Archive for the 'Dreams' Category

Night Terror

Posted in Dreams, Impressions, Journal Entry, Writing and Poetry on December 21st, 2012 by Angel Villanueva

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I am browsing through peculiar, delightful, bizarre little wonders at an antique toy store housed in a remodeled Victorian building. It is the far end of daylight; no lights have been turned on inside even though it is evident the bluish atmosphere we’re immersed in will soon become the dark of night.

I am surprised to discover how heavy and strangely delicate children’s toys once were. Porcelain, fabric, metal, wood, and paint are the elements that, crafted together by deft hands in a multitude of ways, gave rise to this Cambrian explosion of whimsical forms. Most often the objects I examine resemble life in some measure, but, more than I would expect, they depart disturbingly far from it.

Nearby, a little girl is kneeling on the floor. She is drawing with a sort of carbon stump, something like a burnt piece of branch, on rough cuts of what looks like parchment paper. She seems to be alone. Where is her mother? I wonder… The little girl sings a song, gently, almost inaudibly. It’s a performance for herself. How curious. I think I recognize the tune. I walk over closer to hear her better…

A chill goes up my spine. I do recognize this. It has been many years since I was a student of the dark arts, I’ve forgotten a lot, but any of us would remember this. She sings the ancient curse, the powerful one, the one meant to unleash a monster from the abyss prisons into the physical realm… Where did she hear THIS? How did she learn it? I find myself numbed as she keeps singing the horrible words in her gentle, musical voice. The contrast of sound and content is shocking, and it all gets worse when I notice what she is drawing.

Whether by chance, or from some inexplicable recollection, she is drawing a sequence of hermetic symbols I last saw in the rarest, most secret, most deeply forbidden arcane book. She draws the four figures, methodically, fluidly, one after the other, and before I can say anything, she is done. It’s a somewhat crude, but perfectly clear rendition of the four cryptograms that, drawn in the right order, in the presence of the right audible tune, will call forth an unstoppable, famished agent of the cruelest death. Still singing the curse, she dips her little finished creation in a shallow pan of liquid glue, and sticks it onto a larger piece of green construction paper. Humming now, she gets up and pins the drawing on a corkboard filled with them. It looks almost like a Christmas card. The drawings surrounding them are all of a far more innocent nature. They’re genuinely a child’s drawings; flowers, animals, butterflies, but this… Wait, Where is she?

She’s vanished. I walk up to the board to have a closer look at her drawing. In this incantation, the first figure would correspond to the demon that will be awakened. Here it is a female figure with a triangle on her head. If I remember correctly… that creature eats people. I feel a wave of fear run through me. This is the real deal. Regardless of how, the curse has been cast, the demon will come, and it will come here. I exhale deeply… Heaven help me. I pull the drawing from the wall. It is still wet with glue and very delicate. There’s only one thing to do: I should take it with me, unearth my long hidden copy of the forbidden book and find out how to undo this. I know there is a way but I can’t remember what it is, all I know is that I have very little time and that I will need the drawing. I look around; there is a blow dryer on a nearby shelf, and, miraculously, it is plugged to the wall. I grab it, turn it on, and aim it at the drawing to dry it. It is working at first, but the paper suddenly bursts into flame. The glue was flammable! I let go at the onset of searing heat on my fingers and watch helplessly as the entire little art piece turns to ash on its way down to the floor. It all happens in a second. What now?

Maybe burning the drawing undoes the curse. Yes. I think that’s it. It’s been destroyed! I begin to feel some relief.

Outside, screams approach.

From around the corner, four people come running: two men, a woman, and a young girl. They stampede in and through the store, yelling at me when they see me: “Run! RUN!! There’s a monster, it’s killing people!! It ate Paula!! IT ATE HER AND THEN THREW HER UP!!” They are horrified out of their minds. I follow in a rush, there’s no time to think. We trek through musty wooden hallways, pounding on locked doors, we don’t know where to go. “We should get in one of the walk-in fridges!” says one of the men. It’s as a good an idea as any, we take off running again. The building is much larger than I expected, it evidently used to be a hotel at some point, now dilapidated and abandoned. We’re looking for the old restaurant, which should have a walk-in fridge, but we somehow come to the end of one wing, and there’s no exit, and nowhere to hide. Some of the wooden planks on the wall have broken and we can see outside. The woman takes a look and screams… “IT’S ON THE OTHER SIDE!”

Then I hear it, and I experience the deepest flood of terror in my life.

