The Electric Octopus in the Sky

The other night I dreamed about the end of the world.

The dream started off in a state of confused urgency. My mother was still alive and I was checking on her at the old house where I grew up. She was in the advanced stages of pulmonary disease, just as I remember her from a year or so before her death. For some reason, my sister had entrusted her with the care of a number of Rottweilers. Good dogs except for one that seemed to be edging on a bad turn, snapping and snarling at the other dogs. He had a glassy vacant look in his eyes, perhaps like people have before a psychotic episode. Or so I imagined in the dream. Mom was complaining that the dogs were a great burden to her, and she explained how she was increasingly afraid of the one. There had been some close calls. I was very distressed over the situation and I promised that I would confront my sister and have the dogs removed from her care at once. Mom discouraged me in a passive way, saying there would be too much paperwork. As I assisted her with her nebulizer, I assured her repeatedly that it wasn't a problem, that I would take care of it.

Jump-cut to a resort location. A capacious hotel atrium, no idea where. My wife was with me and there was the vague understanding that our presence, wherever we were, was related to mom's Rottweiler situation. I worried that I was letting my mother down. I worried that too much time had passed, and that she was in grave danger, or worse. I tried to collect my thoughts, to focus on whatever it was that needed doing. Perhaps it was the paperwork. Was there a government office nearby? Had I even spoken with my sister? In frustration, I tried to recall.

Suddenly there was a commotion and everyone began filing out into the common area outside the hotel entrance. My wife and I proceeded with the others and, also with the others, we turned our eyes upward. Across the entire horizon, there was something that appeared as a vast black letterbox cast stark against the clear daylit sky. It was pulsating and growing and in an instant the sharp white static image of what resembled a giant octopus appeared in the frame. The thing was spiraling and undulating and it was awesomely bright against the pitch black space of the obelisk, or whatever, in which it was contained.  Panic overcame the crowd. People began running in all directions.  I locked my position and firmly grasped my wife's arm. She turned to me and I said to her, "This is it. This is how it ends. I love you. These people are wasting their time. Let's just brace ourselves."

Amid the chaos, we held to one another. And waited. Within moments, darkness enveloped the day and there was an unfamiliar chill as the Octopus-thing spread across the firmament. I thought about how unlike a shadow it was, and I noted that the specter was soundless, which was eerie but seemed to make sense. In a kind of mental reflex, I concocted a theory — of which I felt certain — that our universe was in a state of collision with another dimension. I thought about Schopenhauer's Will, and I tried to remember if I had read ever anything about this. A weird sense terror gave way to calm tinged with terror and I felt a pang of quotidian disappointment over the fact that I would never know what caused this to happen. I would never know if my theory was correct. I thought about my mother and the dogs and I hoped it would happen quickly for her. For everyone, everywhere.

A couple of nights a week, I wake up screaming. This has been happening for as long as I can remember. When I lived alone, I would be stirred awake by the sound of my own voice. Nowadays, my wife usually wakes me from the terrors. "Chip! Chip! You're screaming again!" she'll say, and her voice will summon me from the throes of some dark rushing epiphany that is usually forgotten in an instant. On the nights when she can't get back to sleep, she'll lug her pillow to the other room and watch television. I can sleep under the white noise of a fan, but she needs to be lulled by the glass teet. Usually a Monk episode on DVD.

Memento mori.

13 thoughts on “The Electric Octopus in the Sky

  1. Bang, whimper, or…what’s the sound one makes when being smothered by a giant octopus?
    I’m still waiting for that movie where apocalypse gets fulfilled.

  2. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, Chip, but I can say with confidence that it’s one of the most weirdly compelling movies I’ve ever watched. And daring… I get the feeling that the writer-director is probably an agnostic, but here he’s made a movie that in effect is agnostic towards his own agnosticism, which in my expereince is a rare impulse among agnostics. It’s as though he’s saying, “How do we know these fundamentalists are kooks? Maybe they’re right…”
    Another, more recent movie, “Frailty,” had a very similar twist, but with much more violence.
    Your take?

  3. What I liked about the movie was the ending, which seemed to be the whole point to me. She decided the God she’d been serving was a shmuck, and opted out of His blessed pool of sycophants for conscience sake. Gutsy, and unexpected. Put a big grin on Euthrypo’s mug, I betcha.

  4. I think The Rapture is a first rate creep-out and a great film to boot. I saw it again a couple of years ago and it holds up. I like how Tolkin plays the logic straight until you are cornered by the theodicical implications of it all. I remember asking Dawrst (Utilitarian) for the Pascalian take on the protagonist’s dilemma, and he response was something to the effect that our moral fidelity toward God’s will was irrelevant. I can understand that view, but there it is just the same.
    You’re quite right, TGGP. I could do with a PR guy. Let me know if you want to volunteer. Will be freshening up the 9BB site throughout the month and will be sure to include a link. I’m also considering creating linked blogs for each title. Might be too much clutter, though.
    I’m holding the printer’s proof for Jim’s book under my arm as I type these words. I’ll give it a final read through and sign off on the run next week. It makes a great Mother’s Day gift.

  5. After having a disturbing dream last night, which involved a giant octopus in the sky, i did a google search for that exact wording: “giant octopus in the sky”, and came across your article here.
    Knowing that someone else had the almost exact same dream (minus the grandmother and dogs part- my side dream involved football and a fence) is really creeping me out. If a giant octopus shows up in the sky, we can say we called it…

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