I’ve had plenty of zombie dreams. Most of them would basically fit right in on The Walking Dead. I’m fleeing zombies with friends, some of whom I haven’t seen since highschool. We flee by car or sometimes helicopter, someone gets bitten and we have to kill them, all the usual tropes.
This one was different. They weren’t zombies, exactly. I don’t really know what to call it, I have no basis for comparison. They looked like regular humans until, without warning, they split apart into tangled fucked up monstrosities of distorted flesh. Very much like the surprise transformations seen in the remake of The Thing, but more rapid.
They had black blood inside. It splattered and gushed everywhere as they erupted out of their human disguise. They would emit ear piercing shrieks of terror and confusion, as if they didn’t even know they weren’t really humans until that exact moment.
I was barricaded inside a tiny apartment with big windows overlooking the city, watching the news. Nobody had any info on what the creatures were, how the plague spread or how to kill them. You could chop them into tiny bits and even the bits would keep coming after you.
We were cautioned not to burn them as it may release spores or in some other way facilitate the spread. There were no identifiable patterns in who transformed or why. They would just seize up, shriek in a shrill, inhuman pitch, and split apart into a thrashing greasy black mass of tendrils and entrails.
Worse, when near one another they would reach out with their tendrils and merge into a single patchwork organism. A deluge of these things was coming out of the hospital for some reason. Maybe it’s some experimental drug? Maybe they were doing genetic experimentation there?
To my abject confusion, there was a debate format talkshow on in which one of the guests was arguing that the creatures represented a new form of life we had no right to kill on sight. That for all we know, they’re trying to communicate with us or something.
To say shit like that while these things are spreading like wildfire seemed suicidal. Then that guy split apart into a shrieking, gushing mass of oily fluid and tendrils. The audience could be heard screaming, climbing over each other to escape. The other guy shattered a glass case, retrieved a flamethrower from inside and used it to immolate the monstrosity.
I began to panic, wondering if I might be one of those things and not even realize it. I looked at myself in the mirror, scrutinizing my own face. I could see nothing out of the ordinary, but continued to agonize over the possibility that I’d split apart at any moment.
I went to the roof of my apartment. There was a radio antenna up there for some reason, like at a radio station. I used those long handled shears sometimes used to remove locks to topple the tower against an adjacent building, so I could climb over it from one to the next.
Conveniently, thanks to dream logic, there was always something or other I could use to cross from rooftop to rooftop. A billboard I tipped over, for example. I stopped when I saw a man far below shooting lightning out of his hands.
He ran into a skyscraper. I have no idea how I got inside, but the next thing I knew I was inside the skyscraper in what looked like a computer room, reading their files. I found out this company was behind experiments involving quantum entanglement that allowed the plague to enter our dimension.
I burst into a meeting room and confronted them about it. There were several serious looking men and women in business suits. Their features were perfect and chiseled. Their hair was so orderly and shiny, it looked like plastic lego man hair. I demanded explanation.
They said they never meant for this to happen. They showed me an anatomical model of a human being to simulate how the plague grows inside the body, corrupting it until only the skin is human, with everything beneath being that foul alien black shit. Then it hatches.
The model was eerily lifelike. It even had a motorized breathing function, the lungs inflating and deflating. The eyes pivoted to look at me. It split apart into one of those creatures, somehow, despite never having been alive. One of the business suit guys shot lighting out of his hands at it, making it explode in a shower of flaming ashes.
His eyes glowed and his hands still crackled. He explained that the same accident which released the plague also gave some people the power to fight these creatures with electrical abilities. But that it could wait, since they were busy deciding which videogame projects to fund development of.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The city was overrun by monstrosities and all they could think about was how to sell shit to people. They said I wouldn’t be so negative if I tried out the game they were funding development on. So I relented, and tried it out.
It was on some weird console with a laptop style flip up screen. It was not backlit but was very crisp. I was playing a game about our exact situation. I controlled a guy that looked like me, in the meeting room of a skyscraper, in a city being overrun by those greasy black oil monsters.
I tried to make my character attack the business suited NPCs. They told me to calm down and try this game they were working on. So I did, and the game was just the same thing. It went on like that until I was in a game playing a game in a game in a game in a game. I realized what was happening and tried to “pull out”.
When I did, it was like a fast, whooshing retreat through frame after frame around the console’s screen. Like when you point a camera at the monitor its feed is displaying on and it creates an endless recursive feedback loop, but I was traveling backwards through it trying to reach reality.
But when I pulled all the way out and was back in reality, I didn’t stop in time. I continued to withdraw out of the dream itself. That’s when I awoke. My goal had only ever been to stop the plague. Somehow I got side tracked by something totally irrelevant. It was a trap that just got me stuck deeper and deeper into something irrelevant to my goals.
If I were to take anything away from this, I guess it would be to stay focused on what it is I want to achieve, and not allow myself to get sucked into quagmires like fruitless arguments, vices, overindulgence in general, whatever is irrelevant to accomplishing what will bring me lasting fulfillment in my life. Also (maybe?) not to lose sight of what is real.
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