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Spiral Laughter

Dreamed 1953 by Alder; illustrated by Wayan

When I was seven, I had a cold or flu that gave me a fever. So I crawled in bed with my mom, and fell asleep knowing she was next to me.


I'm being pulled down into a spiraling black and white funnel, like the hypnotic spiral in old movies that evil magicians and hypnotists all use on their victims (I'd seen this on our recently acquired black and white TV...) The whole world is this black and white whirlpool. At first it looks nearly level, but it pulls me round and round and slowly down toward a black hole in the central pit.

I scream and scream, calling to my mom. From the black hole at the bottom comes an evil laugh. I don't know if it's the Devil or an Evil Hypnotist, but I don't want to find out.

A girl falls into a black and white spiral with a leering toothy face at its center. Dreamed by Alder, cartoon by Chris Wayan.
I know it's a dream, so I try to open my eyes, but I can't! Just before I fell through the gloating black hole I woke up--to find that I really couldn't open my eyes. They'd been gummed shut by my cold! I pried my eyes open with my fingers and found myself alone in bed.

I felt mad. I thought my mom should have been there to protect me--both in bed and in my dream.


Soon after this, two big changes happened to my dreams: A brown cliff, blue sky, puffy clouds. A small girl in red dress jumps off the cliff, smiling. Dreamed by Alder, image by Chris Wayan.

  1. I started dreaming in color! One night I tried to sneak through a yard full of chickens. But I got distracted by the fact they were rainbow colors--and I NEVER dreamed in color before. We'd got our first TV earlier that year, black and white (of course) and my brothers and I worshiped it. So I may have gotten the idea that dreams were like TV--stories in another space--and dreamed in black and white because that's how all my favorite shows looked. But I don't recall ANY color dreams before the chickens, even pre-TV.
  2. When I was eight, a grownup told me that I could change my dreams or wake up from them if I wanted to. Nobody used the term lucid dreaming then, and I don't even recall who told me this, but I took that advice to heart, and it soon paid off.

    Not long after, I dreamed I jumped off a high cliff above the sea. At first I shut my eyes in fear, but then recalled I could change things. So I deliberately opened my eyes and just watched the rocks come up. I found I was quite enjoying this and wondered what it'd feel like, going splat. I woke just before I hit. It worked!

    After that I was never too afraid in my dreams.



A modern 7-year-old dreaming of black holes and gravity wells would be quite precocious, but look at the date--this was the 1950s! NOBODY knew about them then. Except, apparently, Alder.

--Chris Wayan

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