a verrrry old dream log

Going through all my old boxes full of books and papers turns up lots of surprises. Ran across my old bachelor's thesis, on Philip K. Dick's "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch", for example. This, though, is a thing all its own, written from myself to myself and put to action. It was from a brief period where I wasn't writing dates on stuff so I only know, from the other content of that yellow legal pad, that it came about in midsummer of '03. A good (though kinda freaky!) piece of writing at least, and about where my head was at, at the time. Thank God I'm somewhere even nicer now. The dream itself is followed up by a couple of short analysis paragraphs which are from the same pages.

A beach of broken pebbles and cracked clams leads up to the House of Broken Things. The door is ajar. No board in its floor is unsplintered, no windowpane whole; even the rocking chair on the front porch is missing a leg. Out from under the porch darts a cat. Feral and lightning fast, its yellow eyes seem wise though they see the mouse in me. Tufts of fur missing to scars, tattered ears--is its fur grey?--it pads before me to the door of the house whose windows stand half-open like idiot mouths. The cat's tail twitches as it slides out from under my hand. I don't think I touched it. Brass knob, tarnished, old, turns with both hands and a thunk--I thought the door was ajar?--hinges creak. One comes loose, and I think the door is going to come off in my hand.
It doesn't.
Inside I think there is only one hallway, and there is, but my vision of it shifts and falsifies: I am left with an impression of winding crazed wood angles, locked, open, half-open doorways. A glance in one doorway reveals the unchanging, a gap-toothed piano with metal threads curled up under its wing, dolls with one eye that glares smirking. Another shows an empty bed, mattress stuck with its own rusted springs, cracked leather belts and a tongueless shoe that looks violent, a shadowy closet door. A few steps forward a girl's face peeks out, thin fingers wrap the wood just below the keyhole, cheeks smeared with tear-streaked dust, eyes achingly familiar. She darts back in, covers her retreat with a slam, but by now I know better than to follow. A draft whispers over my toes; I look up to see yellow eyes in the distance. The cat blinks once, twice, and I run to follow. Walls try to whisper their ancient cackles and though I cannot close my ears I don't listen.
The last doorway is locked but not closed. As I stammer, combing fingers through my hair, the cat wanders off, crooked tail slung low. The password comes back to me. Tunnelvision, I say to the dusty wood. It swings open and I hear my heart beat: this, the monster of my dreams. Blank whiteness. Viscous like the goop in a lava lamp, moving, its bulk fills the doorway and tentacles congeal, reach for me. My mouth chock full of a scream that keeps my teeth bound together. Don't encourage it, I tell myself. Out of the whiteness eyes roll down, lidless, and lips writhe into a mouth. Now only the tongue holds its ghost, the purples and greens of a clown face--not colors but hues bent wrong. I remember the dream that freed me from this face; I remember Atreyu between the sphinxes. I step through. So simple to say.
Looking forward, forward, up ahead a narrow chimney climbs up a cliffside, the path freckled with pointed stones, the angle of ascent maybe sixty degrees. I must keep my eyes on the ground so as not to slip or step on a sharp stone and injure my feet. I climb for what feels like hours, panting; soon my only thoughts are of the next step, the next handhold, for which I am distinctly grateful. Grey stone eases its way into russet, another geological age, and overhead I hear the rough voice of a crow. A fiber in my heart loosens. It is safe now to look back, I say almost out loud, and grabbing a handhold, turn to look over my shoulder. Down and down beneath the rockfalls, between the pitted forearms of the stern-faced hillside, a tiny ramshackle thing with a half-shingled roof gapes into the wind. On the stoop a white figure, spangled in what might have been frills but at this distance looks like dirt has its face turned unerringly towards me, foolish hat notwithstanding. I fancy I can see its mouth open at the touch of my eyes, and yet I'm deeply, madly grateful its running is running in place. I turn to face forward. There, the path spikes up and seems to end in the blue sky, the crow wheeling near beneath wisps of cloud. Clambering the last few steps, I fetch up somehow on my feet.
The plateau is a valley in the center of a circle of stones, great mountains that stand in the distance and remember. Behind me I cannot find the path I came by amid the boulders and sparse underbrush, and I decide that this is a good thing. To my right and left and behind me the mountains are gathering up their skirts, evergreens here and there, and on one hilltop a ways away I think a mountain goat springs from one crag to another. Ahead, there is no path, but a wide expanse of stone worn smooth by rain and wind and the passing of many feet. I step forward onto it and see, perhaps a hundred yards off, a circle of monoliths laid on monoliths like the great circle in England. I walk forward unhurried, feeling the wind through my fingers and the sun gently pressing the crown of my head.
There seated by the nearest of the twice eleven gates is a dragon, coiled around and over himself, silver-blue and blood-colored with eyes bright as a distant star. He winks at me, this old wyrm of the earth and sky--old to my eyes anyway. His rumbling voice is like drumbeats, joyous and solemn.
About time, he says.
I got a little hung up, I reply, dashing fingers through my hair. If I was too long in arriving he forgives me, and I am glad.


They are fools who think surrender is defeat.
A wise person knows that any endeavor can proceed either around an obstacle or through it, and can survive retreat if it is kept in order and those involved keep their goals firmly in mind. Of course the most glorious surrender is that which marks the transformation of an adversary into an ally--but this is a rare privilege and difficult to describe. I will say that apparent surrender, that is, misdirection, is a valuable tool in clever hands and can be used to thwart even a cunning opponent. But apparent surrender is not true surrender and is no fit replacement for it. This you should bear in mind in love as well as conflict, in friendship as in enmity. For one who consistently substitutes false surrender for true is no fit companion.


I began looking for a way, and as I went, the path sprang up around me.