Strange Dreams

Turn 1

It is a starry, clear night; a faint glow from the sun sends a reddish haze across the horizon. Something in the stars, however, just feels strange - that same strangeness that always seems to herald another night without rest. You resign yourself to the feeling and decide to turn in.

Your sleep (when you finally fall into it) is empty and deep. Your thoughts seem to recede into the inky well of unconsciousness and there vanish into the blackness. Then, just as inexorably, images flow into and through you.

A view of the holy land, as God might have. Though it is indistinct, you see those features you recognise from maps and the absolute vastness of what lies below strikes you as you begin to fall, screaming silently as you hurtle towards the lands below. The lands shift and change, and the cities with their lights become men, and they stride hugely across forests, rivers and seas. Jerusalem below you extends a hand and rescues you from your fall, placing you on his shoulder as he walks the levant to the other cities. The landscape folds up around you and becomes a room. The men who are yet still the cities are speaking to each other, their words laden with the thousand voices of their citizenry to become deafening roars. They talk peace and war, history and the future, the acts of great men and the acts of God. Their shouting grows louder and then becomes screaming as each city's people cry injustice against the others. A river of blood grows from the feet of the cities and their life seems to flow from them leaving husks that are palaces and buildings and fields and walls and graves and the very foundation dirt, the human forms crumbling. The cities then become nightmarish twisted things and decay, and a river of black passes over them all and floods everything. A wave breaks across the entirity of the sky so that everything has become murky and dark. You begin to drown, and struggle under the depths for air, until the entire scene breaks through a gate, a barrier, and deposits you upon a sandy shore where the grains are stars and the sky above black with their absence.

Around the shore stretching into the distance is nightmare made physical and real. The water at the shore is a foul slime that oozes and drips, and then recedes back into the distance to leave a coral reef of crystals that glimmer in the half-light from the sand. You soar into the air above them and follow as they are revealed by the retreat of their cover, faster and faster hurtling towards the horizon which ever recedes as the crystals below blur into shifting fractal patterns which start to repeat faster and faster as you increase your speed. Suddenly, without slowing, the landscape below stabilises and stops, and suddenly you see everything and more as if you were rising above the scene. The patterns grow out from the centre and become more horrible as they do so, chilling you to your very bones as their lines intersect to reveal a malevolence unimaginable. As the last of the pattern is about to be revealed you almost catch a glimpse of what you know to be everything that is perfect, but you see no more as the patterns darken, morph and shift horribly. As you watch, you see that they are formed from billions of tiny ants, uncountable in their multitudes. They crawl over each other and form up before you into a blasphemous shape aliken to a man which opens its mouth and pours forth a ravenous horde which devours all. As they flood your nostrils and mouth and tear you from the inside out you resign yourself to death.

Awakening with a start, the starlight floods over you and reveals you to be back in the waking world. You decide not to go back to sleep this night.

Turn 2

This night is much like the day had been, cold and still. Heavy cloud cover obscures the sky, but as you lazily drift off to sleep you can almost see their radiance piercing through like candles in a sea of sheep's wool.

This sleep is not nearly as fluffy as the sky. You drop into a dream which you recognise; not because you have seen it before, but because the feeling is oh-so familiar, that of being almost real. It is night and you are pacing the dark alleyways. You wander for miles in uncharted lengths of winding maze-like medina streets, until your feet begin to bleed. Looming shadows fall from doorways across your path like malicious oil-slicks. You pick your way past them and then start forcing yourself through the narrower and narrower streets. Soon it becomes difficult to move, and you then find yourself trapped between two infinite walls with no way to move and no hope of escape. They bend in at the infinite regress, and their confluence flows towards you like a wave, approaching ever closer and about to crush you. They start to spin, you with them, and the wave reaches and engulfs you and buries you within the walls. You begin to swim through the rock and find a doorway which opens back into empty space, into a huge underground room. The room extends for miles, but the rock ceiling above you drips with stalactites and columns of rock that are slick to the touch. Rivers flow in from the edges, down long rocky slopes, winding between greenery. Impossibly the rivers drain into nothing and disappear as they reach the centre, towards which you slowly pace. Slipping, you fall into a river, which starts to bear you onwards towards this central point. You cannot get a purchase on the rocks, and it carries you for what seems like miles of half-drowning horror until you are deposited next to a great tree which grows up into the infinite height of the cavern. Carved into the tree are thousands of faces, animal faces, and they walk from the tree and become real. Three cats, one white, one grey, and one black, take up position to one side of you. A parrot and an owl fly out, followed by a trumpeting elephant. Two monkeys follow, on the back of a pony. A trio of camels follow a trio of cats, a dog, a horse, a mongoose and a ferret. A shining golden hind steps out gracefully along with a hawk and a hound. Finally, an unusually intelligent raven flies out and alights in a branch, along with a midnight black tomcat which climbs up beside it. Countless more animals approach from the distance and array themselves around you, staring up at the tree. The tree unfolds itself and reveals a throne, upon which there sits a tangle of rats joined at the tail and wearing a crown. The animals bow, and the rat speaks in a thousand tongues, none of which you can understand. A tide of blood floods down from the rivers and begins to drown the animals who mutate horribly into a swarm of half-borne horrors screaming madly in their death throes, but clearly they are unable to die. Their screams become louder and louder, deafening, and then turn to chanting. The chanting becomes prayers, made to the Crawling Chaos, and now turning to an inexplicably triumphant shriek - Iä! Gura! The Goat with a Thousand Young! The screaming pitches higher and higher along with your own death rattle, until suddenly it is over.