It’s not a roar, or a moan, or a scream… It’s a sound I have never heard before; a plaintive, angry, deeply powerful rumble declaring war on human life. It is inhuman, evil, unstoppable. I realize there is no hope, it will get us. It’s what it’s here for.

We run back in a mad panic through the building, all the way to the other side, we find a door, and run outside across a grassy field. At the far end of the field there is a dirt road and beyond, the village. Maybe if we make it to town, maybe if we can be among other people we’ll be safer…

A car appears from the left, speeding across the road ahead of us, leaving a trail of dust behind it. It cuts us off right as we’re approaching the roadside, and stops. A man is driving it. A woman is in the passenger seat, and she gets out immediately. She wears a soiled white dress, and she’s covered in… vomit, from head to toe. She is wearing a conical white hat.

“IT’S HER!!” screams one of the men.

She looks like a normal person under her layer of gastric refuse, except… she has no eyes. She’s not exactly a monster; she’s monstrous. Fear is her weapon, and we’re awash with it. I’m frozen in place, trembling, helpless… She’s looking at all of us. My eyes are tearing up, I’m not sure I can stand up much longer, but I manage to muster a fleeting, inquisitive thought: Who is the man driving the car?

“She’s deciding who to eat next…” says the man next to me in a quivering voice.

She walks over to the woman in our group, who is now crying hysterically, sobbing, shaking, unable to move or walk away. The demon opens her mouth into jaws of inexplicable size and bites the woman’s head off in a single horrific motion. The crunching sound of the breaking neck is sickening. As the demon swallows the head whole, the woman’s body falls on hands and knees before us… and she begins to scream through her severed trachea, as blood gushes out from her arteries… The scream is the most shrill, blood-curdling, horrifying sound, and I’m looking at that opening drenched in a cascade of blood, emitting an inhuman, unbearably loud sound, as if all the accumulated horror of the world had found an outlet through this woman’s truncated neck. Blood blood blood scream scream SCREAM SCREAM…

:: :: ::

Sitting up in bed, in the dark, I draw great gulps of air, as if I had emerged from underwater just in the nick of time to stay alive. I am drenched in sweat, shaking, my heart a runaway horse in my chest. I press my shaking hands over my face, muffling a whimper, then have to breathe again. Breathe, breathe…

Everything frightens me: the walls, the dim reflections on the mirrored closet, the thought of what could be under the bed. I take several more deep breaths, and try to calm myself down. It was only a dream, a nightmare. You’re ok. Everything is ok. It takes me a while to collect myself, and when a semblance of calm begins to arrive, two silent tears run down my face. But I don’t want to cry about this. I am not a child. I clear my throat and shake my head, trying to collect myself further. I remove my sweat-drenched shirt and fall back into the mattress, trying to find a comfortable position in which to rest for a moment. Glancing over at my clock I see that it’s almost 4 AM.

Deep breaths… I’m not sleeping anymore tonight. That’s a given.

:: :: ::

Over the years, I’ve experienced many vivid, intense dreams that I’m able to recollect in their entirety. A good number of those have been nightmares. Ugly, end of the world nightmares. I keep a dream journal because I am convinced there is much to be learned about ourselves from the narratives we assemble in our minds while unconscious,  and because, in my case at least, these other-wordly experiences can often be awareness-raising.

In the wake of our most recent senseless tragedy, I’ve read and taken part in online discussions examining the nature of empathy. Are we truly moved when something terrible happens to a complete stranger, and if so, to what extent? Parts of the nebulous answer I’ve been able to compile for myself have to do with how the tragedy is presented to us, which determines the extent to which we’re able to see ourselves in it. Another aspect has to do with an anthropological paradox: the greater the number of affected people the less like an individual story it seems to the human mind, so the disconnection is greater—which does not mean we can’t experience moral outrage and be moved to action, only that the personal emotional connection is more tenuous. We can find many great examples over decades of photojournalism in which a single emotional image was the catalyst for altruistic action by others.

In his ambitious and powerful book The God Delusion, Dr. Richard Dawkins argues that suffering is unnecessary and should be entirely avoided if possible. While I greatly admire Dawkins’ work as a science educator and advocate for secular thinking, this is one point on which I strongly disagree with him. Suffering, of any sort, is painful and should be mitigated of course. But I am highly suspicious of the idea of abolishing suffering altogether as a principle.* Our species is one that, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, is able to but does not learn from the experiences of others. A key ingredient of what we call empathy is our ability to understand suffering, and for many of us, suffering can only be understood as an experience. For me, for this one individual typing these words right now, it was the tragic circumstance of my early years and a great many beatings by life that have raised my awareness—perhaps I’m a brute in that sense. But I am able to understand pain and horror for that reason. For a great many—if not most—of us, to suffer is to learn.

