Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dream Radio, Or: That’s Effed Up Yo.

When I wake up in the mornings, I invariably ALREADY have a song stuck in my head. It’s kind of like having morning radio as your snooze alarm; the rest of the morning you’re wondering why some random song you haven’t thought about in months now has to be a part of your day. Because it’s never a song I’ve listened to recently – you know, by choice – it’s always some song from the depths of my unsorted subconscious, where genre, artist, chronology and personal preference have no place. I like to imagine that the miasmic Pandora of my sleeping mind suggests new songs all night, and I only ever really hear the one that I wake up with, dragging it along with me to consciousness. So it’s often old songs I heard maybe twice EVER, and wasn’t aware I even remembered the lyrics to. But oh yeah, they’re there, triumphantly squatting in the space where an actual short-term memory should go. Obviously the lyrics to every song I’ve ever heard are way more important than whatever it was I promised my friend I’d do with her this Wednesday.

I had nightmares last night, and while the opposite of awesome by any definition, it was an interesting chance to ambush my Dream Pandora playlist and drag the unsuspecting songs into my consciousness while in context with my dream. So as  I lurched to gasping wakefulness, escaping from bloodied undead, I found that the songs are even inappropriate to the dreams themselves, voiding the last possible good reason for their randomness. You’d think; Surely, Rob Zombie, or at least metal of some description? No. Thrash-rock, or even the panicked strings of the higher-caliber sort of scary movie’s soundtrack? Ha. Try “Ann” by the Kinston Trio.

For those who aren’t familiar with that…um…era…the Kingston Trio are an adult male harmonizing folk group that specialize in traveling, finding and playing the folk music of rural America, places still strongly connected to their immigrant ancestor’s culture;, Irish, Germanic, etc. I think they had their big years in the 60s. Very clean, very cultural. And “Ann” is about a man’s admiration for his lovely wife. So. Yeah.
I think that one guy just burped up a stomach - his, or no?

I have successfully blocked out the initial nightmare that woke me at 5 a.m., super-terrified of tomorrow’s clothes; they get hung over my closet door, a big dark ominous humanoid shape only two feet away. Ha, yeah. Good choice, huh? No, it’s the dream I that I slipped into later that continued the same nightmare that I recall with vivid nausea, song and all. Wheeeeeeee.

Well, here goes:

So my dream’s main character is one of those spry, trim little women over a certain age, who’ve kept themselves up well, but definitely arthritic and careful about how much she tries to lift when cleaning house. She’s escaping from her home city, which is being overrun with panic and the Scourge of the Undead. She waits in line at the airport with her husband Bill, loudspeakers blaring warning signs of earliest infection’s symptoms while people rush by, some with actual blood on them.

On the plane, she begins to notice those symptoms in her beloved Bill, as he fidgets in his seat across the aisle. The rubs his eyes repeatedly, reddening the skin around them, as his irises begin to cloud over. She sits in fear, watching him, at once praying she can get off this plane before she’s trapped with a monster, and at the same time unwilling to alert anyone else to her beloved’s behavior. Slowly the realization creeps over her that if Bill has been infected, she probably has been too.
They land without incident in Alaska (Every godsdamned person says ‘head to Alaska’ in zombie-apocalypse movies; it’s practically ingrained in our national consciousness. Don’t. Everyone will head there, which means it will spread there. That’s just the odds. And if global travel is your idea of how to spend Z-Day, at least go somewhere sunny.) and Dan gets a rental, driving them to some cheap housing rentals. It’s there that our main character tries to give him the slip, sliding out of the passenger-side door while the car is moving slowly in the neighborhood. He rolls down the window, calling her by name – Ann – begging her to get back in the car. He lets the car roll slowly to keep up with her at a walking pace, being the sweet reasonable man that’s been her partner for the last thirty years. He’s sane, and calm, but his face has begun to look like a nightmare and she can’t face him. Finally, she turns towards the huge line of apartments she’s been paralleling, and, wriggling in the gravel that serves as both roadway and yardspace for these crappy apartments, gets under the boards that enclose a crawl space under the building. I don’t know why it had a raised foundation; maybe these were the world’s biggest Portables. They sure were bleak enough. Anyhow, under there she could move around in a hunched posture, and while Bill called for her, she retreated further under the building. He was kind, told her to be careful, that she was being too rough with herself, that it wasn’t safe. It tore at her, and it tore at me. Then, the sound of some kind of disturbance; Bill was in some kind of a fight. Ann ran, angling crosswise under the building to put as much building and distance between her and her turning husband.
A difficult concept to describe, for some reason

Bad move. Only the first row of the housing had been quiet; further in, the rows had chicken wire haphazardly tied to the foundations, barricading the living in their crappy homes, holding off mobs of howling undead. She stumbles in the unpaved gravel streets of this housing project, staring around at a total loss and wiping at her eyes. None of the creatures pay her any mind, and as the soft wrinkled skin around her eyes begins to ache and crack, she realizes that is because she’s turning too. Right in the thick of things she sees some sort of crude bunker dug into the gravel, with more of the wire fencing forming a bottleneck so that people have to approach it in a line. There are people posted around the place, looking brisk and all wearing black t-shirts and baseball caps. It all looked pretty haphazard, but that seemed close enough to a uniform that Ann hurried towards them.

At the mouth of the chicken-wired queue was a stocky woman with a bushy ponytail jutting through the back of her black baseball cap. She was brisk and practical-looking, like a kids’ soccer coach. She took one look at Ann and ushered her through the line to the bunker. Inside it was small and dark, but the screaming, raging sounds of the mobs assaulting the houses was more muffled and hidden from sight. Ann approached the big desk that was straight across the small space.  An attendant told her baldly that she ought to be aware of her condition, and that as soon as she started to feel any unreasonable urges, fixations or cravings, to take these; the attendant was holding out a tablet and a water bottle. The last stage of infection where the mind is still rational, they informed her, involves a sudden longing for something or someone – your lipstick, a childhood friend, anything really – and wanting it with you, needing to be with it, so much that you begin to descend into a kind of delirium. They assured her that even if you had the object of your craving on you, it didn't stop the process. Ann remembered that what she could see of actual individual bodies in the press outside had been carrying things – blankets, toys, a coffee pot. She’d thought that these were the things they’d been holding when they turned, and hadn’t known to let go. But these were people who’d been able to find their desired object. It hadn’t helped. There was no help, no running, no being saved.
She sat, with her pill and her water bottle, on one of the few chairs in the place, while others like her milled, waiting to die. She sat against a wall, at right angles to both the attendant’s desk and the door she’d walked in. New people staggered in from the right, walked to the left, and received their pill. She stared straight ahead; there was a closed door, which she was supposed to head for after she took her pill. She couldn’t keep her eyes off it. It was dark and dusty in the bunker, but she could see the outline of that door, her final destination in life; and she could still hear the sound of the mobs outside. These senses filled my dream, along with, Gods help me, the lambent harmonizing of the Kingston Trio.

I know I’ll never meet a hunka woman like my Ann
She makes me feel like a great big man
If the good Lord worked hundred years a-making me female plan
I’d say no thanks Lord, I’ll just keep Ann

What. The. Heck.

I’m not clear if the song running through my head named the woman Ann, or if her being Ann started the song, or if I just remember her now as Ann because of the damned song, but it definitely left me unprepared for the alarm clock to go off and my Sweetie rolling over to give me my morning-breath kiss. 


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