You jerk up out of bed, and find tears of blood dripping from your eyes and staining your cheeks a scarlet red.

Turn 3

Exhausted, you turn in for the night. It's been a long day and you are looking forward to a restful night's sleep to prepare for another busy day tomorrow. Lying there, however, you can't quite get that release from exhaustion you need, and as sleep overtakes you and engulfs you it is clear that tonight won't be as restful as you need.

A large, open room, filled with people. The fire pit in the centre sends to the roof opening a steady stream of smoke, and people are laughing and talking loudly at each other, drinking. You force your way through the crowd towards a young child, a girl, who is playing too close to the fire. She seems unaware of you as you approach and as you reach her a sharp movement causes her to stumble and collapse towards the fire. Reaching out, you catch her before she can hurt herself, and lay her on the ground where she lies and smiles up at you with the sublime innocence of her youth. The smile turns steadily to a rictus, a grimace of pain. You look down at where you are holding her arm, and recoil in horror. From your touch is growing and spreading an oily black necrosis which is pure death itself. It snakes slowly across her arm, bubbling and writhing, spreading inexorably up her arm. She screams, and the blight spreads up her neck, over her face and down into the screaming mouth. Around you incredulous onlookers stare at her, and then at you with accusing fire burning in their eyes. One reaches out to grab you, but as he does so the same blighted disease takes and ruins his hand; he screams in horror and tries in a panicked rage to tear the flesh from his arm, stripping skin and flesh, but the black death-rot goes too deep and just as inexorably overtakes him too. His last look is directly into your eyes, matching his to yours, and therein you see a pleading that cuts to your very soul.

You turn and there are the holy men. The honourable servants. There is hatred in their eyes, no fear or anger. Their rage becomes audible though their mouths are closed. Their terrible stares; you cannot look any longer and turn. You are goaded onwards by their very loathing, and begin to run, stumbling, through a cold desert of snowdrifts, the midday sun freezing the ground and chilling you to your bone. You pass caravans, villages, cities - each welcome you and protect you from the chase; each in turn succumbs to the rot and turns you out. They cry, they scream, but it is too late. They are condemned, and it was by your touch, your hand. The holy men are again behind you, forcing you to carry on, they are chasing you through more cities and you cannot stop and you cannot help yourself as you bring them death. You stumble and collapse into the coolness of the snow, which burns you with its cold, a burning which seems to set your flesh ablaze until in that moment, consumed by the holocaust, you transcend yourself.

You have become the disease itself, the plague, the infection, the unforgiving and uncaring corruption. Each person infected by your creeping death becomes a new vector, multiplying tentacles of contagion which destroy and enfoul everything you can grasp. Soon you have spread yourself to every corner of the Earth, and the final, terrible horror of everything you have done is revealed before you as you finally see what you have done not by compulsion and nature but by choice and wilful confirmation. You consign those fallen to a final death, a release from the agony, and they fall to the dust. The worms devour their bodies as the flesh rots from their bones, which are then jerked up under the earth as though part of a manic inverted puppeteer's dance. Beneath the earth they roam ceaselessly in that empty underworld, no stars to gaze upon with unseeing eyes nor a sun to warm the frozen bones. Ever out of reach is the world of the living, into which the hordes prepare to march. For you are the opening, that bridge between that dread purgatory and the light of the world they crave so much. They are marching for you, and they demand that you open yourself to them.

You awake the next morning to a cold breeze and a stiffness in your joints. The ground beneath your feet no longer seems as solid as it once did.