The dream described in this entry was real to me. It was horrible. I had no idea I was dreaming until I woke up. Before that, it was truly happening. I was there.


Angel Villanueva
From the Dream Journal
December 21st, 2012

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*It should be duly noted that this proposal is at best utopian. For the vast majority of us, the structure of human life is such that we’ll experience duress at some point or another.

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The New Absence

Posted in Dreams, Journal Entry, Writing and Poetry on March 4th, 2012 by Angel Villanueva

A drug in the veins expressed by the heart, the spell works its way from my center to my extremities. I feel numb, sitting loosely across the table from the mystifying siren who has just cast it. We are approaching the end of the dream after a long, deep conversation, the contents of which I am not to remember. Awash in the flow, all I can do in my stupor is observe my interlocutor, puzzled by what an unlikely enchantress she is. I’m not sure what I expected to find in this room, but a frail, mousy young woman in thick eyeglasses smoking a cigar was certainly not it.

“Remember, Angel. It is not a coincidence. It is never a coincidence.”

At her final utterance, the space begins to change: dimensions slowly altering, walls stretching, the floor acquiring depth… I can feel what has just happened, but I cannot remember it. The dialogue was between an ancient force and my core, held in a base language, a construct too greatly complex for the conscious layer to fully grasp. A negotiation has taken place, and as a result, one of my principal inner selves has been entirely extinguished. Gone. I can feel the space between alter-entities on its way to becoming a force, partially exposed boundaries of previously tightly packed other selves burning tender against a vacancy. And I see the clairvoyant retreating, the table stretching between us as it vanishes, as everything vanishes. The rug underneath us is a map of the constellations, glowing stars drifting into position in three dimensions, a jet-black ocean reflecting moonlight for a moment, then expanding, expanding into space, and everything disappears except me, shrinking and falling into the cosmos as the stars fly about and retreat to their distant homes in myriads. Dim vertical bands of light appear, brighter, brightest, and I am forced to shut my eyes hard and open them again before I can come to grips with my waking state, staring at my blinds through which the morning sun is invading the room.

The house is silent. I am alone. Sitting at the edge of the bed, I take a deep breath, stretch, yawn… The dog hears me and comes nudging at me. “Good morning, sweetie.” She wags her tail in joy. We head downstairs together. Coffee for me, breakfast for both of us. I stare at the world outside through the kitchen window, the steam from my cup dancing in the light. My mind is empty. I like it. Quiet inside is rare. I know it won’t last, but for now I am centered, balanced, ready. For now, I am the world anew.

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The Seal of God

Posted in Dreams, Journal Entry, Writing and Poetry on July 9th, 2010 by Angel Villanueva

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I happen upon the nest while surveying the devastation inflicted on the farm by the storm. The nearly uprooted tree is tilted enough that the nest, miraculously spared destruction by the tangled mass of broken branches around it, has come to rest just above eye level. Sitting in it, frightened and cold, is a lone baby rabbit.

I reach in and grab it gently, the tiny creature barely fidgeting, fluffing its fur and immediately cozying up to the warmth of my cupped hands.

“Where are your brothers and sisters?” I ask as I begin walking.

“They were taken by the big bird. Biiig, scaaary biiird… Oooh…” He trembles, no doubt reliving the abduction in his mind. Cute and helpless become dismal adjectives.

“How come it didn’t take you?”

“Because I’m different. Because I’m special.” He sounds quite sure of himself.  “See how tame I am? If you look into my eye, you will see in it the ineffable Seal of God.”

Worth a look. I raise him up to my face and amplify the image of his eye. The effect is that of riding a meteor as it approaches the atmosphere of an alien planet, the round of the cornea glistening in the light of space and flattening as I come closer and closer upon the brown wrinkles of the iris. The iris expands to form a mountain range surrounding a circular lake, Lake Black Pupil, resting beneath the beautiful bluish transparency of an airy surface marred only by… What? A little cloud…?

The seal is an oblong, translucent, iridescent shape floating on the cornea and surrounded by progressively fainter concentric rings. A gentle tilt reveals all the colors of the rainbow dancing within it; a subtle, exquisite, ever-morphing composition.

