It Came to me in a Dream

I HATE THIS BOOK!!!According to Stephenie Meyer’s web page, the idea for her best-selling Twilight series came to her in a dream:

I woke up (on that June 2nd) from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately. For what is essentially a transcript of my dream, please see Chapter 13 (“Confessions”) of the book.

While I find what little I’ve read of the Twilight series is painfully bad, the actual concept behind this dream – a vampire who is torn between love and his monstrous instincts – is pretty decent drama. My only real objection to the concept is that it had already been done very well in the TV series Forever Knight, which had all the angst and drama that the Twilight series wants to have but goes a step further by adding sympathetic and interesting characters as well as some decent pacing.

I have never had a dream about a sparkling vampire falling in love with somebody. If I ever do, I will never create a novel out of it, since the fiction market is oversaturated with Twilight wannabes these days. I have, however, had a number of pretty crazy vivid dreams of my own. Here’s a quick list of actual dreams I’ve had that maybe have the seeds of a semi-decent story in them. The list is in no particular order, and I’m going to go ahead and claim copyright on all these dreams – so don’t go stealing my hallucinations and passing them off as your own.

1)      Weaponized Zombies Fight Communism. A bunch of friends and I squared off against our old enemies from college, the International Socialist Organization. We cornered them in an old castle and then sent in a horde of zombies to finish them off. I then plotted to blow up the castle with the zombies and socialists inside, but the dream ended before I could see the results. I know that socialism is different from communism, but if this were a story I’d totally make the ISO a bunch of rabid communists, which people tend to have less sympathy for. (And, to be fair, the specific branch of the ISO at my college didn’t know the first thing about either socialism or communism, let alone the differences between them.) I’d also probably set it in the 1960s for some Cold War pulp drama.

2)      Solid Snake and Agent Smith Fight for Love. Shortly after September 11, 2011, I had a dream which involved the World Trade Center getting rebuilt as a headquarters for the agents from The Matrix. These agents had apparently obtained some sort of magical gem. The gem’s powers were never defined, but it was definitely a bad thing that the agents had them. One of my RPG characters proceeded to team up with Solid Snake from the Metal Gear games and infiltrate the World Trade Center to steal the gem. Somewhere along a way, some poor girl who was just visiting the area got tangled up in the mess and became the only person other than Snake himself who knew where he hid the gem after stealing it. Snake proceeded to get into an epic battle with Agent Smith, who ultimately won and captured our hero. Rather than risk succumbing to torture, Snake swallowed a cyanide pill after charging my RPG character with making sure the girl, who Snake had taken a fatherly liking to, remained safe. This dream even had an epilogue in which I learned that the gem never got found and that my RPG character made sure the girl lived a normal and happy life, ultimately dying of old age.

3)      The Three Stooges Get Mauled by a Wolverine. Okay, admittedly this one would make a better TV special than a book. The basic dream was the Three Stooges getting chased around a tree by an angry wolverine. The Stooges themselves tend to be pretty funny, and adding an angry wolverine to the mix seems like comedy gold to me. What noises will Curly make as he gets his jugular torn out? This one is probably the weakest of my dream-stories, but if we’re going to use the Twilight novels as the standard, then I think this measures up to and possibly even surpasses Meyer’s vision.

4)      My Wacky Zombie Sidekick. Yeah, zombies seem to be a recurring thing in my dreams. In this case, the zombie apocalypse had happened, and Sarah and I were out walking our cat. I don’t know why we were walking the cat, since our FIV-ridden kitty is an indoor cat, but whatever. We got caught by surprise by the zombie apocalypse, but luckily I apparently always carry a shotgun when I walk my cat. We ran into our friend Nick, who had become a zombie, but I didn’t kill him because he was acting really dopey and showed genuine fear when I pointed my gun at him. Later on, the cat got into a fight with a zombie cat but managed to survive unscathed. Sarah wasn’t so lucky, as she died in a blaze of glory, charging some zombies with a grenade in each hand. (I bring shotguns on my cat-walks, Sarah brings grenades. Sarah wins.) The dream ended there, but my projection of where it would have gone involved me backtracking to Nick and teaming up with him. The rest of the story plays out like a buddy cop movie, where the comic relief guy is a six and a half foot tall zombie with the intelligence and disposition of Lenny in Of Mice and Men.

5)      Cookie Monster Goes Rabid. This is the only recurring dream I’ve ever had, and it terrified me through my childhood years. For some reason, I was on Sesame Street, hounded by a Cookie Monster who had grown fangs and developed a taste for human blood. Logically, this probably stems from me having seen a picture of Cooki Monster as he originally appeared in the 1960s, but I don’t remember ever seeing such an image, except in my nightmares.

Oftentimes, Big Bird was my companion and the last sole survivor of Sesame Street after the fanged blue demon had devoured all of our Muppet buddies. His teeth were capable of biting through anything but steel bars, so the dream always wound up with us locking ourselves up in a local jail while Cookie Monster lurked outside, waiting for his chance to get to us and feast upon our flesh.

I never figured out a way to defeat Cookie Monster. Years later, Sarah wrote a story based on these dreams in which Big Bird sung the monster to sleep and allowed us to escape. That might have worked. However, after years of therapy I stopped having those dreams, so we’ll never know for sure. Even now, I watch Sesame Street with trepidation. He may seem like a gluttonous goof, but that blue bastard is pure evil all the way down to his black felt-covered heart.

6)      The Ghost Tiger Under My Bedroom. I woke up one morning to find a shimmering stairway next to my bed that descended as far down as my eyes could see, deep into some ghostly labyrinth underneath my bedroom. A spectral tiger ran up those stairs, its eyes locked on me as though it were reading my soul. Acting on instinct alone, I reached my hand out to pet it.

Then that thrice-damned ghost cat bit me on the hand.

Then I really woke up.

This is probably the most vivid dream I’ve ever hand. When I woke up for real, I could still feel the pain in my hand from where the tiger had bitten me, although the wound itself could not be seen. For some years afterwards, I considered this dream to be proof that ghosts were real and that they lived under my bedroom. There’s not enough material for a full novel here, but the spectral tiger makes for an eerie opening scene. Someday, awake or asleep, I will revisit that spectral staircase and hunt down the demon tiger that marked me with its bite. Also, there might be zombies involved.

7)      Love Makes me a Monster. The physical details of the girl of my dreams have grown vague as time went on, but I just substitute my wife (who I didn’t know when I had this dream) nowadays. I knew she counted as a perfect match for me because she described our relationship as similar to the Hulk when his personality merged with Bruce Banner’s – an imperfect metaphor, but catering to my specific nerditudes enough for me to forgive. The only problem with our relationship was that I was cursed to become a cannibalistic monster every night. Ultimately, I drowned myself in the ocean rather than consume the flesh of the woman I loved. The dream ended with her painting a picture of me (she was a painter, my real wife is a singer…I like the arts) and giving a voice-over epilogue about the love that was not to be.

I learned two things from this dream. First, I am perfectly capable of dying in my dreams. Second, my dreams sometimes have a three-act structure and an epilogue with cinematic voiceovers.

So there we have it. If I was going to cite a problem with these dreams as possible stories, it would probably be that several of them rely on licensed characters. As for the rest of them, watch out – the ghost tiger living under my bed or the communist-fighting zombies may be coming soon to a best-seller list near you.

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One Response to “It Came to me in a Dream”

  1. […] too long ago, I put up a list of dreams I have had that made better stories than the Twilight novels. To be fair, I think a lot of people […]

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