Last Night I Dreamed of Death


I wrote this two months ago and never posted it.

Last night I dreamed of death. A dream cruel in its lucidity, but, ironically, banal in its beginning. Enough of the adjectives. I had better get this down before I forget.

I had taken time off from some project and guiltily gone to see a James Bond film. Bond was at his home with two young agents, an Asian man and a Caucasian woman, both fit, competent and beautiful. But Bond does not know whom to trust. One by one, new agents arrive at the house (a chill beige minimalist house). Bond knows the villains have planted a double agent out to kill him. Half way up the staircase to the second storey, there is a landing where the stairs make a full turn and the wall backing that landing comprises a large stained glass mural, rich with reds and blues and yellows. Standing there, Bond hears a sound: a hiss and a crack, as if someone behind the mural has twisted the top off a vacuum packed jar of jam. He smashes through the mural, coloured glass cascading about him and drags out a man, dressed in a white suit, a man with long, dirty blond hair.

Sequence Two. I am now a character in the film. I am walking along a wide high tunnel. Ahead of me is a check point. It is disguised as a work site where men are shovelling piles of soil. One by  one they ask me questions. I expect this. They are checking to see if I am legitimate. I get one answer wrong. A man who has been standing against the wall slowly approaches me, speaking in a soft, logical voice. He guides me to a door that leads to a dimly-lit cell. Still speaking reasonably, he clamps an arm around my neck and uses his free hand to rock my head back and forth. I know now that I am on the side of the villains and that he will kill me. I tell him of a plot to attack a big outdoor party, an attack to be carried out by men dressed in red.

Cut to the party. I am now beginning to weary of the film — there seems to be no underlying plot. The park in which it is being held is in a depression, like a volcanic crater. But it is verdant. Nestled close to the rim at  one point is a cluster of houses; the rest of the park is crowded with young people dancing and drinking. I am now part of the defenders. We scatter through the village and are ready for the red men when they attack. The battle is silent and lethal, but we win. We walk out of the village. Most of the party goers have fled, but the attackers have been successful — a few bodies lie on the grass. The wind ruffles the white gauzy skirt of a dead girl. I cannot see her face, for her body is prone. The wind caresses the swell of her hips.

It is night now. Far away a lame dog (or maybe a pony) carries a sleeping child on its back. It winds its way through a thick green forest to the edge of a translucent lake. The pony — it is definitely a pony now —  is dying and wants to drown itself in the lake. It enters the water — a warm embrace. Then the pony realizes that it must keep the child safe, so it remains afloat. Pony and child, barely alive, are suspended in space, the night sky rich with stars, the water below them rich with luminous carnivorous creatures.

I look at my watch. It is five thirty. When did the film start? Two. Three and a half hours and there is still no plot. Waste of an afternoon.

There it is. Death. Translucent and clear. Wind, stars, water, a girl in a white dress. Waste.

I wake. It is 6:30. I must write this down. I sit in front of the keyboard for a long time, reviewing my life — the successes, the waste. In the last few days I have been considering writing an autobiography. For myself. To confront my regrets and, more difficult, my triumphs. Maybe this is  a good place to start, a public statement that can be made as private as I like.  It is now 7:35 on the ninth of February 2013. Today I am 26,209 days old.

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About aharmlessdrudge

Way back during the late Bronze age -- actually it was the 1950s -- all of us in high school had to take a vocational test to determine our interests and, supposedly, our future careers. I cannot remember the outcome, but I do recall one question that gave me pause. "If you were to win a Nobel prize, would it be in literature or in physics?" I hesitated over the question: although I enjoyed mathematics and science more than English class, I did have a couple of unfinished (and very bad) novels hidden away at home. I cannot remember what I chose back then, but the dilemma followed me to university, where I switched from mathematics to English and -- after a five-year stint in journalism -- back to mathematics. I recently retired as a professor of statistics. Retirement. What a good chance to revive my literary ambitions. I have finished a novel -- more about that in good time -- and a rubble of drafts of articles about mathematics and statistics is taking up space on my hard disk.
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