(This dream’s hot off the presses, coming from last night! It starts out normal(ish), but that doesn’t last. Enjoy.)
The earliest part of the dream I can remember involves my family and myself out to eat at some bizarre high-class restaurant. The ambience was an uneasy blend of dusky violets and winter-dawn blues; I liked it, but I’m a weirdo. There were no windows whatsoever, a black-wood bar filled the head of the restaurant, and the walls were made from great rough-hewn slabs of stone.
The tables were nice, though.
The menus had specific names for just about everything, which to my chagrin I’m mostly unable to remember in morning’s cold light. Maybe that’s for the best; the inset panel explaining pricings for the Make-Your-Own section of the “Broth” menu was titled, “Hell doesn’t need Hell.” And by “Broth” my dreaming mind meant “Soup.” Somehow it botched this detail, but had the forethought to break up the “Broths” into light, medium and heavy thicknesses. How?
Look, my subconscious isn’t good at names. We should be proud of it for including them at all. There is more meaning to that inane garble then it at first seems; all the restaurant’s menu items had weird avant-garde names, so the idea of “Hell doesn’t need Hell” is that the customer substitutes their preferences for those of the staff. Or something. This menu also had multiple alcoholic sections, each of which spanned two or three pages. My kind of joint.
While we struggled with our order (items on the menu either had or didn’t have descriptions based on the whims of the moment), my good friend Llama (who is currently in Sweden) dropped in to join us. Dream-Llama was less pleased than I think Real-Llama would’ve been to find the menu offered so many drinks. I’d finally narrowed my search down to the “Broth” section and was trying to flag down a server when the dream teleported me to a grimy hybrid of favela and shanty-town. I was now a member of some incredibly poorly defined African tribal group, and by extension, not me.
Tribal warfare dude was set up on a rock formation extending from the top of a ridge, id est the kind of landscape feature seen in nearly every video game but rather rarely on Earth. In short order my character summoned the world’s tiniest minigun on the world’s cutest widdle tripod. Its barrel can’t have been longer than a foot, and yes, apparently he could just summon miniguns from the realm of the gods. I’ve been getting back into Modern Warfare 2 recently (my gamer buddies and I are on this weird quasi-nostalgia trip with it), and my dreaming mind appears to have fused its sentry gun with the Level 1 Sentry from Team Fortress 2. Cool? TribWarDude then used it to shoot at a bunch of heavily-armed PMC types who were either eight inches tall and ten feet away or normal people a hundred feet away. I don’t mean it was unclear, I mean the dream gleefully switched back and forth between the two.
I think TribWarDude hit a single target with the thousands of rounds he expended. Some of them shouted condescending things at him while running various directions. Having scared off the PMCs, he picked up the sentry and carried it further out onto the rock formation. He tried to place it so he could shoot down into the shanty-favela, but it kept almost tipping over and glitching through the rock formation. This is how I know I’ve played too many games for too long: even the glitches are baked into my brain.
TribWarDude then teleported his point of view inside the miniest gun to help him aim, but the barrel kept glitching into view in front of his face and this made it harder to stop the gun tipping over. Eventually he gave up, left the rock formation and worked his way down into the shantyvela. He went all the way through to the otherside, worked his way up a curving earthen ramp and… went right back up onto the heights around the shantyvela.
The dream graced me with another unwarned-of scene change, and I was myself again. I was now also a sniper with a bolt-action rifle; specifically, an M24 in desert camo woven with strands of dead grass and so on to break up its lines. I made my way around a tiny desert valley suspiciously similar in shape to the shantyvela we’d just left, surrounded by sandy nothingness on all sides. This was either a cunning metaphor for the fact that all warriors fight wars which are at once different and exactly the same, or a shameless reuse of assets by my lazy, lazy brain.
I was wearing olive drab, which is not desert camo. Damn it, DreamCul! You’ll never make it in the Marines if you pull these stunts! I spent an inordinate amount of time sneaking into what was either a cavernous old warehouse on the heights or a storage shed barely large enough to hold a lawnmower; this dream played especially fast and loose with space. Once inside, I looked down on a sprawling compound that was… about twenty feet away. Wooooooooowwww. Great sniper roost, DreamCul, you civvie hack! There was a guard tower in the corner dead ahead, probably closer to fifteen feet than twenty, inexplicably rotated 45 degrees so its corners faced the flat surfaces of the compound walls. It was also open to the air except for a knee-high wall, which is just sad.
The guard inside, inexplicably Japanese (secret desert Yakuza base, maybe?) and looking like Toshiro Mifune, spotted DreamCul drawing a bead on him. Without breaking eye contact, he leaned down to scan DreamCul’s face into a computer interface that was suddenly in the tower with him. DreamCul gave him stinkeye instead of pulling the fucking trigger. I’d say “squeeze the trigger” but c’mon, it was fifteen feet. Not-Mifune smirked and finished programming in the face scan. Then DreamCul shot him. Like… why?! Why the wait?! Sure, DreamCul shot while looking away to showcase his extreme disdain, but what was the point of all that?
