tagErotic HorrorMy Troublous Dreams This Night

My Troublous Dreams This Night


THE FUTILITY OF ATTEMPTING to inspire post-pubescent males to pay attention to my morning lecture—more accurately, my yet-again-bootless attempt to emplant even a soupçon of learning in their somnolent minds—forced me yet again to reconsider the wisdom of my accepting appointment as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Forensic Psychology at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. Despite the unrivaled honour of being chosen for such an august position, said honour further amplified by anointing me a Fellow of the College, the never-ending frustrations of attempting to deal with the undisciplined—not to mention incurious and staggeringly ill-informed—minds of undistinguished undergraduates too often tries my equanimity. These frustrations and exasperations occasionally inspired ominous dreams, the most disturbing of which featured me eviscerating a few of the more egregiously behaving putative scholars.

This deepening disenchantment was furthered by recent overt expressions of disapproval to my occasional efforts in assisting sundry constabularies to identify perpetrators of particularly heinous crimes of violence. In retrospect, it was perhaps ill-advised of me to publish a paper in the Journal of Forensic Psychology that sketched how detailed observations and evidences of a series of related crimes might be used to assemble a provisional portrait of one who may have committed the offense, and alluded to the possible advantages of a coöperative arrangement whereby persons skilled in forensic psychology might be of assistance in identifying and apprehending such malevolent psychopaths.

The unremitting hostility between academe and enforcement agents of governmental police powers made any overt coöperation such as that hinted by my paper an unacceptable affront to the hallowed principles of academic independence and freedom. Though I cared naught for the approval of my puerile colleagues, their not-so-silent campaign to undermine my status as endowed chair and Fellow was nonetheless irksome.

Yet furthering my disaffection was a most disturbing recent dream that ominously foretold a decision by the Caian board of governors to begin admitting females to both undergraduate and graduate studies in 1977, as part of the celebration of the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II Regina, which could only have the deleterious effects of adulterating the quality of a Caian education and besmirching the memories of both esteemed Founders. Upon waking, I dwelt upon my oft-cherished fancy that Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Windsor had not abdicated his throne as Edward VIII in order to marry that hideous harridan The Simpson Woman, yet again only reluctantly to remind myself that the Laws of Succession conspired against me: even had Edward VIII reigned until his death in 1972, he would have been succeeded by none other than the selfsame Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the next-in-line George, Duke of York, who died in 1952, so she simply would have ascended the throne some two decades later than her actual accession, and the Caian panjandrums would have found it necessary to conjure some alternative excuse for capitulating to the misplaced goals of the rabble. The winter of my discontent was yet to be made any sort of summer, let alone glorious.

I was, however, able to ameliorate my disquietude somewhat by responding to a letter from Detective Inspector Peter Wimsey who, mirabili dictu, had actually read my scholarly paper that described the various means of ferreting out the possible identity of serial offenders from patterns of their behaviour. He apparently was seeking my assistance in tracking down someone who had killed, then mutilated several people. Writing in a fine hand seldom seen since the War, Inspector Wimsey asked if I would be so kind as to meet with him at the Gonville Hotel in Cambridge at half ten, as he so colloquially expressed it, Thursday next, for a discussion related to my "splendid article about profiling in that magazine." With no little difficulty, I resisted the urge to take issue with his use of the inadequate term "profiling" to describe a process rooted in analytical science and deep understanding of the human psyche, and with even greater difficulty refrained from pointing out that referring to a scholarly periodical such as the Journal of Forensic Psychology as a "magazine" smacked of borderline churlishness.

I responded to him in like fashion, curious whether he would, let alone even could discern that the laid sheet emblazoned with the Gonville & Caius crest was produced by the traditional watermark technique rather than the more common—in every sense of the word—machine-embossed "classic laid bond" hawked by stationers, grocers, even large chemists' shops more and more commonly referred to as "drugstores." Though I humbly restrained any elaborate swashes and flourishes, the superiority of my penmanship to Inspector Wimsey's sincere effort was, as intended, unmistakable. I assured him I would be at the appointed time and place but—as was my wont in any formal communication—eschewed any unnecessary pleasantries.

