been dug out a generation before. The grey, oozing, sticky mud at the edge of the water line was as far as I would dare to tread near this, the largest body of water I had ever known to that point in my life. The Yabbies caught in that dam were, apparently, something to behold, but my father was neither keen on such sports and never encouraged my sister or myself to indulge in the past-time of catching Yabbies.

There were certain days, when a sort of insistent urging from The Timber, the sunshine, and the allure of that big old Dam would overcome my sister or myself and we would feel compelled to "Go for a walk". We would wend our way through the bulloak trees, talking and discovering old items of interest. Most of the time, by the time we got to the dam, we were tired and hot, thirsty and looking forward to going home. The distance from our house to the dam could not have been more than five or six hundred metres, but for small, dawdling children, this distance could easily triple and we were so very easily tired out or bored.

There was ONE particular day when all the alluring scents, sights and sounds became like a Siren's Call to go for that walk down to the back dam. I would wake, instinctively knowing that this was "The Day". It was a day I dreaded and yet felt compelled to face despite my fear and trepidation. I KNEW this day was not going to bode well for me, but I simply had to yield to its unholy calling.

My sister seemed not aware of the demonic character to this day at all. For her, there was only the fact that it was a good day to "Go for a walk" down through The Timber, to the big dam. I could not tell her with my voice that we should not go. For some reason, I was rendered completely and utterly incapable of voicing any concerns or reasons about going to the dam on That Day! I had to go! I had no choice! And I knew what awaited me there and I knew that I had to face it as best as I could.

We walked through the timber as we usually did, commenting on things in the manner of small children, noticing "fairies" in seedpods, and imagining wonderful luxury in making a "cubby" from an old farm machine or trying to twist the shiny chrome mascot off the front bonnet of the old car. It was kid stuff! Fun most of the time but on That Day, it was deliberate work to steel my inner courage for what awaited.

Finally, the moment of truth arrived. The Dam being as it was, at the back of The Timber was also at the end of a wide dirt track that led directly through the various farm buildings, such as my fathers workshop and the machinery shed, the old garage and the water tank on its high stand which loomed over everything in the open yard, it being something in the region of 10 metres high. From the water tank it was perhaps a mere 100 metres to the "back gate" to the homestead. The gate was made of old steel tubing and cyclone fence wire. It made a distinctive squeak, low and grinding as it open and clanged shut, its snib clicking loudly into place. Either side of this gate was a high wooden fence, blackened and greased by my fathers insistence on "preserving" the wood by periodically throwing the old oil from all the machinery sumps over it. The footpath was of cement, neatly laid and perfectly formed squares of cement with one flagstaff on the outside of the gate and the rest leading directly to the side door of our house, hidden from view by a large grape-vine covered verandah.

I felt the foreboding sense of doom rise in my chest as we edged our way up over the side hill of the dam. I kept hoping against hope that my hunch about today would be wrong and this would be one of those good days when it was about walks in The Timber and nothing more.

My sister then disappeared, as she always did on this particular day. She would cease to exist and she simply dissolved into the air as if she'd been up until now, nothing but a ghost. I steeled myself for what was about to come.

The water in the dam began to boil and thrash. Out in its muddy, earth brown centre, the water spun and spiralled as if a giant Charybdis lived under there. Indeed, there was a monster lurking in that dams depths.

With a rush, a giant red, foaming head appeared from out of the depths of the dams centre. It's body followed quickly. A gargantuan horse, dark red to black in colour, seething from its mouth, its eyes black as jet and enraged with all the demonic fury of the world in its sinews and bones. The horse stood in the middle of the dam, which would have drowned me long before I had reached that depth.

I turned and began to run towards home. I scrambled up the embankment of the dam and crested it just as the gigantic animal stepped from the dam with all the intention of taking me out. My tiny legs sped down the other side of the sloping hill, steep as it was but giving me impetus and speed that I hoped would carry my legs to home quickly.

The horse began to run after me. I had a small head start but it galloped menacingly behind me, its nostrils snorting hot breath down the back of my necks, its forefront hooves beating the ground behind my spinning legs, only centimeters from slicing me with its great nailed shoes.

I could feel the adrenalin and the panic mixing into a stone in my belly. I felt incapable of running any faster or harder but I had to or I knew I would die if I did not. I ran down the track from the dam, down into the middle of the yard between the machinery shed and the workshop, the old blacksmithy, the water tank...only a few steps to go... I had to run...I had to stay alive! I could not call out for the sound of my voice - my cry - stayed firmly embedded deep inside of me and could not escape. I was a running mute child, impossibly afraid and left to deal with this monster on my own.

The menace behind me never wavered from its goal. It galloped behind me all the way. It seemed to grow larger and more frightening the closer I got to the back gate. I knew that if I could get through the gate then I would be safe. Nothing would harm me once I was behind that gate!

Finally, I got to the gate and lunged at the snib, fumbling with it so that it would open and let me through. The horse stopped within centimetres of the cement flagstone I was standing on, I slipped through the gate as soon as I got it open and ran half way up the footpath before finally stopping to turn and view my nemesis. The horses head by this stage had grown enormous. Its body seemed to be stretched out and the dark red of its coat was almost blackened from sweat. It's head was so large as to be able to lean over the gate and snort at me.

It stomped its hooves on the ground, apparently angry and deeply frustrated it had not been able to take me down. I watched it stamp its hooves and breathed a silent prayer that it would just touch the cement flagstone.

A loud metallic click as its nailed hoof hit the cement and the horse disappeared! The threat was over. I was safe! I was alive! But I was panting and my heart pounded in my chest and still I could not speak. I walked slowly into the house and there my mother sat at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and helping my little sister with a jigsaw puzzle.

They never knew what I'd been through and even if they did... they'd never have understood.

I was safe for another year. That Day would come around again and I would have to face that demonic beast once more but for today, I had survived and the sweat of abject terror proved it.

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