Then the Hulk showed up.
As you’d expect, dream logic rapidly broke down from this point; someone somewhere had given the signal that all this vaguely-rational stuff needed to go. The sheer force of the Hulk leaping overhead tore a gouge in the ground wider than him and hundreds of feet long which conveniently started just after the shed I was in, and he landed in a valley. The compound vanished, and the landscape around the bowl-valley in which the Hulk stood turned into featureless snow-garbed mountains. Then Tom Merrilin from The Wheel of Time appeared, but I’m pretty sure he’d stolen Matrim Cauthon’s clothes. The clever, witty, experienced Tom decided that shouting as loudly as possible in a bowl valley formed entirely by the lowest portions of mountains covered in snow was a good idea. This was too stupid even for DreamCul, who ceased functioning as a character in the dream. From here on my point of view was effectively that of a film camera.
This started an avalanche. If you’re wondering why the Hulk’s earlier arrival didn’t, you must remember that we were still in the desert when he showed up. The Hulk, who had the ability to just jump away again, chose to stand his ground in an admirable display of support with the tiny old human and his death wish. Some sort of backstory-generator for the dream decided there was a giant goddamn red dragon somewhere nearby, and posited this dragon would have to land beside Team Hulkilin so he could use his dragonfires to fight the avalanche. This is outright subconscious theft from my cousin Eric’s writing.
The dream gives us a nice little cliffhanger by switching without warning to another scene. Our camera POV shows us a long, narrow room with a torchlit square pool filling most of it; a hybrid altar-podium sits atop a low dais at the front of the room. The whole thing is made from yellowed sandstone blocks; I’m pretty sure it’s an unfinished Mummy set.
A sorceress enters, clad in black drapings that aren’t so much scandalous as abominably tailored, open here but not there, not emphasizing any discernible body-lines. I have the impression she and her husband/lover/whatever-the-fuck, a shirtless man with a torque (of course!) had been in an earlier portion of this dream that I forgot; they seemed familiar. Or maybe it’s because both of them are such clear ripoffs. They were also white as all get out, because why not?
The sorceress has, we discover, earlier given her paramour–some kind of warlord–what appears to be an actual Ipad which is displaying perfect magical photographs of the son they might have if she does some magic nonsense. This particular version of the son looks very little like the father, because of some arcane BS whereby the sorceress would–if the warlord chooses this option–use the blood of his rival to help create their son. The warlord thinks this seems like a splendid idea, so we have to assume he’s not too bothered about the implications for succession.
Both of them suddenly receive a massive downgrade in physical appearance. Sorry, I don’t like to draw attention to attractiveness normally, but this was too stark to ignore. We’re talking a drop from solid 8s or low 9s to a maximum 4. The warlord degrades progressively going forward. Presumably they’ve both dropped some kind of magical beauty-enhancer nonsense. Despite this, the warlord’s feeling frisky, so he removes the sorceress’s robes and they start some light foreplay while flirting.
While the sorceress is turned to look playfully away, something shaped vaguely like a wet, dark leaf escapes the warlord’s mouth, briefly covers his face, and slides away down his (still well-toned) chest. A strange mass pushes at the flesh around his breastbone, which shouldn’t be possible without shattering bone but whatever, DREAMS. He turns to say something to the sorceress, pointing to the wriggling mass. The sorceress thinks this is hilarious and doesn’t turn around, and then a hilariously thick, slimy tentacle, mottled black on top, with crimson lines in its middle and a bloated yellowish gray underside, erupts from the warlord’s mouth. The sorceress turns and bursts out laughing, which confirms the warlord is also a magic user because she thinks this is a practical joke or something.
This is not going to go the way you think.
Suddenly, a mass moves in the sorceress’s chest, and a hilariously thick, slimy tentacle bursts out of her mouth! By the old gods, it’s some kind of curse by their enemies! The tentacles split and multiply as portions of the still-unnamed victims discolor, turning pale white or red and slimy. The sorceress, squealing around the tentacle, reaches for the warlord’s hand, but both their pinky fingers turn into tentacles!
I cannot properly convey how at once horrifying and hilariously stupid this was to watch (camera POV, remember?)
The pinky-tentacles merge, becoming one, and several more grow from the torsos of the pair, squishing into each other. The camera slowly pans up and away from an overhead view of the sorceress and warlord squelching into an appalling gestalt, twitching and writhing against whatever the fuck this is. We can still hear the muffled screaming of the sorceress.
And then I woke up, which I’m not sure how to feel about.