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The Fearful Insect

Dreamed 1948 by Nancy Price

Source: Acquainted with the Night by Nancy Price with illustrations by Michael Rothenstein (1949); selections from an experimental dream journal she kept for one year.

I am convinced that dreams often follow one another in quick succession, and that though time, place and people may apparently have no connection with each other there is in some vague way a link, some thing or incident will recur. Crosshatch ink sketch by Michael Rothenstein (1949), illustrating a dream by Nancy Price, 1948. A huge, long-tailed insect with a horse-skull for a face crawls above her bed.


In this particular dream I was watching a horrible insect, with a face like the skull of a horse. It was crawling all over the wall, then I lost it and looked feverishly to find where it had gone. I knew it was in the room but I could not see where.

I do not remember the rest of the dream, or what people were concerned in it, but merely the horror of that large, grey, gaunt insect, which seemed to increase in size as I watched. It spread, it elongated--then it settled just above my head and I knew it was watching and waiting.

In the second episode I appeared to be the friend of a smallish man, rather insignificant but sincere and kind. Walking one day, on a lonely part of the coast, he slipped and lay helpless. In the often ridiculous inconsequent way of dreams, I left him to go to his partner for help, whom I found in a luxurious office in London. He was a handsome, dark, thick-set man, whom I instinctively knew to be avaricious and callous. I urged that immediate assistance must be rendered if his partner's life was to be saved. After what seemed an eternity, he said:

"Here is something you must give him at once."

He then went to a secret drawer in his desk and extracted a bottle. Inside I could faintly detect a small nebulous replica of the insect which I had found so loathsome in my first dream. It at once flashed through my mind that he wished to get rid of his partner for some purpose.

"Shake it, the goodness is at the bottom."

I shook it automatically and immediately I saw that two tears formed on the skull-like face.

"What are those tears ?" I said.

"In those tears lie the cure," was the reply. "You had better hurry. Do not let the cork come out of the bottle or that which it contains will dissolve into space."

Then followed much that has left me merely the memory of confusion--clerks, messages, telephone calls, noise, and superimposed upon it all, the man's personality. I saw clearly his life and his mind, both evil. Then I was back at the place of the accident. I was told that my friend had been dead for over a year.

Then, again, I was in the London Office. Suddenly the wife of the dead man appeared, she forced her way in, there was a violent scene, scorn on one side, impotent rage on the other, all mixed up, nothing remains lucid but I can still hear the man saying:

"Now if you drink that medicine I gave you, you will be able to see where your friend is and what he is doing."

I drank, and the whole office, with its inmates disappeared. I saw only an enormous medicine bottle from which crawled that horrible insect. I was powerless to prevent its escape, but with fearful eyes and frozen body I watched it crawling slowly up the wall, along the ceiling, and then it passed just above my head. Would it drop on me? And if it did, what then? Consumed with loathing and dread I woke.


The why of this dream I cannot understand. I have never seen any of the people, I have never seen tbat part of the coast where the accident happened and I have never seen any living creature which bore the slightest resemblance to that fearful insect--yet!

--Nancy Price



LISTS AND LINKS: nocturnes - nightmares - bugs, worms and creepy-crawlies - sadness and tears - falling - rescue! - dream drugs - death - food and drink - sabotage and treachery - more Nancy Price - ink dream-art - a 2nd nocturnal dream-critter by Rothenstein: Tawny Owl -

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