‘Growing Pains’ & ‘Painkillers’ (ENG505)
Exercise 1: Start with a dream. Lift some image or fear out of it to explore your unconscious mind.
Two men drive in a car along the freeway. The car is something old, something nearly ancient — the dashboard is free of the new-age digital interface so commonly prevalent nowadays, and the seats have the wears of time on them, evidenced through the torn gashes of leather exposing strange white tufts of material underneath. The men are brothers, though one is a brunette while the other is a dark blonde, and they do not speak despite the looming silence in the vehicle. I am the first of the brothers, though in the world beyond this dream, I have no siblings of my own.
They arrive at a house. It is an old manor, with more wear to it than their vehicle could ever hope to exhibit without giving up on this world entirely. The stones are cracked, moss and vines having made reclusive homes out of the crevices, while the painted doorway has had its masterful strokes of color seemingly wiped clean through the passing of a thousand storms. The door mat, once a comely ‘Don’t Tread on Me!’ has lost its lustre, its words barely legible to any passing onlooker. The windows are a pitch black (which, in a dream, seemed perfectly normal) and allow no sight into the building.
But strangest of all is the roof. The dull maroon tiles have been infested with slithering tentacles that sway gently in the breeze. They look akin to worms with scaly skin, each several feet long, and distributed haphazardly along the surface of the rooftop. Their heads are those of the brothers — it is impossible to count how many. Each head bears the face of one of the siblings, emotionless and expressionless, staring blankly into white space. They seem unmoved by the presence of the two visitors. Like they were never really there.
The brothers leave the car. The sight of these hundreds of appendages, stretching towards the sky like dandelions yearning for sunlight, does not phase them… almost as if they were a part of the house. As if they had not come from somewhere beyond, but rather grew from within the manor, emanating from some alien origin buried behind its walls. The brothers enter the home, and everything becomes darkness.
I wake and know not what it means. Then I make coffee, and life goes on.
Exercise 2: Rewrite a prior piece using a different perspective.
We do not feel the sun in the way flowers do, but we hunger for its rays nonetheless.
Our flesh wriggles in waves. It churns like open seas, chirping away at wind that blows through the valley of the manor. The manor — our home, our nest, our shame — does not exist in the way that we do. Our kind, created out of fascinations and fear and loathing, do not dream. It dreams. The manor creates reality through trinkets and flame, and from its forge the existence we despise props itself up like sand against the coastline. It seethes, and we sigh. Master and Slaves. King and Knaves. God and Apostles. But even this God had its creator.
From down the hill — movement. Beings that move, but not in the way we do. Spindly beasts in caskets of iron and dust. They have come to the manor by choice, but not for the reason we did. They were not dreamed. One of them may well be the dreamer.
The machine pauses in its hunt, the flared nostrils at its rear coughing out cancerously before grinding to a halt. It dies, but not in the way we will. This death is temporary, and it can return. It will not — the men within no longer require its services — but it matters little to us. Is absence of life equivalent to death? We do not know. We were never meant to dream, after all.
The men come closer, and we discover what we knew all along: These are the dreamers, or one of them is. They created our imprint. They burned their visages onto our faces, though one is false and the other is demon. Demon that made us, and made us howl, and made us silent, and we exist through this — his — the dream that was built though the mind that wrought such madness as this.
They enter the manor, and all falls silent. We see the darkness seethe, hear iron growl. We remember dreams that never were, and dreams that will never be.
The dream is dying. It will die soon, in the hopes of one day being reborn, before dying again, dying finally, dying for a final, blessed, everlasting time –
But not in the way He will.