Rat movies came out in the 70's. they were the first of their kind. Willard & Ben. I cant remember which was first. It was like Sam & Son of Sam. Well sort of. My dreams pre-dated these horrific tales.
I never told anyone this dream until after the movies came out. Naturally the reaction was "oh, you were influenced by that Ben or Willard movie...". No, that certainly was not the case nor is it the kind of thing you argue over. What I mean by that is perhaps best explained by a comparison to more recent times. The Tom Hanks movie "Survivor" for example. A very good movie with very bad timing. My recollection is that TV came out with a new series of the same name almost at the same time as the Hanks movie. The premise was not quite the same but people loved the TV show and that deadened the impact of the movie, almost to the point of boring and it was sent to obscurity.
I have carried my dream with me nearly 50 years. This is the first time in print. Believe me it is easier to dream it than to put it into words.
A smidgen of my childhood must come first. Nancy was my first puppy love in 8th grade. Her appearance in this dream was many years after she devastated me with a note I found one day in my desk that basically said "I'm moving on to another 8th grade boy whom I find more interesting, attractive, emotionally mature and more fun than you." As near as I can remember, we never spoke again.
Why in my dream I would succumb to Nancy - who in this tale grew up to be a real estate agent - telling me she had this great house listing that would be a perfect fit for me I'll never know.
We parked in front of an old Victorian looking, two story house drab in color with a front porch. As we ascended the 5 foot wide steps with the huge wooden handrails, I made a few observations regarding the condition of the wooden floored porch which was enclosed on all sides by oak railings and a shingled roof held up by square posts placed at strategic locations spanning the width of the house. It was old, not quite dilapidated with paint starting to flake and peel. With one raised eyebrow I decided this was something that I could fix.
As we walked through the front door and entered the foyer into one big room 15 feet in depth and as wide as the house. Directly in front of us was a short hallway formed on the right by an expansive staircase and on the left by a floor-to-ceiling wall. Halfway down the hallway I saw a closed door. Walking forward one could also see the end of the hallway which opened up to the kitchen. As we approached I spotted another closed door directly ahead on the far side of the kitchen.
There was no furniture anywhere. This place has not been lived in for quite some time. There were chair rails, dark stained crown molding, peeling wall paper. The ceilings were a dirty white. Not so much a color as a look of neglect. As Nancy traipsed ahead, now I had a furrowed brow and began to wonder just how much work it would take to restore this once distinguished looking Victorian home to its original luster. But then I noted the flooring was well crafted oak, the doors were solid cherry, the railings leading upstairs were more like handcrafted 4x4's with rounded edges and a wide banister. The kind you could really have fun on if from the top you slid down them backwards. Basic workmanship still made this an attractive purchase. Yet an uneasy feeling starting to creep into my mind.
Nancy gestured to me as she opened the door in the hallway. It was a large room devoid of furnishings and maintained an odor of staleness. I could not quite place it. As I looked around there were water stains in the corners of the ceiling. A small jagged shaped hole seemed to appear in one of the corners as if it had been gnawed by something. After only a brief stay we returned to the stairs leading to the second floor and I played follow the leader as this floor had a hallway as well with one room on the right. It is a dream you know, and not everything is complete!
This was the worst room so far! Holes in every corner of the ceiling! Rain I thought? The roof leaks? This is getting out of hand. I can't do this kind of work. Nancy urged me on, gesturing back to the staircase , never saying a word. I followed like a good lemming.
As we entered the kitchen it to had holes in the ceiling. The appliances were old. The refrigerator looked more like an "icebox" and the sink a trough. Above it and centered between wall hanging cabinets was a beautiful double wide window with 4 panes of glass separated by 2 inch horizontal and vertical slats forming a cross holding everything in place. I was looking out over a wonderfully landscaped back yard. Admiring the view from which we were at least 2 stories up.
As I backed away from the sink, I saw roaches on the yellowing countertop and little black bugs crawling all over the outsides of the cabinets which now looked as if they were made of cardboard. I had seen enough. It was obvious each room we entered was worse than the one before. Then it happened. I saw some shuffling around one of the holes in the ceiling. The movement had caught my eye and now I focused and was sure I saw two red glowing eyes looking down at me. My arms were cold and I involuntarily shuttered. What was that? I knew what it was. My mind was whirling as I turned to see another corner and this time some sort of bulky animal was staring down at me with the same red eyes.
Before I could say anything Nancy had opened the kitchen door I had seen when first walking down the hallway. It led to the basement. This time I did not follow like a lemming as she stepped aside and with a wave of her arm and hand gesture beckoned me to decend the stairs and explore the final room in the house. Obediently I entered and began to descend the steps. I turned to see that Nancy began to follow me down and was somewhat relieved. That odor returned. The smell of staleness.
Halfway and in mid-stride I saw a rat scurry past the foot of the steps. I couldn't help but take the next step down. More rats. They began to congregate. I was only 2 steps from the floor. I finally got my mind and body to work together to turn and begin to quickly ascend the stairway. Nancy had retreated to the top of the steps, moved through the opening and shut the door! I had been trapped. But why?
My instinct was to turn around and run. My thoughts were faster than my feet. I saw a rat crouch and then leap from the floor and sail up at me. No time to turn and run, I caught the rat in midair with both hands and threw it aside. I backed up a step before another, larger rat with glowing red eyes and a mouth full of teeth came flying directly at me. Again I caught it and threw it away. Each time I backed up a step the rats flew at me faster and faster until I reached the top and my arms were getting heavy. I knew if the door would not open I would be covered with swarming rats, biting me until I fell down the steps, my life ending in agony as I was slowly devoured.
As they reassembled, preparing the next attack, the last of the bunch flew at me. Just inches from my face I caught it and threw it down at the group with all my remaining strength. This was my last chance. I turned and forced open the door and quickly shut it. I had to get out of the house.
My retreat from the kitchen was blocked. Behind me, I knew that the pounding was from the rats throwing themselves at the door. In front of me was a lone, oversized rat as large as any I had ever seen, with red eyes and fangs for teeth. It took the pose of the horrible creatures in the basement and I felt more than I knew it was about to leap across the room at me.
I braced myself. It launched itself toward me. I caught it in mid air with both hands as its teeth brushed my face but did not break the skin. I swung round and with what strength I had left and hurled it towards the kitchen window.
Suddenly It was not the spinning horrific creature that had leapt at me as the rats in the basement had done. It stared at me, paws and feet outstretched as it began to slowly fly backwards. The speed of time changed to a slow crawl. A second became a minute. The rat continued its backward motion but a metamorphosis began to take place. The red eyes turned black. The fangs became teeth. The claws became fingers. Now the animal and the window were nearly touching. As it crashed into the glass, wood splinters and larger shards pierced rat arms and legs as they began to take on human form growing larger and larger with each passing minute. And then I recognized what was forming. Nancy! As the half formed creature continued its transformation, a snarled and contorted face looked at me with such hatred. The thing knew it was about to die.
I woke up.