A few nights ago, I had a strange dream. I was swinging on a vine over a lake or pond. As I drifted to one side, I noticed a snake in the tree I approached. Momentum carried me to the other side of the pond and I noticed a snake in that tree as well. There were other people around and I mentioned to them that I thought the snakes had noticed me, too. I wasn’t particularly alarmed. But eventually, as I reached one end, a snake lunged at me, wrapped around my arm, and sunk its teeth into me. My main concern was trying to pry the snake off while not falling from the vine. It was at this point that I woke up.
The dream was not terribly unusual. What was unusual is that when I woke from the dream, it was around 11:30pm. I’d gone to bed at 10 o’clock. It is rare for me to have dreams that early in the night. Most of my dreams seem to happen early in the morning, in the 3-5 o’clock range. My understanding is that this is pretty typical. R.E.M. sleep takes place in the later phases of sleep. Indeed, as I lay there, I couldn’t think of the last time I’d had a dream so early in the night.
It got me thining–and this is a good example of how my writer’s brain works–why would I have a dream so early in the night when it almost never happens. Laying in the dark, I went through my day. Did I eat anything unusual? Do anything out of the ordinary? No, and no. At least, not that I could remember. So what then?
An idea began to form in my head that was a little unsettling at first. What if I woke up in the morning, and when scanning the newspapers (on my phone) came across a “breaking news” story that began as follows:
NEW YORK – Did you have a strange dream last night? Tens of thousands of people in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states have reported dreams involving snakes. All of the people reporting the dream were asleep between about 8:50 and 11:50 pm. Reports were sparse at first, but they started coming together on social media giant Reddit, where a subreddit on dreaming lit up with thousands of people reporting the strange dream. Similar reports quickly mounted on Facebook and Twitter, with the hashtag snakedream trending number one on the social media platform.
From that, I began to wonder what would cause the mass dreaming phenomenon? The answer came to me almost at once: The Russians! Given the current state of world affairs, my imagination conjured this as reprisal for the NATO nations supporting Ukraine.
It also made me realize the source of many conspiracy theories.
I slept fine for the rest of the night. I never did figure out what caused that early R.E.M. stage. But my dream gave me an idea for a story–alas, one that has been done before. That’s just my luck.
Written on April 14, 2022.
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