I woke up from a nightmare in which I murdered someone.
It was strangely ritualistic, though in retrospect there was reluctance on my part. A rite of passage, perhaps? There were three men there whom I knew in the dream, but were only vague, twisted analogues to men I know in the waking world. Two were there to guide me through the rite—the third was my victim. We were all armed with hooked glaives. My victim was a fearsome warrior, and it took all of the ritual masters’ strength to subdue him. For my part in the ritual, I was meant to disembowel him with my glaive, but I couldn’t break the skin (skin can be dishearteningly resilient). On the fourth attempt, I caught the hook of my blade on the navel of his distended, gravid belly. Indeed, my victim possessed many feminine characteristics: voluminous, dark hair; smooth skin; delicate hands; a soft voice. She (?) encouraged me as I pressed the hook into him (?). The way the pole-arm jerked forward in my grasp as it pierced her (?) belly filled me with horror and immediate remorse. Blood oozed out of the wound as he (?) attempted to console me. Suddenly, all the strange trappings of ritual were gone, replaced by the simultaneously mute and screaming realization that I had murdered someone. I didn’t want to do it. Did I want to? Did it matter either way; it was done, and my victim was dead. Surely I’d be arrested. I’m not sure law—or police to enforce it—existed in this nightmare world. I was very, very alone. The ritual guides, their purpose fulfilled, abandoned me. I knew they were afraid—of me, of what we had done. I couldn’t tell any of my friends; they’d have been just as horrified as I was. I tried to eat a few bites of a tart I had left in the refrigerator of a house that wasn’t mine anymore. I vomited in the kitchen sink. Then I woke up.