“I see it! It’s there!”

“I told you.” He asserts.

“So… What do I do with it?”

“Oh, nothing. You can’t do anything with the Seal of God. You can only look at it. And it’s everywhere. As a matter of fact, I used to have it on one of my buttocks.”

He pauses, becomes absorbed. Conjuring up the memory of a different body sets off a process of awakening, the little animal vessel stiffening up as he slowly begins to understand his new condition.

“How long has it been since my life?”

A breathless question.

It’s then that I recognize the voice. Of course. I’ve come across this spirit before. I have access to his records, and begin going through them in the back offices of my mind. The images in his file are of a white man in his late thirties or maybe early forties; a pleasant face with longish, straight brown hair. The last picture shows him looking quite tired in his blue hospital gown.

“Seven years.” I whisper it to him, no need to shock him any further.

He’s frozen in my hands, trying to come to terms with what he cannot understand.

“Oh, David…”

We have reached the farm house, and I set him down in the cage where I will keep him until he can take care of himself. I know that as soon as I utter the next phrase he will lose his memory and capacity for speech, but I utter it nonetheless. I have to. It’s my job.

“You are a rabbit now.”

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Dream Journal, July 9, 2010

The Capital

Posted in Dreams, Journal Entry, Writing and Poetry on June 18th, 2010 by Angel Villanueva

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“Why do you always look at me like I’m not real?”

Rather than answering I look out the restaurant window at the people pushing bales of hay up and down the street. The air between us has frozen solid, plastic toys and an old shoe are suspended in it. He says something else but I can’t hear it over the thunder of the waterfall at my back. I look down the sheer cliff, an immense drop to a pool of dark water furiously beating itself into a foam. My chair is at the very edge of the rock and the rock is wet, but I will not fall. I’m safe. Overspray moistens my face. I like it. Maybe I’m thirsty. I look at him again. Now he wears a silken hood over his head and is eating soup through it. How clever, I think. He lifts the spoon to his lips, the hot liquid goes through the fabric and into his mouth, cooling down in the process. He takes the hood off. His head is now a giant cigarette.

They call the door “The Egyptian Eye,” though it is not really a door nor does it look like an eye. A natural split in the rock wall, which the monks put an iron gate on long ago, hides in shrubbery by the side of the road. If you know about it, you come to it, shake the gate, and wait for the wordless monk. If he comes, reading you from the inscrutable darkness of his cloak, he may or may not let you in. Once in the garden you may get lost, as there are often fields of wheat taller than a man, and negotiating the narrow pathways threaded through them requires labyrinthine skills. From the esplanade beyond you can see the Capital, something of a medieval ziggurat, a massive rock complex  sitting squarely upon the Earth and boldly reaching skyward. The stairs are tricky, they look like one could fly up them, but they’re yet another laborious maze weaving in and out of the ornate facades. Up on the rooftop, you grab a chair and wait for things to be set up.

Five men dressed in red take aim at the bullseye painted on the man’s bare chest. He is strapped to a chair and they’ve put a bag on his head. “Fire!” The rifles bark in unison, a dull, muffled cough. The man’s chest bursts like papier-mâché, a cloud of fiber shreds swirling about him. He trembles briefly, starts falling sideways. The restraints hold him. Dead now, the men immediately begin disassembling the display. One of the reporters is sick. “He moved. I saw it. I didn’t want that.” So they’ve killed two men, the one in the chair, and the one who will now live with the memory of a sloppy execution.

:: :: ::

Reading the news before bedtime will do some strange things to your dreams.
I don’t think there is an absolute answer to the question of capital punishment, but I do believe that on a case-by-case basis there should be no room for ambiguity.


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Cognitive Archaeology

Posted in Dreams, Journal Entry, Writing and Poetry on March 9th, 2010 by Angel Villanueva

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Late Summer in the countryside, a leisurely trek under the luminous twilight after sundown. The road was flanked by dense trees of a dark emerald, homes nesting between them with increasing frequency as we got closer to town. Glimpses of grassy hills beyond the forest led up to great purple mountains in the distance.

Striding confidently beside me was my delightful, longtime friend; cultured, intelligent, and congenial, a dashing presence not of our time. His fine, formal attire (pin-striped trousers, tail coat, top hat, immaculate white gloves) was as naturally becoming to his graceful, athletic frame as was his handsome face.1 We were talking about our plans for the rest of Summer when I stopped, in utter disbelief, before the house on our left. The shock turned my voice into a whisper.