Detective Inspector Wimsey met me in the hotel lobby and invited me into the Atrium Bar, where we each ordered a tea. He was not at all what I expected: rather than some mismatched jacket and trousers from a charity shop augmented by a beer-stained tie, he wore a well-fitted bespoke suit, not quite Savile Row, mind you, but nonetheless superior to what one might expect of a plodding civil servant, plus a proper regimental tie. His manner of speaking, though not quite proper received pronunciation, was still acceptable, not unlike a mature BBC newsreader. I graciously accepted his proffered handshake, ignored my instinctive urge to cleanse my hand with the anti-bacterial wipe stowed away in my portfolio, and asked Inspector Wimsey how I might be of service.

After some small talk that included obligatory praises of my journal article and previous efforts on behalf of other jurisdictions to identify violent offenders—to which I, of course, demurred with appropriate, but not excessive, humility—he then sought to ascertain just how I went about building what he insisted upon referring to as a "profile." I repeated some of the vague explications recounted in my journal article, then added a few more still vague descriptions of arcane processes that, I informed him, "were best left unexposed to public understanding." He nodded sagely and expressed his thanks for the insights, but it seemed to me to be apparent that he believed I had actually revealed nothing; he believed correctly, as it happened, for I deliberately had not. It would have proved embarrassing, to say the least, had I admitted that, with rare exception, the detailed portraits I provided were not the result of enlightened insight, but rather of one or more often-disturbing dreams. Although he maintained an attitude of detached respect, it appeared that he suspected I was little more than a scholarly charlatan. So be it; the judgment of a lesser mind has never been of great consequence to me.

Expressing a strained satisfaction with my revelations, Inspector Wimsey then went on to describe recent grisly events in the environs of Bury St. Edmond and Thetford. In the past 10 months, a person or persons unknown had strangled, then raped, six women; he emphasized that death from strangulation had, in the informed judgment of the medical examiner, in each instance preceded the act of penetrative rape. As a gruesome coda to such heinous slayings, the nipple had been neatly excised from each woman's left breast. In the medical examiner's opinion, all such excisions had followed vaginal penetration. To thwart the collection of evidence, the rapist or rapists wore latex gloves, used a prophylactic, then wiped the corpse and all nearby surfaces with an industrial bleach of sufficient potency to destroy DNA.

Efforts thus far to identify the murderer or murderers were bootless, leading not only to the inevitable public fears but, potentially more troublesome, to public anger that grew with each passing day at the inability of the authorities to apprehend the perpetrators of such savage events—or even to offer any reassuring reports of progress. He asked if I would be willing to lend my expertise to their investigation, pleading for help despite his personal misgivings about my abilities. The man was obviously desperate. When I assured him I would do whatever I could, he relievedly handed me a dossier that contained all their findings and suppositions. I took my leave shortly thereafter, with assurances that I would contact him as soon as I had anything of import to impart.

That evening, back in my quarters, I read through the dossier, and discerned no apparent connection among the six victims. One was a university student, another in upper sixth form and had just completed her A-levels, two were shop clerks, one was a housewife, and one was a nude dancer at various pubs and dance halls; none had ever met any other. Their ages ranged from 18 to 52, two were married, two were divorced, two had never married, two were university graduates—one of those had a BSc Chemistry from some red brick school, one had a PhilD in computer science from Carnegie-Mellon University in the United States, one was a self-identified lesbian, one had breast implants. One was a black from Botswana, one was Scottish, one was Welsh, the remaining three were English.

The reports of the responding officers and medical examiner were quite detailed, and I was gratified that my previous forays into violent recitations left me immune to the shudders or various discomforts that others might experience upon such descriptions. I pondered, for a moment, whether my avocation may have inured me to human suffering, but discarded any such notion as little more than bourgeois sentimentality. Setting the dossier aside, I went to the Caian refectory and enjoyed a satisfactory kidney pie, followed by an acceptable port in the Fellows' commons. I then retired to my quarters, but my plan for a much-needed restful night was thwarted by a most disturbing dream.

