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Trouble Sleeping

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Some kids can't go to sleep without their door ajar and a light on in the passageway.

This was never the case for me; I always slept in complete darkness. When I was a child, I dreamed more than anyone I've ever discussed it with, I had several dreams that I could remember in a night. And in every one of my dreams, I died. I died a thousand deaths, being shot, stabbed, poisoned, I fell from cliffs, I burned in fires. Most of these nightmares I just put down to an overactive imagination.

The dreams whenI was shot, it was usually by some soldiers in some war. I might’ve seen too many movies. But some dreams I knew were different. They all involved places I knew, as opposed to the other nightmares, where I was killed in all sorts of locations I'd never been to. In these particular dreams, I was prey. I was being hunted by some beings that I couldn't see, couldn't feel, but I knew they were there. When they caught me, they tried to kill me. But they were non-corporeal, so they couldn’t physically injure me in these dreams.

When they got me, I couldn't breathe, and I felt them draining me.

Normally, when I knew I was dreaming, I could wake myself up very easily. But not when they had me. I could feel them keeping me in the dream, and it took all my will to drag myself away from them and wake up.

In all my other nightmares, I could wake up and say to myself, "It was only a dream," and forget about it. But these particular dreams I couldn't get out of my head. I somehow knew that they were real. And that scared the hell out of me. In the nightmares, when these beings caught me, I was trapped, and couldn't breathe. I would slowly, intentionally, claw my way back to consciousness. I am an only child, and for the first twelve years of my life, I slept alone, in a bedroom at the opposite end of the house from my parents.

Occasionally, I would have friends sleep over. And I would completely freak them out. I discovered that when I was dying in a dream, and couldn't breathe, I couldn't breathe in real life. Sometimes, it would happen for extended periods of time.

Some of the times, I'd wake up, and whoever was staying at my house would be shaking me, trying to wake me up because I was choking, unable to breathe in. As soon as I regained consciousness, I could breathe again. This didn't happen every night. Just the nights when I knew the dream was real. Sometimes I would be having a normal dream, dreaming about being a champion footballer or whatever the generally carefree young kids dream about, when I knew that the being searching for had found me in the dream, suddenly the dream became real.

Over time, I realised that not all of my real dreams involved me being hunted down. Sometimes, I would be talking to other beings. One group of beings in these real dreams tried to help me. These were not like the dark, invisible things which tried to kill me; these other beings were semi-visible, shorter than me at the time, making them quite short. They tried to teach me things in the dream world. There were three in particular.

I can’t remember the names of two, but I can remember the name of one distinctly: "Ry-ing." I'll explain why I can only remember that name later. These beings taught me, and I think they tried to help me hide from the hunters, but they couldn't protect me, or fight the hunters off. I learned that in these real dreams, I had powers I didn’t have in the real world. I could fall great distances without injury, because I could slow how quickly I fell.

It was as if I could affect gravity's effect on me. This also meant that I could almost fly. It was more levitation, it required all my concentration in the dream, and I could never get more than a meter or two off the ground, and couldn't move very quickly. There were other creatures that inhabited my real dream world. One was a small creature that looked a little like a hedgehog. It was a misty, semi-transparent creature, which made it easy to accidentally step on.

If you stepped on it, you wouldn't feel normal pain from its spikes, but a strange pins-and-needles feeling. The other strange thing about these creatures was that where they died, this pins and needles effect would stay where they died, even if their carcass was moved, or decayed. There was one corner of my grandparents' house that my father grew up in where I knew one of these creatures had died, because I got that effect in my foot wherever I stepped there in my real dreams.

All these dreams happened when I was about ten and younger. I guess I started having them less and less often, and I forgot about them. I mean completely forgot. I never thought about them once. When I was about fifteen or so, I can remember one specific dream I had.

Some invisible beings I could sense were trying to get me. And in the dream, that's when I remembered. I remember all the dreams I had when I was younger. The realisation was so shocking I felt like it hit me. The closest analogy I can draw is the effect you see in movies where the camera draws away from the subject, but zooms in, so it looks like the subjects face doesn’t change in size, but the background rushes in at them. I remembered having real dreams. The strange thing was, the being that was attacking me suddenly drew back and disappeared. When I woke, I could still remember everything. I could remember the dreams I had as a child as if they had just happened. I found it strange. But as a fifteen-year-old, I had stopped believing in things like that. I thought it was just my imagination.

A couple of years ago, I was talking about dreams with my dad while we were having a few beers. He told me that when he was a child, he had two friends that came back to a lot of dreams he had. He told me their names. I didn’t recognise one, but hearing the other one nearly made me drop my beer. "Ry-ing." That was the same name as one of the three that tried to help me in my dreams.

My father told me how they used to be his friends in his dreams when he was young. And he went on to describe one particular dream, where one of his pets in his dream, a little creature he said looked like a "shadowy brown echidna," died. He told me exactly where it died, just in between the crabapple tree and the kitchen. This was exactly the spot that I had dreamed of knowing one of these creatures had died, because I had walked over the place it had died in one of my dreams, and had felt the strange pins-and-needles feeling that these creatures gave the place where they died.

The place was outside at the time of my father's dream, but by the time I was young, the kitchen had been extended, and the spot was indoors in a corner.

This blew my mind. Most things in my life like that I put down to coincidence, but that was just too close. I told dad about the same dreams I had had as a kid, and to my surprise, he wasn't shocked at all.

He said that his mother had similar dreams when she was young, and so had her father (my great grandfather, who died a long time before I was born). I have spoken to my grandmother about this, and she remembers vividly talking to "the little people" in her dreams, and talking to her father about it. She seems to treat them perfectly normal. Having an Irish background, she believes in "the little people." I had never even heard of them until I talked to her about it, and that was a long time after I had these dreams. I haven't had real dreams for years now.

I haven't seen Ry-ing or the other two in my dreams for years either. But I know that they are still there. What really bothers me is that my father, grandmother, or (from what I have heard) great-grandfather were never hunted in their dreams. They knew that other, evil creatures existed in the same world as the little people, but they were never attacked. I was attacked every real dream I had.

The other difference was that "the little people" taught my family, and spoke to them, but they didn't teach them what they taught me, limited flying, controlled falling, etc. Why was I different?

I can't explain how I know these dreams were real. I am agnostic, I'm not sure there's a God, I'm not sure of much in this life, but some things I just know. I knew that of my four grandparents, my maternal grandmother would die first, even though my father's parents are older and sicklier, and my maternal nana was fit as a fiddle until the day she died. I know that my father will die before my mother.

I don’t know how I know, I just do. Sometimes, lying awake at night, I can almost feel the real dreams. But whenever I concentrate on them, I feel them slip away, like sand through my fingers. Sometimes I momentarily see things that aren't there, like a single frame with an extra object spliced onto a roll of a movie.

When I get déjà vu, which happens about once a month, it kills me. I often have to sit down and close my eyes I get the feeling that strongly. But what really fucks with my mind is my memory.

You know how sometimes when you are trying to think of someone's name, or a word, and you get it "right on the tip of your tongue," but you just can't remember it?

Whenever I think about these dreams, I get that feeling. Like there's something about all this that I have almost forgotten.

But I know that it's important somehow. But remembering it is like trying to grasp smoke. I have tried hypnosis to remember more, but I am one of the one in ten people that can't be hypnotised, it just doesn't work on me.

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