“This is impossible… I lived in this house when I was a child!” 

Before us was an abandoned adobe building, a single-story row of doors and windows spanning half a block before turning the corner. The very first unit—one door, one window—had been my home, a place my mother rented for about a year when I was little. It was still the only part of the building painted a sickly pink, the color an incongruous touch on a facade of an otherwise uniform, dirty white.

I walked up to the heavy wooden door and pushed it. It was unlocked, its yielding open without effort or sound an unsettling “Come in…”. I stepped inside, surprised by how small the space seemed now. The two rooms, connected by a doorway, were empty. The dust and debris accumulated on the floor evidenced that no one had been here for many, many years. The door to the back patio was missing, and through its opening I could see what was once an outdoor kitchen, adobe forms long eroded by rain and neglect into shapes barely recognizable as a wood stove and bread oven.

My 18th century companion leaned on the doorway, observing me gravely. He had taken off his hat and was slowly twirling it in his gloved hands. Strands of wavy blond hair now framed his face. He looked uneasy. I was too, and I realized that, the moment I opened that door, it felt as if we were carrying out a desecration .

“These rooms are still haunted by that memory…” he said.

I nodded. They were. The setting was home to my earliest recollection of terror: my mother fell seriously ill for the first time while we lived here. I was six years old, and the place was said to be haunted then. It certainly was now. There was a strong, nauseating energy latent in it. The atmosphere felt dense, laden with something old and ill, something of death, an enduring, sad and immovable presence indifferent to our trespass but operating as powerfully as an eternal curse. I feared this unctuous malaise would permeate my clothes, my skin, my body… I feared it would cling to me like an invisible madness and pollute the rest of my life.

We had to leave.

Then, as if they had suddenly materialized, I saw the paintings.

Three framed oils on canvas, painted in the French realist style, hung on the walls of the first room. I had no conscious recollection of them until now. It all came flooding in, faster than I could process. The paintings had been there when we moved in, and were obviously far older than my memory of them. Whoever hung them had found it proper to place one by the entry, one on the wall that separated the two rooms, and one by the door leading to the backyard. We never touched them, and evidently, no one else had.

“I can’t believe this… Hanging, unseen, for decades…” I spoke quietly, absorbed. I turned to him. He held my gaze. We both knew, in that moment, that I would be taking the paintings with me.

The pigments had faded a great deal in each of the three canvases, but overall the images were well preserved. The frames were nailed directly to the stucco. A strange way of hanging paintings, I thought, as if the intent had been to crucify them.2

I carefully began to pull the first one off the wall. It was a bust decorated with an oval mat. The sitter was a pale woman in a white blouse, her red hair pulled up about her head. Her gentle expression barely managed to balance the otherwise somber tone of the painting. She must have been in her late twenties when the portrait was made. Who was she? I wondered. The frame felt flexible, soft almost. The nails gave up easily, shedding bits of rust as they came out. I leaned it against the wall.

The next work was a small view of an old city, a patchwork of roofs, walls and cobblestone pathways. The town looked deserted. The picture seemed to have been painted from life, and the composition was strict: were it not for its painterly atmospheric depth and the rich detailing of its surfaces, it would have come close to geometric abstraction. It came off the wall easily as well.

The largest of the three paintings—and oddly for my taste, the one that fascinated me most—was a countryside view painted in thick impasto. Its execution set it apart from the other two: a hint of expressionism had made its way into the brushwork, with paint volumes accentuating forms and adding a contained dynamism to the stillness. In it, the dark brown planks of a wooden fence contrasted with the faded olive green of a grassy field behind, leading to a dark tree line beyond. Part of the horizon was visible, and in it, the faintest suggestion of a town under cloud cover seemed to tremble with the murmur of distant events. The frame was broken in places, I feared it would fall apart in my hands, but it held together as I pulled it from the wall.3

In the awe of the discovery, numbed by the unsettling atmosphere of the space, and fighting off the rising pain of memories unvisited for ages, I sought to understand the origin of these images; I felt it was my duty to do so before taking them—I felt the trespass warranted it. Someone before me had understood and kept them together. It was my turn to do the same.

What did these pictures have in common? They were obviously contemporaries and related to each other: depictions of a town, its countryside, and perhaps one of its residents. Although varying in approach, the brushwork and color palette suggested the same hand. Who painted them? When? Where? No signatures. No dates. Beautiful, connected paintings equally marred by a lugubrious heaviness.

The silence of loss.

