When I was in high school I used to have a recurring nightmare once every month or so. It was part of the most important spiritual developments in my life.
I am running. I am always running. But I know no matter how far I run he will find me. He loves me too much. In caverns beneath the ground I run as hard as I can, not paying attention to whether I go left or right so long as I go up, up, up. I hear the growls behind me and each sound flashes images of blood-stained claws on black paws digging into loose earth and scraping on stone outcroppings on the tunnel floors.
I can hear my pursuers growing closer, and the path before me looks dark. I always fall here. Sometimes I twist my ankle, sometimes the world just turns and I tumble though black velvet.
When my vision stops spinning I realize I am pulling free of the soil as I crawl out of the mound I was trapped beneath. I can barely hear the frustrated yowls beneath me. I climb free and look up to the moon, barely visible through the clouds of a night sky.
I am wearing a pale chalky uniform and it is too tight. I tear free of it and stand naked in the chill of an autumn night. Slowly it begins to rain and I realize that he is here.
I turn and he stands there a mass of gray sinewy flesh. Tall, lanky and with black eyes he stares at me. He has no mouth, and his fingers are jointed razor blades. I try to back away but before I can move, he glides forward and wraps his arms around me, digging his fingers beneath my shoulder blades for sure purchase. Blood runs down my back and in my dream I vividly feel my life flow down my legs to drip upon the ground.
The pain is so great that I am unable to form a scream, and lights begin to dance in my vision as he slowly tears me apart. I begin to see my pain as a swelling of dark light in my body until finally I can hold it in no more and I explode.
There is a moment of white blankness then, and the distant sound of raindrops on grass. When the light fades I am in bed with a woman and we are making love. I have seen this woman before in my dreams, and I recognize her chestnut hair, her laughs and her moans, but every time I try to focus on her face or other features, she seems to blur as if disappearing into fog.
In the sweaty afterglow, I realize that she is fading into a fine mist and drifting away. I feel cold steel knot in my guts, and hear a growl in the distance. It is time to start running again.
I think this dream recurred so often because it was the archetypal performance of the spiritual questions I was dealing with in that time of my life, specifically how to attempt to approach understanding this world that we share. In fact, it was not until I began to understand and accept this that the nightmare finally ceased.
To be continued…