I have a few recurring dreams that come around at different times; dreams I've had for years off and on.
I have one where I'm searching old houses I have a connection with (usually from childhood) for something interesting that I don't find, but the search is pleasant.
I have one where I'm exploring a church or cathedral, and things get progressively darker and darker. This one doesn't always end in a nightmare, but did give me one of my most memorable and terrifying nightmares (detailed below).
I have one where I'm trying to find the perfect outfit for something, whether it's a party or an event, and I try on outfit after outfit in a room of clothes that aren't mine, and it's getting later and later, and I still can't find something that fits and looks good...
That one's just vaguely annoying. I also dream of spiders when I'm starting a new project, and flying when I'm happy. Sometimes the spiders are combined with one of the other dreams, or I can fly away from the dream I'm having.
When I was a child, I had recurring nightmares of being chased by something through dark woods - something that wanted to claw my back out. I always woke with my back in spasm, and it was years before I could let someone touch my lower back (though I love massages and backscratches).
But an old favourite (for interesting values of "favourite") visited me all last night - there's been a nuclear attack, and I'm trying to get to a safe space, but I can't find it.
(Have you all noticed yet that a lot of these dreams are searching dreams? There's something I'm looking for, and I can't find it. No, I don't know what it means, because I can't relate it to anything specific going on. They just sometimes come.)
I didn't grow up with the amazingly twisted societal situation that Bob grew up with - drills of "duck and cover" in school, as if hiding under a desk would protect you from a firestorm - but I grew up in an era when an awful lot of people were pretty convinced that the world was going to be blown to pieces thanks to the Cold War, and no-one would survive except evil mutants and petty tyrants robbing and raping the countryside. I was 13 when The Day After was shown on TV, and 14 when the British answer to TDA, Threads, came out. The prospect of "newculer anihilayshun" seemed quite close*.
I get this dream quite often, but last night's was quite epic, and I kept returning to it even though I woke up several times.
I'm going to bore you now by describing it, so you can skip to the end if you want. I want to write it out, so I can purge it from my brain, since it always leaves me with a vague sense of impending doom, and I'd rather be in a good mood, what with a four-day weekend coming up (party Thursday, then at the farm Friday-Sunday).
It started with me in a closet with another girl in a basement under some stairs. We had Pepsi, some food, and a little source of light, and it seemed reasonably safe, though we both felt the top of the stairs was dangerous. We also had a spider (see? They always turn up) that responded to us, and was willing to go out and up after several days to see if there was anyone else alive in the building (that had collapsed over us, but didn't trap us). That segment of the dream ended with me going up the stairs after the spider, and finding rescue crews in gas masks retreiving people. It initially seemed safe, but the dream wasn't done yet, so after I went to sleep again (this would have been about 1:30am), it morphed into me and a bunch of other people travelling through the city (what city? Some city, with weird buildings. You know how it is), trying to get to safety before another attack. Looming doom, and endless roads, eventually causing me to wake myself again (3:15am or so).
Bathroom break, which acted like some kind of intermission, because when I lay down again, I went right back (dammit).
I was in a beautiful house with lots of windows that were open as the fallout began to come down.
(This is the normal shape of this dream, by the way - I'm in a place that offers no safety - I try various doors, but each room has a window or opens to the outside.)
There were open windows in the roof no-one could close, the whole house was open plan (rather nice house, in other circumstances), the basement was blocked, and there was fallout dust everywhere - at this point, the family I was with gave up and waited to die, but for some reason, I kept looking for shelter, even as I got radiation burns on my hands (thanks, subconscious arm pain) and face (it turned out I had burrowed under the covers, and my face was hot). Awesome.
Finally, I was in a weird capsule-like place that offered safety. This is a bit unusual - I don't usually get to safety.
I know, I know. Dreams are only interesting to the person who has them. My dreams have always been very vivid, and I spend a lot of the night in REM sleep, so I often get quite a show. At least this time my teeth weren't falling out (I get that every now and then, too), and of course, the dreams were a lot longer and more complicated and detailed than I'm recounting here, but I have at least a little sense of mercy, so I'm not going to subject you to a blow-by-blow account of "then I passed this building, then I crossed the street, then we lost one of our party, but he was on a motorcycle up ahead, then it was dark...".
My dreams are often dark or sinister, though I don't classify them as nightmares, since I'm not usually scared. Even in last night's dream, I was not scared (except when the spider crawled on me, 'cause I'm phobic) so much as driven. More often, I'm interested, or curious, and want to explore further, even when it gets almost black (as it often does in my church/cathedral dreams). I mumble in my sleep, too - but only in the dreams where I'm distressed or angry, and I'm trying to yell at or after people to get their attention.
Bob automatically alerts to my mumbling, and wakes me, usually to my relief - but even there, I'm not terrified, just upset. He goes back to sleep after telling me it's okay, it's just a dream (because he's awesome like that), and I lie there for a bit, then go back to sleep with a different dream. Last night's was unusual in that it was the same continuing dream all night long, despite conscious effort to change it.
Here's where I get even more self-indulgent and tell you about the really memorable nightmare that I still remember even though it occurred nearly 14 years ago. In that one, I was walking in London, by a church, and Bob was beside me, holding my hand. Pretty basic set up, and not as convoluted as usual (which should have clued me in). As we walked past the church, it got darker and darker, though the church became more stark and lit with a nasty blue-grey light that made the sidewalk and shadows pitch black to the point that I couldn't see Bob next to me, and I was feeling my way forward in the dark. A really sinister buzzing started (this buzzing has made an appearance in my really bad nightmares since I was little), and I said something, and Bob answered me from up ahead - meaning I was holding hands with something else.
Shades of The Legend of Hill House. I woke panting and needing to turn the light on. The sense of evil really rattled me.
I'm always curious about people who don't remember their dreams (good or bad), since I remember mine years later. Pretty much everyone dreams in some fashion, and it's very rare to not dream at all (usually as a result of sleep disorders that prevent REM sleep), but there seems to be a lot of people who simply erase their conscious memory of dreams as soon as they wake up. I'm definitely not one of those people.
So I inflict my dreams on all of you lucky people. Aren't you glad?
*Though never quite close enough to justify not doing my homework. This did not stop me from being lazy, but did mean I had to resort to other excuses, like "the octopus ate my essay".