Nightmare Castle by the Bay

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I had the wickedest dream last night. I had been captured along with a couple of other guys, and being held in this old, decrepit, castle. The castle was right where the SF Marina is now. Right next to the long pier that curves out into the bay. It wasn’t clear who had us, but they had guns, it seemed like maybe we were hostages. These guys opened fire on some people inside the castle. We were going down these horribly dirty yellow hallways, with incredibly high ceilings. There was some kind of central control office or something up ahead. It was protected by very heavy glass. We were ordered to lie down as they shot over our bodies. I was terrified! I was sure I was going to be hit. I pressed as close to the floor as I could. I can recall the cold hard surface under my face. The shooting stopped, I could hear the men cussing. Their guns had jammed or something. I got up and ran as fast as I could, down more filthy, putrid yellow hallways. It seemed the building was made of this yellow stucco. The walls were rough, like stone. Other people, women, men, and children, joined me as I ran. We were being pursued by what seemed to be an ever increasing army. We never saw them, but could hear them, sense them approaching. We dodged inside an unbelievably rancid bathroom, with graffiti everywhere, and a long trough as a urinal. We could hear them pass us by, outside. I remember how my heart beat, afraid they would enter. We slipped out and made our way down another hall which was darker and more sinister than the rest of the castle. High up on platforms were all these large stuffed toys that were filthy dirty, missing eyes and things. Very creepy. We entered a large warehouse filled with boxes and boxes of old artifacts, old toys, paintings, moldy old books. Everything was dirty, damaged, and very old. There was a musky odor to the warehouse, and there was very little light. It seemed that I had been leading this group of people. We knew it wouldn’t be long before the horrible monstrous army would find us. Our pursuers had taken on a much more ominous quality by now. They were more like these inhuman robotic monsters, than men. I was trying to think of a strategy. I remembered thinking that if only I could get these toys to help us, we might have a chance. As if they heard me, an army of old-fashioned Napoleonic toy soldiers, (or maybe they were Cossacks, because they wore heavy fur jackets.), showed up. They had wooden, painted faces, all of them identical. They had formed ranks, awaiting my orders. Other odd toys, and dolls, and whatnot had also assembled nearby, expectantly. It was like a scene from Toy Story, except this was Toy Story from Hell. Because these toys were filthy and stinky, many broken, paint worn away. This was my army. Then things started happening fast. Gunfire, bright light blinding us in the darkness. People were getting shot, maybe dying. It seemed the toy army was fighting, but getting torn apart, literally. I climbed up onto one of the platforms, where there was a huge blue stuffed dog, very dirty, but friendly. I picked up the surprisingly light toy and hurled it at the invaders. There was a loud explosion. Soon all the stuffed toys had come to life, and were hurling things down on the enemy. Lots of explosions. It was very surreal, and vivid. Huge stuffed toys with happy faces wreaking havoc and carnage. I was glad they were on my side. Everything quieted down. The warehouse grew dark again. There was a smell of smoke. My ragtag army, what was left of it, stood before me. I was filled with gratitude, but also horrified. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of this horrid place. So Elvis Costello (!) and I made our way out of the castle. I could see the Marin headlands and the Golden Gate bridge through the end of a hallway. There’s the way out! I said to Elvis C. But everything looked very weird outside. There was a lurid white light, very hard to look at, which washed out almost everything. There were huge tidal waves crashing over the pier. Very surreal, once again, and in black and white. But I was still glad to get out. I was exhausted, and could barely walk, but I made it across wet, muddy ground, everything around me in a bright white glare, like an overexposed photograph. Some tourists were nearby, a big fat guy wondered if he could get some lemonade at the snack bar. I glanced behind me, and the castle stood dark and smoking,  It had been on fire, and was now smoldering, burned out. Can’t get any lemonade there, fella, I thought. I swear! It was like I was stuck inside a Stephen King novel. I slowly made my way up the slope and over a stone fence. I thought about Alice in Wonderland, and a vision of the Mad Hatter flashed in my mind for a moment, all in black and white. Then as that mostly white world suddenly faded and I woke up, I thought, boy am I glad I made it out of that castle! That was really a nightmare!

In retrospect, I think this dream was inspired, in part, by Margret Cho’s blog post which I read before going to bed. She mentioned watching black and white Twilight Zone episodes and then dreaming of the episode. She also mentioned her hatred of dolls, creepy dolls, and puppets. So this played on my subconscious. But this was one of my more vivid dreams. Scarier than it sounds. I was really scared in that dream. It made me think of a Photoshop collage I did, to accompany a quote by J. G. Ballard. It was about how our American Dream personified by Disney, was transformed into a nightmare by the deaths of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr. It relates in some ways to the dream I had, I think it was the castle where you abandon all hope when you enter. The photoshop collage is below.

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