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Tales from the back of the eyelids

Horror

Warning!

  • In this section I have described my most horrific dreams. Because some are extremely gruesome I would suggest that the more squeamish readers amongst you skip this chapter and go on to another.

Horror 1

I was leaning against a post, watching the comings and goings in the street. There crowds of people were strolling about in their heavy nineteeth century clothing. The men were in dark top hats, the women in stiff bodices and hooped dresses, carrying parasols. Clouds of dust were being churned up as horse-drawn carriages passed by.

After few moments of watching and contemplating, I decided it was time to move on. I turned my back on the street and walked into the theatre. When I got upstairs, I opened a door. In the box there was a group of people sitting with their backs to me, watching the play. No-one had noticed I had entered. The president was sitting on the far left.

I looked at my hand and saw there was a revolver in it. It occurred to me that it would be a shame not to use it. So I lifted the gun and fired into the back of the president's head.

The tall man slumped forward. The women in the box started screaming. There was blood everywhere. I had just assassinated Abraham Lincoln.

I looked at the gun in my hand again and suddenly felt appalled at what I had done. Why had I shot him? It is true that he was not a perfect man, even though he was built up to be one after his death. He picked the wrong generals and when they proved to be useless, dithered before firing them. This prolonged the civil war and resulted in thousands more soldiers dying unnecessarily. He also fought the war for the wrong reason: that is, he fought to save the Union rather than to emancipate the slaves.

Even so, I could not understand what had got into me. I would normally never kill any person, even a very flawed person. And if I did feel like killing someone, I would not usually want to kill Abraham Lincoln. I mean, he did eventually emancipate the slaves and so did the right thing in the end.

Horror 2

I was standing in a vast and dark underground cavern bigger than Wembley stadium. The cavern was vaulted by a high rocky ceiling. In the distance I could see a beam of sunlight streaming in sideways through a hidden gap in the wall. The light illuminated the central part of the cave and outwards from it radiated a feeling of calm and peace. Particles were slowly swimming and turning in the shaft of light.

Something about these particles attracted my attention. What could they be? I wondered. For some reason I thought they might be photons. But those particles of light would be too small to see. Dust? At that distance that also would be impossible to see. I studied them more closely. They were flowing persistently, all in one direction, from the invisible opening to the back of the cave. Then I noticed the particles were a stream of human skulls marching in the air.

I looked down to the floor of the cave and saw I was standing on a sea of skeletons half-buried in the mud. Submerged ribs and assorted bones - bright white in the blackness - poked out from the surface under me. The bones littered the ground as far as I could see into the distance.

Suddenly, as if prompted by a signal, the skeletons tore themselves from the ground and began fighting with each other. The cave was full of skeletons, grappling in twos, white arms at each other's necks, trying to push the skulls off their opponents.

A moment later a pair of bony hands grabbed my throat. I struggled and wrestled. But the chances were uneven: the skeleton was dead, whereas I was alive. He could stop the air getting into my body by squeezing, but there was no way I could push the life out of him in return. Instead, I tried to unclasp his grip by pulling his hands away from my neck, but he had the strength of death and I could not move his fingers. His hold was tightening while I was desperately fighting for air.

Fortunately, just before I died, I woke up, gasping for breath.

Horror 3*

We got Rikki when he was a little puppy and when I was four years old. He was the sweetest dog in the world. Everyone thought so. He was not only beautiful in looks but he had the nicest temperament of any dog.

He was a cross between an Alsatian and a Border Collie but looked better than either breed. Alsatians are too coarse, and in their behaviour they are usually thugs - not brute thugs as are Dobermans - but sly, calculating ruffians. Border Collies, on the other hand, look scrawny, and are too impish in character - which means they are not totally sincere.

Rikki, though, was sincere - at least towards humans - and had a sleek build (in size half-way between a Collie and Alsatian) had smooth fur, a black back, a white belly and a long, silky, brown and white snout. His head which was black and brown, did not have those white blotches which make Collies look peculiar.

