This is a third-person description of me waking up this morning. Starting stories with the protagonist just waking up is frowned upon as both cliche and bad form (because who cares about someone just waking up, the thinking goes), and then of course the other bit of common wisdom I am flouting here is that no one wants to hear about someone else’s dreams. But fuck it, amirite?
She’d struggled to wake, as if swimming upward through dark waters full of jellied dream-things trying to drag her back down. Half-remembered, the dreams would only seem strange and silly to a listener, but living through them had produced a mild horror that even now was hard to shake. The last one had featured her niece, who had become (always been?) a large crayfish. She had protected this crayfish-niece from a large, aggressive catfish by lying down in the silty shallows of a river, providing a distraction so she could swim away, getting a phone and an e-reader and some family photos wet in the process. Right before that, she’d been walking through a labyrinthine building, dogged by old high school acquaintances who kept wanting to know if she was okay as she tried to make her way down a wide granite staircase suddenly half-destroyed, on her way to an airplane hangar to receive some bit of crucial information. She’d finally shaken them when they could’t follow her down the stair-cliff, and she’d barely made it to the hangar on time. An earlier dream had been centered around the slow, awful discovery that people and animals are essentially just sacks of skin filled with meat and clicky bones. That had been the worst of them.
A full hour later, her tasteless, cooling coffee and the morning sunlight streaming through the windows still didn’t seem as real as those gently terrible dreams.
Image credit: by Krüger – Illustrations de Ichtyologie ou histoire naturelle générale et particulière des Poissons Bloch, Marcus Elieser, J. F. Hennig, Plumier, Krüger, Pater, Schmidt, Ludwig, Bodenehr, Moritz 1795-1797 (Bibliothèque nationale de France), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10428444