Loss… The realization swept my mind like a tidal wave: The paintings were made after the plague. The portrait of the woman was posthumous.

Narratives began weaving in my head. I could only imagine the countless stories of pain and horror behind these images. They made sense. Perfect sense. I couldn’t bear to think about it any longer, not there, not in that place that was now more than ever a tomb in my mind. I stacked the paintings on each other and put them all under my arm.

“The plague…” he said as I turned to him. “I think so…” I whispered back. Tears welled up in my eyes.

On the walls, white rectangles of emptiness punctuated by stigmata screamed of undead nightmares.

“Let’s go.”

It felt good to get back on the street, out the ill atmosphere of the abandoned house. We walked briskly, our steps in sync. Interrupted by the archaeological find, our carefree dynamic could not be resumed. Its place had been usurped by the silence of complicity and a nameless, insistent concern. I couldn’t wait to get to my car, to put the paintings in the trunk, to shut them in the dark. I feared them. I feared that it was they who created the horror I felt back in those rooms, rather than being mere witnesses to it. They were alive with that sick energy and I had begun to realize it was a force that could not be contained or escaped from. I didn’t know what I would do with them.

I wanted to thank him for being my accomplice in the theft, but then I thought: Is this really a theft? I wondered if anyone had seen us. I wondered, strangely, if there were cameras monitoring the area, if the removal of the paintings had been recorded. Stranger still, I wondered if my handsome friend would even show up in such a recording.

We walked on, past the gates, into the city.

:: :: ::

1. I often wonder who these characters are who visit me in my dreams. The man in this sequence was not dressed in costume; those were his usual clothes. He made me think of the high society of early America. In the dream’s internal logic, I remembered him; we talked as if we had known each another well for a very long time. Perhaps he has been a recurring character for a while and my memory of him is crossing into daylight for the first time. Who knows? I do not recall a name.

2. Hanging is also an execution. Like the limp body of a dead criminal hanging at the square, paintings on display are captures and examples at once.

3. The first thing I did after documenting this dream was to call my sister in Mexico. I asked her if she remembered that house, if there had been paintings in it. She remembers the place but can’t say whether there were any paintings. She was four years old when we lived there, her memory of the place is much dimmer than mine. She does, however, remember the stories about the haunting.

What is haunting to my mind is how vividly I remember the pictures. They have the distinct quality of an unearthed memory; it’s hard for me to think of them as an elaborate invention of the subconscious. I could reproduce them easily. Fear of awakening something I may not be readyor ableto deal with, and perhaps remaining figments of superstition in my otherwise empirical mind, prevent me from even trying.

It was at that house that I created a painting for the first time. I received a set of watercolors as a birthday present from my mother when I turned seven. It would make sense, if these paintings existed, that I would have been inspired by them somehow.

The building was demolished many years ago. My mother, the only person that would have been able to instantly demystify this dream, has not been with us for a long time.

Thank you for reading.


Notes on a Vampire

Posted in Dreams, Writing and Poetry on January 24th, 2010 by Angel Villanueva

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There once lived a creature in the woodlandsome say a manwho lured children away from their adventures, and drowned them in a well. Hidden amidst the trees, it would watch as the villagers gathered for the mournful task of retrieving the lifeless little bodies from the cold darkness that claimed them, out into a sunlight cruel in its insistence on exposing every detail of the horror. It followed the trail of their grief to the cemetery, taking great pleasure in their rituals, in their attempts to cope with what couldn’t be coped with, the unjust passing of their innocent. For it was not the death of children that it sought, but the waking death of those who grieved them: its soul fed on the sorrows of the living.


You surface once again
But I have known you

You call your works the Children of the Spring
Children drowned
At the bottom of a well

Walk on
Spare me the vacuous inquiry of your stare
The treachery of your touch
The mimicry concealing rigor mortis
Of your signature approach

Spare me the tentacles of your deception
Spare me the righteousness of your reproach
The slithering dance of your tongue
Weaving a dazzling patchwork out of lies

Spare me the tedious record of your anguish
None for the better
The bait and switch
The concealed clockwork diligently ticking
Beneath the outward good of your intention

Spare me the horror
The murder of what’s good in those around you
You are a death heavier than any other
An end before the end

The only cross I can lift up against you
The charting of a path which won’t cross yours
Is held up high

I know the blood of pain you cannot do with
Your talent is but one
To live from agony
Now let
The agony you live from
Be your own

Spare me the silent aggravation
Of witnessing your plunge

Back I say, back!