Unlike previous dreams wherein I observed telling details as the events unfolded that sometimes helped identify theretofore unknown malefactors, in this dream I was the perpetrator himself, and witnessed the horrendous events through his eyes. Unable to force him to close his eyes, I watched myself entice the poor girl into the nondescript auto I had rented, drove to a secluded spot off Green Lane near Ixworth Thorpe, strangled her, raped her, then cut the nipple off her left breast with my cigar cutter. I awakened abruptly with her piteous cries echoing in my fevered brain, horrified to discover that I was lying in a puddle of nocturnal emissions and my penis was still partially erect. I wasn't sure the dream revealed anything useful I could report to Inspector Wimsey—


HE WOKE UP ABRUPTLY and brushed his hand beneath him, relieved to discover the sheet was dry. What a fucked-up dream! He ran his tongue around his mouth and decided he must have been drinking out of a diaper pail last night. No more booze, at least not for a while. And better cigars.

Sitting up quickly proved to be a big mistake. He grabbed his head to keep it from flying apart, then lurched off the bed, stumbled to the bathroom, and knelt in front of the toilet. Thankful that he hardly ever put the seat down, he got rid of everything he had eaten or drunk in the past day. Or maybe two.

Again he made the mistake of shaking his head as he remembered the weird dream. After deciding he wasn't going to puke again, he brushed his teeth, gargled with mouthwash, showered, shaved, then brushed his teeth again. He dismissed the idea of wearing the clothes he had tossed on the floor—including his underwear, for God's sake!—whenever it was he came to bed. He padded barefoot into the kitchen wearing fresh boxers and T-shirt and started the coffee maker, then got clean slacks and a dress shirt from the closet.

As he tied his tie, he looked again at the jumble of clothes on the floor. Well, shit. Probably wouldn't do to leave those lying around. He picked them up and headed for the laundry, out of habit checking the pockets. Feeling something in the shirt pocket, he took out a light brown nubbin with spot of blood on its flat side, sealed in a baggie. Smiling at the memory of collecting it, he took it out of the baggie and squeezed it; it was still spongy.

He took it in the kitchen, rinsed it with some industrial bleach from a spray bottle under the sink and dried it with a paper towel—squeezing it to make sure all the blood was out—and wrapped it in another clean paper towel. Laying it in the microwave, he nuked it for 15 seconds, carefully palpated it through the paper towel, nuked it for another 10 seconds, then took it back to the laundry.

Pulling the washer away from the wall, he knelt and tugged with his fingernails on a section of baseboard. It slid out, revealing a shallow drawer with six similar raisin-like nubbins. He took the seventh out of the paper towel, tossed it with the others, then took a coin from his pocket and held it over the drawer.

"Got two nipples for a dime?" Snickering at his ritual macabre joke, he returned the laundry to its normal state and walked to the gun safe in his bedroom. Taking out the .40 Smith and two full magazines, he racked the action to make sure the chamber was empty, pushed in one magazine and put the other in a jacket pocket, then tucked the Glock into his waist holster. He rolled up his left pantleg, exposing the ankle holster, and filled it with the .44 Bulldog from the safe, then closed the safe and twirled the dial. He put on his sport coat, tugged it forward to make sure the Glock wasn't visible, then flipped his badge out of the breast pocket of his jacket.

Making sure the front door was locked and the coffee maker turned off, he headed for the garage. Softly whistling Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Work We Go, Lieutenant Pete Lord of Homicide Division got into his department-issue Ford POS for the trip downtown. It was going to be another beautiful day in the neighborhood, he could just tell.

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byA_Bierce© 3 comments/ 2139 views/ 5 favorites

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by Anonymous

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by MattblackUK03/22/19

Multi-layered and very, very good

truly horrifying tale.

And the nod to mystery novels from the past was very satisfying, too.

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by Anonymous03/21/19


Why would you write a story like this here?

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by Anonymous03/20/19

Spot on.

You hit that classic tone perfectly in that opening paragraph. And a what a twist.
I'm not sure if it reminds me more of the old "Hammer House of Horror" or "Tales of the Unexpected", but enjoyable nonemore...

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