Herein lies the original account of the dream that introduced me to my muse, Mask Face, on the night bridging January 16 and 17, in the year 2009. This version of the account is just slightly edited to be more coherent to the general reader, as the true original was very rough, raw, and stream-of consciousness, scrawled in pencil on paper. But it’s basically just some sentence structures and word choices that are changed; the essence of it is still there, and the events of the dream all in order.
I am posting this here in observance of the ten-year anniversary of the night I had the dream. (The event of the dream’s occurrence would have been closer to Jan 17 than 16, ha. 😛 )
MASK FACE: An Epic Subconscious Adventure
I had many dreams that night, but this one is the only one I can remember… well, if you exclude the small snip of running about my school campus at breakneck speed on four legs, not thinking it odd at all. But the true beginning of this dream happened while I was looking at a photo taken by a friend of mine when they had been on a trip. The photo showed a strange location; some sort of town by the side of a canyon, bathed in the orange light of a sunset. I remember a lit torch somewhere, and in the picture my friend and her family were standing by some sort of small stream. But the location as a whole was the important thing… for this photo showed the location of the amazing, magical, and utterly bewildering being I was fated to meet.
How do I know? Well, next thing I knew, I was in the photograph. Not as in my picture was taken too, but rather I was suddenly in the place shown, at the time it was taken. I looked around, but in that dreamlike state of mind I didn’t consider the oddness that should have been associated with travelling through a photograph into the place it showed. I simply began exploring as if coming here was an everyday tourist’s novelty. My friend and her family were nowhere to be seen anymore. I turned about from facing where they had originally been standing to see that behind me was a large town with an air sort of like a carnival or fairground, dry and rocky as it was in a canyon sort of place, but colorful and frivolous. As I looked on, I sensed a powerful aura about this place that revealed a deep, dark, mysterious magic. But the carnival wasn’t as lively has it must have been before, because there were relatively few people around, and the decorations were somewhat strewn about, many littering the ground. Well, the sun was setting after all, and just as I put that together, a voice from the surroundings said something like, ‘the day is done, time to clean up!’ I had just arrived, but I shrugged and began to help with the cleaning.
I scooped up an armful of paper decorations and other such litter from the short stone staircase leading me down into the fairground. Then I headed over to a single-file line under an awning, where people were handing in what they had picked up. Now, people in this place were very strange, especially those who seemed to be running things. The man accepting the stuff people brought up apparently had to sort through and analyze it first. But whatever he was doing, the line took a time to crawl forward. After a while I was still at the end, waiting for my turn to relieve myself of the junk I was holding. As I waited, I decided to look around more. Most of the town was behind me, so I turned around to see what there was to see. But I didn’t get a chance to see look at much of the view, as I was immediately distracted. A strange, shadowy entity had appeared near the end of the line. All my attention was drawn to this being immediately.
She was a young woman, somewhere in her early twenties… maybe 23. She was thin and a good deal taller than me, wearing black and dark-blue clothing, and she had shoulder-length-ish and unkempt black hair. Most notably, her face was like a mask… the kind that someone would have worn on Halloween while lurking in the shadows to jump out and frighten people. Her right eye was sunken and perpetually sealed shut. Her left eye was… strange. It’s hard to describe, or even draw exactly. I can say that it was bright and blue, yet dark and scary at the same time. Most of her face seemed to be tinted with some odd black pigment, which was darkest around her eyes, making her face look even more shadowy and sunken. I even glimpsed her teeth… sharp snaggled triangles, seeming very white in the darkness of her face.
I blinked when I first saw this face and a sort of sick flash impacted the inside of my stomach for a second. As I looked at her in surprise, she looked back at me nearly instantly, as if to say, “what are you looking at?” But I just acted the way I would if I saw a deformed person in waking life… I smiled and regarded her the way I would any normal stranger. I couldn’t tell her reaction at the time, but in my small act of acceptance, I must have made something of an impression. She seemed to grow a bit fond of me, and every time we saw each other in the carnival-place after that, we both waved and smiled.
It did not take me long after waking from this dream later to glean an idea for this person’s name… I call her Mask Face, plain and simple. Mask Face probably would have been used to people fearing and judging her because of her face. I say this because at one point while I was in the litter-line, I saw a lady somewhere behind the awning, gathering rubbish. I saw Mask Face facing the lady, but she had her back to me. However, when the lady looked up and saw who was nearby, I could see this lady’s reaction clearly. Upon seeing Mask Face, the lady gasped and said something like “my god!” It was a very shallow and unabashed response from the kind of person who cares shockingly little for people’s feelings. When the lady stepped into line behind me with the litter she’d gathered, I told her that she should try to be kind. For after all, people are people, even if they’re different.
[I’ve trimmed out a paragraph here because it was just a lot of rambly speculation on my part and probably wouldn’t mean anything to people reading. It just went over how Masky had aspects that, in the beginning, reminded me of several entities I knew, including my cousin who committed suicide, my father, and my imagined soul-mate.]
But back to the dream sequence itself… for I still had more to see before waking. After the conversation I had with the lady in the litter-line, a sudden scene-change took place. I was now part of a little gang of children, mischievous and seeking adventure. As this section progressed, I, as Sequoia, myself, blinked in and out of existence. Sometimes I was myself, entirely as usual, sometimes I was just an ethereal pair of eyes watching events, and sometimes I was one of the kids in the gang. I even remember seeing at one point what I think was my real-life self walking around, out from the eyes of one of the children.
