The Paranoid/Stalker Dream

Last night I had one of those eerie, unsettling dreams that isn’t quite a nightmare, but that leaves you feeling somewhat off-center. In the dream, I was walking up a ramp leading up to a hilltop. The ramp was something out of a Dr. Seuss story, with lots of curves and switchbacks to it. It was a long, long walk to the top. There was no one else around, except for a man, who was walking about 30 meters behind me. He was wearing a hat and sunglasses and was reading what I thought was a tabloid newspaper as he walked.

I suddenly had the feeling that maybe this guy was following me. I tried not to let it bother me but the more I thought about it, the more paranoid I became. So at the next switchback, I bent down to tie my shoe, slowly, and the man continued on past me. But as he did, I glanced up and I caught him sneaking a look back at me. I pretended not to see it, stood up, and continued walking, now a few meters behind the man.

Still, something didn’t feel right, and after only a few moments, I took off running. This is what is called, in dream universes, a bad idea. It’s like running from a dog that smells fear. As soon as I passed the man, he tossed away his paper and came chasing after me.

I don’t remember much after that. I woke up to find that it was only 12:30 AM (I had gone to bed around an hour before). I have no idea what events would have conjured up a dream like that, nor do I have any idea who the mysterious man was. I am the least paranoid person I know. Still, it got my heart rate up momentarily, but I managed to sleep pretty well the rest of the night.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.