It’s Happening

I’m in my townhouse in Crest Hill. It’s daytime, and I find a door under the stairs. I never realized our house had this other room, and I’m strangely excited about it. I open the door to see that it’s completely green. The walls, furniture, carpet…all a brilliant kelly green. I think to myself, “Wow, what a great room to read in. Why haven’t I seen this before?”

I hear the front door close and it’s my mom’s boyfriend, Rob, coming in with our dog, Oliver. Rob is upset about something, but I can’t understand what he’s saying. I leave the newly discovered green room and go into their bedroom. Rob is talking about being drafted for the war. I’m confused because he’s talking in third person. I soon realize that he’s not talking about himself; Oliver has been drafted for the war. I ask how this could have happened. My mom and Rob turn to me, stone-faced with dead eyes and say in unison, “Don’t ask questions.”

At that moment, I hear a siren in the distance. My mom runs to the window and starts speaking gibberish. I hear the word “flowers” and I realize she’s concerned about the flowers in the front yard. The siren gets louder and louder until it’s so loud I can feel the sound waves vibrating my veins. Rob is yelling something at me, but the air raid siren drowns him out. All I can think about are the flowers.

I run down the stairs and notice the green room lit up as if it was filled with glow stick goop. I open the front door and the sky is a reddish orange with green clouds. My neighbors are frantically picking the flowers in their own yards as the siren seems to get louder. I’m running to them, asking them what is happening, why this is happening, but they won’t even look at me. I see the flowers in our yard – white daisies – and I start to pull them up. I call for my mom to come help but she is gone. Rob is gone. Oliver is gone.

I’m covered in dirt and flower petals and the sound from the siren is invading my lungs and I can’t breathe. I see my neighbors collapse to the ground, one by one, as if they’re puppets and someone cut their strings. I start to cry; not because I’m scared, but because I’m confused and no one will answer my questions. I’ve grown used to the siren sound and when it stops, my ears feel like they’re going to explode.

The people who have collapsed get up like nothing happened. I’m looking at them, still crying, and they look behind me in the distance. I turn to see a massive mushroom cloud forming in the sky. I don’t think, I just react. There is a little boy with white blond hair standing next to me so I grab him. The flowers start to cry and call out to me, begging to be saved but I think to myself, “You’re just flowers, I have to save the boy.” The boy clings to me and I run into my house.

I run up the stairs but the stairs are mud so it’s almost impossible. The green room is gone and the only room left is my mom’s bedroom. The room is dark, quiet, and cool. I hold the boy and we look out the window to watch the mushroom cloud moving towards us. The house starts to shake. The boy looks at me with neon blue eyes and says, “It’s happening.”

As I turn to the window it explodes, sending shards of glass into my eyes. I can feel them sink into the soft flesh around my eyes and mouth. My eyeballs start to bleed and the boy is screaming an inhuman scream…

…and then I woke up. My sheets were soaked, I was hyperventilating, and I must have been crying because tears were streaming down my face. I looked at the clock and realized I had only been asleep for about an hour which scared me even more. I ran upstairs to the living room and just started sobbing; I had no idea what had happened because it was all too real. I wasn’t even sure if my mom or Rob would be there. I looked around for Oliver and started to panic; it took me a few moments to remind myself that he had been dead for about 5 years.

I was so freaked out I didn’t even realize my mom and Rob were standing in the kitchen, watching me. I saw them and for a second thought I was still dreaming, but luckily they saw how terrified I was and starting talking to me like normal people, not the eerie stone-faced things they were in my dream. I tried to explain what had happened, but I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs to talk.

After about 20 minutes of crying and trying to slow my breathing, I was able to share what I had just experienced while simultaneously looking out the window to make sure there wasn’t a mushroom cloud growing in the distance.

I wasn’t myself for days after the dream. I didn’t want to sleep because I KNEW it would happen again. I was sure that I’d come home from work and see the door to the green room waiting for me. Hell, I even avoided the flower section in the grocery store because I felt the urge to bring them all home with me. For about a week it’s all I could think about.

Why did I have this dream?

Where did these images come from?

Am I really THAT fucked up in the head?

I figured the only way I could get back to being myself was to rationalize some parts of this dream.

— The draft/war part was because the “conflict” in Iraq was in full swing. I watched a lot of CNN back then so I can understand how it would seep into my subconscious.

— I still don’t understand the extra room, or why it was green and glowing. Looking back I’ve realized that the “extra room” theme popped up a few times after this dream.

— Sirens have always freaked me out. Tornado sirens, the noise the TV makes if there’s a storm warning, fire alarms…I don’t like them at all. I think it stems from being in and remembering the Plainfield, IL tornado in 1990. My family volunteered with our church to help the victims and I think that experience stuck with me.

Other than those details, I couldn’t figure out the rest. Rather than satisfying my curiosity, the dream sparked a fixation on nuclear war and disaster planning. I always tried to be prepared for emergencies like storms or fires, but I went into overdrive. I wasn’t ever going to buy a bomb shelter, but just learning about them brought me comfort. I knew the signs of fallout sickness JUST IN CASE we had a situation in the suburbs of Chicago. “Preppers” weren’t popular yet, but they were my heroes.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I can see now that the underlying message of this dream is that I like to be prepared for life events. I had a crazy childhood, and while I’m mostly normal, I like to be in control of things that are beyond my control. As someone smart like Freud probably said, your dreams are indicative of your innermost feelings or whatever.

Something else I’ve noticed is that I’ve had terrifying disaster dreams before this one, and I’ve had them since. The details change, but there’s always a sense of crisis and feeling out of control. I’m usually running from something and hiding. I always wake up sweaty and panicked. The odd thing is that they always happen before something major happens in my life. The dream above happened before my family decided to move to Florida. More recently, I had a dream about terrorists with bombs and a week later I found out my sister was going to be engaged. This has occurred often enough for me to pay attention to my dreams.

This was one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had. While the dream itself was scary, to this day I’m disturbed by what my own mind can create.


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