As this bit started out, I wasn’t myself, but rather I was one of the children. The kid I was embodying was one of the only two I could distinctly identify out of the entire group. I was a girl of about 12 or 13 years, same general age of the others. I was a bit of a pauper, wearing shoddy clothes, and too poor to enjoy the fun of the carnival in the canyon-place as much as I might have liked. The rest of the kids and I had managed to find and sneak into a hidden part of this fairground. Of course, this zone was forbidden, and we weren’t allowed. None of the public was, but children most especially were meant to stay out. A bunch of adults who were allegedly authority figures chased us into this forbidden zone, attempting to remove us from the premises, but we hid until everyone went in, and eventually we had the whole fair to ourselves.
But never mind the public section. For we discovered that the forbidden zone was huge, and extended outside the carnival entirely into a place containing a playground. This playground was enormous, colorful, and inviting, and was set in rolling hills of tall golden grass. There was a swing-set in front of the playground, which I, still as the poor girl, excitedly began to use. This is the part where I thought I saw myself. As I swung, I caught sight of a person nearby, an older female (older, that is, from the 12-year-old’s perspective), with fluffy blond hair tied back in a ponytail. It really did resemble me to a T. But at the time I gave it no thought except perhaps, “I ought to be careful how I swing or I might kick that person.” But I didn’t swing very long, as the swing hung low over the sand, making my feet drag and preventing the achievement of any real height.
I soon discovered that I wasn’t alone here with only a bunch of kids I couldn’t identify. Mask Face had also followed into this chapter of the dream, this time in the form of a 13/14-year-old boy. He looked the same, otherwise, for he still wore the same clothes and had the same facial deformities… pinched eye, black pigment, and all. Later I found that he reminded me a little of someone else who I hold very dear.
The next thing I remember after swinging was that I was suddenly my real self again, and finding that the playground was under attack. The same people who had tried to chase us from the forbidden zone before had returned… this time, bearing weapons. And so, the playground became the fortress and the children the soldiers, defending ourselves and our castle from the raid.
Now still as my real self, I ran up a rope ladder to the castle, all the while avoiding the shots of the adults. I tried to find shelter, thinking “oh god, I’m going to catch a bullet any second now.” I tried to climb up into the playground’s protective walls, only to find that I was a bit too big, being older than any of the children. I passed a group of boys, hiding behind a wall and planning a counter-attack. They seemed to not notice me at all as I tried to climb up into a tunnel, thinking “my, this is cramped.” I envied the children for being small enough to hide so effectively in the playground castle. I remember feeling very estranged from them, and almost like an intruder.
This whole part smacks of the difference between childhood and adulthood, and the confusion of transition between them. The children, with the freedom; the adults, with the control; and I, caught on the border but quickly growing up whether I like it or not, assimilating with the adults but alienating from the children… losing one but gaining the other, pros and cons.
My hiding problem was solved quickly, however, for I was abruptly removed from this scene entirely. Next thing I knew, I was inside the playground, as myself, and more surprisingly still, the playground had become a huge old house. The siege, however, was still going on and I was trying to find a way to help. I ran through a wooden door, but I promptly shut it again and locked it at the sight of men breaking in with guns. I turned around and ran, only to find myself suddenly floating above the castle’s towers, bodiless and watching the scene like a movie.
I found the 14-year-old boy version of Mask Face and the poor girl I had previously embodied hiding at the top of a tower from the attack. This pauper girl may have been some fragment of me, and I could read her thoughts. I found, interestingly, that she had feelings for Mask Face, despite his frightening face. I think, at some point, I became the pauper girl again while she and Mask Face hid from the raid on this tower, ready to see their last moments, and seeing as we were about to die, I, as the poor girl, threw caution to the wind and gave him a giant hug, revealing everything.
[Another trimmed paragraph of speculation, talking about the similarities Masky and Kado the Songmaker, my imagined mate at the time, who eventually ended up as the main character of The Pantorians. All this romanticy stuff in this part of the dream had made me think of him as well.]
Back to the top of this tower, where the poor girl and Mask Face sought shelter… the moment of heartfelt revealing was rather broken by the appearance of one of the adults over the edge of the tower. Upon seeing Mask Face, he said something like, “hey, I remember you! You were wearing that same mask at the carnival!”
And just like that, the siege was over. I don’t know why it ended like that, but I knew it was over because the whole gang of children had left the castle. They were now skipping around outside among the swaying golden grass with glee. It was a happy ending to the battle, for there were no casualties. As I watched the children frolicking from above, now myself a bodiless pair of eyes again, I noticed little Mask Face watching the poor girl skipping happily, and he looked very content.
The last significant part of this dream was when the children (and me) came across a huge house. Unlike the old one in the playground, this one was new and extravagant. As the children and I ascended to the top floor in awe, we found something very curious. Upon one of the white, clean walls, all of the kids’ names had been playfully carved. But how? They had never been here before, and the whole house was vacant of any other people. It was like looking into the past and the future at the same time. It was like in Narnia, when the kids went back to the magic realm after a year in their world, and found their clothing from when they were adults.
I scanned the wall of names, looking for Mask Face’s true name, for surely (s)he, as a member of the gang of kids, was on this wall as well. I recognized it among the other etchings when I saw it… I don’t think I was able to see it clearly though. I saw what the first letter was, but now I can’t remember it.
Over the time that I’ve known this entity I call Mask Face, I have become very fond of her/him. I was never afraid, for (s)he is a part of me, that much is certain. A vague part, perhaps, but an important part. (S)he represents a deep trueness and rawness that rises up against falseness and shallowness. She is the part that says, “Dare to look behind the mask, and you will see the face.”