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The Telltale Heart

Dreamed 1970s by SAO (Shawn Allen O'Neal)

Suddenly the scene became alarmingly real, that particular kind of real that's reserved for things which are actually too real to be really real, but are more real than real nonetheless. An intense fragrance of cedar with a hint of hemp and a dash of ozone in the hot lights.

I was a good thirty feet off the ground on a primitive, creaking and squeaking scaffolding, a sort of lookout tower built inside some kind of auditorium and brightly lit from all sides by powerful spotlights. Centrally suspended within was a strange organic form, a dense sphere of silky, tightly packed filaments that reminded me more than anything of a cattail, those brown velvet aquatic plants which can be burst into massive clouds of feathery fuzz by industrious children.

Digital painting of a dream image by SAO (Shawn Allen O'Neal): a huge seed with chaff like a dandelion hangs on a wooden scaffold. An arm with a bat beats at it.
I realized I had been bashing at this hundred and fifty pound mother of all mutant cattails with a wooden bat for some time--in fact I continued to do so, filling the air with its bright bursting gossamer fragments which I struggled not to inhale. I had discovered a layered, waxy seed within and I guessed my intent was to uncover to this seed, though I had no idea why.

I rather quickly realized I couldn't stop swinging the bat even when I tried, and the attempt made me feel ridiculously leaden and severely threatened my balance, so I simply continued my muted percussions in transfixed awe.

Then I noticed the distinct rhythm: a strange waltz was required to maintain my perch.

I was beating my own heart to fragments. The thought brewed an inarticulate horror in me but I could only go at it helplessly even faster and faster, until I finally awoke, the physical version of my heart racing crazily.


In hindsight the dream seems diagnostic--and tragically futile. SAO died of abrupt heart failure in his late forties.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: theatrical dreams - fruits and vegetables - metabolic dreams - violence - mistakes - nightmares - diagnostic and health-warning dreams - digital dream art - more SAO - 50 years earlier, Havelock Ellis also dreamt of a Heart-Swing - a second mystery on the scaffold: Waiting for Pigfall -

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