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Before this main dream, I had a drifting dream involving New York city, boats, and house-sitting for a rich person.
I had another wherein two people decided to duel to the death with knives, and that I was also involved and had to join them. They agreed to immediately engage in this, and went outside to start. While assuming that they must be waiting for me, I'm consumed with doubt about whether I want to be involved, doubt that I would come out alive, and anxiety that I would be shamed for the rest of my life if I backed out of the fight that I was obligated to join.
The main dream started as a (dark) comical portrayal of a man that worked in a factory with a sadistic foreman, who would lure him over and over again into traps. He'd be lured into a walk-in kiln, then have the door slam shut and be fried for a few moments (filled with half-comical screaming). He'd then be pushed down an open elevator shaft. The focus of the dream then shifted to this elevator shaft. Doors closed and darkness consumed everything. The sound of large machinery was heard humming overhead. A dim light went on, like a flashlight pointed at a spot of machinery on a wall straight ahead. Hands went out, and a wrenchlike tool turned a metal device and pried apart the elevator doors from the inside of the shaft. With the floor being at my chest-level, I had to crawl out of the elevator shaft on my hands and knees. I emerged into a long hallway, with concrete halls and dark linoleum floors. On the right side of the hallway were a few locked doors, the elevator shaft, and a window that revealed that it was night and it was raining, and on the left side was a continuous line of lockers, resembling full-length highschool lockers. Each one had an exit sign directly above them, and my first thought was that whomever dwelled on this floor must have stolen all of the signs for kicks. At this point, I had a suspicion that I was in a dream, but I wasn't sure. I decided that if I started doing unexpected things like opening lockers at random, my mind wouldn't be able to keep up with the pace of my discoveries and the scene would reveal itself to be just a dream. I opened the first locker, directly in front of the elevator shaft, and the hallway was filled with the sound of wind chimes and laughing children. Inside were several kewpie dolls, stacked to be standing up and facing out. I closed the locker and the sound ended abruptly. I quickly opened the next locker and saw what seemed like Barbie dolls, accompanied by a repetitive static-electricity cracking sound. I opened the next locker and found it to be full of some sort of unidentifiable muscle-man action figures, accompanied by a low hum. The next locker had a hundred small toys, little vehicles, people, animals, and pieces of furniture, accompanied by what seemed like the distant sound of a hundred xylophones all playing at once.
Someone walked past me and I was startled. He continued on down the hall without saying anything, and originating from what I thought was just a blank wall at the end of the hallway that I was closest to (fifteen feet from a left turn out of the elevator shaft). Upon closer inspection, it turned left around a corner and entered a dimly lit multi-room bookstore, with a half-dozen people browsing through the place and chatting with each other.
My memory is fuzzy about what the bookstore contained, but the mysterious childhood- / fantasy-themed lockers were an appropriate precursor to what was on its shelves. I investigated, amazed, occasionally thinking to myself that this was either the most fantastic thing that I've discovered in my life, or that I was having the most fantastic dream ever. I, of course, woke up to find that the latter was true. But before that, I asked one of the two proprietors, "What is this place?". He, a short, thin, white man with dark hair parted to one sideand wearing casual clothes, cheerfully replied, "This is our bookstore and oddity shop." His wife, the other proprietor, was next to him. She was taller, with longer hair (and they kind of, in retrospect, had a Sonny & Cher thing going on). She noticed something behind me, said "Oh, shit.", and started acting nervous. I turned around to see two police officers looking at a collection of merchandise on a table in the middle of the bookstore, surrounded by low barrels full of various unidentifiable items. They didn't seem like any kind of cops that I've ever seen. More like "we need police in this movie and we can only buy the cheapest cop costumes we can find" cops. I pull in close to the proprietors and ask them why they're nervous about the police, since it seems to me that they're running a legitimate business. The man grabs me by the shirt collar and drags me into the back with his wife, where he throws me into his car, makes a very quick and angry drive to what seems to be the edge of a lake or an ocean (where, incidentally, it's day and not raining) and shows me the place where he has dumped the bodies of countless men that he had to murder for saying the wrong thing. I looked into the water and saw the reflection of a large bulldog, staring at me, which suddenly started decaying into a pile of bones, as if I were watching one of those time-lapse biology movies.