Dream #2: Spiders on the Storm

Sick Mouse

Sick Mouse

Nearly all of my dreams have spiders in them. They rarely take a prominent role, they’re usually just hanging around in the background, whatever the main theme of the dream. The funny thing is spiders make me jump, I’m not comfortable touching them, especially big ones. But in my dreams they don’t bother me at all. They seem to be just a harmless part of the scenery.

Now, what this is all about, I have no idea. The dream begins with me walking into the house where I grew up. My younger broker is sitting in an armchair with a massive spider curled up in his lap like a cat, and he’s stroking it. It is a huge, black tarantula the size of a medium-sized dog and it has a red pattern on its back. The thing has massive fangs and he cuts his finger on one of them as he strokes it, so I go into the kitchen to get him a plaster.

When I get into the kitchen there is a bowl of cat food on the floor and a cat standing there yawning at me. There is also a bloated, green mouse stumbling around. It is distended, bald and shiny, it looks either drunk or really ill, or both. The first thing I think is that the cat will eat the cat food and the spider will eat the mouse, but then the spider wanders in and eats the cat food. The cat looks a bit bemused but then happily devours the mouse.

Then I woke up with Riders on the Storm by The Doors going round in my head but, instead of singing “Riders on the Storm” Jim Morrison is singing “Spiders on the Storm”.

Mental.

Dream #1

I’ve always had really vivid dreams. At least once a week I’ll have a dream which I remember so clearly I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t know why I have such lucid dreams when most other people seem to have only a vague recollection of their’s or forget them altogether.

My dreams often have an influence on my writing. Sometimes I’ll wake up with an idea fully formed in my mind or I’ll simply have had a dream which I’ll write down. Often my dreams are funny and I wake up laughing, like the dream which was Tits Up, the 900 Club short story – I barely had to fill in any gaps in that story, virtually the whole thing was my dream. I laughed so hard when I had that dream I very nearly pissed the bed. Most times though, it’ll be an idea from a dream rather than the whole thing.

So I’ve decided to describe my dreams on this blog each time I have a particularly memorable one, I will just number them as I’m not sure they make enough sense to think of titles.

Last night something new happened, my dream had song lyrics in it. Sadly I can only remember one line, there was a chorus as well but, frustratingly, it has faded from memory. I still had the tune in my head this morning – guitars and a synth – but they have also sunk into the murky depths.

This dream was straight out of an Iain M Banks novel. I was a Culture agent working undercover in a giant, evil corporation. I had a desk and a computer. My computer was odd looking though, it looked more like a microfiche reader. At the beginning of the dream my computer locks me out of the company’s system and I know I’ve been found out. I have to move quickly to avoid being killed and I escape.

The next thing I know I am with other Culture agents in an environment designed by ourselves. There is no visible floor or ceiling or sky, we are just floating alongside tree trunks which disappear into darkness beneath and above us. We are talking and laughing. Then one of the Culture agents I am talking to disappears downwards into the dark and when his corpse floats back up to our level again his head has been incinerated. Somehow we know that our enemy has found us – I don’t know how  you know these things in dreams without anything happening to tell you, you just know. The enemy is a man all in black with no facial expression, just wide, angry eyes. Instead of feet, he has a little jet engine. He seems to have used this to roast my friend’s head.

Once again the dream skips to the next scene. This seems to be a recurring thing in my dreams – they tend to miss bits out as if I only need to see the most important bits. The next scene is the one which stuck in my head the most. I am flying very fast over a sort of tundra. The landscape is passing beneath me at high speed. I am with the other agents and we are being chased by the man with the jet engine instead of feet. This is where it gets weird.

David Bowie starts singing. I hear the guitars and a the synth and all the lyrics but, as I said, I can only just about remember one line now, this is what he sings:

“We know the sun will make it through,

But God only knows how we do.”

There was a chorus as well but I can’t remember it, which is a shame because it went well with the synth. As soon as Bowie’s voice starts up I see things hovering in the air. The first thing is a big toilet made of chocolate sponge cake, and when he sings “We know the sun will make it through” the seat closes. When he sings the chorus, the toilet disappears and a giant, pink sponge cake bunny running through custard appears.

Well, that’s it. That’s dream number one. Any ideas what all that was about?

Poppa’s Fruits – a 900 Club Short Story

The 900 Club has published its five short stories for September. The two word phrase was “side effects” and once again I am really pleased with the different ideas the five of us have come up with. It is an honour to write along side Simon Evans (the creator of The 900 Club), Paul Evans (his brother), Adam Stones (his brother in law), and John Pilling (my fantasy fiction co-writer, David’s father).

