When the Dream Where I Burned Someone Who Was Only-Probably-A-Zombie Alive is the Pleasant One of the Evening I Feel Like There’s Something Wrong

Posted on 28/11/2011 by


I am dead. Paul killed me. I know, you’re thinking, It happens. You’re fighting crime, you duck at the wrong moment… I should consider myself lucky. And it’s true. This was a relatively kind fate. Honestly. You don’t want to know what he’s done to other people we know when they’ve appeared on the page.

He probably didn’t murder me in text to send me a message. And if he did, it didn’t work very well. I didn’t even realise the brief character sketch was meant to relate to me until he asked if I noticed. I mean, I thought, “Hey, I totally used to do that” but I didn’t think, “He’s writing about me.” I guess I don’t expect to find myself in someone else’s book. (Even if this is technically the second time. The first was Helen’s and that’s non-fiction, and it’s my name in the acknowledgement section. That didn’t require much interpretation on my part.) I suddenly get why Kitty giggled so much when she found snippets of a conversation we had in the novel I wrote during Honours. It’s strangely entertaining to have someone write even the tiniest fragment of your story.

Of course, then death. But what can you do? At least he didn’t break my fingers.

But then my head was thinking real people in stories and then I rewatched Inception over lunch…

Characters from Inception standing at gravitationally confusing angles to one another as in an Escher drawing

I really shouldn’t have been surprised when I dreamed that I was dragged under into the world of Path and had to live through the story. Which… yeah. Even my subconscious thought that was a terrible idea. I woke up* with my stomach grinding in circles, half-convinced I was one of my characters and nearly killed the people who put me under because my brain is not a nice place to be trapped.

Maybe that’s why Alice in Wonderland bothers me so much. Because it’s easy to think it’s all in her head. In fact, a number of people over the years have pointed this out to me as though it’s comforting: “It’s a children’s story. It’s all in her head. It’s just a dream.” And I think, What’s in my head? And I think about children’s stories. About being stuck in the storyworld, in your mind and not knowing the way out. About Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and Labyrinth and Return to Oz. And I worry that my mind would be a lot like that. Fascinating and disturbing and really fucking scary.

I also look at that list and think, I’m not the only one who’s worried.


* For certain values of ‘woke up’, as I was obviously actually still dreaming. Dream layers are creepy. Also annoying. Like when you get up and get ready to go to school only to realise you’re still in bed dreaming about it and have to go again. I hate that.