Nightmare Repair


A few years ago, I had a blog called “Nightmare Repair.” The idea was that people would send me their nightmares, and I would re-write the endings and turn the nightmares into good dreams. It was lots of fun for a little while, and then I learned that you should not ask strangers on the internet to send you their dreams. The fun ended and the blog ended soon after.

But I still like the dreams I’d already re-written, so I ‘m posting them here. Also I’m really proud of the graphic I made (see above) and I can’t think of another way to show it off.


Nightmare 1: The Room

Dear Person Who Rewrites Nightmares,
Here’s my nightmare. I’m naked and alone at the opening to a very large room. The room, as I am forced to deal with because the wall behind me is moving and pushing me towards the opening, is so large and vast that I can make out distinctly different weather patterns from the solid wall I peer down from, and across towards the other sides, which I can only assume are many miles apart. The opening from where I’m being forced to gaze by the ever-moving wall places me so high up from the floor of the room, that even the miles-apart walls appear closer than the floor. Slowly bouncing in near paused pace, is a beach ball that could not possibly be smaller than the moon. It’s movement is fierce and deliberate, though hardly breaking any speed records, it will clearly be stopped by nothing and it will simply destroy everything in its path. The ball, from my vantage point, is set to ricochet off an object many miles away and then bounce directly at me and destroy me, as the wall behind me pushes me ever closer to the edge of the vast room with no escape. Just when I confirm the ball (as large as the moon) is headed my way, I wake in a terrorized panic dripping with sweat. I’ve had versions of this dream since as long as I can remember. Less frequent now, but every once in awhile it pops up and scares the shit out of me.

Dear S.L,
See, you woke up to soon. Here’s what happened next: Finding yourself in the room had startled you so much you’d entirely forgotten about the enormous, two-moon-sized dragon you helped last year when you found him with a thorn in his paw. After you removed the thorn with the help of a nearby bulldozer, he clearly told you that all you ever had to do was yell “drago salvum!” and he would come to your aid. Luckily, now, as the ball bounced faster and the walls closed in, you suddenly remembered and shouted the words. At first nothing seemed to happen but then you heard, far off, what sounded way too big to be beating wings. The ceiling of the room suddenly flew away, and a talon punctured the ball in several places. It deflated fast, and then the material seemed to disintegrate. Another, much gentler talon reached down and plucked you, gently, out of the room, and you and the dragon flew into the night. A few mighty flaps of his wings got you well away from the room, and then you were descending. The dragon dropped you and you fell a few feet, landing on top of a strange man who was knocked unconscious in the impact. At first you were worried, but then you saw papers in his hand, and reading them, realized he was a supervillain who had put you in that room because he knew you alone were strong and smart enough to vanquish him. At your request the dragon flew you both to the nearest police station. After the villain was safely locked away (and the cops had loaned you some surprisingly nice clothes out of the lost-and-found) you met your friends at a good restaurant and had a terrific meal, entertaining them with the story.


Nightmare 2: Behind the Curtain

Dear Person Who Rewrites Nightmares,
I was at a theatre with Rhonda. It was just us and we discovered a thing behind a sheer curtain. It was wearing a kind of white cheesecloth or gauze hooded robe. It was sitting there, its face was obscured by the hood. We both felt a sense of doom and evil. We also knew we needed to do something, before actors arrived. We also sensed that it would kill us if we got too close. Before Rhonda could stop me, I said my life is less important, so I will sacrifice myself. I pulled back the curtain and yelled, “what do you want?” Then I woke up…

Dear S.C.,
You woke up too soon! A moment later, the creature began to cry. “I don’t want anything,” it said. “Please, please help me.” You were afraid, but its voice didn’t seem to match the sense of doom and evil. Reaching out, you grasped the hooded robe and pulled. As the robe came off, the sense of doom and evil came with it, and revulsion crawled up your arm as you realized that some evil beings had used it to keep this poor creature captive. Not creature–young woman. She wasn’t quite human, but she was definitely a young woman. You put your arm around her and Rhonda got her a drink of water, and soon she was able to explain. Her captors had left her here, wrapped in that robe that made her helpless, in the hopes that whoever found her would kill her. Luckily, your kindness had foiled their plan. She was still frightened, saying they’d be back, but you and Rhonda used your theater know-how to rig a trap. When they returned, lights blazed in their eyes, temporarily blinding them, and the robe dropped on them from above. They were instantly helpless. The young woman went through the portal they’d made, and came back with armed guards from her home dimension. They thanked you and arrested the evil creatures, and you were promised that they wouldn’t return. The young woman returned often, however; she’d been bit by the theater bug and wanted to learn all she could from you, with the goal of opening a small theater in her home dimension.


