I nearly died in my sleep last night.
I was having a dream. Not a happy one. It was mostly about the smell of rotting corpses.
The stench was so vile, I nearly vomited. For real. Which is not a great thing to do in your sleep, especially if you’re lying on your back. It’s a good way to choke to death.
There’s no end of disturbing imagery my brain can come up with while dreaming (or awake for that matter), but smells are rare. I woke up trying to remember where I could have smelled rotting corpses before. It felt like a memory, but I couldn’t quite place it. There was an image to go with it: a broken crypt, disturbed earth, and with that, the pungent stench wafting out.
I was beginning to believe it was a false memory. Just a dream that seemed real. I certainly couldn’t place what cemetery I might have been in to see and smell something so awful.
Until I did.
Paris. Four years ago. Père Lachaise.
The fact that it took me nearly an hour to narrow this down suggests I might spend too much time exploring graveyards and tombs. A damaged crypt emitting a desiccated putrid odour was far from the most noteworthy thing I encountered there, but that brief experience made an impression, and my mind ended up regurgitating it years later for a very special nightmare.
Not the first time my brain tried to murder me.
At least I successfully work up from this nightmare.
Frankly, my life has been a nightmare I can’t wake up from for years now.
Lately, I understand there’s some sort of bug going around. I haven’t really noticed. A global pandemic hasn’t cracked the top-ten list of things that are fucking up my life.
The body count has been high. None of them COVID related. Both my parents, my last remaining aunt, and one of my book-cover designers all kicked off in quick succession this past miserable year. Turns out the cover designer was only faking her death, but the rest were genuine fatalities. Not that the knuckle-dragging government bureaucrats will agree. I’m still waiting on one of the death certificates months after the fact, which leaves both the estates I’m handling in limbo, unable to move forward.
And the bills keep on coming. I’ve been shovelling money into a furnace, settling debts that aren’t my own, paying off all the parasitical agencies that come out to play whenever someone dies, and coughing up thousands of dollars in surgery fees to keep a cat alive. Again.
My kitchen cupboard is starting to look like a columbarium with so many urns of ashes. It’s like a sooty Pokémon collection. At least cremains don’t stink of corpse bile.
That scratches the surface. It’s the obvious stuff, but there’s so much more. I wake up some mornings disappointed I didn’t die in my sleep.
The only thing that keeps me going are all these books I have to finish writing. Not that I’m afforded much time to work on them lately. But when I do, it’s the best kind of escapism, and disappearing into fantasy is all I can do for my mental health at this point. Yes, there are books coming. Weird and astonishing stuff. And I’ll keep at it through this shitstorm, come what may, because it would be a pity if they never saw the light of day. Besides, I’ve reached that plateau of Zen when I just want to hang around out of morbid curiosity to see what horrible thing happens next.