Dreamed 1994/12/30 by Chris Wayan
I come to visit my parents and find corpses strewn on the front walk. Cops are firing at someone inside. The killer's firing back happily, seems to have infinite ammo. A thrill killer who shoots strangers for fun! Sadistic, too: uses a highpowered SQUIRTGUN, full of acid or lye. Every drop that hits the skin sears it open and eats on in...
Pursued by the cops, the gunner ducked into my parents' house. From the glimpses I get, the killer's young, small, of indeterminate sex...
I pull out my OWN squirt gun and try to kill the gunner. Fire and fire, but keep missing inexplicably. Is my aim off? No, my droplets curve. I concentrate angrily, willing them straight, just as the killer wills them astray. Now some hit, and clearly hurt, the killer winces and shakes and swears. Encouraged, I send a burst of bullet-drops through the killer's heart. But s/he still won't fall. A hidden flak vest, or is my gun's caliber too small? The killer glares at me and aims, steadied by anger. It's personal now: a duel, not just a random spree. Ow! Hits my arms and legs with scalding little drops. They hurt! I go on firing. No good...
So I try to sneak up on the killer. After all, I this is my childhood home. I know it better.
Wrong. I'm caught.
A hostage? Not exactly--the killer has no agenda at all! Wants to shoot it out or escape--won't bargain. But finds me... oh, entertaining. As long as I'm unarmed, lets me talk. The killer's keeping a woman caught earlier the same way. We watch more victims die... and keep talking. The gunner seems to LIKE conversing with us. A sociopath, of course, but says "I was TRAINED to enjoy hurting others. I know that's not normal. I feel cheated of a chance to be human", but then adds "so I gotta go with what I have." And that's only, it seems, sadism and serial killing.
The nightmare drags on and on, as I try to stop the shooting... and fail.
I WAKE deep in the night, shaking, drenched in sweat. Fall back to sleep... and I go back to the dream!
A recurring nightmare? No. I choose to go back. I feel responsible for stopping the war...
Or am I just hooked? Makes me feel important, trying to talk down a serial killer! Do I identify with the killer's freedom to express anger and hate, to lash out? Even if it's me I'm hurting? Or am reliving the fear and helplessness I felt at ten, when older schoolmates beat me up? I think it's the worst of these: I too am angry and sadistic. I carry a weapon like the killer's because we're inner kin. I've just learned ethics, if not empathy.
But this time, I notice the terrible price I'm paying in stress. Fighting and fear exhausts me, makes me borderline sick. I'm not doing much good either; another cop dies, and I suddenly think "That's it, that's my limit. I quit. Let others solve this." And I sneak off!
Make the front driveway, slip into my VW bus, put it in neutral, and start rolling silently down the hill. Don't start the motor till I'm half a block away. I used to do this with Kay, my crazy ex-girlfriend. Afraid the killer will stalk me as she did. Think "I can use my savings to live on, give up my artwork and possessions, don't let anyone know where I went..." Wait a minute! This IS just a flashback to Kay stalking me! This killer won't! Surrounded by cops, lots of nice targets begging for it... why go after one of the few people with another acid gun?
I WAKE AGAIN, predawn. At last I go to sleep one last time... and find myself there again! Addicted to the drama!
But this time, the government has caught the killer. One mystery explained: the killer knew my parents' house well because s/he worked here as a security guard! So did I, and others.
Another guard tells me the government has decided to rehabilitate the serial killer because s/he's atypical, has potential. So s/he gets the same old guard-job back! Gun and all! The cops just ask us, "Keep an eye on..." Oh, great! What about the risk to US? This is someone who shot strangers in the back for fun. How can I trust the government shrinks? They're the same bunch who didn't see a problem till dozens had died...
I thought this was a mad killer problem. Wrong. It's an institutional problem.
NOTES ON WAKING
THE NEXT DAY
At breakfast, my housemate Lily tells me "A guy near Boston sprayed an abortion clinic with gunfire, got away from the cops, and shot up ANOTHER one. He hit at least seven people, killed at least two."
And now I wonder...how quick should I be to assume the killer's a part of me? My dad did that once, had a nightmare where he killed people with an ax, then woke and told us how shaken he was at the anger he must have inside him. Then the paper came. Frontpage headlines about multiple ax-murders near us...
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