Rikki genuinely loved humans and he loved us, his family, the most of all humans. He was usually friendly to dogs, but when he loathed another dog, he was an absolute coward. For example he would bark furiously through our French windows whenever the Boxer from down the road passed our house, because he knew the Boxer could not get at him. But if he should meet the dog outside, he would always run away with his tail between his hind legs. He rarely got into fights with other dogs and if he did, he only did because the other dog started it. We can take this as a sign of his nobility or cowardice, depending which way we look at things.

When we first got Rikki I was enchanted with him. Later, when I got used to him being around, I more-or-less forgot about him. I believe the rest of the family did too. I'm afraid to say that because both my parents were working, Rikki spent much of his life shut up by himself in the kitchen.

Things weren't better for him during the school holidays: my family liked to go abroad and because of the strict quarantine laws in Britain, Rikki had to be put in kennels. While there he would he fall into a state of despair. Out of either loss of appetite or protest he would eat virtually nothing. When we came to take our skinny dog home again he would be wild with happiness, but a few hours later, having got over the initial joy, he would start sulking. For a couple of days, out of resentment at what we had done to him, he would refuse to communicate with us.

When I was eleven years old my relationship with Rikki changed abruptly. It happened because my parents sent me off to boarding school. One weekend during my first term Mother and Father came to visit me, to make sure, I suppose, that I was doing fine. They stayed in a hotel near to the school and I went to see them. When I came into their room, Rikki jumped up on me. For quite a while he stood on his hind legs with his front paws resting on my shoulders. He looked at me intently, worried that I might disappear again. The dog I had forgotten about had missed me!

This incident broke me. For the first time I realised that I was homesick. For weeks I had pretended to myself that I loved school because I thought that if I were happy it would make my parents happy. When Rikki jumped on me, the pretence evaporated: I suddenly realised I hated school and that I was miserable. I loved only my family and our dog. I wanted to go home.

The next day, when my parents and Rikki left, I cried until my eyes were red and my head was sore. I thought I would never be happy again.

After that, Rikki and I were very close. He became like a brother to me. In fact, he was better than my real brother because because he was much nicer. Also we were more compatible because the difference between our ages was less. (My real brother is six years older than me). When I was at home on holiday, I would take him on walks which lasted hours. We would run around in the local woods, or we would play chase and fetch the stick in the park. Those were happy times for both of us.

In my fourth year at boarding school Rikki became ill. After coming back from those wild runs with me, he would lie exhausted on the kitchen floor, coughing and wheezing. Mother told me I should not run with him as much, as he wasn't such a young dog any more. I tried to run a bit less with him afterwards, but it was difficult to restrain ourselves.

Over the next six months Rikki's condition deteriorated. His cough grew worse and he could walk only slowly. If he tried to do anything more strenuous he would struggle for breath. We knew he was dying.

Even so, when the Easter holidays came, the family went abroad. "After all," my mother would say "You can't sacrifice your life for the sake of a dog, can you?" Thankfully though, this time my parents had enough sense not to put him in the kennels. They got someone to live in the house and look after him.

I didn't enjoy the holiday. I spent most of the time worrying about Rikki. Would I ever see him again? I wondered. But I did. When we returned Rikki was very feeble but still alive.

A couple of days later my holidays finished and I was getting ready to go back to school. I went down to the kitchen to say goodbye to him. With an effort he managed to get up to greet me. I caressed his beautiful snout. Then I left, closed the front door and walked to the train station, crying all the way.

Two days later my father telephoned me to say that Rikki had collapsed and died in front of the house as he was trying to take him to the vet. He was ten years old. Absolutely everyone who knew him, including all the neighbours, were upset when they found out he had died. He was that sort of dog.

As for myself, I still have not completely got over his death all these years later and to this day I still have dreams about him. They usually go something like this:

Rikki suddenly dies and I am very sad. While I am wandering about our old home in England, I come across Rikki, alive and well again, in the kitchen. I am overjoyed: I must have been mistaken because Rikki had not died at all!

After playing with him, however, I cease to be as sure as I was that he is the real Rikki. Perhaps he is not Rikki but only Rikki's relative, because he seems too young. Perhaps someone is just trying to make me feel better. Then an older dog appears, which I do not recognise at first, and I am confused because both dogs look like Rikki.

