A Disturbing Dream


Somehow, I received a message of a Nopel Prize award, and I had to send a fax answer about my participation. The fax machine stood in the lobby of my childhood school, and I could not figure out how to use it.

Right behind me in the queue was my ex-wife's new partner, and he helped me get the machine working.

Sometime later I was at a family reunion, where we waited for the main guests to appear. While we were waiting a UPS man came in and I had to sign for a huge package. He reminded me of the cheerful Iranian delivering man who brought packets out to me back home.

The mail man got the signature and drove the package in onto a hand truck, and it occurred to me that it was fortunate, it happened during these banquet facilities, because otherwise it could not have come through the door.

Unpacking the big box it looked like a paper maché model of a hilly landscape in brown and green. There was a cave, where black smoke was coming out. It struck me that the environment around the black hole got the whole thing to look like a womb.

Included in the package was a note that I had to report back once more about participating in the awards ceremony for the fax had not gone through. Now I was not so eager anyway, for what could such a Nopel price well be, spelled in this strange way?

Well, my son Thorbjørn was also present, so he could send the confirmation that this time should be with a text message...

Then I did not get more of the story, because I woke up and had to go to the toilet, like so many other times during the night.

Afterwards, I could not sleep because I had a violent fit of coughing as part of my long-term cold. Therefore, I had time to memorize the weird dream so I was able to remember it when I woke up late the next morning. Now I have written it down before it completely disappears into the mists of oblivion.

I often get dreams that I realize I have dreamt when I have to get up and pee, but they disappear immediately because I usually find it easy to sleep on. Often the dream before I get up is something where I go around in a public place and look for a free toilet, but they are usually in use or completely filthy.

Well, that kind of dreams one can understand when you have to urinate, but what about this strange dream I now had experienced?

I tried to think of what I had done the day before provoking these thoughts, and I had reviewing candidates for possible posting on my website update scrolled past one album on the shelf, 'Miss and Flier' by a certain Jonas Wagner. I took it out and wondered a little about the case.

This Wagner had received some reward for the album, but after that, no one had heard anything from him in the field of epic comics. A sort of hit and run situation.

Another way to deal with the media I came to think about when I stood with my yellowish ‘SEJD special’ magazine with a collection of Daan Jippes’ comics pages from which I chose a story for scanning. Here is an artist who can do anything, so making a single episode or just a page or two in a certain style is enough, then rather move on to a new attempt with a new style in order to satisfy an urge also being able to replicate that other design.

I had also found a memorable story about Uncle Scrooge, I had intended to refer to during the update. A story about a man who forgets everything but not the ability to carve out a materialistic profit regardless of the existing conditions.

Finally, I had following up on my novel about civilization's collapse watched Daniel Schmidt’s documentary on cosmological ideas, ‘Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds’. It analyzes and joins a number of religious and spiritual philosophical worldviews, judging what they have in common and how far we in our time have come from these altruistic thoughts and replaced them with short-term fulfillment of never ending desire for material needs based on skewed priorities.

This almost meditative presentation was set to music and images of an almost unseen beauty and aesthetics leading the viewer into a sphere of exceptional balance and harmony and thus distancing itself from almost anything in the field of documentaries.

It is likely that my preparedness regarding special dreams during the following night had become extra active, because normally I forget quickly everything I have dreamt.

I have in each of my books usually a reference list of other works I have used for inspiration or information, and here comes my big DVD collection in handy. Often I have to go back to review a movie or a documentary to find out what has made ​​an impression on me. In the case of the book about civilization's collapse, that list expanded even more. It is a topic, I have thought a lot about over the years.

I went on to the website I had found, where there was a copy of Ray Bradbury's short story from 1951 'Last Night of the World' published in the February issue of Esquire. It was also a dream, but in a different way. Ray Bradbury was a poet and could describe the most frightful things in an almost lyrical way, which actually reconciled with the thoughts the evening's documentary had raised in me.

            "What would you do if you knew this was the last night of the world?"
            "What would I do; you mean, seriously?"
            "Yes, seriously."     
            "I don't know…I hadn't thought”.

She turned the handle of the silver coffeepot toward him and placed the two cups in their saucers.
He poured some coffee. In the background, the two small girls were playing blocks on the parlor rug in the light of the green hurricane lamps. There was an easy, clean aroma of brewed coffee in the evening air.

