Vampire in the Monastery

My family and I are driving through a city. It’s dingy and half-abandoned, industrial, like cities I have seen in dreams before. We are actually driving along a single road that passes — seemingly — along the outskirts of the city. Or maybe it is that the whole city is so desolate, there is no center of activity.

It is not completely abandoned, though. There is still a show of commerce here and there, stores and truck traffic. The sun seems to have stuck in a perpetual orange dusk.We stop at some store on the right side of the road where the owner has a tape player set up in the large front window. For some reason, I lend him a favorite tape of mine, with the understanding that we’ll be back to get it.

The dream continues, though my memory sometimes falls asleep. We leave the car, possibly at our final destination, and explore some sort of monastery or cathedral. There are other people walking about, and possibly someone accompanying us, but I don’t recall who. Our path leads through hallways and plazas, and up and down wide, sprawling staircases. Marble and polished granite, set with greenery and fountains.

We descend into the yard behind the building. There is a circular garden of low, leafy greenery. A shed or two marks the far side of the yard, while the rest is encircled by low mounds. Beyond that are fields and rushes, leading to a sparse, quiet wilderness. The sky is light, but overcast.

After a look through the garden, my parents announce that it’s time to leave. I tell them that I just want to look at a group of small structures which I’ve spooted in the rushes beyond one of the mounds. It looks to me like a churchyard of some sort, and I can’t resist the mystery of it. I trek over and find my suspicions confirmed. The first grave I come to has a black stone cube as a marker, bearing the name of the Buddhist monk who is buried there. Next to the stone is a shallow pit of sand with a brick sitting in it — a sarcastic Zen rock garden! The other graves, though all different, show, in their construction and inscriptions, a similar, un-monklike sense of humor. Perhaps they were buried by those who were not friends, but this seemed unlikely, as the inscriptions appeared to show a genuine fondness for the individuals, however sacriligeous the expression of that fondness appeared.

More graves lay down a small grade, into which a wooden stairway had been built. To the right was a dark crypt, to the left another grave with sand. The inscription on the latter identified its resident as “a hell of a vampire killer”, or something equally enthusiastic along those lines. This struck a disturbing note, however optimistic it tried to sound. After all, these were Buddhist monks, right? And besides, however good he was, he was also dead.

As I played over the implications, a sudden commotion from the crypt seized my attention. Something inside was throwing itself against the door; I could see the wooden door rattling against the chains which held it shut. From the sound, it seemed to be an animal, perhaps the size of a dog, although it seemed to be hitting the door near the top. Not wanting to know any more, I fled back to the car.

Soon we are driving again, returning up the road we had come on. I’m edgy; the experience in the churchyard had left me with a sense of dread. In my hands is a double-barrel shotgun — who knows where it came from? — which eases only slightly the feeling of impending doom.

And, following the logic of dream, the premonition is justified. [Perhaps dream-time exemplifies a more correct vision of the way time works. There is forward-flowing causality, but there is also a backwards-flowing eschatalogical dynamic. True liberation consists, perhaps, not in complete freedom from determinism, but from a more equal balance between causality and will.]

I’m sitting on the right side of the car, in the back seat. The window is closed. Suddenly, there is a loud THUMP as a dark shape clamps onto the window. Without even seeing what it is, I fire the shotgun through the window, shattering it. To my horror, the thing seems unaffected by the blast, and uses the broken window to push its way into the car. The black, leathery, batlike creature which is climbing onto me, dropping bits of broken glass, is, I know, the same creature I heard bashing against the door of the crypt. The last I see of it is two white fangs emerging from its darkness, pushing themselves towards my neck.

After that, all I recall of the dream is stopping at the man’s store to retrieve my tape, and wondering if he’ll shoot me for being a vampire.

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