Thomas Wictor

Fear overcome. Now I’m sure this won’t come true

Fear overcome. Now I’m sure this won’t come true

I spent the day researching cluster munitions. Tomorrow I’ll debunk the Human Rights Watch (HRW) lie that Saudi Arabia dropped cluster munitions in the city of Sanaa, Yemen, on January 6, 2016. Thanks to HRW’s photographers, I’ll also prove that previous accusations of cluster munitions being used were also lies. Now I’m too tired to put it all together, so here’s a dream I had about terrorism, my main fear in life.

The nightmare is in my book Hallucinabulia: The Dream diary of an Unintended Solitarian.

I’ve entered a new nightmare cycle. But the nightmares aren’t about terrorism anymore. Still working through things…

A former fear

September 22, 2023

The wide plain was somewhere in the Midwest, all gently rolling hills and grasslands. It was tornado season, and I nervously watched the sky as I helped a man plant rice shoots in a paddy. He was big and middle aged, wearing jeans and a red-and-white checked flannel shirt. Stooped over, he blathered nonstop, his folksy monologue a kind of sonic backdrop.

“So what Ah said to ’im was, ‘Don’t you ever, ever think you can get away with nothin’ like that when Ah’m runnin’ the show, buddy. You mess with me, you gonna wish you ain’t never come outta y’momma’s cooch.’ An’ he looked at me like his ass was on sideways an’ he had ta sh*t. Someone tries ta f*ck witcha, y’kick ’im in the nuts straight away, or he’s gonna double-f*ck ya. That’s what mah daddy tol’ me back when I was no bigger’n a corn nubbin.”

He splashed in and out of the water with the sort of melodramatic, overly businesslike determination that told me he was a fraud with no idea what he was doing. Though the paddy was hot and slimy—like a lake of vomit—I wanted to submerge myself in it up to my neck.

The rice farmer was famous for refurbishing German First World War aircraft, including a Fokker triplane and a Halberstadt CL.IV ground-attack fighter. The Halberstadt continually flew over our heads as we worked.

I’d glance up at it, admiring the workmanship of the restoration. On one of its sorties, I saw a funnel cloud forming directly above us. I thought about diving down underwater and lying there so that I’d get sucked up into the sky, figuring it would be an amazing experience. Since it would also kill me, I decided I’d better take cover instead. The Halberstadt buzzed us again, but now it was a Japanese super-deformed caricature, all squashed, bulbous, and cute.

I felt terrible that such a valuable, imposing aircraft had been turned into a cretinous joke. Overhead, the tornado grew, dipping down out of white clouds shaped like cubes, dodecahedrons, and prisms.

Then I was inside an airplane hanger that was also an office-supply store. Everything was neat and painfully sanitary, with stark fluorescent lighting and cardboard boxes stacked against the walls. The double doors swung open, and a tiny, one-man helicopter flew in, a foot or so above the floor. It looked like a Bell H-13—the M.A.S.H. chopper with the tail made up of steel tubes—but the cockpit was a passenger car instead of a big, acrylic bubble.

It flew right up next to me and turned onto its side.

I was terrified that the rotors would hit the cement floor and shatter, sending razor-sharp metal fragments in all directions. However, the rotors were very short, only about two feet long. The helicopter was designed to land on its side, an idea so ridiculous it was insane. I hurried out of the store before a salesman could tell me about it. The helicopter was a perversion, and I was afraid someone would either try to sell it to me or get my approval.

Outside, I found myself on my college campus, which was up on a mountain overlooking Portland, Oregon. The city seemed much closer than I remembered, but then I realized that I now had the eyesight of an eagle. I could make out the faces and clothing of individual people strolling around, getting on electric trolleys, and crossing streets. It was as if I peered through a powerful telescope.

Suddenly, eight or ten white contrails appeared over the city and lengthened rapidly. They were ICBMs, fired from military bases that the enemy had commandeered. The contrails swooped in toward the city, and the missiles smashed into their targets. Orange-and-black mushroom clouds, smoke, and flying debris obscured the view of the surviving buildings. When the dust settled, armed men swarmed the downtown area, shooting everyone the missiles hadn’t killed. With my eagle eyesight, I saw that they were dark-skinned Middle Easterners. They shot news crews that covered the attack, and I knew that soon they’d notice the campus and stream up here to murder us.


The whole thing had a foretold, inevitable quality, as if it had already happened years ago. I was numb with fear and totally unmoved, having expected this all my life. A few open-mouthed students stood around me.

“Terrorists!” I screamed. “They’ll be here any second! Get away from the dorms! Go hide in the woods!

They fled and I turned back toward the city. The terrorists were on their way up the road to the college. Carrying assault rifles, rocket launchers, heavy machine guns, and other weapons, they’d arrive in a few minutes. I turned and ran into my dorm to warn the residents, but once inside the building I knew it would take too long. If I were going to survive, I had to get out and hide as quickly as I could.