Nightmare 3: The Face

Dear Person Who Rewrites Nightmares,
I had a nightmare years ago, which I still think about because it was so weird: I have these odd blackheads on my nose and I go to the bathroom mirror to investigate and, up close, I can see that my nose has a bunch of tiny craters in it. Inside each crater is a different colored, tiny, disc-shaped sponge with a design on it. Children’s designs, like a duck, or a flower. So I flick a few of them out with my fingernail. They land in the sink below and immediately begin growing in size. I think “What the heck is causing this?”, so I unhinge my nose to look inside my face. (Because it has a little hinge at the bottom so I can flip my nose open like a little trap door.) And, once my nose is flipped open, inside my face is a little wooden Popeye the Sailor doll. And that’s the moment that I woke up in a cold sweat.

Dear E.J.,
You woke up too soon! A moment later a woman poked her head in the door and said, “sir? They’re almost ready to start shooting; I just wanted to check the mask.” The woman, who you realized was the special effects artist hired to create your mask for the new Tim Burton movie in which you were playing the villain, hurried over. You blinked, finally starting to come out of the daze left over from the phenomenal nap you’d just taken.
“Sorry about that,” you said as she carefully closed the nose and replaced the tiny sponges. “The chair in my luxury trailer is so comfortable, I nodded off and woke up not sure where I was.”
“No harm done,” she grinned. “Though I’m surprised you can sleep with all the excitement. Everyone’s buzzing about your Oscar nomination.”
You smiled but before you could reply, your assistant came in and told you they were ready for you on the set, and you went off to make your fortune.


Nightmare 4: The Dinosaur

Dear Person Who Rewrites Nightmares:
When I was maybe 8 I had a nightmare that dinosaurs were walking across the golf course behind the houses across the street. Then one of them smashed his head through my (second floor) bedroom window and screamed. Then I screamed. Then my dad woke me up.

Dear P.M.,
You woke too soon! Here’s what happened next: You and the dinosaur both screamed for a moment, but then he stopped screaming and said, in a voice that showed he was an 8-year-old dinosaur himself, “I’m sorry, please don’t be mad! I thought the window was open and when it wasn’t it scared me so I yelled. My name’s Davie, and my family lives down the road. You’ve never seen us, most people don’t. But I’ve seen you before. We’re on our way to a big dinosaur party and I’m kind of nervous because I haven’t been to many parties. So when I saw you in here, I thought I’d invite you. We’re allowed to invite people. Do you want to come? I can have you back by morning.” After some thought you decided that yes, you did want to go to the dinosaur party. You got out of bed and put on your slippers and climbed onto the dinosaur’s back, and he carried you to the party, where there were lots of games and music and giant balloons, and mostly dinosaur food but also some human food, and mostly dinosaurs but also some humans, and a roped-off platform where humans could dance without worrying about getting stepped on by dinosaurs, and you and Davie had lots of fun and talked about all the other places you might go to together, like dinosaur carnivals and dinosaur barbecues and dinosaur baseball games.


Nightmare 5: Hippo

Dear Person Who Rewrites Nightmares,
The other day I yanked myself violently awake after dreaming that I glanced behind myself and found that a hippopotamus was just about to bite my leg. He was aiming at my right calf I believe and BOOM I was AWAKE!

Dear G.K.,
You woke up too soon. In the next moment, you remembered that you’d recently been bitten by the same radioactive spider as Spiderman. With your lightning-fast reflexes you pulled your leg away, and then you used your webbing to make a net to catch the hippo and carry him back to the river where he belonged. It turned out that he was just a child hippo, and his family had been very worried about him. He gallumphed off to see his parents, and you went on your way, feeling good that you’d rescued a hippo.