We started The 900 Club in January and it, nine months on, it is still going strong. The diversity of writing it has produced has been an inspiration to me, I’ve learned a lot from the four talented people I’ve had the privilege to write with, and I think this experiment has prevented me from getting writer’s block.

Anyway, I’m not going to bang on about it, I’m just going to give you my latest contribution, which I have called Poppa’s Fruits. I hope you like it, and even if you don’t, please check out The 900 Club because there are a lot of original stories on there and they’re all very different.

Poppa’s Fruits

by Martin Bolton

It was a squalid farm, but I loved it dearly. Those were simple times, and we were a simple family. Ma was a lumpy woman whose belly undulated soothingly as she waddled around her filthy kitchen.

“Can we eat some veg at Christmas?” she would ask Poppa.

“No fucking way!” he would bellow, “we’ll eat dirt like we always do!” Then he would fetch her a loud slap to the buttocks and she would giggle and drop my tiny little brother on his head, leaving a circle of muddy brown froth around her fist-sized nipple.

I can picture Poppa now, stomping around the farm yard, his mouldy boiler suit stretched around his seven foot wide frame, his gaping naval glaring at me between two halves of a press stud resigned to the fact they would never be one. Occasionally he would drop to all fours and cram fistfuls of soil into his mouth, groaning with ecstasy.

He was a brutal man, even when he didn’t mean to be. One loving hug from those callused, lumpen paws would leave you bruised and breathless. Each year he grew bigger, while I remained a withered, constipated, translucent carcass. I couldn’t stomach all the dirt, I hadn’t the same feverish cravings for mud to which Poppa was a slave.

Had I known the long term side effects of that diet I might have tried to talk to him, but what was a I to do? He was the head of the family, and he had decreed long ago that this family were to live off the land. Literally. So every dawn we were marched into the yard and given our breakfast of dirt. I suppose, for someone who enjoyed the taste of God’s brown earth, it was perfect, there was an endless supply. But I dreamed of one day eating an apple or some bread – things branded as obscene and decadent by Poppa and banned from the house on pain of a grubby thumb nail to the eyeball.

The physical changes in Poppa were increasingly apparent, though Ma pretended not to notice. His hair seemed to be taking on a green tinge, and I knew it was not just the advance of the moss that grew on his eyebrows. He became sluggish, and would stand completely still for ever longer periods. Eventually leaves began to sprout from his fingers. As time went on, an array of flora populated Poppa’s flesh, but still dear old Ma pretended nothing was happening.

It was one morning in spring that I was surprised to wake up well after dawn to silence. Why had Poppa not jabbed me with a stick and hollered in my ear to get outside and eat my fill of God’s dank firmament? Why could I not hear him outside noisily devouring clumps of terra firma? Something was wrong.

I got up and went outside. The yard was empty, but I could see fresh footprints leading off into the meadow. They were wide and deep and punctuated by blobs of the foamy brown milk that my stunted five year old brother still supped from Ma’s voluminous breasts. I set off in her tracks at a spindly canter. I knew something was seriously wrong but nothing could have prepared me for what I was to witness at the far end of that vibrant meadow.

I found Ma staring dumb-founded at a vast tree. A tree which had not been there the day before. Poppa’s shredded boiler suit was stretched around the great trunk. Where the boiler suit parted at the waist a squirrel popped its head out of a whole and spat out a mouthful of blue fluff. The remains of Poppa’s boots were twisted around the roots. Right at the top of the tree, I could just make out his flat cap, swaying the breeze. Ma put on a brave face, but she was never the same after that morning.

I set about planting a vegetable patch that very day, then went into the forest to collect berries and mushrooms. Now that we were free from Poppa’s tyranny, I was the man of the house, and I was damned if we were consuming any more earth.

It was a few weeks later, spring was in full swing, the birds were singing, and my skin had taken on a milky opacity previously alien to me. I was in high spirits. I took a stroll across the meadow for my daily visit to the “Poppa Tree”. I found I loved Poppa more than ever now that he was a tree. There was a serenity about him, he had found a unique sort of peace that many people would never know.

As I stood there gazing at his impressive trunk, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Along his branches he had sprouted several collections of dangling appendages. I moved closer and reached up to touch one. It was soft and wrinkly with coarse hairs growing from its earthy brown skin. Inside I could feel the fruit moving as my fingers manipulated its outer “bag”. I was tempted to pluck one, but I couldn’t be sure they were ripe.

I resolved to wait until one dropped and stood back to admire them with a tear of pride in my eye. I knew than that everything would be all right. Poppa’s hairy fruits were exquisite.