Written by Jonathan Wojcik

Happy Nightmare Memories... part II!

   Earlier, I talked about a few of the chronic fears and creepy dreams that dominated my early development, but one persistent phobia I didn't touch upon was that of being "alone." Alone in any conceivable fashion. Whereas many small children prayed for such an opportunity, I was horrified by the thought of ever being completely by myself at home, accidentally straying too far from the safety of adult supervision or somehow getting misplaced in an unknown environment. This often crossed over into my fear of being "stolen," though in my sheltered mind, the worst thing this entailed was a stranger forcing me to just sort of live in some other weird house with some other weird family where nobody would ever know what became of me. For the few years I spent in public school, the threat of "staying after" was terrifying enough to keep me following every rule to the best of my ability, since I got it in my head that "staying after" meant being locked in the school all night, and I somehow didn't expect that anyone would bother to inform my parents.

  It was this fear of aloneness or lostness that was central to countless nightmares or a backdrop to many more. I'd dream that I simply couldn't find anyone else, or at least anyone else that I knew, or that my very own home had become a twisted, foreign place. It was one of these in particular that left a curiously strong impression on my mind, awakening me in an exceptional panic despite being exceptionally stupid all around.

   This dream began like most of my other "alone" dreams; I found myself alone at home, wandering from room to room in search of human life. Instead, I found only mechanical activity; buzzing alarm bells, noisy toy cars, blinking lights and beeping circuitry that seemed to coat almost every interior surface. The doors were sealed, the windows displayed only blinding, blank white light, and an ominous voice boomed from all directions...a voice I knew all too well from television.

The unmistakable, buzzing voice of the Kool-Aid man.

I never saw the bastard, but I knew it was him. I knew he was somehow the mastermind behind the whole situation, but I couldn't begin to guess why he was loudly repeating the same stupid, nonsensical phrase:

Waaap. Waaap. Simon Says."

"Wap" was pronounced like "rap." Not a real English word, as far as I know. He chanted this over and over, in an almost musical rhythm with no actual emotion. His voice was even more robotic sounding than usual, booming through the house from all directions.

"Waaap. Waaap. Simon Says."


   It was ridiculous embarrassingly ridiculous, but in a dream-world my mind had yet to differentiate from reality, it scared me shitless. Why was he doing this? What did he want?! I ran from room to room, stepping over the various toys and gadgets no doubt installed by the sugar-water devil. Unable to leave, I could think of nothing else to do but attempt to hide in my own home. From what, I wasn't sure, but soon I was in my dream-world bedroom, diving under the covers with that same bizarre child-logic that says nothing can hurt you if you can't see it coming.

   Nestled between dream-mattress and dream-sheets, my perspective looked something like this. I could still hear the monstrous serving jug's inane chant and the noisome nonsense of the mechanical doo-dads. I still didn't realize I was dreaming; I just wondered how long I might have to hide like this before someone came to save me, or if something else might find me first.

And with that thought, the following happened, mere inches from my dream-face:

   I distinctly recall this moment punctuated by a classic horror-movie violin sting, and I immediately found myself kicking and screaming in the real world, tangled in my own covers, flailing madly to keep the tiny, plastic clown at bay.

   The son of a bitch was an actual, real toy I owned at the time, though I still don't know where it originally came from. It was more than likely a hand-me-down from even earlier years, and not something I ever actively remember playing with. I'm pretty sure the things are collectible, but that day, I ripped mine in half and I buried in the pieces deep in a closet, so I wouldn't have to answer any awkward questions about why I had murdered a clown, being slightly too young to know that you never actually need a reason.

How was I to know the little prick was in cahoots with a cybernetic juice-man who unexpectedly remodels homes and isolates innocent children?