I think the best - and worst - dream I’ve ever had was a fair few years ago now when i was at University.
It was a truly epic dream that ran for the course of the entire night - at least 8 hours - and was the most realistic dream i’ve ever had to the point that when i was in the dream it was totally and utterly real to me. I’d periodically drift close to consciousness of course - which is probably why i still remember it so well (although the specifics have faded over time) - and in those moments i would know i’d been dreaming, but the moment i dropped back off into deep sleep the dream would resume and, once again, it would become my reality.
In the dream I was a pilot, newly signed up to the RAF at the beginning of WW2. I vividly remember learning to fly and the exhilaration of flight, and then learning to fly Spitfires and the total and utter joy of flinging one round the sky.
Then I remember being assigned to a squadron base in the South of England and making mates with the other pilots and flying patrols etc. I remember being truly scared for the first time flying over the beaches of Dunkirk and seeing the events happening below as well as seeing friends get shot down. I remember the adrenalin rush of the first dogfight and kill.
It was a very long dream - one of those ones that seems to fit days and months into a single night - and i don’t really remember much detail about parts of it these days, just that i was living the regular pilot life.
The next thing i vividly remember is being up in London on a night out with the lads and revelling in the attention the local ladies were giving us (or at least our uniforms) and scoring with one particularly cute one.
I then remember going back to the squadron and being thrown straight into the thick of it as the luftwaffe launched their attacks on the airfields of Britain in attempt to clear the way for an invasion.
I remember multiple battles over the airfields, the exhilaration, the fear and the total and utter exhaustion of it all over a period of weeks. Interspaced with that are memories of trips to the local village pub and getting frequent letters from my younger brother and the lass i’d met in London which always cheered me up.
The next clear memory is really the first point at which it stopped being “enjoyable.”
I remember getting a letter from my brother, saying he’d been called up and was probably heading to Africa and then, the next day, a letter from the father of the girl i’d been developing a thing with saying she’d been killed in an air raid.
I remember the complete and total sadness that swept over me at that and realising suddenly that this wasn’t a game. That people were dying and that, well, that this was serious. I remember being totally and utterly angry at the people who were doing this and just wanting to kill them and make them hurt. Looking back now its rather scary, as i genuinely felt that way.
The dream then started to get very dark. Again, my memory is blurry now but i remember more battles, feeling nothing but unemotional anger occasionally punctuated by the thrill of a kill or overwhelming sadness at the discovery that another friend had been shot down. I remember the increasingly desperate situation as the airfield, pilots and planes came under increasing pressure but somehow held out and the gradual acceptance that none of us would probably ever get out of it alive.
My most vivid memory of all is the end of the dream.
I remember being in the air, still full of anger and hate, during a massive attack on the airfield. I remember thinking that this had to be it, this had the be the make or break moment. This had to be the last throw of the dice from the Luftwaffe and this was going to be the moment where someone blinked first.
I remember shooting down planes and then getting a perfect bead on a bomber in-bound on the airfield, I can clearly recall the feeling of joy and triumph as the shots i was firing ripped through it and one of its engines caught fire. I knew then, as it banked away out of control, that it was dead.
Then i remember my feelings of triumph turning to complete horror as I realised that it was now heading straight for the village near the airfield and - worse - seemingly straight at the church, as if the pilot - in a last act of terror - knew that the church was where most of the villagers gathered during the raids.
I remember hating him with all my heart as I swung round to try and get another shot on the evil bastard only to find my guns jammed. I called out on the radio to try and get someone else involved only to find that i was out of range of everyone and that the only voice i could hear over it was that of the German pilot.
And then listening to him, suddenly, i realised that even though i couldn’t understand German i could tell from the desperation in his voice that i was totally and utterly wrong. He wasn’t aiming at the Church he was frantically trying to avoid it…
…but that he couldn’t. I knew with that absolute precognative certainty you only get in dreams that he was going to hit it and everyone would die. The only way that wasn’t going to happen was if i took him out before he got there and the only way i was going to do that without any guns was to ram him.
In that moment I remember feeling completely calm. I remember thinking about my family and how they’d feel, then thinking about the families of the people in the church, how angry i’d felt, how the german pilot must feel and just how totally and completely fucked up this whole situation and indeed the war itself was. That everything, all of this, was just total and utter bollocks. That war could be glorious and heroic - as i’d seen people do things that proved that beyond doubt - but that it was also the most grotesque and utterly stupid thing that humanity could do. That it made men like me, and the German pilot, murderers.
I remember making my mind up and just knowing what i had to do. I took a deep breath, dipped the controls…
…and woke up.
Craziest fucking night of my life.