Inside the Bud
I have dreams whilst dreams have me.
About this time every morning. I wake up with an ending, an indefinable air of having been through something utterly dreadful but equally beautiful. The room is stifling, the wife beside me snoring heavily into her chest as a soldier would in a trench. There is enough light, coming from the gap at the bottom of the bedroom door like bacon rind, to see that the wallpaper is slowly peeling back to reveal the plaster running with glistening sweat.
I sit up and I sit up again
And that is when I wake up as if from several dreams, folded within each other, their petals inextricable.
It’s always the same – the wife mops my brow and takes a ton of it to the water butt outside. She returns with an iced drink which I guggle down voraciously. She tells me to neaten up my tie whilst she brushes up the purple velvet ruff beneath her own chin like an eggcup. We need to be smart on occasions like this; even in bed, one should not have a devil-may-care attitude
The next time I wake up, I feel the bed rocking gently to and fro on its ill-suited legs. “I do tilt thy cot, to cully the fever in thy bloods,” hisses a horned face, emerging monstrously from another bedroom door I did not know was there during the day. I sigh with relief seeing who it was and fall deeply asleep once more.
Now I meet H. P. Lovecraft. He seems to stare expressionlessly from between the holes in his narrow white skull, but I feel he wants to know if he can be of any help in my current troubles.
“I don’t know exactly what troubles you mean,” I say.
“They are self-evident, my good sir, behind your smart appearance. You have no imagination, no sense of wonder – and it is a blend of high outward standards (where there can be no complaints where you are concerned)” – he ran his spidery fingers lightly over the perfect knot in my tie – “with an inner strength to dream: it is that which creates the man from those who only think themselves men.”
He bent closer to me and I continued my rite of passage through his empty eyes into the cathedral dimensions of his skull. I journeyed for what seemed aeons between the hanging temples and well-drilled oxymorons of his mind. Sporadically, I pressed the flower of my ear to the ground and heard the seething whispers of pre-emergent Cthulhu. I knew instinctively that was the name of it, not arriving from the open stars, but from inside the Earth’s own inner cores.
The moral was not lost on me: the Angel Monster and its dreams do come from inside.
“And without the within there can be no without,” are his words which drift with me along the avenue of my return through dreams.
Each morning about this time, I finally wake up and know that tomorrow I can again return through yet more dreams to the deep wells of sight in his homely skull. I now try to remain awake till time for rising, pondering on the dark bliss inside the narrow carapace of his soul.
But, in the end, nearest dawn, I drift off again into lighter sleep, not before ensuring, however, that the knot in my tie is tight against my soft pyjama collar like a bud of involuted petals.
First published in ‘Crypt of Cthulhu’ #78 in 1991