We’ve all been in one, right? A Target department store, discount retailer of stuff for the home: groceries, cleaning supplies, school supplies, linens, small electronics. Last night I dreamed I went to a Target store. I was going there for something standard, toilet bowl cleaner or the like, but I’d never been in this particular Target before and, having stood in the entrance and surveyed the vast labyrinth of red-decked aisles under fluorescent lighting, I headed to the right side of the store. It was my best guess as to where my product would be located. I found myself in the apparel department – a place into which I normally never venture - weaving amongst circular racks of children’s Easter dresses on plastic hangers and shelves laden with white undershirts, 12 to a pack, wrapped in thin cellophane.
I’d guessed wrong. Should have taken the left hand option at the entrance. Cleaning products were probably on the opposite side of the store from the clothing. I wasn’t concerned by my mistake. There was no sense of urgency in the dream. I continued towards the rear of the store where I instinctively knew I would find an aisle that would cut directly across to the left side of the Target. I was aware that behind me there was some sort of commotion. Certain sections of the store were losing power and going dark. Announcements were being made for people in those sections not to panic while other announcements were being made in my section of the store that we could continue shopping without worry. I meandered along but now I was crawling for some reason. Only in the dream this was perfectly normal and other shoppers were crawling too. It had to do with whatever the commotion was in the other part of the store.
Now lights were flickering in the section of the store I was in but there was still no real cause for concern. I wasn’t perfectly sure where I was and was more and more aware that I wasn’t familiar with this Target’s layout but still there was no real fear.
At one point, almost all the lights in the store go out. It’s very dark and I stop crawling and sit. I’m aware that other shoppers are doing the same thing but none are particularly close by me and with all of us on the ground, I wouldn’t be able to see them behind the racks of clothes and clothing displays anyway. Some dim lights come on in the distance and there are announcements that I can’t make out in the store’s far reaches. There seems to be a greater sense of urgency over there, like it’s harder for the person on the PA system to keep the shoppers in that area calm. I start wondering if I should be more concerned about what’s happening than I am. Just as that question forms, I notice my cat, Jeffrey, has joined me. [i am sure that Jeff must have jumped onto my bed at that point, as my cat usually does during the night while I’m sleeping.] He’s purring and butting his head against me and I think about what a sweet cat he is and how glad I am that he sought me out.
Some lights come on in adjoining sections of the store and I can see now that I’m in the furniture department. It’s like an IKEA - inexpensive, contemporary and practical. I think to myself that I didn’t know Target sold stuff like this and I will have to come back at another time to explore further. There seem to be a lot of bunk beds where I am. Jeffrey is still with me and since there is some light and the ongoing commotion is still quite distant, I decide to push onward to my destination on the left side of the store.
I’m still crawling and it’s very difficult to move. I’m going along the heavily shadowed aisle with great difficulty. There’s a growing level of anxiety throughout the store and in myself. I can hear more panicked announcements in other areas and there no longer seem to be other shoppers in my vicinity at all. Finally I sit and I’m resting against a bed that’s on display and a dark figure comes through a closet door in my vicinity. She’s short and rather stout with long, black hair pulled back in a ponytail. I feel threatened but I’m having trouble moving, as if I’m frozen in fear. A distant strobe of light catches her face and I see she’s wearing a mask, like a child’s Halloween mask that was pulled from a rubbish bin. It’s too small for her face and the mask is a cross between Richard Nixon and Guy Fawkes.
I’m trying to understand what this means in the dream and also trying to order her away.
I force my vocal chords to work through my fear but it’s very difficult and not as forceful as it needs to be to defend myself.
Then I awaken and someone’s voice (my partner’s) is fading away saying “You’re talking in your sleep.”
I look at the window where the outside barely shows through the slanted blinds. I rarely talk in my sleep to my knowledge. This is only the 2nd or 3rd time I’ve awoken and realized I actually verbalized something in response to a dream. It’s the first time I’ve ever bothered my bedmate with it. Creepy, in a way. And I don’t even want to delve into what the subtext of that dream means but it makes me think I’m not as strongly knitted together as I like to think I am. Maybe my psyche is more frayed than I know.