“You know,” my mother said. “I bought some ice-cream yesterday—cost me 5 dollars—it was so bad, I couldn’t finish it.”
“Is that so?” I asked.
“Yeah. I could’ve bought a whole tub of the cheap stuff, and it would’ve tasted a heck of a lot better. Would you like to go to the mall?”
“Sure.” It started to rain, and the droplets were large blotches of water.
“I’m glad we decided to walk inside,” my mother said.
“I’m going to Maci’s.”
After 15 minutes I got a call from her. “Where are you?”
“I’m right behind you mom.”
“Did you find something?” She asked.
“Yeah. I found some sweaters.”
“You know. I’m not really impressed with Maci’s anymore. They used to have class—now it’s turned into a Walmart.”
“What a dis,” I said.
“Well, it’s true.”
“How did you like that movie we watched last night?”
“Well, it was good story-telling, but too creepy for me. The movies you make me watch, give me nightmares. Sometimes…I can’t believe the dreams I have. If I remembered them, I would tell you, and you could write them into a story.”
“I bet I could.” And then my mind started thinking about that. I was a psychology major and we had these guest speakers who talked about brain research. They showed us images of various scanners—a timeline of technology.
“Did you know that cats are getting CAT scans now?” They asked.
“That gives a whole new meaning to the word!” Someone shouted.
“Yeah. And we have this new device called the dream machine. You hook it up to your brain, like headphones, while you’re sleeping. And it records the images on this screen— kind-of like a movie. Then you can recall in vivid detail, everything you dreamed.”
I had to get that machine, and convince my mother to put it on. She was always telling me about her dreams. Probably, because I was the only one who would listen to her. I also realized that I could feed her mind with horrible things, and she would dream up wilder and wilder ideas that I could write down.
I borrowed the dream machine from the Neuropsych Lab over the weekend. When I tried it on, I heard faint buzzing in my ears. It reminded me of alpha waves or beta waves or those waves that happen in your brain, when you go through the sleep cycles. I was awake, so the pictures on the screen came out blurry. I noticed it was like the adult TV channels that are scrambled so children can’t watch. I must have a dirty mind, I thought. I didn’t even know I was thinking about that. Modern psychological research has shown that the healthy adult male thinks about sex every 7 seconds—this makes sense, because how else is the species going to survive?
I tried to irradicate those images from my brain, but the more I tried not to think about them, the more vivid and voluptuous they were. It was horrible—especially because I’m a Christian, and Christians aren’t supposed to think about such things.
I decided to watch a Stephen King horror movie, take some melatonin, hit auto-record, and then enjoy a nap. When I woke up, I couldn’t remember my dreams, but I had a copy, and the video was over 45 minutes long. When I pushed the play button, I lost my innocence. High-definition violence, interspersed with me as the monster, eating children for breakfast who looked like troll dolls, made me think twice about the dangers of the subconscious mind. Then I encountered a math problem I had been trying to solve, and I recognized myself, a foot shorter, with Einstein hair and a grey mustache completing the proof. I journeyed in and out of strange worlds—some, I recognized— others, were completely foreign to me. I had more ideas from my own mind, than I knew what to do with. I wondered about my mother, and her subconscious thoughts. Did I want to go there?
“Would you like to try-on these new headphones I got, mom?”
“I don’t know… You have that gleam in your eye, Andy. It’s the wicked look your father gets when he has built something he shouldn’t, in the garage.”
“Oh, it will help you sleep better,” I said. “The Alpha waves and Beta waves are quite calming.”
“If you insist—maybe just for a minute or two.”
“Wait… before you fall asleep, perhaps I should get you some tea.”
“That would be nice, but make sure it’s from the Green Earth, and not that cheap Fred Meyer stuff.”
“Okay,” I said. I mixed-in my dad’s sleeping herbs. She was knocked out in less than 30 seconds. Then the dreams started…
A 6th grade girl with black hair and a white dress was sitting in a Cadillac. It must’ve been 1955. Two other girls were sitting in the back seat. A man was sitting in the front, smoking a cigarette.
“You know what, girls?”
“What?” They asked excitedly.
“I could’ve had two brand new Cadillacs in my driveway if I had never started smoking.”
Then that same little girl was walking into the basement of a church. Spiders were crawling up the walls and rats were running down the corridors. SCREAMING.
“Ahhh!” My mother was awake, and screaming. “Take these things off!” She shouted. “My mind has been hijacked by nightmares! How long was I asleep for?”
“That long! Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“I wanted to try-out this machine to see if it would work—to see if you might give me some new ideas I could write about.”
“There has to be a limit to your imagination, Andy. You can’t invade the minds of others. There is a reason we don’t know everything that goes on in the darkness of our own thoughts. Your curiosity is a sin. It has helped you thus far, but mark my words, it will tempt you to do wrong. You need to get right with God. He doesn’t want you to write about every thought that comes into your head.”
“But I don’t believe in artistic limits! I can’t limit my own creativity or I will stifle my writing! It’s an honest expression of my soul!”
“Well… your soul is getting blacker by the day. It’s all those worldly books you’ve been reading. Stick to the bible.”
“Okay mom,” I said. I started reading the Old Testament where whole civilizations were flattened by the hand of God. It was justified, and I was justified in writing about it. Love affairs and stonings and human sacrifice. I didn’t realize the bible had the best stories, and when I shared them with my mother, she nearly fainted. Then I encouraged her to wear the dream machine, and I got some fresh inspiration.