This Killing Winter: Part Two

[Continued from the previous post.]

The transient housing for employees at the ski resort where I work each winter is, at its best, occasionally adequate. Moldy dorm rooms with two or three to a person house most in town, while some ways out of Park City, a fishing camp at the base of the reservoir dam, complete with little two-room cottages, affords at least the possibility of a room to oneself in which to take refuge. This is where I have stayed. My first cabin mate of this latest winter season was a considerate, if usually drunken man about my same age named Don. Things with him were going well enough until he drank himself into a tequila rage one night, then was inexplicably gone the next day, his room cleared out, himself no longer employed at the resort. But some one or two weeks before this happened, I woke up from a dream that did not seem to be a dream at all, yet in retrospect it seemed predictive.

In this “dream” I’d only just started to drop off into sleep, just past that twilight state in which things and voices and entire scenes may intrude as prelude to sleep and proper dream. While hovering in this state I heard a shout – it seemed to be Don’s voice – and this rattled me back awake, unsure if I’d really heard or not heard it. There was no further sound to follow this, but I realized in short order that I smelled a heady scent of shit; my entire room smelled of the stuff, and it was revolting. It didn’t seem to be coming from me, so far as I could tell, but it seemed inescapable. I tried to simply lay there for a short while, hoping to get back to sleep despite this, but in time, realized that I would at least need to go to the bathroom myself if I was to relax at all again. And as soon as I picked my head up off the pillow, the reek was gone. It had entirely dissipated in that instant, as though it had never been there. There was suddenly no more trace of it at all.

This perplexed me. I couldn’t stop thinking about the whole thing that next morning: an agonized shout, the smell of dung. Although it could be explained away, no doubt, any number of ways, I had the troubling sense that something had been trying to send me a message. At work in the bakery that morning, I mentioned it to my coworker, a very feet-on-the-ground type of woman, one I truly liked, though one not willing to entertain much of this etheric sort of thing, who said, “Maybe it’s your faeries talking.” There was at least a hint of mocking in her tone. But still it got me to thinking.

Within two weeks of this, Don had drunk himself into a blind rage and then he was gone, like a ghost. Something of his own dark side had caught up with him. I’d had to endure a night of his agonized shouts and him pounding against the walls (while not exactly willing, myself, to confront a tequila-fueled monster ape who was clearly suffering, and ask him to stop). I later thought often of the dream, or hallucination, or whatever it was. Perhaps it was that Don had only shouted in his sleep, agonized by some nightmare. But there was also the suffocating smell of shit in the air, gone the moment I’d moved at all… and that was peculiar, and it seemed to signify something. I felt that the whole thing, whether I was reaching or not, could be read symbolically, just like a dream, whether it had been mine or my roommate’s, or not a dream at all. Don had choked on his own crap.

The next “dream” came a couple of weeks after this had happened. With Don now out of the picture, but the resort still hiring (and therefore housing) people beyond its capacity, I knew it was only a matter of time before the next roommate moved in. I was told to expect one shortly by the housing manager. I only hoped this guy might be as agreeable as the last. Yet as the days past, and then became some weeks, I spent spent the time in the cabin to myself and loving it. I am, after all, a very private person. I like the quiet. I thrive on solitude, yet I knew it couldn’t last. One particular night – or rather, one early morning – I was awoken by the sound of people, two or three of them, suddenly throwing open the door to the cabin and tromping loudly in. They chatted amongst themselves as if it were mid-day and there was no one else about, certainly no one trying to sleep in the dark and small hours in the occupied room. One of them seemed to express some annoyance at the signs of someone already living in the place – that would be me – and the whole group in time trotted back outside into the snow, leaving the front door wide open, as if they were in the midst of moving in. Are these my new roommates? I thought, and, What complete assholes! My heart was racing. I was furious. What’s more, they’d left the front door open, and the heat was escaping. I could already feel the temperature start to drop.

So I got up out of bed to at least shut the door, and when I stepped out from my bedroom into the darkened kitchen, found the front door already well-shut. There was nobody there, and as far as I could tell, there had never been anybody there. But here was another intrusive “dream”, from somewhere outside the cusp of normal sleep. This had felt nothing like the sort of dream I might normally wake from, shake off, and realize had been just that. This was something altogether different. This was all but physical, and as it turned out, altogether predictive as well.

It was maybe two weeks later that somebody did finally show up, and this in the middle of the night, just like I’d “dreamed” it. I woke up around one a.m. to the sound of somebody opening the front door, walking through the kitchen, closing themselves up in the empty, bare room and flushing the toilet. It was clear that there was somebody actually there. I had no idea who. Anxiously, in time, I was able to get back to sleep, until in the morning the sound of them now leaving woke me up once more. I stretched and looked out through the slats of my window’s blinds to see a pair of feet walking heavily off through the snow. Okay, I thought, that was just odd. And disturbing. I learned the next day, when the housing manager again came by, that this was in fact my new roommate. Great. I groaned inwardly, but knew that it had been coming. I heard or saw nothing more of this mystery person for several more nights until again, in the middle of the night, I woke up from the sound of the door thrown open, and all the lights were turned on, and two pairs of feet walked heavily back and forth through the kitchen. Voices talked – at full volume – and something was set down into the empty room. A box? The two left again, only to return again, repeat the noisy intrusion, leave again, return again, then leave. It was like a Chinese water torture. My blood was boiling.

I again remembered my “dream”. It had been exactly this.

[To be continued.]

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