My top 5 nightmares, ranked in order of how much of a dick my brain is for creating them

Recently, I awoke my partner in the dead of night by making a high-pitched noise, over and over directly into his ear. I was woken myself by his startled voice. “What’s wrong?! Stop it!”

What I was doing, was trying to scream, in my dream. It turns out that when you’re asleep, and in your dream you’re trying hard to scream but not making any noise except a weird high yowling noise and you can’t seem to form words- try as you might- for your information, what’s happening in real life is you are weebly-warbling like an insane baby owl.

In my defense, I was having a nightmare and was just screaming myself awake, in an attempt to get out of a trap constructed by my own brain. Nightmares, one of the drawbacks of being a sentient human.

Figure 1 shows the classic ‘screaming yourself awake’ tactic of escaping nightmares.

Here are my top 5 nightmares in order, where 1 is “unnecessarily awful” and 5  is “yeeeeeeep why the hell was that necessary brain why why why are you such a bellend now I have to put my light on and read a chapter of Winnie the Pooh”.

1. Velociraptor outside bedroom door (aged 10-12)

Standard “I went to see Jurassic Park” brain clusterfuck.

2. Wandering through darkened hallways with silent man in bowler hat lurking in shadows and general sense of threat and foreboding, before something awful happens like I’m grabbed around the ankles by skeletal hands (starting about age 15 when I used to read a lot of detective and ghost stories)

Sometimes this one starts off perfectly nicely and then turns into this. Screw you, brain.

3. Evil, blond glamorous witch woman holds me down and slices my breasts and lips off with a sharp knife, or sometimes cuts my guts open, after chasing me through my house or school or something (aged mid-twenties)

Come on. Seriously?

4. The Friendly Quinkins (aged between 5 and 10)

I grew up in Australia. The Quinkins are creatures from Aboriginal dreamtime myth, made famous in picture books which were available in my school library. The Quinkins, so legend goes, live in the trees and rocks, of the outback. There are three kinds of Quinkin. One group steals children- I think they eat them, but anyway, they aren’t nice. The other group are supposed to be friendly and helpful to people, and help protect the children, if I recall. There’s one big giant Quinkin, Turramulli, that’s basically a bloodthirsty ogre stalking the land.

My nightmares were never about the scary Quinkins. Instead, as I walked through the dried grass of my own garden, friendly Quinkins, the Timara, suddenly reached out from behind trees and touched me with their bony arms. I would turn to see their insect-blank white eyes and pinhead-faces gazing at me. I would freak the hell out and wake up panting with terror.

Although my brain is definitely a dick for presenting me with this turd of a night-time experience, its also, IMO, not entirely my idiot brain’s fault.


The Timara (good quinkins) dance as the Imjim (children stealer quinkins) watch


Note to children’s book illustrators and also Aboriginal dreamtime cave painting artists on whose work I imagine their illustrations are based: FRIENDLY MYTHICAL CREATURES SHOULD LOOK FRIENDLY, NOT LIKE HORRIFIC SKELETAL ALIENS THAT YOU CAN IMAGINE CHUCKLING QUIETLY WHILE YOU SWIVEL IN FRONT OF THEM IMPALED ON A SPIKE

5. General sense of death closing its grip around me, in the form of approaching serial killer (basically since hitting 30)

One of these little beauties is what brought on 3am crazy yowling.

They differ in setting- sometimes I’m in a house or hotel- but are always in essence the same.

I am walking through a silent underpass, concreted and industrial. There is a train track overhead but no trains in sight. I have come to find something, or someone, or to get away from a busy crowd. The world is peaceful and quiet.

Suddenly a thump in the dust. A body of a man has landed at my feet, from somewhere above. From where I stand, I can see his jaw and his closed eye clearly, his body leaning towards me. He is grey, with tinges of green on his skin, and has clearly been dead some time. As I look around for help, I notice that there are bodies everywhere, tucked into gutters or leaning on walls, just quietly. Nothing is moving. I know that they have all died from the same threat. I know it’s coming to get me. I know that in the crowd I just left behind, there’s people that can help, but they might not come fast enough.

I look up and silhouetted in the light at the other side of the underpass is a dark figure. It’s not coming for me yet, but it will. I begin to scream, because I know that screaming will wake me up and I can escape.

My point: why the actual FUCK is that necessary, brain?

I know I’m going to die, thank you soooo much. You don’t need to constantly pop up and remind me of it like Adobe Acrobat trying to get me to install software updates.

If you could JUST POSSIBLY spend a LITTLE BIT more time on the ‘Jake Gyllenhaal’s naked back and shoulder muscles rippling as he towels dry after a shower’ aspect of dream-making, and a LITTLE LESS time manufacturing hellish visions and unspeakable feelings of terror, to try and make me have an actual wheezing heart attack in bed, I think we’d all be a LOT happier, don’t you?



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