Nightmare 6: Quarantine

Dear Person Who Rewrites Nightmares:
There’s a wildfire and I had to be evacuated. I honestly don’t know where I was living–this was not a place familiar to me. I live in the Cahuenga Pass and spend a lot of time at my parents’ house in Pasadena–both had fires very nearby recently, but I don’t have a clear feeling that I was at either place. Maybe somewhere in between. All I know is that because of the fire, all the people were evacuated and all the animals were quarantined. I know that makes no sense. But in my head, that’s what happened–I had to get out, and they took my dog Chance from me. They took him to a vet’s office I’d never seen before. I was going to this office to see him because I hadn’t seen him since we were evacuated. I walked up to the front desk and explained I was there for Chance. And they explained that I couldn’t take him home, but I could see him, but only for a few minutes because they were so overwhelmed.
So they took me in the back to an exam room. And then a vet tech brought Chance in. And I could see when he walked in that he was terrified and nervous, but as soon as he saw me he erupted in joyful wiggles. And he gave me kisses and I hugged him and tried to explain that I didn’t abandon him, and I was gonna have to leave again, but that I was going to be back to get him. Of course, I knew he couldn’t understand me, so I just started sobbing. And almost immediately the tech returned and said my time was up, and started dragging him away, and he looked at me with this look, like “Mom WHY ARE YOU LETTING THEM TAKE ME?!”
And then I woke up.

Dear C.W..
You woke up too soon! A moment later, you said, “wait a second, if you’re so overwhelmed, maybe I could volunteer?” They were pathetically grateful for your help, and it gave you an idea. With Chance curled up in your lap, you got on the phone to all the people whose animals were quarantined–all of whom missed them terribly. You knew that being in the L.A. area you were bound to find people with resources, and eventually one agreed that yes, he did have a large ranch well outside town.
With everyone chipping in what they could–some people could chip in a whole lot–it was just a matter of getting anyone with a car to drive the animals and the people without cars to the ranch, where you all lived blissfully for three weeks, playing with your animals and living in sleeping bags and cooking outside. When you were all finally allowed to go home, the owner of the ranch said it had been the happiest time of his life, and he was turning the ranch into an animal sanctuary and you were all welcome to come and stay any time. You (and Chance) were heralded as heroes, and he knew he had a mom who would always find a way.


Nightmare 7: Ray Gun

Dear Person Who Rewrites Nightmares,
Hostile aliens landed. I tried to get away, but one of the aliens zapped me with his ray gun. The way the ray gun worked was to dissolve the bonds between my molecules, so that I’d float apart like a cloud. Upon being zapped, my terror suddenly changed to a calm stillness. I was frozen in place for a moment, then gently blacked out both visually and mentally as I drifted apart…

Dear C.K.,
And then you opened your eyes, still feeling perfectly calm as the molecules that made you brought you slowly back together. All those years studying under the Warlock Fortudet had paid off! You really did have complete control over every molecule of your body. A moment later, the rest of your squad crested the hill. You felt ashamed that for a moment you’d actually believed they’d abandon you. Your best friend grinned at you and tossed you your blazer gun. You watched it spin end over end and then it was in your hand. You blasted away at the little green men and shockingly soon they were all lying stunned on the ground. You and your team gathered them up and took them to a holding cell where you used the mediation skills Fortudet has taught you. Soon, a peace treaty had been brokered between their planet and yours, and a new age of prosperity and happiness began.


Nightmare 8: Acting Class

Dear Person Who Rewrites Nightmares,
I’m in an acting class. The exercise is to explain how a stove works. I study. I prepare. Day of assignment I begin my presentation. I get two words out and professor screams NO! And then tells me I didn’t prepare and belittles me. I run from classroom aimlessly wandering the halls. I wake up feeling horrible, like it was real.

Dear S.B.,
You woke up too soon! Here’s what happened next:
You were so distraught, you didn’t notice the person walking towards you. As you apologized for almost bumping into her, you slowly realized that it was Meryl Streep, looking fabulous and smiling at you kindly. She asked what had you so upset, and you told her the whole story. She frowned, then told you that she’d had similar experiences with acting coaches, and that your professor should not treat you that way — he clearly had decided ahead of time what to think of your work, and that wasn’t fair. With her encouragement, you returned to class. She smiled sternly at the professor and said that she was looking forward to seeing you explain how a stove worked, and he was so dumbfounded and impressed he didn’t try to stop you. You went into your routine, and it was so brilliant the class gave you a standing ovation. Ms. Streep suggested you drop the class and take her on as a private acting coach; she’d never done it before but she thought she would be good at it and you had inspired her to try. You left together, while the rest of the class told the professor that he was the worst and they wanted their money back.


