Web comic "Surfer Joe"

Fever Dream (#075)


I’ve had a lot of interesting images visit me while wrestling a fever. I suppose it’s because I have a wild imagination, and it kicks into hyperdrive when you have nothing to do but lay down and wait for the fever to pass. Sleeping is out of the question. I mean, I try to but when you have trouble shutting down your thoughts it can be difficult. When you don’t feel up to putting things out then it gathers and festers. Pretty soon you are stuck with a collage of images and events, some pleasant and some not.

Sometimes these fever dreams become something tangible. The first time I was ever involved in the creation of a story came from a fever. Not just some pie in the sky story, but a real story, on paper for people to read. 

In the dream, I’m standing outside of a farm house and I hear screams coming from inside. As I enter the house I see the walls and floor splattered with blood and entrails. I follow the sounds of screaming up the stairs, and upon entering the bedroom, I see a werewolf gnawing on the remains of a fresh corpse. The scene is beyond gory. It pauses from its meal and turns its head to look at me. Its glowing red eyes meet with mine. The wolf doesn’t move, his eyes studying me. The moment feels frozen in time while each of us waits for the other to make the first move. I can feel my heart pumping in my skull. 

One of the strangest thing about the dream was that, other than the wolf’s eyes, the whole dream was rendered in black and white pencil sketch. It would shift from heavily shaded and sketchy to very thin lines, almost like an animated technical drawing. The imagery would flicker between these two states, at one moment almost pristine in its minimalism and in the next shockingly rendered and visceral. 

I held on to the dream, and I asked myself: “If a person manages to survive such an encounter, what might their life be like?” 

But I had a problem. I wasn’t a writer, or at least I didn’t think of myself as one. I never did any writing, and I didn’t read. Books couldn’t hold my attention, as I would read I would find a sentence or paragraph that was interesting and my mind would sail off on a tangent. 

As luck would have it, I met a writer by chance a few days later. I told him about my story idea and he was game, so we started working on it. He was so good with words and descriptions. His style was easy to read, and even though my knowledge of writing was limited at the time, I could tell he took his craft seriously.

Together we wrote the first draft of a 400-page manuscript in 6 months. We were both under the age of 20 and were feeling pretty good about ourselves. We had learned so much in such a short time and the experience has left me chasing the rush of storytelling ever since.

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