Dreams don’t have to mean anything. If they did, I’d be a little perturbed by this one.
I was first a hound. Not the family Labrador, but a hungry bear of a dog, an oil-slicked gargoyle. And I was confined to a section of a stone corridor, between two barred gates, flush to the ceiling and floor. Through the iron bars of one gate, I beheld the greater length of the corridor, and through the other, a square chamber, illuminated with trimmings of alien-green light, from sources unspecified by my dreaming mind. Across from me — a snapping, slavering hound — on the far wall of the square chamber, there protruded a stone disc, a meter from the ceiling and floor, and two or three in diameter. And bound to the face of this vertical disc, by no shackle other than some sideways gravity, was an emaciated woman, her skin blue like the morning, and her pupils lost inside her skull.
I had watched her starve there, fighting the malevolent gravity like an eel in a carpark, wasting away to a rib and cheekbone nakedness, clothed only by her drowned-witch hair. I had watched her starve, but now she was dead. Limp, but pinned to the stone by not even a nail.
Something changed then. My hound senses detected a wave of pressure, a pulse of silent sound, sickening like bad seafood in the gut. Whimpering, I watched the dead woman’s chin lift, and fists pop to open palms. And then, like a slow-cooked shank bone falling from the meat, her skeleton hatched from her skin and rattled to the floor, dry like a sheep skull on the side of the road, chalk-white and dusty. Up from the floor it built itself, to the broken classroom skeleton — with a swinging jaw and a missing clavicle. Up from the floor it built itself, and to me it clattered, jerking like a stop motion demon, like a glitching enemy in a video game. With a hiss, the gate between us fell open, and to the back corner I retreated, pissing on my tail and barking like a blind Chihuahua. Once the skeleton had shambled all the way in, the gate hissed again and swung shut, and a tremendous pressure built in my head and beneath my skin.
The perspective of my dream changed here. I was a floating camera, an observant spectre, watching the hound squeal and the skeleton near. And then, again like a slow-cooked lamb shank, the hound’s bones slid out of its flesh and slapped into the animated skeleton like pins to a magnet, adding to its scuttling mass and encumbering it to a slanted tripedal gait. It was a human and dog skeleton both, a fusion of man and hound. It was a bone monster, and when the other iron gate hissed open, it lurched up the corridor, through the alien-green light, and past the bourn of my dreaming eye.
I woke then, to the piping wind and a distant bark. But I wasn’t so awake to exit the dream, nor spare humanity from the monster. What I saw was the bone monster’s growth, always from the perspective of its prey, and then, a moment before the demise of the prey, the perspective of a floating camera, a spectre, a soul.
The bone monster tumbled through the suburbs, a hateful amalgamation of not just humans and dogs and cats, but snakes and crocodiles and kangaroos, vacuuming bone from flesh, accumulating mass like a planet gathering asteroids and dust. People went screaming from the streets and from their homes. They flew through their windows and, when the monster had stripped them midair of their bones, slopped to the lawns and roads. They slammed into their front doors, and their bones were sucked through their mail slots. They were hoisted into the air, whole families at once, hand in hand. And the monster grew and tumbled, until it was easier for it to roll.
I woke again, to rattling hail, and I can’t remember if the next scene was a dream or just some semiconscious afterthought.
The bone snowball — the jangling, quaking sphere of skeletons — pulverised cities, and to it more bones flew like wisps of white sugar to a stick in a fairy floss machine. It rolled skyscrapers to dust. It rolled through a mountain saddle and splintered a vast forest. It rolled into the ocean, paddling over the frothing waves while drawing up whales and sucking down birds. And it crashed onto new shores, and the bombs did nothing but slow it.
After some unfortold forward flash, I was an astronaut in space, watching a bone tumour swell on the earth, watching it disperse oceans and rip up continents like mildewed carpet. Then, over my intercom, there was a burst of static followed by squelch and a rattling, and a tremendous pressure built in my head and beneath my skin.