            "Well, better start thinking about it," he said.
            "You don't mean it?" said his wife. He nodded.
            "A war?" He shook his head.
            "Not the hydrogen or atom bomb?"
            "Or germ warfare?"
            "None of those at all," he said, stirring his coffee slowly and staring into its black depths. "But just the             closing of a book, let's say."
            "I don't think I understand."
            "No, nor do I really. It's just a feeling; sometimes it frightens me, sometimes I'm not frightened at all             — but peaceful." He glanced in at the girls and their yellow hair shining in the bright lamplight, and             lowered his voice.
            "I didn't say anything to you. It first happened about four nights ago."
            "A dream I had. I dreamt that it was all going to be over and a voice said it was; not any kind of             voice I can remember, but a voice anyway, and it said things would stop here on Earth. I didn't think             too much about it when I awoke the next morning, but then I went to work and the feeling as with me             all day. I caught Stan Willis looking out the window in the middle of the afternoon and I said, 'Penny             for your thoughts, Stan,' and he said, 'I had a dream last night,' and before he even told me the             dream, I knew what it was. I could have told him, but he told me and I listened to him."
            "It was the same dream?"
            "Yes. I told Stan I had dreamed it, too. He didn't seem surprised. He relaxed, in fact. Then we             started walking through offices, for the hell of it. It wasn't planned. We didn't say, let's walk around.             We just walked on our own, and everywhere we saw people looking at their desks or their hands or             out the windows and not seeing what was in front of their eyes. I talked to a few of them; so did             Stan."
            "And all of them had dreamed?"
            "All of them. The same dream, with no difference."
            "Do you believe in the dream?"
            "Yes. I've never been more certain."
            "And when will it stop? The world, I mean."
            "Sometime during the night for us, and then, as the night goes on around the world, those advancing             portions will go, too. It'll take twenty-four hours for it all to go."

They sat awhile not touching their coffee. Then they lifted it slowly and drank, looking at each other.

            "Do we deserve this?" she said.
            "It's not a matter of deserving, it's just that things didn't work out. I notice you didn't even argue about             this. Why not?"
            "I guess I have a reason," she said.
            "The same reason everyone at the office had?" She nodded.
            "I didn't want to say anything. It happened last night. And the women on the block are talking about             it, just among themselves." She picked up the evening paper and held it toward him.
            "There's nothing in the news about it."
            "No, everyone knows, so what's the need?" He took the paper and sat back in his chair, looking at             the girls and then at her.
            "Are you afraid?"
            "No. Not even for the children. I always thought I would be frightened to death, but I'm not."      
            "Where's that spirit of self-preservation the scientists talk about so much?"
            "I don't know. You don't get too excited when you feel things are logical. This is logical. Nothing else             but this could have happened from the way we've lived."
            "We haven't been too bad, have we?"
            "No, nor enormously good. I suppose that's the trouble. We haven't been very much of anything             except us, while a big part of the world was busy being lots of quite awful things."

The girls were laughing in the parlor as they waved their hands and tumbled down their house of blocks.

            "I always imagined people would be screaming in the streets at a time like this."
            "I guess not. You don't scream about the real thing."
            "Do you know, I won't miss anything but you and the girls. I never liked cities or autos or factories or             my work or anything except you three. I won't miss a thing except my family and perhaps the change             in the weather and a glass of cool water when the weather's hot, or the luxury of sleeping. Just little             things, really. How can we sit here and talk this way?"
            "Because there's nothing else to do."
            "That's it, of course, for if there were, we'd be doing it. I suppose this is the first time in the history of             the world that everyone has really known just what they were going to be doing during the last night."
            "I wonder what everyone else will do now, this evening, for the next few hours."
            "Go to a show, listen to the radio, watch the TV, play cards, put the children to bed, get to bed             themselves, like always."
            "In a way that's something to be proud of — like always."
            "We're not all bad." They sat a moment and then he poured more coffee.
            "Why do you suppose it's tonight?"      
            "Why not some night in the past ten years of in the last century, or five centuries ago or ten?"
            "Maybe it's because it was never February 30, 1951, ever before in history, and now it is and that's             it, because this date means more than any other date ever meant and because it's the year when things             are as they are all over the world and that's why it's the end."
            "There are bombers on their course both ways across the ocean tonight that'll never see land again."
            "That's part of the reason why." 
            "Well," he said. "What shall it be? Wash the dishes?"

They washed the dishes carefully and stacked them away with especial neatness. At eight-thirty the girls were put to bed and kissed good night, and the little lights by their beds turned on and the door left a trifle open.

            "I wonder," said the husband, coming out and looking back, standing there with his pipe for a                         moment.
            "If the door should be shut all the way or if it should be left just a little ajar so we can hear them if they             call."
            "I wonder if the children know — if anyone mentioned anything to them?"
            "No, of course not. They'd have asked us about it."

They sat and read the papers and talked and listened to some radio music and then sat together by the fireplace looking at the charcoal embers as the clock struck ten-thirty and eleven and eleven-thirty. They thought of all the other people in the world who had spent their evening, each in their own special way.

            "Well," he said at last. He kissed his wife for a long time.
            "We've been good for each other, anyway."
            "Do you want to cry?" he asked.
            "I don't think so."

They went through the house and turned out the lights and locked the doors, and went into the bedroom and stood in the night cool darkness undressing. She took the spread from the bed and folded it carefully over a chair, as always, and pushed back the covers.

            "The sheets are so cool and clean and nice," she said. 
            "I'm tired."
            "We're both tired." They got into bed and lay back.
            "Wait a moment," she said. He heard her get up and go out into the back of the house, and then he             heard the soft shuffling of a swinging door. A moment later, she was back.
            "I left the water running in the kitchen," she said.
            "I turned the faucet off." Something about this was so funny that he had to laugh. She laughed with             him, knowing what it was that she had done that was so funny. They stopped laughing at last and lay             in their cool night beds, their hands clasped their heads together.
            "Good night," he said, after a moment.
            "Good night," she said, adding softly, "dear..."