On coming to the end of Part 1 of William Boyd's Waiting for Sunrise halfway through the midnight hour, I decided it was time for bed, having dozed through the last few pages. Sleep should have come almost immediately...
...when suddenly, the night changed. I heard the sound of something or someone scrabbling on the roof above the bathroom; the sound of something or someone on the porch roof below me. Someone's key was rattling in the door, though everyone was home. Outside, loud voices, a sense of something in the air. The night felt ominous, danger everywhere.
Suddenly, as I lay in my usual falling asleep position on my left side, I felt a hand - and at one point saw a shadow one - trying to grab my right upper arm and pull me over, which then became a whole community of hands from my upper arms to my legs trying to roll me over and off the bed. I may have spoken and said 'Stop,' but it didn't. As I struggled, I sensed a thunderstorm breaking; lightning seemed to flash through my room and I heard an echo of thunder.
The owners of the disembodied hands spoke; claiming to be specific friends, saying that I should just let go. The voices wove themselves into a dream where I told them they couldn't fool me; I know my friends' touches and my parents' (!) touch. Suddenly, the dream shifted, retaining the eldritch urgency of the night:
I was on a steep hill with three friends, all male: they were all sons of judges, mayors, etc., trying to help me: I was being chased for witchcraft. To be fair, I WAS a witch; I both Saw and used Magick; I think it was something I had Seen and spoken of that got me into trouble. The boys were further down the hill and slid into the surrounding bay. I dove from halfway up the hill, ending up near them. Though I was running to preserve my life, though the situation was urgent - I wasn't afraid; I was almost...exhilarated. My main concern was protecting the boys - who were members of the coven alongside me - and making sure they could remain members of the establishment, because their NOT doing so at this juncture meant a greater catastrophe than the one I'd spoken of to the community; the one that had led to this chase.
I saw the dream in double vision - one version where it just happened; the other version lucid, where I thought, 'Past life.' In THAT version, I turned as soon as I hit the water to see that one of the men was a real-life close friend, treading water, trapped into the holding position and prevented from swimming by his wet cotta. Our eyes held the other's, layered by the telepathic sending possible in the dream: his was full of...guilt for not doing more to help me and fear/loss as he thought, 'Oh my G-d, you're going away,' knowing he couldn't leave - not just yet anyway.
My gaze, my Sending, was reassuring, understanding, as I thought at him, 'It's okay. We'll find each other - this time [life] or the next. You know where I'm going,' as I submerged, pulled out of the cotta and swam, like a mermaid, through the underwater cave under the hill that only he knew about; leaving my cotta behind as evidence for the pursuers to think - and the 3 men to 'confirm' - that I'd drowned.
I started into wakefulness, heart pounding, gasping for air and safety, disoriented, into a far darker (it had only been 45 minutes) and utterly - almost preternaturally - calm night; into the deep stillness that only appears once a storm has passed.
I twitched my curtain and looked out to see that the ground was bone dry.
I picked up my phone and emailed one of my closest friends with everything I could remember of the dream until then. Less than a minute after I hit send, my gchat icon popped up with "Shit, are you okay?" I wasn't, but 20 lines later, I was soothed enough to successfully drift off into a night with no further incident.
I woke to a normal world, though eldritch echoes remain: far too many birds flapping behind our office, with one, unusually, playing with the lock on the shed. Normally, all one hears is the occasional stone dropping from above, but today, it's like a roost back there. I can't help but wonder if they are ravens.
Then my officemate noted, several hours later, that today felt 'unnaturally quiet'.
Clearly, eldritch is not quite ready to evaporate just yet. Watch this space.