A Tale About Men’s Nightmares

Written by Erin Nust
Art by Anouar Olh

“Where do men’s dreams come from?” the woman asked.

“Dreams or nightmares?” the voice replied.

“Both. Nightmares are dreams after all”

“Hmm. There’s a tale my grandmother used to tell me when I was younger, a tale passed down to her from her grandmother.”

“It sounds more like a family heirloom than a plain story.”

The voice was soft — enchanting— and reached the woman’s ears like it was omnipresent. 

“It is,” the voice laughed but quickly sobered again. “In the very edge of Earth, where the man’s hand can not reach or grasp, or reap and sow, there are water-touched, moon-washed caves. No human being ever managed to discover their buried secrets and that was what makes their magic remain. 

The caves are blessed to be flooded with the tides of the sea every time the moon is full and its magic powerful. Once a month, on hot summer nights or on gloomy days when the snow falls like tears from the thick clouds, the waters rise and the caves are full. The caves’ walls are saturated with the moon-blessed sea and then…”

The woman was mesmerized by the voice’s tale. Her breath was steady and her senses heightened as she waited for the rest of the story.

“Shapes, nymph-like forms, unravel from the wet walls, where they lived trapped for eternity. Once, mortal women sacrificed their lives in the name of their loved ones, their spirits were taken from Mother Moon and transferred to the caves where they could live forever. And on the most magical days where the Mother was full and giving to her children, they would come alive and be allowed to travel and find their loved ones if they wished. 

And they travelled through dreams, through men’s thoughts, and when they landed they asked where they could find their loved ones. They screamed and they cried, they begged and they let their anger free. The spirits’ cries haunted the living men in their dreams and when they woke up to the physical world, they felt dried out, moody, even scared. They call these dreams nightmares and they move on with their days forgetting about the spirits’ beautiful shapes and their enchanting voices.”

The voice paused, but the woman wasn’t satisfied with the ending. She needed more of this outworldly tale. 

“And when the full moon passes? What happens to men’s dreams then?”

The voice didn’t reply and the woman started to believe she had asked the question in a desperate way that repelled the voice. 

“When Mother Moon is no longer full and Her powers deflate, the spirits return to the walls of the caves. The echoes of their cries sometimes last though, and the men who were touched by them have nightmares for much longer, until the strength of the spirits’ power was totally diminished.”

This time,the woman didn’t say anything. She was clever enough not to argue with the voice and remained in her dark room with her eyes open, pondering over the voice’s tale. In her mind she pictured the dark caves, worn out from the salty hits of the water, the shapes of the spirits getting out and haunting the men’s dreams. 

The woman placed her head on her comfortable pillow and closed her eyes until deep sleep took her over.