August 16, 2003
I am surrounded by people I love in a lovely place. We are staying at one of those instantly recognizable New England Beach Cottages with the weathered blue-gray wood siding. It is full of narrow stairs, many doors, and everywhere windows (some of which are also doors). My room overlooks the sea, and I can hear the surf breaking as I doze off to sleep. The beach is clean and uncrowded, and there is a working lighthouse at the point within walking distance. We are very near the Southwest tip of Martha's Vineyard.
So, who could have a nightmare in a setting like that? Well, most of the young people and even some of the adults seem to be afraid of spiders. There is much talk of them, and the stories are like fish stories; the perps get bigger with each retelling. Everyone but me can point to at least one nasty lump and swear it is a spider bite. I thought I was unmarked, but last night while I was minding my own business, sound asleep, they got me. I was somewhere in the Cottage that I had not been before. I think it was down cellar. In front of me is a door. Curiosity gets me and I open it. Nothing but an empty closet. Completely bare, not even one wire hanger with paper over it on the bar. Then I look down.
Mistake. On the floor is a linoleum covering with a checkerboard pattern (alternating white and red squares). On closer inspection, in the exact center of every square I see a big hairy spider. In a frozen moment I can sense that any one of these creatures is filled with enough venom to kill. In fright I slam closed the closet door. Instantly, the door turns transparent and I can see that the noise of its closing has served as a kind of start signal. Moving as one, in perfect ranks the spiders now advance. I know with certainty that the closet door is no barrier to this arachnid army, and it will relentlessly pursue anyone who dares disturb its sleep. I feel the panic start to rise; I have less than a second to act. What am I to do?
William's Patented Nightmare Antidote And Surefire Snake & Spider Repellant Oil
When you get to the part of your dream where spiders are advancing on you and there seems to be no escape, you must open your bag of tricks. Everyone carries such a bag, with a special tool in it for pulling the fangs of nightmare creatures. You just reach in, grab it, hold it in front of you and say, "You are naughty, and you are not behaving like you should. If you don't stop bothering me, I will wake up!" If you say it like you really mean it, the beasties just run away back where they came from. Two things happen when you apply this antidote. The threat of waking up is as effective as the reality, and you can just go on sleeping without having to wake up and turn on the light and check under the bed and do all that other stuff. The other thing is that you will remember your dream in vivid detail when you finally do awaken. Then, you can have some real fun with it by noticing that an army of spiders advancing in lock step looks almost as absurd as an army of humans, and is far less dangerous.
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