I get a lot of nightmares. Four or five sleeps a week are broken by them. From researching over the years I've found out it's not uncommon in people with Epilepsy, like me. Considering doctors have never figured out why I have seizures, or even what can trigger them, it doesn't surprise me that whatever is wonky with my brain comes with additional features. It may be an odd thing to say, but I actually like them.
My nightmares are very real and very powerful. They're never in real life settings. There's no showing up naked at work and they're very different to the occasional teeth falling out or missing public transport type ones that show up with stress. These nightmares are like living horror movies. Horror experiences, if you like. They are 100% real to me, they are in excruciating detail and they're incredibly fleshed out. In every sense. It's no secret I'm a horror fan. And some people may argue that's hardly going to help. Maybe I'm adding fuel to the fire. But I've been having very vivid, horror themed nightmares since I was a young child, long before I ever saw or heard anything that could give me the kind of imagery I get now.
The Ooze Monsters circa 1987
My earliest nightmare. I was probably about three years old. To an adult, it's actually something that could feature on kids TV given what it was. But it was my first hint as to what my sleeping brain was capable of creating. Imagine a world taken over by Ooze Monsters. The important part here is taken over. Even that young, there was a concept in there of invasion and being forcibly haven power taken away by stronger creatures. The world my toddler brain had created had been conquered by Ooze Monsters. They were everywhere and they came in every colour of the rainbow. I don't remember the colours meaning anything. But I do remember trees and bridges coated in a spectrum of custard like gunk and being horrified at it. I woke up after Ooze Monsters, who themselves were globules of the stuff, threw me into a river they'd filled with slime and let me sink into it.
The Vampire on the Stairs circa 1991
A more traditionally horror themed nightmare from seven year old me. I was in an ancient castle, ivy on the walls, wet stone work that was crumbling with age. I was running. The ghosts had tried to warn me not to go in, but I hadn't listened. Now the skeletons were after me. They could run in a way skeletons shouldn't be able to. I ran as fast as I could, faster than I ever could awake, until halfway down a slippery set of stairs I realised there was a vampire at the bottom, cloak spread, fangs bared, hands like claws. He was simply waiting for me. Letting me know what was going to happen was inevitable. This time I woke up when I realised I couldn't go back and I couldn't go forward, so I had to choose the skeletons or the vampire.
Zombies, Ghosts, Demons, Serial Killers and More circa 1991-2014
I've had many more since then and I'm sure I'll have many more. But I don't mind. When I wake up, I don't feel that lingering fear that can grip you when you're jolted from a nightmare. When one wakes me up I know instantly it was a dream, no matter how real it felt, and I can go straight back to sleep. They don't leave me stressed or tired and they don't leave me dreading to go to sleep. They're just like a normal, pleasant dreams, only in them there's a real threat of horrific death or injury at the hands of something unnatural or evil. Sometimes, if I put a foot wrong in them, I get injured and it hurts. Sometimes, I survive in a particularly heroic way. Sometimes they turn into complete randomness and stop being nightmares completely. But one thing is consistent; I always remember everything about them the next day.
'Him' circa 2015
It doesn't really sound like something to be thankful for at all. But actually, my brain comes up with some amazing ideas I can work with while I'm awake. I can't count the times I've turned a nightmare into something I can enjoy writing in the evening. The last week however, gave me one that left me genuinely excited, as if I'd been involved in a TV show I just couldn't stop watching. It's left me determined.
This one, is going to become a novel, even if it's never published. I want to write it and it feels like something worth committing to text. It's work-in-progress title will be 'Him'