Let there be Light
Dreamed 1948 by Nancy Price
Source: Acquainted with the Night by Nancy Price (1949), selections from an experimental dream journal she kept for one year.
I should not set down the parts of this dream that remain save that I am struck by the recurrence of a man whose importance in my life has long faded, the vicar of my little Worcestershire village, a man who was my friend during an impressionable part of my life and whose end was tragic, but not altogther unexpected, considering his character. This man is constantly recurring, especially in my more confused dreams.
Last night there was something in his sermon to which I was listening that was significant. Something that appeared to be a warning, almost a menacing warning that does not remain clear in my waking hours. His text remains "Let There Be Light" and the fact that one must embrace light rather than darkness in all ways and thoughts. What happened to connect this part of the dream to the second part has entirely faded from my mind, but I know there was illness, illness and anxiety about someone who was very dear to me, and that I had to fetch a doctor, a young doctor I did not know. That I had to fetch him along dark and lonely tracks to an isolated cottage.
We had both just got outside the cottage which seemed surrounded by dark and lush undergrowth, when a snake, glistening and slender, struck the doctor on the hand and arm as he pushed aside the thick growth to make a passage.
"Get on," he said to me. "I know these snakes, they are poisonous, their poison is deadly."
But just as I found the door of the cottage, the snake struck again and I was bitten on the hand and the arm even as the doctor. I can see clearly the three little black dots shaped like the leaves of a shamrock. We were now inside the cottage door and the doctor injected something into his arm and he did the same to me. He also produced an electric contrivance, a peculiar sort of little box.
"Watch that," he said. "If you see a red glow surround the box and extend toward me it is hopeless, the poison will be deadly. If it remains white there is hope."
In a few seconds or so it seemed to me, for time does not exist in dreams, the white light, which came first and surrounded him, changed to red.
"I am finished," he said, "now for you."
I watched the light with an intense concentration, on that light depended my life. It seemed to me that crowds had gathered and were also watching. My hand and arm swelled into great puffs even as his had done. Hours I watched, and it still remained white.
"You killed those snakes, didn't you?" said a voice.
"Yes, I killed them and that is my consolation. I had no idea it was so easy to kill."
"Oh, so easy," said the voice. "But you cannot bring back life. The one you love lies dead, the man who preached in the church is dead, the doctor is dead, and we are all dead. We are waiting for you."
"No red light so far," I said, "No red light so far."
"Wait, watch, wait, watch. Let there be light," said the voice. "Let there be light"--and I remembered the text of my friend's sermon.
I catalogued "Let there be Light" partly for that phrase, the creepiest dream-wordplay I've ever seen--the words Jehovah spoke to begin creation, invoked as a prayer that life will end.
This dream's horror isn't visceral, but deep just the same:
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