No longer hiding in forests, swamplands, or caves, today these creatures live in our midst, roaming the land in search for the child in us. In them lives on a predatory hunger, an urge that saw its dawn in a time long before ours. The one incantation holding sway against their lurid powers is distance.

Stay away from them, children, stay away…



Posted in Dreams, Writing and Poetry on February 6th, 2008 by Angel Villanueva

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I emerge into a night in the remote past.

Something smoky and acrid about the place, as if everything had been replicated correctly except the smell: the scent makes me think of an industrial plant. I expected antiquity to smell dry and dusty, like an ancient scroll pulled from a cave by the Dead Sea.

I am not part of the tableau. Perhaps I am merely a set of eyes in a fresco on the wall.

It is a bar, a meeting place for men. It is very dark in spite of the torches, as if the light had to fight its way through liquid. Tall wooden stools and tables, stone floors and pillars. The space is long and narrow and mostly empty. There are maybe a dozen patrons, all of them young Olympian athletes. Their bodies are muscular and graceful, bare under short sleeveless robes, feet clad in sandals. They lounge about the space, their youth and the outlaw nature of the place evident in their air of nervous uncertainty. They do not speak. They are not here for each other.

When he walks in, the space becomes charged with tension, a silent mix of terror and fascination running through the young men. He moves with the destructive self-confidence of a volcano, all thunder and internal fire, his stride the summation of masculine arrogance. With masterfully calibrated nonchalance, he takes the center spot.

He is far more massive than them, all biceps, pectoral muscles, and giant thighs. His legs are dark, and they are lost into the dark below. The head is monstrous: a bull head made of shadow, his face is shadow, and like shadow it reflects nothing back. Around the pinpoints of light in his eyes the silhouette of it is a vacuum of darkness, more a portal to oblivion than the head of a bull. The set of curved horns at his crest end in sharp tips, their glossy surface increasingly coarser as it approaches the thick root, a handlebar of death, so strong and solid it could probably break through the very rock walls that enclose us in the night.

The Minotaur is here to pick up dinner.

He could have all of them right here, but he prefers to play with his prey. Both hunter and bait, he waits for them to approach him: he knows their fascination will eventually outweigh their fear. And they are all visibly mystified, although caution keeps them at a distance. “Not for long,” seems to be his thought, as his head turns from one meaningless detail of the place to the next. It is fascinating to watch that massive bovine head move so gracefully, so unified, so effortlessly supported by that great dark neck protruding from human shoulders.

To any of the young men, approaching the beast would mean certain death, but his magnetic allure makes them want to believe otherwise. Soon, one of them will give in, come close enough, and be swept off into the night, never to return.

But not tonight.

The newcomer walks in with a difference kind of confidence: the confidence of purpose. He is oddly dressed for the setting: he wears dark pants and a sort of vest made of black leather straps, a garment clearly meant to hold weapons. He is very pale, his head is clean shaven and there is a stern look on what would otherwise be a handsome face. He is also muscular, more than the young men, but not as large as the beast. His arms are covered in symbols, the shapes outlined with remarkable precision against the white skin. There is a contained energy to his movements that reveals training.

He stops a few feet from the beast. The Minotaur turns to face him, and freezes… it is impossible to know what thoughts are forming in the deep, dark nebula behind the pinpoints of light.

When the man speaks, the anger in his voice is the first sound to pierce the silence of the night:

“I knew I’d find you here, you goddamn floozy! Get in the car!”

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Posted in Dreams, Journal Entry, Writing and Poetry on April 11th, 2007 by Angel Villanueva

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The children had been missing for four years. One day they showed up at their parent’s front door, as if nothing had happened.

They will not speak at all.

As we enter the experimental facility I am puzzled by the presence of multiple polyglass walls defining an enclosure that extends beyond my field of vision.

I am part of a team, three other people walk in with me: a doctor, a psychologist, and a reporter. I am the artist. We will each evaluate the children, then our reporter will compile our findings and submit them to the powers that be.

We turn a corner and the kids’ enclosure comes into full view: the girl is about twelve years old, the boy eight or nine. Their glass prison is filled with toys and comfortable furniture, just like a normal living room, here awash in clinical light. There are cameras and massive banks of electronic equipment beyond the transparent walls.

I wonder what the reason is for keeping the children in a bulletproof cage.

The boy sits on the carpeted floor. His eyes are fixed on me. As I am cleared to enter the glass enclosure I recognize him.