Nightmare 9: The Bogeyman

Dear Person Who Rewrites Nightmares,
From about 3-9, I had a recurring nightmare. I would dream that I had awakened in our garage. I was in a baby’s crib. It was very dark. The Bogeyman appeared beside the crib. He was holding a log from the woodpile. He said, “If the leg of the crib breaks, I will hit you with this log.” Immediately, one leg of the crib broke and the crib tilted. I would then wake up terrified.

Dear J.M.,
You woke up too soon! Here’s what happened next. The moment the crib tilted, your mother rose up behind the Bogeyman. She grabbed him, crumpled him up like a piece of paper, and threw him out the window. Then she took you in her arms, and apologized for letting him get so near and speak to you – but assured you that you were never in any real danger, because she was close by, and always would be. She and your dad had carried you out to the garage to sleep because the roof inside had leaked, and she would be sleeping out there too. Then the two of you fixed the leg of the crib using the Bogeyman’s log, and she tucked you back in, and you knew you were safe.


Nightmare 10: No Brakes

Dear Person Who Rewrites Nightmares,
I’m in a car heading for cars stopped at a red light. I touch the accelerator and the car takes off down the road right for the stopped traffic. But my brake foot is frozen and I can’t lift it to stop the car. I wake up.

Dear S.B.,
Here’s what happened next. For a moment you were stunned, afraid, looking at the cars in front of you. But then your instincts, borne of many years of driving, kicked in. You jerked the wheel, making a sudden right onto a side street, and let the car start to slow. Your eyes scanned the driveways to the left and right of you until you saw just what you needed: A sharp upwards slope. You turned the car, which was now moving fairly slowly, and the car pulled into the driveway and rolled gently upward until it came to a stop. You pulled the handbrake and breathed deep, feeling grateful that you knew just what to do in this sort of emergency. Then you picked up your phone and called someone to help you figure out what was wrong with your foot.


Nightmare 11: The Final Face

Dear Person Who Rewrites Nightmares,
OK, so. I’m walking through some huge and unknown warehouse/factory-type place. Rickety metal walkways, dripping pipes, thrumming unseen machinery. The place is badly lit with flickery overheads and there’s an awful, gut-clenchingly, ominous atmosphere. Somehow I know that I’m here to encounter or experience some concept called ‘the final face’ and that this is inevitable and unavoidable. I’m suffused with stress and fear. I inch along until finally I think, despite the sense of inevitability, I’m going to escape without incident.

Wrong. Suddenly a figure drops onto me from one of the overhead walkways. I’m pinned to the ground by strong, wiry arms. The guy shoves his face right up against mine, he’s completely bald and wide-eyed and every sinew in his head and neck shows as he screams into my face, with manic intensity : ‘THE FINAL FACE, MAN! THE FINAL FACE!’
I awake traumatised and even today, some twenty years later, I still feel tense and corrupt even thinking about it.

Dear A.S.,
You woke up too soon! Here’s what happened next: For a moment, you were taken aback at his bizarre energy, but then you came to your senses: you’d been chasing this psychopath for too long to let him get the best of you now. You kneed him in the groin, and the sudden pain caused him to release one of your arms. “Here’s your final,” you snarled. “Right in the face!” You let fly with a massive punch, every bit of adrenaline, every bit of stress and worry that had built up over this weeks-long manhunt, traveling through your fist into his nose. He flew backwards, landing on the ground, stunned for a moment. He quickly rallied and tried to get up but it was too late, you were on him, flipping him over, a knee in his back, banging his head onto the floor until he lay still. You jerked his arms around and cuffed him, then spoke into the communicator on your wrist. ‘It’s over, Mac,” you growled. “This guy won’t be terrorizing the East End any more. Now get me some light in this damn place.”
Instantly, the helicopters hovering silently outside turned on their spotlights and light streamed through the windows. The warehouse wasn’t scary anymore, just rundown and decrepit. A sick hide-out for a sick man.
Mac’s voice came rumbling through the communicator. “We’ll be right there. Good work, Agent. I knew you were the one for the job.”
You smiled wryly, shoving your knee just a bit harder into the creep’s back. “You weren’t wrong. Let’s hand this jerk over to the police and go see about that drink.”



Author: Sarah McKinley Oakes

Sarah McKinley Oakes is an L.A.-area writer, nanny, and library clerk. Her other blog is, where she writes up old restaurants but barely mentions the food. To contact Sarah, DM the Hatpin Slayer Facebook page

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