This always got to me. For a while, it was just a dream. I was enjoying a train ride through a beautiful piece of countryside, rolling green fields, undulating hills, etcetera etcetera. It’s even a steam train. Honestly, it was like I was in the bloody Railway Children.
This is actually one of the most vivid dreams I’ve ever had. I can still hear the train’s whistle, taste the soot in the air. I can feel the wind on my face as I look out of the window, watching those green fields fly by. There are wooden benches in the carriages, with those slight cushions that are far too thin to actually make a difference into how numb your arse gets. And I can actually remember the feeling of my bum losing all feeling as I’m eating a ham and cheese sandwich. That’s right, there’s even a ham and cheese sandwich, cut into triangles. I was thoroughly enjoying the dream, then it happened.
The train, a huge black locomotive, started to pick up speed. You could feel a shift in the acceleration, a small feeling that you’ve been manipulated in some way. At first it’s a rush, as if that machine was trying for a record of some kind.
Then the malevolence invaded. An eerie grey pallor crosses over the whole affair, and the increase in speed becomes threatening. And it doesn’t stop. It just gets worse. The train is now going faster than is possible. The scene becomes a blur, a painter’s pallet when the only available paint is blue, grey and green.
Now I’m afraid. I look out the window, and can see a structure in the distance, a monstrous mouth of shadow encased in steel and glass. The station. But there’s no sign of slowing.
Imagine the river scene from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. The original, with Gene Wilder. Not the Johnny Depp remake… I still haven’t seen that one. But anyway, you know it. The ominous feeling that bad things are going to happen, the swirling, the rhythm. In my dream, it was just a drumming of wheels on the track. Thudding. A drumbeat, marshalling the troops of my nightmare.
Suddenly, jarringly, my viewpoint changes. I’m no longer in the first person. I’m now floating above a lake, where there are three men fishing in a large boat. The lake is calm. The only sound is a soft cooing of the family of birds in the blackberry bush. The scene pans around and you see a monstrous building of steel and glass, with a huge round window.
Suddenly, the train erupts through the window, the hurtling mass of black metal thudding down onto the fishing boat. One of the men is struck immediately.
I flash to the point of impact, see the wheels still turning as they fall towards him in slow motion.
Now I’m back out, watching the other two men thrown high into the air before thudding heavily into the water. You know in an instant they’re gone.
I see through their eyes. Feel my body thrown through the air, air whistling past my ears as I see a watery death rushing towards me.
I’m left with a single picture. The classic image of the train, dangling from the station. I assume that’s where the entire dream came from, but I still don’t know.
And I still get scared by it.
The Idiot in Tin Foil