I raced outside and ran toward the barbed wire fence that separated the campus from the surrounding forest. Even though the fence was eight feet high, I vaulted it with ease, as if the earth’s gravity had been turned down. I landed in the woods and hid behind a bush only a yard from the fence. It was too close to the college; my instincts shrieked at me to go deeper into the trees. I stayed behind the bush anyway.

Gunfire broke out all over the campus. People screamed and scattered, while right in front of me on the other side of the fence, a young man and woman tossed a red, rubber kickball back and forth. I lay on my side, my legs drawn up. My shirt and pants were gone, and now I wore only white jockey shorts. Armed men ran past without seeing me, despite the fact that I was in plain sight.

The college was both in Portland and on the property of my house in Texas; this confused me into paralysis. Completely exposed and feeling amazingly stupid for remaining where I was, I couldn’t force myself up to find a better hiding place. The fear was too great.

A middle-aged black man joined me. He was thickset, with an Errol Flynn mustache.

I knew he was somebody famous—an actor or TV personality—but I couldn’t place him. He knelt next to me in a white T-shirt and khaki work pants.

“We’ll be okay if we keep our heads,” he muttered. “Just hang on.”

My fear receded somewhat. He’d get me out of this jam. I trusted him completely.

The sounds of gunshots and explosions increased as the terrorist attack spread. From my right, a group of women arrived, somehow at the behest of the man with me. They were the counter-terrorists, Asians wearing white blouses, navy blue skirts, and traditional wide-brimmed Korean hats. They gathered in front of me and stripped down to their underwear.

Their bodies were smooth and muscular, with gorgeous buttocks. Despite my fear and torpor, they aroused me to near-delirium. As they knelt to pull combat fatigues, assault rifles, and hand grenades out of duffel bags, they giggled in my direction and covered their mouths. Then they dressed and strapped on their gear, complaining to each other in Japanese that they all had to wear the same clothes.

Once fully outfitted in helmets and flak vests, they were coldly professional. There was no doubt that they’d clean the terrorists’ clocks. They cocked their weapons and moved off.

Since the man with the Errol Flynn mustache had vanished, I got up and ran along the fence toward a granite fountain that sat in front of a plaza, the heart of the campus. Somebody—either one of my brothers or Carmen the Cardinal Ghost—was with me.


I couldn’t tell which because I couldn’t see the person clearly. When we reached the fountain, we lay behind it on the grass and waited. There was an explosion on the stone stairway between two buildings in front of us; the Japanese counter-terrorists had begun their work. Glass and hunks of cement flew everywhere, and an Asian man was blown along the ground toward us. He hit the base of the fountain and sprawled on his stomach.

I knew he was a North Korean infiltrator, so I ran around the fountain to try and kill him. As he moaned and kicked his feet, I snatched up his pump-action shotgun by the barrel, swung it like an ax, and smashed him on the back of the neck. He stopped writhing and lay still.

I grabbed one of his legs and dragged him back to where my companion lay. Behind the fountain, I inspected the shotgun. Such a weapon would be extremely useful. This one looked too small and toylike to be effective, the spare shells looped to the wooden stock only half an inch long. Suddenly, I regretted hitting the Korean. Whatever he was, he didn’t deserve what I’d done. I wiped his bloody neck and hoped I hadn’t broken it.

Face down, the Korean shook his head, mumbling and laughing into the ground. He seemed sweet and docile. I gently took off his jacket, folded it up to make a pillow for him, and turned him on his side. When he looked comfortable, I leaned down and pushed him through the grass by the soles of his boots.

We moved away from the fountain and down the sloping hill toward a quiet rose garden with concrete benches. Sunken like an amphitheater, the garden was a peaceful hideaway invisible from everywhere else on the campus. We’d be safe there.

Now the Korean lay on a blanket, and I pulled him along a paved walkway with a downward slope that became alarmingly steeper the closer we got to the garden. I worried that the Korean would fall out and hit his head on the flagstones. The path ended on the top of the circular brick wall that surrounded the garden. About ten feet below me, Emma Thompson sat on a bench dressed as a nineteenth century British nanny.

Next to her was a toddler riding a wooden rocking horse. The little boy wore an ankle-length, long-sleeved gown, the type seen in Victorian photos. My concern for the Korean evaporated, and I abandoned him on the path. It was as though he no longer existed.

I took the stairway down into the garden; Thompson and the toddler attracted and utterly repelled me. Squatting beside them, I peered at the fair-skinned little boy. He had shoulder-length blond hair, a freckled nose, and full lips. Up close he looked like a corpse. His eyes were blank and filmed over, and his mouth hung open. He was as devoid of life as a specimen preserved in alcohol. Thompson turned away in apparent shame.

Though I was outraged at the child’s condition, I also found him revolting. I stood and left the garden because there was nothing I could do for the boy. He was already a goner.

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