Turn 4

The Vernal Equinox is approaching, signalling the arrival of Winter. Tonight is the turning point where night outlasts day, and the season draws dark and cold. It is not a normal night for other reasons, as you soon find yourself aware of slipping into another lucid sleep…

You are in the desert. The hot sun blasts down upon you, and the wind whips a grinding dust around your feet. Before you lie the dunes of the deep desert, the place that is so inhospitable that even the Bedouin rarely venture there. You take a step out into the sands and they soar beneath your feet as each bounding stride you take brings you deeper and deeper into the unending sands. Eventually you reach what you know to be the very centre of the desert, and the sun shines from directly overhead, getting hotter and hotter, beginning to boil away the very humidity in the air. The sand begins to melt at your feet, and turns to glass, and rises into the air. Spires and towers rise from the sands as glass piercing the ground and forced upward by the heat of the burning globe above. Their perfect transparent form hardens as they rise around you, and eventually you are among a great glassy city that reaches from the heavens to the deepest vaults of the earth. You walk among the great glass city until you come to a temple which shines at the highest point, and are drawn into it. You walk the mirrored corridors and see yourself a hundred times over until you come to a dark room wreathed in shadow. There there is a circle of thrones facing inwards around a circle of candles which despite their brilliance serve only to obscure the occupants of the thrones. You are drawn to the one nearest you, which is empty. You take the seat, and the whole assemblage is forced high into the air leaving the room and the candles far below. Up here you sit enthroned amongst the stars in the firmament itself, surrounded by a court of occupied thrones. You look in amongst them and see figures you recognise. One is gangling, his long hair half obscuring aquiline features, and wearing the robes of an obscure Holy Order. The next is a tall and resplendent man with perfect features carrying a large sword. A mitred figure in cardinal's robes is next, a defiant stare returning your gaze. Another monk, this time in more western garb with pointed staring eyes and a goatee. A beautiful princess with Rus features who is covering her face from those around. The next man is garbed in Praeceptor's robes, with a long but unbearded face. The penultimate man is an armoured knight bearing the Cross of Saint George on his crest. He has short, blonde hair and spectacles. Finally, the last man has windswept Greek features that you do not immediately recognise.

The thrones break with an earthquake before everyone has had time to fully appreciate the situation, and the others disappear as you plummet towards the ground. It opens, the city opening to swallow you whole, and you fall into the very bowels, the deepest and darkest basements of the city. There, in a great vaulted cavern, there is a huge monstrous figure unlike anything you have seen or heard tales of before, bound in chains along its colossal length and anchored to the ceiling, the walls and the floor. It struggles mightily. As it turns and stares at you with burnt-out eye sockets you take in the full horror of its form; an oozing udder and lower parts hang distended beneath a powerful amorphous body which changes its shape as you watch. Its five mouths bear foul teeth at you, and broken wings hang limply at its side covering innumerable legs. It screams and from the sound a crystalline ice begins to grow and cover everything. The scene freezes into a grotesque tableaux and shatters.

You awaken with a start, a cold wind uttering forth from your lungs and condensing in the air.

Turn 5

Tonight you have a restless sleep, uncomfortable on your bed no matter how you lie. You twist and turn and eventually it is weariness that takes you rather than comfortable rest.

As you drop into the dream-world you find that it is just as restless. You tumble through a restless ocean, buffeted and thrown by waves and currents. You swim to the surface, but it is covered in a layer of vegetation. You hammer away at the underside until you break through and haul yourself up onto a massive sargasso mat which stretches from horizon to horizon. Great bubbles rise from under the mat and burst with sickening squelches, bringing with them the foul stench of effluent. From amongst the sargasso crawl great horrible creatures, insectoid but also fleshy and dribbling ooze from slack-jawed maws. You see all around you life bursting into existence, which writhes and thrashes and stalks and consumes, the whole horrible cycle of life progressing with infinite speed and inevitability around you. Beast consuming beast spawning beast and with all of it the rot and cancer of life itself, the inevitable decay whilst running just ahead of oblivion by creating more just as the previous generation fail and fall. The forms which rise about you are foul and unholy, blasphemous mutations parodying a more perfect form but with their infinite iterations never quite approaching it. You walk across the sargasso for what seems like an eternity, and you turn to see that the incalculable swarm are following you. In your hand appears a set of pipes. You blow a discordant tune which the swarm delight upon and dance to the dead music as they follow. You turn again and are horrified to see children dancing with the foul creatures; human children who are drawn to the music that you cannot help but play. You pass towns, and villages, and more leave to join the unholy parade. In fact, all the monsters behind you, human or otherwise, are children. Children of some horrible mother who left them half-aborted in the world incomplete and without direction. They call to you, and still you keep playing and leading them onwards, to where you do not know. You place down the pipe at your side and immediately the pack pounces upon you, children tearing the flesh from your body and consuming it in a horrid cannibalistic feast of blood and death.

You wake with a start. There are scratches across your chest - possibly claw marks, possibly fingernails. Either way, they do not add to your comfort.

news/bm/strange.txt · Last modified: 2009/10/12 19:01 by oliver
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