The Dream

Interpret this story however you want, I'm not saying it was this or that. All I can tell you is that it is completely true:

By the time I was 18, I had already been moved out of my parents' place for a while. I had finished high school a year early and went to work. I got a place with friends and basically just partied like an idiot, making room in between for work, so I could afford to keep having a good time and tinker on my cars. It was every teenagers dream, total freedom. 

Everything was going just as planned for a while. Until one night I had this really messed up dream. It wasn't just that the content of the dream was disturbing, it was also that it seemed SO real, more so than anything I had ever experienced. It went like this: 

A woman is walking down a neighborhood street. It's night time. I can make out most of her features, but not all since it is dark out. She's blonde, in her twenties, thin, and wearing jeans and a black jacket. She's minding her own business and seems to be in a hurry to get wherever she's headed to. As she crosses the street at an intersection, two men run out of the shadows and grab her. One man covers her mouth and starts dragging her to a waiting van, the other runs slightly ahead and opens the back doors of the van and they force her in. One gets in the back with her, the other runs to the front, jumps in and they speed away. In the dream I'm watching it like it were a movie, sometimes seeing it from a distance, then being inside the van with her. I never had the sense that I was actually physically there or could do anything about what was happening, just that I was somehow watching this unfold and helpless change it. 

They drive for what seems like a really short distance, maybe even only a few blocks, and pull into a tiny gravel alley with a small house on one side of it. It's a white bungalow style house, slightly run down, with a short picket fence around the yard. Some of the pickets are missing and the yard is cluttered. They pull into the alley, the driver gets out, runs to the back and opens the door. The two men pull the woman out of the back and attempt to muffle her screams. They get her out. One man starts forcing her in the direction of the house, the other slams the back doors of the van shut. As he does, the second door, which has the license plate on it closes, and the dream comes to an abrupt end at that point, the license plate being the last thing I see. I wake up, sweaty and with the image of the plate etched into my brain. It was disturbing to say the least. 

The next day I tried my hardest to shrug it off, but unlike any dream I had ever had, this one stuck with me. I remember being at work the next day and being totally preoccupied thinking about it. It just seemed so real, it really bothered me. I had no clue that it was about to get much worse. 

That night, I did the typical stuff: Drank beer, listened to music and partied with my roommates. I was in bad need of something to get my mind off this stupid dream that had bothered me all day, and this was the perfect solution. By one in the morning, I was ready to get some sleep. I headed to bed, sufficiently drunk enough to have forgotten all about it. Unfortunately, I didn't get to forget for very long. That night, I had the exact same dream. Same girl, same street, same van, same abduction, same license plate. It ended again the way it had the night before, the door of the van shutting, the plate burned into my brain. 

This continued the next night. Same dream, same girl, same ending. And the next night, the one after that and the one after that. It went on for more than a month. Every night, the same thing. It had gotten to the point where it was affecting my daily life. I became sort of swallowed up by this dream. I would think about it all day, wandering around like a zombie, totally disconnected and consumed by it. I dreaded falling asleep. Over and over, the same dream. Night after night, waking up sweating and terrified, with that license plate in my head. 

Then one day, out of the blue, it just... stopped. It was just over. Abruptly. I remember waking up and feeling relieved, but confused and somehow betrayed at the same time. I had gotten so accustomed to this nightly ritual, that when it didn't happen, it was an odd feeling. Overall though, I was more than happy to have not had the dream. The next night, the same thing, no dream. In time, I began to forget about the whole thing. I was happy to put it behind me, but for a long time, I did have a lingering sense of curiosity as to what it all meant, if anything. 

Fast forward a few years. I don't recall exactly how old I was, but I suspect I had probably just turned 21, as on this particular day I was at my parents' house for dinner and I remember drinking a beer and not being worried that my mom might say something about it. It was at least 3, maybe 4 years since I had last had that dream. I had completely forgotten about it, literally hadn't crossed my mind in years. 

My parents are those people that eat dinner on the couch, in front of the TV, which is always on the news. I'm sitting there, having dinner, watching the news but not really paying much attention. Until the news anchor says something like "Tonight we have new information in a case that we first brought to you several years ago." It was an update in a cold case that involved the disappearance of a young girl. For some reason, this caught my attention and as I watched, I began to get an odd feeling.. 

As they gave details about the case, they played footage of what was apparently a crime scene having to do with this girl's disappearance. It was all taped off, police cars all around it, chaotic. They cut away from that to show a photo of a woman in her twenties, with blonde hair. As they showed that  picture and described the details of the case, my ears started to ring. I still hadn't quite put it together at that second, but it was coming back to me in a flood. I started to sweat and feel nauseous. I almost felt like I was going to pass out, it was a very strange feeling. And then, as they panned back to the crime scene footage, it hit me like a punch to the face. There, on the screen was the house from my dream. Picket fence falling down, cluttered yard, a gravel alley next to it. In the alley was the van. On the back door, the license plate I had woken up to so many times. I ran to the bathroom and literally threw up. 

After this happened, I started researching the case. I looked up the girl and tried to learn everything I could about her, who she was, and what connection I could have possibly had to her and to her disappearance. The more I dug, the more confused I became. I could find absolutely no reason why I should know even a single thing about this girl, let alone have apparently witnessed her abduction. If the dream had consumed me initially, the few months after the update fully engulfed me. But the end result was more confusing than the event itself: Zero connection, and no reason that I could find that any of this should have ever happened at all.

Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, and thankfully nothing like it has ever happened since. It's been almost twenty years now. Do I still remember her name and that license plate? Yes. Am I going to start googling? Not a chance. I never want to have that dream again. 

So, there you have it. Interpret it as you wish. I have no idea what it meant, or why it happened. I hope I never do. Happy Halloween. 

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