The Dream

Originally published in TANK Magazine – Volume 1 Issue 6

When the dream began he was lying with his head towards the south-west, towards the wealth corner. He knew it was the wealth corner because Doctor Li had told him so. For this piece of information, Doctor Li had charged him £250. Dr Li charged him a further £50 for the brass spike he drove into the wall and for the crystal which he suspended by the window. Doctor Li advised him to sleep with his head towards the wealth corner. This had been difficult. He had moved his bed from one side of the room to the other but, because of the layout of his home, he was obliged to sleep diagonally across the mattress. His girlfriend didn’t believe him when he told her needed to sleep diagonally because he was so tall. As far as she could see nothing had changed. He hadn’t grown any taller and his mattress seemed to be as long as it was the last time she slept on it. She was wise enough not to press him on the subject. He already had enough problems on his mind without her accusing him of lying. She accepted to take one of the remaining triangles and make the best of it. There were times when he wanted to tell her the truth but he was too embarrassed to tell her how he gave his last £300 to the old Chinese Feng Shui Master.

As the dream progressed, his body moved by degrees around the bed until his feet were pointing towards the wealth corner and his head towards the area of helpful people. This journey took more than an hour to complete but, finally, his body settled into its new position. This is hard to believe, but the dream did continue without intermission throughout his body’s journey and for another half hour beyond. The dream was in real-time and linear. It was not the usual multi-layered kaleidoscope of images and symbols typical of dreams. It was more akin to waking life in the clarity of its narrative. The dream was exact in its premonition. The location was as it would be. The people were as they would be. Even the weather was the warm grey drizzle which could not have been anticipated from the long dry spell which preceded it.

I watched him dream his dream night after night. I watched his body turn its half circle. I watched intently from within my dream, hoping for some clue as to what went wrong. When his dream was complete I would wake up just as the sun-rise started to light my tiny room. Each morning as I woke I held my eyes closed for a moment, checking the dream, checking to see if something had changed, checking for something which might allow me to wake up and not be in this room. Each morning I realised that the dream was the same.  Nothing had changed and I would have to open my eyes to the same cold brick walls.

You probably realise something strange. Perhaps you wonder how it is that in my dream I can watch the dream of another. In truth I do not watch his dream. I only watch his body as he dreams. I only know his dream because he told it to me.

A month passed from the time when I started having the dream to the day I met him. It was a whole month before I knew what was happening in his inner world as his body turned on the bed. I started dreaming my dream the night after Dr Li had driven a brass spike into my wall. It was not in the wealth corner but in the area of fame. I paid Dr Li £50 for the spike and for the advice he gave me. Dr Li told me that I would gain the fame for which I craved but it would not be for my acting. Dr Li told me that one day, quite soon, I would be walking in a part of the city I never usually visit. I would have an urge to go to a bar, to drink a glass of beer. In the bar I would meet a man. I would know it was the right man because he would tell me that he recognised me from somewhere. I would tell him that perhaps he had seen me on television but he would say no, that he had seen me in a dream. He would invite me to go with him to another bar, a quieter bar, where we could talk in private. I would go with him and he would tell me that he had been visited by an old Feng Shui Master. He would tell me what I had to do.

As predicted by Dr Li, I did find myself in a part of the city I never normally visit. I was called to a late casting and, after it was over, found myself in need of a glass of beer. I walked into a bar on route to the bus stop. As I waited for my drink a man came up to me and said that he recognised me from somewhere. I already knew the rest of the conversation and, resisting the temptation to be contrary, I followed it through to its proper conclusion. The man asked if I would join him at his table so we could talk in private. I told him he was supposed to ask me to come with him to another bar. He said he knew but it was raining harder than he expected. Despite my misgivings I joined him at his table near the cigarette machine. The man told me he had been troubled by a recurring dream. In the dream the world was at war. The scene was of awful carnage. In the middle of it he saw himself shouting orders and directing the killing. He had been scared by the dream and scared of the future it seemed to predict for him. He avoided anything which might lead him to that destiny. He immersed himself in a reclusive life, studying philosophical and religious texts. When his father was killed by an opponent’s bullet in Lahore, he was introduced to Dr Li by the executor of his father’s estate who knew of no other way to free him from the burden of his father’s debts. Dr Li told him that he had only two choices. He could follow his heart and travel to Pakistan to avenge his father’s death.

In so doing he would connect with the destiny which he had already discerned from his dream. The alternative was this meeting and the events that would unfold from it. This choice would not only free him from his father’s debts, it would also free his own son, already lodged in his girlfriend’s womb, from the sins which his father had yet to commit.

The man told me that after Dr Li’s visit he started to have another dream. In this dream he meets me in a bar and asks me to join him for a drink. When we finish our drinks he invites me to walk with him. We leave the bar and turn into an alley. A man appears from the shadows with a gun and shoots him dead. The killer turns the gun on me but it mis-fires. I wrestle the killer to the ground just as the police arrive.

Forensic evidence implicates the killer in a series of motiveless murders. A life sentence brings an early conclusion to what would otherwise become a reign of unchecked terror. I am hailed a hero and through a karmic connection beyond my understanding I guarantee the well-being of my progeny.

The man invited me to walk with him. I was still uncertain because of the change of plan due to the unexpectedly heavy rain. My companion assured me that it was the alley that counted, not the bar. I was further reassured when we stepped outside and the rain had become a warm grey drizzle. We turned into the alley and my awareness of events was curtailed by a sharp blow to the back of my head.

I regained consciousness on the concrete floor of a police cell where I was later charged with three counts of murder evidenced by the gun found in my hand. My companion was dead and my assailant was commended for bravery by the court that sentenced me to life without parole. On my third day in prison I noticed a small brass button on the wall. After some hours of picking and scraping with my nails I withdrew a brass spike from the brickwork.