Have you ever had a recurring dream?
Nightmares tend to stick in one’s mind for a much longer stretch than the most mystical of dreamlands. There are some recurring dreams I’ve had over time that have stayed with me throughout life. There’s one in particular that’s stayed with me since I was about five years old. My memories of this strange place are still pristine now. Not only was it my first recurring dream, but also one of the eeriest nightmares I’d ever had in my life.
Losing a parent at any age is a heavy load to take on. Losing someone when you are barely old enough to understand can be life-altering.
Somehow, I managed. I was only five years old and had just lost my father. I guess it was only “normal” to have a spurt of nightmares each month for a while. There was a time I hated sleeping at all, because I knew I’d have another.
This one was different. There was a bizarre nature to it. This place was so strikingly visual and unimaginably vivid it frightened me through to the deepest parts of my memory.
As the nightmare always began, my mother and I entered a yellowish-orange fog-ridden, old building. From a distance, it looked like some sort of ancient temple or church. The closer we inched, noticed whole place appeared to be in ruins. Every piece of this structure was falling apart at the edges. There was something dark, evil, and unsettling about the entire area.
We slowly turned corners and explored a long, wide, set of stone steps. A man approached us close to the top of the stairs. He appeared to be a priest of some sort. He spattered off at us at first. Then his tone became more drawn out and monotonous. When I examined his face, I noticed it was swiftly starting to change. His eyes began to glow red, blood began to drip from the brims of them. His skin turned to a dull, grayish, ashy shade of death. He shouted at us. My mother (by now becoming completely freaked out) grabbed me by the arm and frantically motioned for us to get out of there.
The shouting seemed to prompt everything around us to begin to fall apart. Stones and debris vaulted off of the structure from every direction. There were these two gigantic monstrosities that resembled skulls sitting on top of columns that started falling towards us.
One of the teeth belonging to those statues broke off and rocketed down in our vicinity. We gripped each other’s hands and bolted for the exit. Somehow we made it out of this hell just in time.
I awoke in a cold sweat and had that same nightmare again for ten years. It wasn’t often. It showed up about once a year. The imagery haunted me for even longer. The one detail that always struck me as the most frightening was, the place appeared to be beautiful at first glance. So much of it was painted white and decorated to perfection. It was the evil behind it that made all of that beauty terrifying.
Years later, this nightmare became the inspiration of many artworks. My most notable was a series I designed in the video game Little Big Planet. I’ve made revisions of this same series in LittleBigPlanet 1,2, and now, most recently 3. It’s getting a makeover treatment as we speak. I’m happy to report it’s gotten so much wonderful feedback.
The Nightmare World is one of my oldest stories, and most certainly a story that must not die.