By Aarron Mondello
It’s 10:15 am in Western Australia as I sit down at my ancient computer and begin to type this.
the laughter (and sometimes screams) of two of my four children echo down the hallway. the sounds of them at play in their room. One of them is sick, or at least was last night so he is home from school today.
The sun shining through the large dining room window just above me and to my right is filtered through a sizeable tree in my backyard and casts dancing lights and swaying shadows across the table I sit at and the clutter of notebooks and pens, folders and files that lie strewn around my monitor. Most of it is mine, words and works I have penned over the years. A lot of it recently.
The day is set to reach a rather warm 34 degrees celsius.
Yet as comforting as the mid-morning light is, as normal and relaxing the sounds of my children at play are, there is this shadow resting in the back of my mind.
Just sitting there doing nothing for the most part. However it does surge forward occasionally, just to remind me it’s there, I think.
It’s the shadow of a dream I had last night. At least I think it was a dream. It felt very real.
From the moment I (thought I) woke up every sensation, every movement was as real as the feeling of the keyboard that is now at my fingertips.
I sat up with a jolt, choking and suffocating. My mouth had filled with saliva so much so that I felt I had taken a mouthful of water and was holding it behind my lips. Something small and hard moved around in the pool of saliva though I didn’t know if it moved of its accord or my abrupt sitting motion had set it to shifting.
All I knew was that I had to spit it out, NOW!
I crawled to the foot of my bed, my lovely lady asleep and unaware of my movements. But I felt light, slow and seemed to almost float each time I lifted a limb from the mattress.
Finally I gained the end of the bed and attempted to simply step off the bed and onto the narrow strip of floor between it and our wardrobe.
I floated slightly up into the air and performed a half somersault in the air. My back came to rest softly against the wardrobe door with my head facing down. I rolled over and crawled my way down the wardrobe grunting and trying to get the attention of my sleeping lady without opening my mouth and releasing a torrent of spittle. She did not even stir.
Hellbent on making it down the hallway to the bathroom (the feel of this little hard thing in mouth was revolting) I began to crawl towards the bedroom door. It was hard going as every time I made any movement an apparent lack of gravity would seek to pull me into the air. When I finally made it to the door my heart sunk, the bedroom door was closed and I would have to stand to reach the handle.
At this point I grew confused, unsure if I was awake or asleep. I could feel the carpet beneath my hands and knees, hear my lady and my children snoring in the depths of their sleep, but we never close the bedroom door at night and for some reason finding it closed scared me and threw my whole mind into uncertainty. Before here, I had KNOWN I was awake (as far as I was concerned) and the floating lack of gravity was something to be explained at a time I was not at risk of drowning in my own saliva.
But the door being closed..? Now THAT was truly strange.
I placed one hand on the cold wood of the door began walking the other up towards the handle, all my concentration focused on not leaving the ground in this strange world where bedrooms had closed doors.
After an eternity I wrapped my fingers around the handle, pulled it down and dragged the door open.
Here is where I began to fear truly.
There was a pulling sensation, but that isn’t quite right. I couldn’t feel anything. Nothing gripped me, no wind blew me, and yet sure enough my feet lifted from the floor and no matter how hard I tried to fight against it I was slowly rolled over in the air so I was facing down and I began to float through the door, feet first.
I tried call out then, no longer caring if I spilled what felt like an impossible amount of saliva from my mouth.
But I could only gurgle, like someone yelling underwater. Large globs of saliva floated freely in front of my face. Sadly, the small hard thing was still in my mouth and as much saliva poured out of my mouth it was instantly replaced.
I tried to grip the door frame with fingers that felt fat and unbendable.
My greatest fear in that moment was that I would be pulled past the bathroom door and unable to remove this foreign object from between my cheeks.
Over and over I tried to call out. Slowly I floated uncontrollably down the hallway.
As my shoulders passed the bathroom door Panic overtook me and I squirmed and flailed as much as I could in a vain attempt to get through the door and expel this disgusting something down the drain.
I don’t recall making the decision the wake up, as I have often in the past when gripped by waking nightmares. I don’t recall struggling to sit up so hard that for hours (sometimes days) after my stomach muscles hurt.
I do recall a strange sensation of swimming up. When I was a kid my friends and I would swim to bottom of the deep end in the local swimming pool, touch a silver plate fixed in the floor and swim back to the surface. This sensation felt exactly like that.
But I do recall bolting upright in bed, confused and unsure as to how I got there from the hallway. Even more confused about my mouth so dry that my lips were sticking to my teeth.
I don’t know how long I sat there trying to puzzle out what had just happened but eventually I became aware of my lovely lady rubbing my leg and asking me over and over if I was okay, reassuring me it was just a dream.
I told her what had happened, what I felt.
“I should really know by now that if you’re groaning in your sleep you’re not long away from sitting up suddenly and scaring the shit out of me” she told me.
I found out this morning that we had been in bed maybe twenty minutes, maybe not even that long and my lovely lady had not even fallen asleep yet despite me hearing her snoring and being unable to get her attention.
And reading this back to myself it doesn’t even seem that scary. But last night when I found the bedroom shut, while I was faced with the very real prospect of being unable to spit that small, hard whatever-it-was down the drain, then it was more terrifying and unnerving than the sudden disappearance of gravity.
This truly happened to me last night, and many other strange yet similar occurrences on many other nights in the past.
I just wanted to share it.