My nightmares always begin as dreams, and announce their onset by exactly the same meteorological slash atmospheric metaphor, whereby the warm and sunny weather I’m enjoying in my dream instantaneous- and inexplicably becomes overcast and cold. More than turn grey, the sky seems to die, that is putresce; likewise the landscape — which in the dream is populated, although I can’t see them, usually by happy rodents and birds — not only falls instantly silent but has its entire history, which I somehow suddenly comprehend in its entirety, by some suddenly transferred intuition, been redesigned so that no animal has dwelled there ever, the arrival of the nightmare dispossessing it of all life now, forever and before now — the beginning of the nightmare seems to euthanise the landscape and then somehow impart to me and make me believe that the landscape has been euthanised always. On reflection, the nightmare is heralded not so much by an oneiric environment change but by the environment, all its contents, being chased and frightened away by the nightmare, as if whatever experience or entity about to assail me in my sleep is so dreadful and its power so great and its origin so somehow external from my mind — like it isn’t something I have in my own anxiety or misery myself subconsciously conjured, but rather something that has emerged from a separate, imperceptible and unfathomably black and complex other plane of reality, and then selected to attack me — so dreadful and its power so great and its origin so somehow external from my mind, that my imagination flees, that the components of my soul and my consciousness designed to instantiate for me at night comforting and protective imagery of nature are terrified enough by the nightmare to retreat, run, leaving me to sustain the nightmare alone. Often these nightmares feel like premonitions or deja vus of wherever the place is that I will go when I die. They are malevolent, and occur so regularly and unaccountably, destroying my dreams, making me shout and sweat in my sleep, and waking me up in a fit of breathing, all completely regardless of what mood I end my day and get into bed in, that it feels impossible to explain from whereabouts within me they hatch, and yet I know, because their contents are so intimately and exquisitely relative to me, composed of images and anxieties and disfigurations of memories and times that only I, having experienced and felt them all so totally subjectively, the nightmares not simply just contorted misreconfigurations of things that have happened to me but misreconfigurations which contortions are influenced by and representative of my deepest, quietest, innermost sentiments and previsions, that I know that hatch from within me they must, so manipulative and so perfectly terrifying to me are the nightmares that only I could have composed and inflicted them on myself.
E.g. a dream-and-then-nightmare from last night I had wherein I was being asked by a woman who I somehow both knew but also didn’t recognise to adopt from her a menagerie of rescue dogs and was playing happily in a garden with this big enthusiastic Labrador but then all of a sudden the sky turned black, the Labrador, the rest of the dogs and the woman disappeared, and in their place materialised instantly this square formation of dead-looking people wearing Catholic-school uniforms with their heads attached on backwards, who looked at me and pronounced together in synchrony two words that, as they spoke them, also appeared down at the bottom of my field of view like as if, even though I was seeing all this right in front of me, with my own eyes, I were watching a foreign film and there were subtitles; in synchrony, two words: “Babe. Fed.” At which utterance though it horrified me (I don’t exactly know why — the words have no specific relevance that I can remember) I didn’t wake up but became aware that I was inside a nightmare and that it was likely to get worse and that I had to wake myself up, and in the nightmare started rocking my torso back at forth at the shoulders like as if I were trying to wriggle out from inside a sleeping bag or being tackled in rugby where somewhere had pinned my arms against my side, which I imagine in the waking world represented me lunging from one side of my side of the bed to the other, my mind trying to wake itself up with my body. I’d like to not have to undergo these formalities, the process of falling asleep, beginning and enjoying a dream and then having it become a nightmare. But for this to happen seems impossible as even in my worst states and moods I never go into a nightmare straight away. There has to be a dream first.
It’s a grim routine that Silent Hill 2 recreates, whereby the majority of the game is spent within the dreary, foggy and implausible abandoned town that feels like walking through a dream but which then plunges, precipitously, into the bloodied and screaming nightmare world, made worse and more nightmarish by its contrast to and eradication of the dream. The Labrador one is a bad example. My dreams, before they’re transfigured to nightmares, are typically anxious, sanguinary — my fiance is telling me that she’s moving away to a different country and my teeth are hanging out of my mouth by a single ligament while all around us, though she doesn’t seem to mind, are the decomposing bodies of dozens of fish and reptiles, being chewed on by other fish and reptiles. Likewise, Silent Hill 2 in its misty state, its dream state, is lonely and threatening, a frightening place to be, but not as near as bad as when it gets completely dark and the walls all turn to metal and all the even-worse monsters wake up. While you walk around the day/twilight version of the town it seems like a nightmare but when the nightmare actually comes I think you’re supposed to want to survive and get back there. If you’re a certain type of person I suppose it’s like things are alway bad, just different types of bad. If you’re another type of person, it’s probably like what you think is bad is actually quite good and could always get worse so you ought to be grateful. And then if you’re yet another type of person I guess it’s like things are bad but they could always be worse but then they could always get back to bad again, but even then they’re still bad and are still likely, doomed, to once again become worse, which means they’re actually more than bad because they’re finite and knowing they’re finite is painful, but then again, even that isn’t as bad as when they’re worse, but it’d also be better if you could find a way to experience more than just those two conditions.