Years back, before his disappearance, we played with crayons and paper at someone’s house, at some sort of gathering, perhaps a birthday party. We doodled and colored farmhouses, mountains, trees, cattle, flowers, birds… I remember he was perfectly articulate and extremely bright.

He stands up and goes to a corner, where he keeps a box and a big sketchpad. He takes them and walks back, sits where he was before, and looks at me again. It’s almost a command. I walk over and sit next to him. He opens the box: it is full of crayons. He then finds a blank page in the sketchpad. He does not invite me to draw with him. Instead, he picks a crayon without even looking to see what color it is, and gives me a look that can only mean: Are you paying attention?

I realize with a chill that he is about to tell me, in drawings, what happened to them during those four years.


That’s it. That’s when I woke up. My subconscious mind often weaves these mysteries and then catapults me back to daylight without an answer. It somehow feels perversely planned… I tried falling back asleep, concentrating as much as I could on the last image in the dream, but of course that would not happen. Nothing left to do but write the vision down before it faded into nothingness.


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The Great Flood

Posted in Dreams, Journal Entry, Writing and Poetry on April 3rd, 2007 by Angel Villanueva

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Claremont is flooded. I don’t understand how this happened. I am chest-deep in water under a deeply overcast sky. All that is left of the Claremont Village are fragments of buildings protruding from the waters. Even the trees are gone. There are other people walking around in the water at some distance, here and there, each of them lost in a search. The mountains have disappeared as well. I am in the middle of an endless ocean, the silver smooth surface of the water extending as far as the eye can see in every direction, a liquid horizon all around. I recognize the archipelago of dilapidated ruins around me as the Claremont Colleges, ironically self-proclaimed Islands of Beauty, now nothing more than piles of rubble surrounded by a silent sea.

I start walking through the water, not sure of where I’m going. I am near the partially collapsed shingle roof of what was once a church, fragments of its once quaint wooden architecture now dark with moisture, the ruins of a spire sticking miserably out of the water like a forgotten hope. To my surprise, as I walk by it, I find my dog. Rose swims out through an opening in the broken spire to meet me. She is as happy to see me as I am to see her, swimming circles around me in joy. Her radiant whiteness is a welcome and uplifting sight in this grayscale nightmare. I don’t want her to swim away so I hold her. She feels big in my arms when I restrain her, but she stays there paddling the water softly and does not try to get away.

People call out to me from a distance, waving their hands. I hear them but there is a strange, muffled and increasingly louder noise in the air drowning out their voices. I tilt my head to hear better, try to decipher what they are screaming, but I can’t make out the words. The noise is turning into a roar. One terrified-looking man points to the north. I turn to see what he’s pointing at, and find my emotions flattened by awe…

Spanning the entire horizon, an immense wall of water approaches, shining like an enormous ripple on a sheet of polished steel. It is a tsunami of epic proportions, the likes of which humanity has never seen. I can see foam flying off its crest and sea birds riding the air wave in front of it as it gets closer, covering more and more of the sky every second. The realization is instantaneous: the endpoint of my human fate, the moment of complete annihilation, is here, and there is no escaping from it. Even if I survived the force of the crush, I could never swim my way to the surface in the chaos that will follow. I comprehend this so readily and on such a profound level that I accept it instantly. Death is on its way, and its utter inevitability leaves me at peace to enjoy the wondrous sight of its arrival.

But the dog in my arms has a different idea.

Rose’s eyes are fixed on the oncoming wave. It does not scare her. She is focused, determined. Suddenly I feel like I am looking at her for the very first time, and as I do, I am reminded of her true nature. Rose is a Labrador, a fisherman’s dog thinly disguised as a pet, a tight 70 pounds of lean muscle, head like a seal, tail like an otter, wrapped in a waterproof coat and equipped with the same webbed feet that enabled her distant Northern ancestors to swim tirelessly through freezing waters, making their way across tangled roots and floating seaweeds, helping their masters to drag fishing nets ashore. Rose, St. John’s dog, hears her genes calling out to her in the moment of truth and eagerly responds in kind. Her waterdog paws tread the water in nervous anticipation, like a racehorse held at the gate. Hold onto me, I’ll get us through this. The realization is at once surprising, humbling, and deeply moving. Tears cloud my vision as the truth of the moment is revealed: Rose is here to save my life.

Deafened by the approaching roar of the tsunami, I hold onto Rose, take a deep breath, and wait for the crush.

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From the Dream Journal
April 3, 2007