‘Red streamer’

The Palace Hotel is nothing more than an ornate shoebox thrown on a hill. Bushes have had their hair cut. Trees are tall and lean. The lawn is green felt. There is a driveway snaking elegantly to and from the entrance. I am standing on the lawn in the middle of the dream of luxury. A car drives up. Two Americans step out. I know the woman but not her name. Her daughter is with her. We exchange a few words and decide I will take a photo of them standing in front of the shoebox. She leaves the camera with me as she drives off with her daughter to park the car somewhere out of sight. I frame the palace façade in the viewfinder of the camera, trying to get the right angle. The light is diminishing quickly. The woman and her daughter come back by foot but as soon as they reach me it is dark. There are no lights anywhere. The moon is out. There are no stars in this part of the country. “Why are there no lights?” we ask. We wander around, arms stretched out in front of us, trying to find an entrance or an exit. We are frightened and asking ourselves, “Why are the windows blocked so that no light comes through them?” We find an entrance and go inside. Inside is a great hall decorated with little more than a few plush chairs and sofas. Middle-aged and old people are sitting and standing around the room. No-one talks. A woman in grey breast-coat and knee-length skirt, very prim and proper, hair bunched tight to her head, obviously a complete bitch, enters the hall. She says something about breakfast being served at 5-30. I immediately think that this is an odd time to have breakfast: too early, or too late, depending on which way you look at it. “What sort of dump is this?” the American woman says just before she and her daughter run out the door into the darkness. They obviously don’t want to have breakfast at 5-30. I run after them to fetch them back. Outside the palace there is no reference point. Someone’s voice calls out to me. I think it is a man’s voice but actually it is only a rasping whisper coming from the trees that line the façade of the palace. I reach out to grab whomever is there. I get hold of it. It may not be a person at all. Is it a dog? It runs away from me and I am falling over. I slip and fall to the ground, legs up in the air and my right arm being pulled down between my legs towards my feet. I’m horizontal. Whatever it was I grabbed has turned into a long red splash, lighting the road and lawn beside the palace. It stretches out across the lawn like a red streamer. The sky is lightening suddenly into an icy sea blue, the form of the palace and the color of the lawn becoming visible. Though I tried to hold it, the red streamer curls and twists, climbing into the air. Breakfast is being served.

This dream-story was first published in The Ninth Satire. It is included among dream reports because it was originally a dream. In later years I abandoned attempts to turn dreams into stories and concentrated, instead, on finding a way of writing dreams that allowed them to remain, more obviously, what they were.