Night #4

I was in some place like the Mines of Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring, except instead of being a mine, it was more like sewers. A very damp, labyrinthine mine. There were creatures around us—a group of people, including myself and a pregnant woman—that were large and round and anthropomorphic. You could call them goblins. Sometimes they feigned mindlessness and pretended to ignore us, but they were really trying to catch us off guard. We would alternate between walking hesitantly by them and running for our lives. I don’t know how the tunnels were lit. I think a glow came from below us, in the floor, and gave an even stranger look to the goblins. Going through those tunnels was like going down to Hell in order to come up again.

We were trying to get through the tunnels to bring the pregnant woman to her birthing place. She was in labour. We emerged from the tunnels and were in the back of a convenience store. It was like a trope of the back-alley-abortion, but it was for childbirth. The chips in the convenience store were all bulk size, like the big fuck-off Costco bags. The only flavour allowed behind the curtained section, where the woman was now being cared for, were sour cream and onion. I looked at a counter with the cash register, high up and all acrylic plastic instead of glass, and there were slim bottles of cola.

I left through a door. I entered in a blue room, like the blue of my kitchen, and I was very small. There was a doorway to my left, leading to the basement—true to life. I was like a mouse near the corner of the fridge in real life, but there were no kitchen appliances in the blue room. I had a conversation with my room mate about noises in the basement.

I was then getting Chinese food with an Asian girl—I think she was like the Korean room mate I had in my first year of university. The Chinese restaurant was set up in a canteen/cafeteria style. I hated all of the side dishes available to me. I took a while to order, which made me anxious since they were busy. I went to pay, but had forgotten my debit card. I asked the restaurant owner to wait ten minutes, since I lived up the street. With the Asian girl, I walked outside and discovered it was winter. We got outside and at first the street was like Wyandotte and the Chinese neighbourhood in Windsor. But then it switched to a section of Sandwich Town as we crossed an intersection. Then, it was the 5 Points intersection in Barrie. We reached a shitty little 3-story apartment building and I unlocked the left-most door and went inside. I grabbed my debit card and went to shut the door, but instead pulled two scarves with me and found myself on the 3rd story. I fell down and it didn’t hurt, and then ran back with the scarves and the Asian girl.

Night 4

Night #3

I’m in a big box store, like Walmart, except it isn’t Walmart.

I contemplate office supplies. While diving into a box of tapes, I pull out packages of washi. Silly designs. So much pastel and iconography. I’m trying to find something geometric and/or monochromatic. A woman named Anita approaches me and talks about cookie recipes, asking if I have any suggestions for an upcoming bake sale at her (our) school. I give her suggestions and reach my hand down into the box again. I pull out a monochromatic and geometric package of washi, and then I smile. After shuffling the top layer, I find three more packages. They enlarge when I put them in my cart.

The sticky notes give me trouble. Their shades are slightly different between two brands.

“Do I want the more pastel one, or the one with a better colour display?”

I get neither and settle for faded-urine yellow. While I meander past more aisles, their shelves towering high above me, I make my way into one labelled for vacuum supplies. The far end, on one side of the aisle, houses the sewing supplies.

I run into an acquaintance named Jordan as she hunts through needles displayed in wooden slots like a “What can you feel?” trap. She seeks a #12 needle and there is one left in the slot. I pull it out.


“Oh my god.”

She leaves.

For some reason, I return to the front of the store and find myself in a section called “Finger Protection.” Gloves and gloves and gloves and gloves.

The next aisle has full displays of pyjamas, lain out like samples on a slanted, white shelf. I prod at a Cat In The Hat onesie and it squirms. Someone is inside it, their face not visible—or their head not present—and I think, “It isn’t thick and plush enough for my tastes.” I move to the next aisle. I gaze at large, IKEA-dispenser-like containers for boxer shorts. One has an old 8-bit video game design on it, but it’s kitsch. The design isn’t emblematic of any specific video game. A farce.

There is a seasonal aisle with cookie displays. Behind a white tablecloth, I find an old two-building gingerbread house display my friends and I built with friends farther north. They appear near me and we talk about smashing it. We wonder when is the right time, the right place?


I reach for the dry assemblage of cookies.


We scamper away like vandals until we find a back door to the parking lot. We leave and smash the gingerbread to the pavement. I jump on it, my friends kick it, we mutilate it—and then I see security guards ambling nearer to us. They aren’t intentionally making their way to us, so I move to my friends to guide them behind a car and back to the door. They disappear. I turn back to the wreckage. The gingerbread house turns into a dead dog.

The security guards look at me and hasten their pace. One grabs me by the arm and the other, in hyperspeed, grabs my friend and pushes him inside. I try to open the back door, but only the security guard can do that. She seems more annoyed than disciplinary. They push us inside and my friend disappears again.

I try to find my shopping cart, laden with potted plants, office supplies, and too heavy for me to look reasonable while pushing it. I can’t find it. I get a box of 500 pencils and check out.

I’m at home. I’ve ordered a pizza. A woman with an accent calls me 30 minutes after I place the order. I, too, was wondering where the fuck the pizza was.

“Karren Alay?”

Butchered name. The standard.

“Yeah, that’s me.” (It isn’t, but I know it is.)

She asks me if I ordered a pepperoni pizza (yes) to 1120 Islington Tower, Toronto (no).

“Um, no.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“I live in Windsor.”

A sudden movement and noise against wooden boards. My eyes are open. Fuck. It’s 8am. I do not want to be awake at this time on a Saturday.

Night #3

Night #2

You and I and our six children went to a nature retreat and hiked around. Forests. Large trees. Dirt and dead leaves. We went to a huge pool in a facility—like a rec center—and swam for a bit.

Then you all disappeared while I was changing.

