I woke up from a nightmare last night.
Two other people and I decided to investigate the parallel world that was safely walled away in our house. Everybody knew of these parallel worlds, that looked exactly like ours, lush grass, sun up high. Everybody knew of somebody that decided to abandon common sense and ventured into these seemingly identical universes, never to return.
Crossing the threshold, we stepped onto a grassy hill with full trees of deep green leaves, and to our left a familiar scene. A village street, bathed in the golden yellows of a summer evening. The environment we had just left was almost in reach behind this one-way screen. It was easy from here to peer into our universe, but we did not know anything about the mysteries that awaited for us in this place. Nobody had ever returned to tell the story. Today it was our turn.
As we explored this luscious hill, I stayed a few metres behind, while my two mates ran around happily, picking ripe fruit from trees that no animal had ever touched. Every natural beauty was there waiting for us.
The woman in our group, excited at this world of endless possibility, decided to throw all caution to the wind and ran away by herself to chase something that had caught her eye. I was still staying back, very uncertain, and felt myself cringing and dread rising as she disappeared behind the tall grasses at the bottom of the hill. That's not how you're supposed to behave, when confronted with the unfamiliar.
Moments later, a cry for help and a terrible grunt came from where my friend had just disappeared. A giant humanoid, fat and pale of skin, had been enjoying its lunch before the woman and the rest of us came to disturb its moment of tranquility. It grossly ran up the hill, chasing us, and this is when I woke up in a panic.
Partially awake in my bed, it took me a few seconds to understand what I had just experienced. That was a manifestation of my deepest fear, the fear of the unknown.
Lately I have been looking to sate my thirst for my favourite genre of story. The venture into the uncharted.
The best are usually first-hand accounts, divided into chapters called "expeditions." It all starts with the discovery of something out of place. After many restless days, trying to imagine what is lurking into this previously unknown environment, the mind is set. The preparation, then the expeditions, each going further and further into the unfamiliar. If the genre is science-fiction, a world of untold complexity slowly unfolds. If the genre is horror, there is a final attempt from which no one returns.
I did not know it was my favorite type of stories until I woke up from the nightmare and contemplated the significance of this dream. I wrote it down because, like most dreams, it has interesting and deep insight into my own psyche, but that is an abyss into which I will venture alone. As apology for a ramble that I originally intended to keep private, I figured I would share my favourite media that confronts and laughs in the face of humanity's most primal fear, or that lets me explore it from a safe environment.
Going in as blind as possible is the only way to experience these. In no particular order.
- Mark Z. Danielewski's "House of Leaves"
- "Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster" by Jon Krakauer, which fueled my love for mountaineering movies.
- Last, but not least, H.P. Lovecraft's body of work, especially The Call of Cthulhu short story.
- The apocalyptic art of John Martin (1789-1854). My favorite, Pandemonium (1841)
- The dystopian worlds of Zdzisław Beksiński (1929-2005)