28 apr 2020

in my second month of quarantine, i was contacted aboout participating in a study. an organization (whose name i can't recall) was asking various strangers online for detailed accounts of dreams they have had since the pandemic began; and while i couldn't imagine what they were looking for in people's dreams, i was intrigued. the following is essentially what i told them.

my college dorm sat at the end of a long hall. inside it were two beds, two desks, two dressers, and really not a whole lot else. it was a quiet night, and i was sitting on my bed catching up on homework (for once) when my roommate burst in. i remember her hair so clearly, because its color was brighter than anything else in the room: orange, tied in a short braid. we actually had a class together, and as she rummaged through her drawers, she reminded me that this class was meeting tonight in a secret building across campus. "oh, right," was my response, "i'll leave in a minute." i said that because i really didn't want to take that long walk with her. i couldn't tell you why i felt that way, but i listened to the strong sense in my gut that i should let her go ahead of me. she didn't care either way, and was actually sickeningly cheery through the whole short interaction. without another word, she left.

i made the trek across campus alone, under the stiff cover of night. buildings that usually burst with movement and sound stood inert; street lamps and the unconscious path of my feet were my only guide. my destination was a building we call "the bunker" - literally an underground building that from a distance was only a grassy hill, yet every day was the site of science and statistics lectures. i should say, though, that i have no idea what this class was for - it had no name, and the reason why we were meeting in this building at this time of night was completely unknown to me. all i knew was my roommate would be there. and for some reason, i didn't like knowing that.

when i arrived at the lecture hall, tons of students were already there, and i mean tons - maybe a hundred in all, and their chatter bounced across the concrete walls. no sign of the professor yet. but what i did find shocked me: dogs. everywhere. it seemed that for every student, there was also a dog prancing around and greeting everyone. another interesting detail was that every dog had the exact same white fur coat with splotches of brown. as i acquainted myself with the intriguing scene, the professor (a small-framed woman wearing a polo) approached a podium and asked us to settle down and get into groups of two people and one dog. a twinge of excitement rose in me; maybe we'll be doing a group activity with these dogs? maybe we'll teach them some tricks or do a cheesy trust-building activity? i wandered through the crowd, looking for someone to lock eyes with me so i could join them. these kinds of situations are always awkward. and then, i saw her.

my roommate emerged from the thick of the crowd, walking directly toward me. my stomach lurched a bit, thinking i might have to pair up with her. but then i noticed that she was carrying something peculiar: a large metal bucket. what is that for? before i could ask her, she stopped dead and her lips parted into a sickening sharp-toothed grin. she tipped the bucket over and emptied it.

it was a head. the bloody, severed head of a dog. it rolled out of the bucket and onto the floor. she stared straight at me, smile unmoving, as i gaped in horror. what the fuck? she killed a fucking dog? why did she kill a dog? why is nobody else noticing this?

and then, like a wave it hit me: rage. a massive, dizzying rage burned through my chest and across my whole body. my eyes rose from the dog-corpse to her, unblinking, and unconsciously i spoke. "if you come near me, i will kill you."

my words cut through the crowd noise with frightening clarity, and i knew she heard me because she immediately turned and ran. i couldn't stop myself; i ran after her. i would not let her get away from me this time. the crowd fell into a blurry mass as i pursued her, shoving each obstacle to the side, and when i finally broke into an opening i realized i had lost her. from my vantage point i scanned the room, like a bird of prey, and suddenly i noticed something i hadn't before: a small room, hiding in the corner. i ran inside with the unshakeable conviction that she would be in this room, and if i weren't in such an unreasonable state i might have been struck by its beauty. its walls were carved from limestone, and it was illuminated only by the flickering light of hundreds of candles. the buzz of conversation could no longer be heard in here. it was silent. ceremonial.

lining the walls were several desks, each with candles wax-glued to their surface. i stalked forward, searching underneath them. it was in a corner that i found her, curled into a ball, and a sort of warped euphoria came over me at her sight. this time she did not run - almost as if she knew what was going to happen. i wrestled her to the ground and then, with a mechanical calm, i began ripping apart her flesh with my bare hands. it sloughed off her body like clay, and i was amazed at the ease with which i could tear it. her arm, her chest, her neck, all became sticky, sinewy cavities under me. i grabbed her leg and snapped it at the knee, revealing a mess of tendons and ligaments, and the blood was hot and real and it caked my arms and face. i only stopped when i realized she was no longer moving. and then, i got up and walked out of the lecture hall, back into the night.