I talk about dreams a lot, I admit. They fascinate me. They should fascinate everybody. Because nobody really knows much about them, no matter how much they’re studied. I actually did my multigenre senior research paper in high school on the subject of dreams, which built up pretty much my entire perception of them. Up until now, I saw dreams as the brain organizing leftover thoughts and material while the rest of the body rested, though I love the theory that dreams are “practice” for real-life situations, whether it be a fight for your life or a mundane day at the office.
But last night I dreamed up a whopper.
It shook my foundational beliefs about dreams just a little.
It differed from my usual dreams. Okay, there was a fight or two. There was a dystopian subterranean society. But it all started…
…with a job interview.
From what I gather, I had graduated college and was ready to step into a new graphic design career. I had an interview scheduled with some really nice company in a big city. I remember approaching the office building, all glimmering windows under a bright sky, and stepping into a pristine, professional-looking lobby where an employee waited to greet me. They even showed me to the interview room, where I discovered it would be a group interview, myself and two other potential employees.
We entered a white, sort of board meeting-type room, with our future employer at the head of a table. We all took our seats on the side of the table to the boss’s left. The wall opposite us had at least three tall windows that spilled early noon light into the room. Each of us had a notepad and writing utensil on the table in front of us. Looking back, I noticed a few dream inconsistencies: the notepads changed to newspapers eventually, and as far as I could tell spelled out mainly nonsense, and we had Sharpies instead of normal pens, and one of the other interviewees turned into a friend from high school; all normal dream things. I remember the room overall as white with a hint of blue.
The interview began well. The head of the company talked about actual job requirements and all of them made perfect sense, even now that I’m not dreaming. This is strange for dreams because conversations usually make little contextual sense. And the whole situation seems unusually mundane, especially for me. Job interview? Seriously? The lack of stress, confusion, and things going wrong proves this was not dream reflecting on my personal anxiety/stress levels towards that particular situation. At least… not in the way it first seemed…
Being a dream, it took a turn for the strange. As part of the interview, we had to fight. I can’t remember who our opponent was specifically, but she was a woman in business dress and she was very good at what she did. My fellow interviewees took their turns first, in another room. Then it was my turn.
This room was darker, mostly wood paneled walls and floors, with obtrusively incandescent lights on 70s? style light fixtures. This part had me all worked up: sweat, adrenaline, hyped breaths, even a little bit of anxiety shakes. This lady attacked like a crazed drunk mugger; she held up this ceramic pitcher and smashed it against a piece of furniture pushed against the wall to give herself a jagged weapon. I remember this room overall as brown with deep gold.
I barely held my own against her. I got in a few good strikes, but I strove mainly to disarm and incapacitate her as quickly as possible. She got my left arm pretty good with her ceramic weapon, a gash just below the elbow crease. It stung like heck, but I worried more about not letting her gouge my eyes out. I finally got the broken pitcher away from her and the fight ended. Afterward, I apologized to her for my general lack of competence. I recall our exchange exactly.
The woman spoke to the other two in turn, asking them about their performance. My arm had almost stopped bleeding, but the skin was pretty inflamed, and somehow I got involved unfolding a napkin, intending to clean my arm up. I must have been a little preoccupied, because my friend next to me gave me a nudge and said, “Listen to her.”
The woman stopped in front of me, clearly waiting for an answer.
Me: “Sorry, it’s just… I don’t- I’ve found I don’t handle stress well under pressure.” *to myself, thinking of my potential job* I probably should not have said that…
Her: “Really? I thought you handled it well. Good work.”
Me: *uncertain* “Not that well. It’s happened before. In a sparring match, there was this girl-”
I stopped myself here, because something amazing happened. I realized I was telling the story wrong.
Me: “Whoops, I mean, I was sparring this guy in class, and he was way bigger than me, and I didn’t react very well because I was nervous, so I kinda got beat up.”
The woman smiled knowingly.
In the dream, I recalled my actual life outside the dream, remembered my first time sparring a taekwondo buff in class as a noob and the result of it, and related it absolutely correct to a dream NPC.
When I eventually woke up, I was super disoriented. My arm felt strange, and I was surprised to find it lacking a bleeding slash. I was super aware of it the rest of the morning; I kept touching the place I thought should hurt, trying to wipe off blood. And all I could think about was how I remembered my actual sparring match and related it in the dream. Not once ever in any dream I’ve EVER dreamed have I been able to bring in my waking world life. If I’m not a different person entirely in dreams, the most I retain is martial arts and people and places I recognize. Dialogue? Meaningless and confusing.
So that is how I am 96% convinced I spent the night/early morning in an alternate reality.
Note: I did mention a dystopian subterranean society. This whole dream, from what I gather, took place in the future. A huge section of the world’s population had built a community deep underground years and years ago, very similar to the situation in Roderick Gordon’s Tunnels. The surface world tried to get them to return, but it ended badly. I remember only one scene with them: a little girl, about five or six, dressed in an earth-stained smock, standing at the entrance to the subterranean world, stretching her hands toward an overcast sky, absolutely enthralled as she experienced rain for the first time.
In some parts of the dream physics were kind of skewed, disproportional, and just plain weird. There was also a train that nearly ran me over and actually hit my elbow pretty hard, but since it was a three-foot-high train I doubt it would have mattered. Pff. Dream logic.