I Woke in Fright

a record of dreams and nightmares

Category: Fiction

by Bec Fary

“After talking to everybody too long and too loudly and way too much to drink, I went into a back room to lie down for a while. When I awoke I saw that I’d slept the whole night…

‘How did I get here?’ I asked, thinking about the drunken party. The man said nothing and the woman looked down. Very little was explained.

It took me more than a week to deduce from the evidence around me that everything before my waking up was a dream and everything afterward was reality.”

Robert M. Pirsig, from ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’


by Bec Fary

Tetsua from 'Akira'


“What’s happened to me? I must be dreaming. I feel like I can take out the world.” 

Tetsuo, ‘Akira’

by Bec Fary

“…and the old man took off his trousers and went to bed in the dark. He rolled up his trousers to make a pillow, putting the newspaper inside them. He rolled himself in the blanket and slept on the other old newspapers that covered the springs of the bed.

He was asleep in a short time and he dreamed of Africa when he was a boy and the long, golden beaches and the white beaches, so white they hurt your eyes, and the high capes and the great brown mountains. He lived along that coast now every night and in his dreams he heard the surf roar and saw the native boats come riding through it. He smelled the tar and oakum of the deck as he slept and he smelled the smell of Africa that the land breeze brought that morning.

Usually when he smelled the land breeze he woke up and dressed to go and wake the boy. But tonight the smell of the land breeze came very early and he knew it was too early in his dream and went on dreaming to see the white peaks of the Islands rising from the sea and then he dreamed of the different harbours and roadsteads of the Canary Islands.

He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, not of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, not contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. He never dreamed about the boy. He simply woke, looked out the open door at the moon and unrolled his trousers and put them on.”

from ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ by Ernest Hemingway

The Book of Recurrent Dreams, 1791

by Bec Fary

“What is being awake if not interpreting our dreams, or dreaming if not interpreting our wake? Circle of circles!”

“4:513 – The dream of angels dreaming of men. It was during an afternoon nap that I dreamt of a ladder. Angels were sleepwalking up and down the rungs, their eyes closed, their breath heavy and dull, their wings hanging limp at the sides. I bumped into an old angel as I passed him, waking an startling him. He looked like my grandfather did before he passed away last year, when he would pray each night to die in his sleep. Oh, the angel said to me, I was just dreaming of you.”

Jonathan Safran Foer, from ‘Everything is Illuminated’

by Bec Fary

“It’s one of those unpleasant opioid feverish half-sleep states, more of a fugue-state than a sleep-state, less a floating than like being cast adrift on rough seas, tossed mightily in and out of this half-sleep where your mind’s still working and you can ask yourself whether you’re asleep even as you dream. And any dreams you do have seem ragged at the edges, gnawed on, incomplete.”

David Foster Wallace, from ‘Infinite Jest’ 

“lie quiet now, you just had a bad dream”

by Bec Fary

“we dream lots of silly things”

so went the dream

by Bec Fary

“How many times did I dream of catching a train at night? Always the same dream. A nightliner stuffy with cigarette smoke and toilet stink. So crowded there was hardly standing room. The seats all caked with vomit. It was all I could do to get up and leave the train at the station. But it was not a station at all. Only an open field, with not a house light anywhere. No stationmaster, no clock, no timetable, no nothing – so went the dream.”

Haruki Murakami, from ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ 


by Bec Fary

“The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”

William Shakespeare, from ‘The Tempest’ 

by Bec Fary

“Right and left there are other things happening just as bad – crazy, horrible things too goofy and outlandish to cry about and too much true to laugh about – but the fog is getting thick enough I don’t have to watch. And somebody’s tugging at my arm. I know already what will happen: somebody’ll drag me out of the fog and we’ll be back on the ward and there won’t be a sign of what went on tonight and if I was fool enough to try and tell anybody about it they’d say, Idiot, you just had a nightmare; things as crazy as a big machine room down in the bowels of a dam where people get cut up by robot workers don’t exist.

But if they don’t exist, how can a man see them?

It’s Mr. Turkle that pulls me out of the fog by the arm, shaking me and grinning. He says, ‘You’re havin’ a bad dream, Mistuh Bromden.’ ”

From One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey