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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The dream of the cathedral

I died in a dream last night.

I was part of an army.  From the uniforms I'm guessing the forces of the Kaiser in WWI, but that could have been a back-formation:  the uniforms were fairly generic olive-drab old-style uniforms, with the sides of the helmets slightly flanged out, and woolen coats on top. The helmets may or may not have had knobs.  The dream was mostly in shades of honey and burnt umber, with olive drab and flesh tones and some white, and dashes of color in the windows.

The dream picked up in the aftermath of a battle in a cathedral.*  Bodies of soldiers were everywhere, dead and wounded and dying, maybe dozens of us, maybe a hundred.  Light streamed in through the windows. One of my fellow soldiers lay near me, dying.  He was an older man, looking very much like a medieval knight, with his white hair and a medium-length well-groomed beard that came to a neat point.  He told me that since I was dying, too, I should do what he was about to do:  take my bayonet and stab it under my ribs into my heart. Just a quick push and it would all be over.  I took his advice, and he and I died.

As we died our ghosts rose above the scene of the battle.  The full-color ghosts looked exactly like we did before the battle, I suppose, but our bodies cut off at about the midpoint of our abdomens, and the rest of us was represented by some vertical streaks like a cheesy optical effect.**  We floated about six or ten feet above our bodies, in an air that was thick with ghosts, and there was a sense that we were all waiting for something.

Eventually a medical detail or ambulance crew of some sort showed up to look for survivors.  They picked through the bodies and pulled out a few to take out of the cathedral; presumably those were the ones who were still alive and considered salvageable.   They came to my body and noted that my wounds were not necessarily fatal, except for the bayonet in my heart.  I remember feeling a sense of betrayal, a feeling that the old soldier hadn't wanted to die alone, so he convinced me to come with him.

So.  I died in a dream.  And I didn't die for real.  So there.


*The name "Rouen" stuck in my head after I woke up. This, I have since rediscovered, is the site of Notre Dame Cathedral, something I probably already knew; a few seconds with the Wikipedia entry on the cathedral did not indicate any skirmishes taking place within the cathedral during WWI.  Besides, this place was a lot smaller and simpler, though it still had some amazing architecture and nice windows. 

**I wonder if the prismatic streaks at the top of Tiffany's revived supertiff.com inspired this image.  For the record, I do not consider the streaks on her blog header to be a "cheesy optical effect."  Think something more like the "would somebody please put some covers on these lights" lights on the bridge of the Enterprise from the 2009 Star Trek movie.

2 comments:

Linkmeister said...

Joe Hill: "I never died, said he."

We're having roof problems which probably mean huge repairs, so of course I had a dream last night that the breakfast room floor was rotting away below the tiles. What the heck, the more pain and hardship the better.

Linkmeister said...

We're having roof problems which will probably be expensive to repair, so of course I dreamt last night that the breakfast room floor was also failing, with holes and termite dust visible.