A to Z Blog Challenge

N is for Nightmares


The original meaning of the term Nightmare refers to an evil, often female, spirit or goblin which suffocated one during sleep. Over time it gained an association with dreams of a bad or terrifying nature. Freud and other psychologists came to investigate these dream states in terms of how they might provide clues to our subconscious turmoils. Today, we know that dreams and their darker counterpart, the nightmare, are mostly subconscious problem solving and/or a replay of events told in the crazy, symbolic language of the subconscious mind —for some in black and white, for others in full Techno-color.

When I was a child I had a recurring nightmare. It appeared just before Thanksgiving for three years in a row. My studies in psychology suggests there were specific reasons and specific triggers for this identical sequence of events, but to this day I can remember it and retell it, although the telling would do little to convey the terror I experienced.

As an adult, I love a good nightmare. Would one expect any less from a horror writer? I have taken to keeping pad and pen close at hand, just so I can record some of them. It is of course my life’s writing goal—to be able to capture the terror of these nightmares into a story. To convey the surreal horror from dream state to page.

I believe nightmares are mostly the real world stripped of our ability to rationalize, categorize and ignore. And that is why they play an important role in horror writing. Places, times and events where we slip the veil of reason and peer into the darkness and find it looking back.

I named my website or my “brand” so to speak, Nightmirrors. It is a play on words that suggest fear and horror are simply the reflection of our own minds in the darkness of night. That black mirror in which we see the darker side and find it to be not some far off place, but one standing behind us.

Horror and the search for inspiration is in my DNA. Often the most common scene or interaction sparks thoughts of the potential horror story within. Sometimes those inspirations are large, novel size stories. Other times they can be contained within a few thousand words and once in a while they are little more than short verse. The knock on the door at night, an ascent up the darkened staircase, sometimes a single line of conversation can create a sequence of thoughts that begin with, “you know what would be really frightening…?”

Below is one such verse. It was inspired by a friend at the Writer’s Cafe. Her name is Morgan and although I can’t recall the exact point of inspiration, I still shiver at the imagery and chuckle at the knowledge that Horror Writers give their friends such bizarre little word “gifts.”

Mean ole Morgan threw me here, far, far away
Said I was a spooky clown and here I had to stay
I wore a doll frown cuz she wouldn’t be my friend
Until I realized suddenly I didn’t need to pretend
Silly Morgan thinks that I can’t crawl out of this place
Confident her longer legs would beat me in a race
But I don’t need to run or chase her pretty little head
Cuz I just crawled out the closet and went under her bed
Come now sleepy Morgan, let’s get you off to your dreams
And when I drag you in that closet we’ll see who really screams

9 replies »

  1. e-gad that poem-ick! Funny because there was a 1950’s movie called tarantula and I kept having recurring dreams of that coming after me and my dad near where I lived. I can have vivid colourful nightmares and often it is vampires or aliens trying to possess me and me fighting to stay away and get people to believe me. Nightmares frighten but draw us in-look at all the writing and art about nightmares.

  2. Wow, that poem was creepy and cool!

    As a child, I remember being told mirrors were to be blocked when someone died. I’m not sure where that superstition came from, but I was scared thinking I would see the dead from the other side through a mirror. As I grew, the fear of mirrors stuck with me, but I did later on believe that it was probably fear of the dark side of our minds that gave birth to that superstition. So in my way, I understand your Nightmirrors name and the play on words. I think its genius!

    • Blocking mirrors was to prevent the deceased’s soul from becoming trapped within it. Some cultures believe it should be done at night to prevent the wandering soul of the dreamer becoming trapped…me I share my concerns in a story called The Case of Mr Dobbs lol.

  3. As a child, I would will myself into nightmares. Setting up a dream doesn’t present a surprising environment, but I learned to put myself in the right frame of mind and let go. Nightmares were sometimes scary enough to will myself awake.

    Now, I write my nightmares.

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