I have night terrors. I always have; when I was a kid my dad banned horror movies and books from my life because I would wake up screaming so often. I also sleep walk on occasion; after watching The Time Machine with my family when I was about 14 I wandered into my mom’s room at midnight, asleep, and aked her what year it was. I also tried to get out of the front door of the apartment more than once; the locks always stymied my sleeping self.
The thing about my night terrors is that I rarely remember them in the morning. Sometimes I’ll see a pillow across the room and realize I threw it at a phantom invader or beast, but the only times I really know what sort of nonsense I get into while sleeping is when a girlfriend tells me. Thankfully my long term girlfriends have been good humored about this stuff (between night terrors and snoring I’m a real sleepy handful); one of my exes, now my best friend, relishes telling the story of the night I woke up convinced that not only was she Beck but that she was going to shoot me.
I’ve had at least two night terrors in the last week. The first happened while I was in Chicago at the Nightmare on Elm Street set visit; after the official business was over I spent a couple of days at my father’s house in the suburbs. I was sleeping in the basement on a pull out couch, and the family daschund, Rufus, had joined me. I almost killed the poor fucker as I woke up startled, yanking the sheets off of me (and him, as he had crawled under them); Rufus flipped over and blinked about him, confused.
See, I was convinced that someone had poured kerosene all over the basement, and they were about to light a match and turn the room into an inferno. I was completely sure this was the case for about a minute, and then I slowly came to my senses and sheepishly returned to sleep.
That one is rare because I remember it on my own. I have no memory of my night terror from last night, when I woke my girlfriend up in a panic. I tend to do that, and I guess you can look at it as a nice thing – I think a terrible catastrophe is about to happen and my first reaction is to save my girlfriend. Usually my girlfriends just get annoyed and tell me to go back to sleep; I’ll get in a huff and tell them that if they want to be blown up/burnt alive/eaten by fire ants/murdered by a prowler that’s their decision. And then I’ll go back to sleep.
So last night I woke her up in a panic. ‘Get out of bed!’
‘What is it now?’ she asked.
‘Can’t you see?’ I pointed to the foyer between the bed and the bathroom. There was nothing there.
‘What am I looking at?’
And here’s where it gets good. ‘Those cars! They’re rolling down the hill towards us! We’re going to be crushed!’
There’s no hill. There’s a bathroom, and that has a window looking out over an alley and the next building over. My block might be a slight incline, but the real hills – the Hollywood Hills – are a half mile up the road.
It’s reported to me that even as I was warning about the rolling cars I seemed to realize how stupid it all was and went back to bed.
I’ll try to continue bringing you the regular updates from my sleeping, panicky subconscious as further night terrors occur.