Wherever You Throw Me, I Will Stand
The title of this post is a loose translation of the motto of the Isle of Man – Quocunque Jeceris Stabit – which goes with the symbol, the triskelion, of the three legs on the Manx coat of arms.
I was actually searching for something else, but the motto struck me as being exactly what I needed so, for now, my search is over.
Last night I dreamed of a three-legged creature. Throughout the dream I kept thinking – I’ve seen that creature before in a film or a video game – but it is difficult to pause and think, especially to remember something from your waking life, when you are in the midst of dreaming.
Everyone who populated my dream was frightened of these three-legged creatures. They appeared suddenly without any warning, would lock on to a human and chase them, if they caught you, you disappeared, never to be seen again.
There were rumours and convoluted tales of what happened to you after you disappeared. Some believed these creatures were hellspawn sent to drag people to Hell, others thought they were aliens looking for ingredients for their version of Soylent Green, a few were convinced they were a mutant created in Mother Earth’s womb who were avenging the rape of the planet by greedy humans. None of the stories had happy endings. No matter what version people believed all agreed that the creatures were bad and those caught by them would suffer. No wonder they were afraid.
I was in a house, which apparently was mine, with a group of friends. A creature had been spotted inside the house and so we all headed for the living room to barricade ourselves in there.
There was a moment before we shut the door when one of the group was going to be sacrificed to the creature. Everyone, including the person about to be sacrificed, had got it into their heads that the creature had targeted him, he was a marked man and if we gave him up the creature would go away. The man was terrified, but willing to do what he had to do to protect the others. As I stood on the threshold on the door, I looked at the man, then at the others huddled in the room and decided that in a room full of cowards a brave man was of great value, so I grabbed the man and dragged him inside then shut the door.
There was a bit of an uproar which died down quickly as non-human footsteps were heard upstairs, echoing eerily through the empty rooms of the house. The creature was on the move and on the hunt. Silent terror gripped the room and the people in it.
I stood with my back against the door, holding the handle. It was an old house and the door did not fit the frame properly, nor did it shut as well as it should. I was using my body as a barricade. My eyes scanned the faces of the people in the room who were all as far from me and the door as the small space would allow. I realised that I did not know any of them. Who were they? They were supposed to be friends, just like this was supposed to be my house, but although there was a certain familiarity, it was one born out of being told something and believing it without verifying if it was true.
As I pondered this strangeness, another thought formed. How long would I be stuck here, holding the door closed against some mythical creature, protecting a bunch of people whose only emotion was fear. I was trapped in a fear-filled room. That fear would eventually reach me and take hold of me too. In this moment I was not afraid, I was just responding to the fear of others. They were frightened of those creatures, I was not. What if those creatures were not bad at all.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door, not the one I was keeping shut, but the front door. The fear in the room expanded and pushed against me trying to get inside of me. I reacted without thinking. I opened the door behind me and slipped into the hallway, closing the living room door after me. I could hear the voices of the people crying out at my folly. I ignored them.
The hall was empty. No creature to be seen or heard. I walked up to the front door and opened it. A woman stood on the porch, she stepped back in shock when I appeared. My house it seemed was her house and I was not someone she knew. I looked at her with the same look she was giving me, then my eyes shifted to the street and saw that it was different from what it should be. The world outside was a different one from the one I knew.
I stepped out into the street and looked around. Then I returned my gaze to the woman who had been slowly backing away from me. It dawned on me that she thought I was one of those creatures, and then I realised I thought the same thing about her.
I reached out to her and as I touched her arm transparent tentacles wrapped themselves around my arm. I waved my arm to loosen the grip of the tentacles and the world around me vanished to be replaced by yet another version of it. I waved my arm again, only this time I floated upwards, pulled up by the tentacles, and as I watched the world below get further and further below, a crust formed over it. I caught a glimpse of the living room with people in it, the crust enveloped them and another world formed on top of the crust.
I grabbed a piece of crust and ate it. It tasted like cookies.
That’s when I woke up. It was too early to get up so I just drifted in semi-consciousness reviewing the dream. It occurred to me that the people in the room probably thought I had been caught by the creature and had disappeared. But I had not disappeared, they had, I had crossed over into another version of reality. Perhaps that is what had happened to all those others who had vanished. Perhaps these creatures were reality shifters.
There are times in our lives when our reality shifts. What we thought was the real world changes, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. An incident, an event, catches us in its grip and transforms us. We are no longer who we were and so how we perceive the world around us changes is no longer what we thought it was, and others are no longer who we thought they were.
For a while we are adrift, without ground beneath our feet. What is real and what is not real? We are not sure… at some point we land, perhaps with a bump, but still we end up wherever we are thrown and we stand.