Soon I realise, though, that the older dog is the real Rikki. What a pity that I had not realised that he had been alive all these years! I have missed him and because he disappeared for so long I feel that we have lost all the good times we could have had together. But before I have had enough time to feel happy to see him again, suddenly he collapses and dies before my eyes. Once again I am devastated.

Not very long ago I had this dream again. But this time, towards the end, on seeing Rikki lying dead in front of me, I grabbed a knife and went up to his body. Crouching over him, I slit his skin near the neck with the knife and continued to cut all the way along his belly. I then peeled back his skin to reveal his pink and bloody flesh underneath. Before cutting him up into pieces, I cut off his legs and head which were still covered with fur.

I took the pieces of meat, threw them into a casserole dish and cooked them on the stove. When Rikki was ready, I took him out and served him on a plate with rice and vegetables. Then I sat down at the table and ate him with a knife and fork.

What on earth can such a terrible dream mean? I really have no idea. I was absolutely repulsed at what I was doing, even while I was doing it. I was desperate to stop but some nefarious force was driving me on against my will. But despite the horror, I have to say one positive thing: as I was chewing on the meat I thought how excellent Rikki tasted.

Horror 4

 She was a woman committed to a psychiatric hospital. In every respect she was a normal woman, except for her one obsession. She was bent on self-mutilation.

When confined to her room, from which all things she could hurt herself with had been removed, you would never know there was anything wrong with her. She would sit and talk to you about all sorts of inconsequential topics over tea, in the same way as your grandmother would do. You could never imagine that she was waiting for the opportunity to injure herself. If the chance arose, she would seek sharp instruments - knives, razor blades and so on - in order to sever her limbs from her body.

I suppose the staff at the hospital had become sloppy in their routine with her, precisely because she seemed so normal most of the time. On this particular day the female doctor and the male nurse, who had come to do the daily check-up, forgot to lock the door to her room after they entered. The nurse had his back to the patient while he was filling a syringe and the doctor was writing something in her notebook. In that instant the woman was gone. The nurse and the doctor fled out into the corridor after her, but she was no where to be seen.

After panicking for a bit, flying hither and thither, they found her standing quietly in the park at the back of the building. Each grabbed an arm, as if to restrain her, but she put up no resistance. She merely wanted to be left alone and to be allowed to be free, she told them. Why were they doing this to her, she asked? She did not want to go back to her room. All she wanted to do was to be allowed to walk outside again, in the park, in the fresh air.

The doctor and the nurse tried to reason with her, argue with her, persuade her - and so on - so they would not have to use force. But she argued back with such calm sense that it was difficult for them to find good replies. In every respect, as I have said, she was a normal woman, bar her obsession.

The doctor and the nurse were too involved in this conversation to notice the machine start up at the bottom of the park. The noise was loud: even I, lying asleep in my bed, could hear the whirring of the motor and the swishing of the blade. But more importantly, the patient heard the machine too.

Without warning she broke away from the hold of the other two and made a crazed dash for the machine. It was a giant reaper made for cutting high grass and had a long swiping blade, which rotated in wide random arcs, like an uneven helicopter propeller. The doctor and the nurse furiously ran after her and caught the kneeling woman by both arms.

But it was too late. The trio stood frozen together in a tableau, lasting only for a second, while the blade swung around and lopped the head off the nurse and the extended forearm of the patient. For an instant head and arm hung in the air, detatched only by a centimetre or two, the head carrying a glazed, worried expression. Even before the head and arm had time to fall down, even before the stooped doctor had time to collect herself and crawl away, another swing of the blade, this time lower down, snicker-snacked through the torso of the doctor and through the neck of the woman. And as the segments of their bodies fell on the ground in a heap, the swiping blade continued swirling above.

Horror 5

It was like a scene from a horror movie. It was a moonlit night, quiet and still. When iron gate to the graveyard was pushed open, it squealed disconcertingly, like an animal in pain.

Someone high up in the family hierarchy, probably my mother, had decided that it was time for us to visit the family grave and pay our respects. We all trooped in, walking in single file on the narrow path between the graves. I was the last in the line, of course, and dawdled at the back as much as I could get away with. I had not wanted to come, but I was made to and dawdling was a sign of protest.

The moonlight was almost as bright as daylight, but the shadows were blacker than night and nothing could be seen in them. The graveyard was old and neglected. A stone wall, overgrown with ivy and falling down in places, enclosed it. The graves were packed in densely, with no empty spaces between them, and most were also dilapidated. Some were monumental and were decorated by huge statues of weeping angels, elaborate crosses and the like. In fact, it looked very much like the graveyard where my family's grave really is.

When we reached the grave, we stood in a semi-circle around it, bowed our heads and pretended to be very solemn. After a while of standing in silence my attention began to wander. I noticed that next to our grave there was a catafalque and in it lay Susan, a former girlfriend of mine. Her body was surrounded by flowers and she was wearing a pretty dress, as if she were on display to mourners.

As I was looking at her, I was surprised to see that she gave me a wink.

"She can't be dead," I thought to myself. "She's only pretending in order to attract attention."

My brother was standing next to me and gave me a nudge to remind me to concentrate on what I should be concentrating on. But I couldn't stop myself from turning around every few seconds to look at Susan. My brother soon noticed what was distracting me.

"Don't disgrace the family!" He hissed.

"But she winked at me!" I protested.

"So what?" He snapped. "Dead people do move sometimes. It's only a nervous reaction after death. Just ignore it!"

But as I turned away, out of the corner of my eye I saw that Susan began to twitch and jerk all over, her legs, arms and head shaking violently. Susan seemed determined to make me stare at her. If that was her aim, she was successful.

Big brother gave me slap on the back of my head. "I told you - ignore it! It doesn't mean anything. Concentrate!" As you can see, the smallest thing can make him annoyed.

"But she's not dead! She's only acting!" I protested. "I saw her eyelids flutter and she looked right at me."

My brother groaned in exasperation. "Look you twerp! She's dead all right."

Fuming, he turned his back on us and walked towards a nearby tree. There he found a hatchet lying on the trunk. I suppose some workman must have forgotten it. Then, with an unpleasant sneer in his face, he went up to Susan. He raised the hatchet above his head and brought it down on her. With blow following blow he chopped her body up into pieces.

Still sneering, he picked up the bits and threw them into a tub of water which was standing nearby. As if by magic, I saw the body parts drift together by themselves and join, as globules of fat would do. After a while they had all merged to form something like a human being. This being, however, looked nothing like Susan. It was a stunted, twisted, ghastly-looking creature with a ghoulish face and a horrible, malevolent expression. The creature, which used to be Susan, then began to twitch and jerk all over as if it were alive, in the same way Susan had done.

"I told you so!" cried my brother triumphantly. "She's still twitching. I cut her up into pieces, she must be dead and yet she's still twitching. Proved my point. Dead people twitch like that. End of story." He then barked: "Will you now shut up and pay attention?"

That flummoxed me. Brother seemed to be right and science seemed to have proved me wrong. Nevertheless I knew Susan had been alive, because I had seen her wink at me. That had been no illusion: it had happened a moment before, in front of my eyes. There had to be a logical reason. How could I explain the mystery?

With great effort I thought the problem through, as if my life depended on the answer. "I've got it!" I exclaimed a moment later. I turned to my brother, and said slowly, becoming more convinced by the second : "They can do anything with computer animation these days."

My brother looked at me sceptically and said nothing, but I was warming to my theme.

"Can't you see?" I said. "All of this has been staged. It's a sham. We are putting this on for the benefit of those looking at us now on the big screen. It's only a film, that's all. In fact, even what I'm saying now has been carefully scripted beforehand, down to the last word. It's not real, we're only acting!"

My brother did not say anything to this, but looked at me sheepishly and seemed to have become extremely awkward. He looked as if he were trying to find the right words, but had drawn a blank because he never was any good at ad libbing. Knowing my brother as I know him, though, the last thing he would do would be to blame himself. I could almost hear him thinking to himself:

"Idiot brother! He's always so embarrassing," he would be saying to himself behind clenched teeth. "Trust him to say the wrong line at the wrong time! What a disaster! How do I get us out of this one without the audience noticing?"

And while he was thinking like this, he was standing frozen to the spot in terror, realising that the longer he left it before thinking up the next line, the more painfully obvious it would become that we had fluffed and that we were completely incompetent actors.

* Please note that most of this story, even though true, is not a dream. The dream only comes at the end.

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