We were suddenly texting each other. I was out in the pool area again, swimming, trying to find you in in the ever-expanding linoleum and water. You and the children were kidnapped by a magic king who turned you all into ice molecules. I watched you and our children flutter by, like snow caught on a breeze, and had a vision of where you went. He brought you to his kingdom on a cliff.

I found myself in the labyrinthine changing rooms and showers, trying to get away from people. Families and bodies and children following me through curving, light blue subway tiles. When I got out, through a back door, I started looking for you all.

I stood around, glancing, in a modern economy sector. Business suits. Busyness. A marble, geometric statue with the names of offices enscribed and a small fountain on top. The water dripped down the statue and over the names like rain against a window.

I wander through a cafe for writers. The building seemed small from the outside—a narrow, few-meter storefront—and I felt as if I were climbing as I walked further into it. The cafe had multiple levels, multiple lounge areas, and numerous large seating areas like high-end restaurant booths. On the right wall, behind the cashier and baristas, were locked doors. Heavy metal material. Coin slots for loonies and toonies. A sign specifying the fee for varying time allotments. These rooms were total isolation units for the patrons with the sole purpose of getting writing done.

I exited through the back door of this cafe and found myself in the nature retreat proper. An attendant ushered me to the front of a zipline queue. You contacted me again—not by texting, but by telepathically speaking into my mind. I got onto the zipline and soared across a great canyon. Though it was summer in the nature retreat, I ziplined straight into winter settled onto a pine forest.

I landed on the snowy cliff and was suddenly surrounded by beasts. These gigantic, crystalline wolves approached and teased me. They were huge—almost two storeys tall. They were in groups separated by their translucent colours. Their breath came out frosty, not only because the air was cold, but because they were ice. The packs of wolves were in red, blue, green and yellow.

While the wolves circled around me, I kept screaming for you and our children. Then I noticed you come through the great white pines and stand behind the other wolves: you and all six of our children, in translucent, white ice. The other wolves left and I ran after you, but my still-human legs could barely keep up with you. I fell behind, and as soon as you all disappeared from my sight, the magic king appeared. He flew through the air, a building-sized lion with wings and a jagged crown. I pleaded with him to make me part of the clan, to make me part of my family again.

Next I knew, I was running with the line-up of you and our children, at the tail end, as a crystal wolf. We ran through a dense forest and I seemed to be running along as if I were a balloon attached to the wolf in front of me—more floating and flying than running. As we broke out of the forest, the group split and advanced on a village situated in the clearing, at the bottom of a hill that rose up on the other side of the village. I stood and watched what you and our children did.

Everyone jumped from house to house, and each one that any of them touched became covered in ice. Then you telepathically said to me: “Sometimes we freeze them. Other times we only steal their food. But the Shirelings?”

At light speed, we zoomed in on a mother, father,  and infant huddled together beside a house. I cradled them in my gigantic, icy paw. Your voice continued as I did this. “We never harm the Shirelings, for Frodo was one of them.”

Then it jump-cut to a balcony at the King’s castle talking with his daughter, Princess Peach. She was sassy as all hell and knew alchemy, which her father disapproved of. Her father came to dispute something with her and she dusted some red powder at his nose. Mid-sentence, he stopped and said, “I forgot what I came here for,” and then left.

I woke up to blinding sun and blue skies.

night 2

Night #1

There are fish and acid-eaten heads. I am one of the scuba divers helping this group of sea-folk retrieve their kin from a circular, many-toothed mouth, like the mechanical shark in James and the Giant Peach. There are long, scaly bodies as I rip open the shark on a large coral reef. Heads roll.

I find the body of a long-deceased pirate, the clothes still intact, sitting uneaten in the guts of this shark. A badge on the lapel says “24 DEC” and I place it in my pocket. Sometime later, the badge will be placed by the mouth of a cave where a dark, salt-crusted skull guards the entrance. This is the shrine to honour the pirate.

I swim, following my line of sight, toward a series of mountains. The water around me disappears under its own blackness and depths. I have left the sea-folk and their kin. I was the betrayer–the traitorous hero who should have protected the others from being maimed within the acidic belly of the shark. The sea-folk wanted my flesh for food, and I swam. Stupidly, I swam. They followed until I passed into the borders, the imaginary wall dividing the sea, of the next land. When I tread water, my heart pounding from exertion and anxiety, and looked back at them, they formed a sinister line and screeched at me.

While my arms ache, I gulp sea water, still barely within reach of the mountain range. The sea and the mountains are too much of a single entity, piled up until it becomes awesome.

Droplet upon droplet until the sea flows; dust upon dust until the mountain grows.

A shanty town on a rock outcropping peeks up on the horizon to my far left. I head for it. The citizens here have wings–great, feathered wings that beat the air like engines. I fear them, and when I hoist myself onto the closest pier, amidst ships unloading imports, they stop in mid-action. Half a dozen land on the dock and examine me. My lungs scream painful fury and my arms, legs, and torso feel liquid on the solid, stable surface.

I open my eyes in a strange orb made of wooden planks. Round windows let light shine through on the opposite wall, and I approach them shakily. The walk reminds my legs of their purpose.

The orb hangs high in the sky, from the edge of the rock outcropping, suspended above the shanty town with pulleys and thick beams made of some type of lush, natural thing. The flying creatures go in and out of similar orbs around me. I fall back as one lands near the window and wedges itself through the opening. Its wings fold down onto its back, its human arms press into a malleable torso, and its fuzz-engulfed face looks down at me. The moth-like being examines me with large antennae. Two more creatures squeezes through the window. They swarm me and grab me, and I know I’ve died before my consciousness breaks.

Night #1--First instalment of a dream/nightmare journal. This post dives into fantasy elements and scenery.