I had a dream that was so vivid, its lingering essence stayed with me for a while after I awoke.
It was night time – not too late – perhaps seven or eight o’clock. The night sky was clear, the moon large and beautiful and the wind calm. Nothing so far gave any inkling of what was to come next. I approached the Estate; it wasn’t a mansion in the modern sense but a Georgian Manor. It had an air of Old Money – made of stone, grand in size and class. I found myself inside where the décor was purely Victorian as if the house inside was different from what the exterior implied it to be.
Immediately, I felt the change. Where a moment ago I was calm, now I felt apprehensive but didn’t know why my instincts felt this way. The environment was formal, ultra posh, stiff, to say conservative is an understatement. The chandeliers glittered, the wood gleamed as if oiled daily and the diffused lighting was comfortable to my eyes but also lent itself to darkness.
The servants because I had the sense that’s what they were, that they weren’t treated as employed staff but people who were beneath the elite’s station. The servants’ were dressed in formal Victorian uniforms. The man with stiff shoulders and scrutinizing stare that bore into you as if he could read your thoughts was, without a doubt, the butler and his demeanor was beyond reproach. The maids with their impassive faces moved stealthily about the house and would appear as if from nowhere. Their eyes, like the butler’s, were disapproving as if they had taken the measure of me and found me lacking. I feared them, I feared them realizing that I didn’t belong there. That I was an imposter and shouldn’t be served at the table along with my betters and should instead be relegated to eat on the kitchen floor like a common mouse. The problem was that I didn’t belong in the kitchen because I didn’t belong with the servants either. It was unexplainable how all these feelings kept projecting into me; some from glances or from tea service being served in restrained politeness. The type of politeness that lets you know without a doubt that you’re not welcomed here.
I interacted with the Lady of the House, an elegant matron whose presence commanded attention. She was impeccable in every way. Her manner bespoke grace and good breeding; her age did not detract from her beauty. I was in awe and I felt small, inbred and homely in comparison. The conversations around me were muted and I couldn’t make out what was said. Occasionally some of the other guests at the table would speak to me, but I don’t remember what they said or what my responses were.
I was dressed in a beautiful Victorian gown of a dark color that I can’t remember the details of, my hair coifed in an elegant bun with ringlets fringing my temples and the nape of my neck. I wore pearls at my ears and neck and they were simple but elegant, my bearing was graceful – I looked like I belonged. The sense that this was a bygone era but the modern me was going through the motions was very strong in me as if I was reliving someone else’s life. The setting was so upscale that I had no doubt that the crystal glass I drank from was pure crystal, the china dishes I ate from were the finest china and the silver I cut the meat with was ultra fine.
The servants watched in silence – forgotten statues until needed for service – their eyes missed nothing; and I knew they watched me.
The dream became scarier after that and yet I still don’t fathom where the danger came from. The house was enormous – extremely expansive, where rooms let into other rooms and I knew that there was no getting out. I knew that I was trapped and that I was running out of time. What I didn’t know, which added to the feeling of dread, was what would happen once I ran out of time, once they discovered I wasn’t one of them.
I measured my words, I was aware of my movements – how I walked, not too fast a Lady doesn’t rush, even how I drank my tea, handled the silver and how I managed to extricate myself from room to room opening doors, only to find other rooms beyond. All my movements, all my expressions and mannerisms were controlled, repressed in order to portray a persona that would fit the environment I found myself in.
The inexplicable fear kept mounting urging me to keep searching for a way out of that house. After the first few rooms, I barely noticed the lavish décor – the paintings, sculptures, richly upholstered chaises, and tile mosaics. I rushed from room to room, the rustle of my skirts trumpeting in my ears. The eeriness crept up my spine and I had to remain calm, smile when someone would enter the room I just trespassed and pretend that everything was fine. I kept constantly moving, encountering people in some rooms but not in others and trying to appear at ease while moving on.
At the end of a corridor behind thick drapes was a window, which I opened only to discover that I was three stories up when I didn’t climb any stairs. This went on a bit longer, perhaps another minute, but my heart thudded. I saw my gloved hand reach for a door knob, turn it and pull the door open. The room was no bigger than a broom closet with a ladder that led the way up, I glanced behind me to see if anyone was coming and seeing no one lifted my skirts to climb up.
I was terrified and never got to find out why because the alarm woke me up. It’s difficult to describe the dream and convey the suspense, dread and terror that I felt. I didn't watch it like a movie, I lived it. And there wasn't a monster or anything I could point my fear to. But I knew in my core that there was something utterly wrong with all of those people.
I knew I had to escape if I wanted to live. Although there were no signs that I could see or hear, my instincts told me to get away. My life depended on maintaining the façade that I was like them.
As the day went on and the fear finally began to ebb away, I realized that the reason I had been so afraid was because I had been the only Human in that house. What they were, I don’t know.
There is something inexplicably terrifying about being in a room with people that may appear to be Human but who are not.