The Dream Sickness

“Only later does the book discover that the world is quite a different world from the one for which it has been prepared.” – from Prelude of Nemonymous Night

I had genuinely forgotten some of the now possible relevances in this book, but I have just been reminded on Facebook to look for them in my long novel NEMONYMOUS NIGHT (Chômu Press 2011) — and I found this:

“The dream sickness – like a ‘flu pandemic – caused queues at doctors’ surgeries for tablets intended for an illness from which they didn’t know they suffered …”

**See more in the comments to this post below**


EDIT: The great cover is by Heather Horsley

34 thoughts on “The Dream Sickness

  1. “The dream sickness – like a ‘flu pandemic – caused queues at doctors’ surgeries for tablets intended for an illness from which they didn’t know they suffered … but, unlike a ‘flu pandemic, the dream sickness was inspired by an inference regarding an infernal mass-hysteria linked to a mass-suicide syndrome rather than by any individual’s pain or conscious disability.”

    Another paragraph from Nemonymous Night: “‘The Tenacity Of Feathers’ ostensibly deals with many current matters (as they happen) and today bird sickness has fallen lower in the sky – and we can only hope that the fiction itself is helping to lower influenza’s temperature and eventually eradicate it. Fiction is that powerful. A happy ending (yes, skip to the end of the book, go on) – it’s bound to be a happy ending or the author would never have finished it.”

  2. At least the chances are that the ‘happy ending’ will be that this situation may help halt the earlier potential planetary disaster of the Earth’s climate change….

    “Only later does the book discover that the world is quite a different world from the one for which it has been prepared.” – from the Prelude of Nemonymous Night

  3. More quotes from NN:

    “Yes, a lie sickness, a plague of lies…”

    “The blurb on the back cover mentioned it was an ‘alternate world’ fiction treating of the rabbit plague in Fifties England where the rabbit’s disease—myxomatosis—mutated and spread into a human-to-human disease, thus wiping out the population. Dreary stuff, she thought, slapping the book back on the table, next to Proust.”

    “dreams, lies, fictions (fixions), all of which seem to have become a form of sickness or disease, approximately in the same general time-zone as the bird plagues that killed off so many of us.”

    “Today, however, there are no coal-mines and therefore haulers have died out. Now, with the plagues, I reckon that butchering of meat may be within a hawler’s brief. Just a whimsical thought on my part. But I try to keep my mind busy, as there is so much to worry about otherwise.”

    “A: Not a war so much, Suds, as head-on collisions of bird-sickness plague, body to body… blending…
    S: I don’t understand. I don’t think I ever will.”

    “Other factors lengthening the tentacles of angst included the so-called ‘nervous little people’ that seemed to plague them at every turning of the city. They were seeking identities and, if this *were* a dream after all, then identities *could* be stolen and used elsewhere.”

    “Reflection: A people carrier?
    O: Yes, a human being who’s infecting the birds with a virus, and not vice versa.”

    “Dream viruses. They are mutating, I fear, becoming more able to fly from dream to dream without culpability. This allows the contents of each dream to swill in and out of each dreamskin, and they can even penetrate the skin of life itself and enter the mainstream.”

    “necessary for the ultimate virus-buster of them all. It was like a scientific process of Parthenogenesis (coincidentally the first book in the Bible)—whereby creation’s re-ignition is possible by means of creative imagination rather than by years of empirical scientific study—“

    “and that dampness tended to get down their chests causing coughs which they prayed were nothing to do with the more general sicknesses they’d heard rumoured in the city before embarking on this journey.”

    “ Tho coughed. She had tried to make it all sound natural,…”

    “Excuse the cough. It’s my way of laughing.”

    “hiding its own history of pandemic or the dream sickness had abated allowing real memories to subsist instead.”

    “that dampness tended to get down their chests causing coughs which they prayed were nothing to do with the more general sicknesses they’d heard rumoured in the city before embarking on this journey.”


    “The word ‘gremlins’ was a euphemism for Dream Sickness, a plague of which had only recently been taken under control by the authorities. The difficulty was to trust that the doctors weren’t under its influence themselves because different forms of the complaint would have caused them to practice equally different methods of treating it. Now the plague was effectively under control, indeed almost one hundred per cent eradicated, anyone claiming to be suffering from it was immediately branded a malingerer or simply work-shy.”

    “She had a knack at the art of logical pigeon-holing and, during the Flew Plagues, she suddenly slipped through a meathole left by the careless Feemy Fitzworth…”

    “Cat’s meat liquidised into doses of linctus to stave off Flew…”

  5. Also several references to a sickness called BIRD FLEW in Nemonymous Night. Just two examples-

    “Greg and Beth were offered a chance to view more specialist operations upon Klaxonites who were suffering from a version of Bird Flew deeper than their own bodies, with diseased feather-spindles spreading their cancerous spike-ends unto the soul itself. Beth, even with her hard-nosed Essex-girl image, was reluctant to accompany Greg on this part of the tour. So Greg—putting himself in the hands of a masked surgeon—was taken on his own to not a Lethal Chamber as such, but something far worse. Lethal Chambers would at least staunch the pain eventually. Here Greg saw a patient—etherised upon a table—presenting a pink wasteland of body surface tussocked with Bird Flew. Apparently, this patient had earlier indeed managed flight as high as the highest pylon of the city, only flopping to earth with a wing-stressed bounce—because, otherwise, a mercifully heavy fall from flight would have ended his illness there and then. Illnesses tended to die with their patients. Except in the most diseased cases. The surgeon was wielding a instrument like a pen-torch that emitted a beam of siren-sound more intense than any hearing could bear if that hearing had insufficient dream protection—which, luckily, had been provided for Greg by one of the dream stewards from Klaxon itself. […] …the shrieking ‘pen-torch’ surgical instrument. The patient himself was resistant to any application of Angevin ointment to help with humane plucking. So, the surgeon (equally protected by one of Blasphemy Fitzworth’s dreams) aimed the ‘pen-torch’ beam of sound towards the most obtrusive of the rooted feathers and seared hard at its clawhold for some hours, as Greg watched the surrounding flesh sizzle and then melt away from the column of healing key-hole sound. Eventually, the surgeon could yank the feather-spindle from its tenacious grip on the patient’s bony soul-matter. Only the patient’s resultant wild screaming at the top of his voice was the final danger of sound-deafening proportions to any onlookers. But, with that withstood, the surgeon and Greg left the patient to recover for a while—before they returned to attack the next feather’s root in a long line of such feathers carpetting the patient’s flesh.”


    “‘They’re the Healing Chambers.’
    Greg and Beth were taken into one. There they found creatures that evidently had once been human like them—but now suffering from Bird Flew. Each body (including face) was currently being cream mudbathed with Angevin (this being a new discovery of its curative qualities in addition to its known dream-masking) to remove feathers at their root so they would not return. Each patient—to have been admitted to this particular chamber and its specialist healing process—had been forced to show the depth of their illness by actually proving they could fly: hence the name of their disease. One of them was in such a state of desperation that, having once flown, he or she needed to show, so as to be treated, they couldn’t fly any more: a method that necessitated the painful process of plucking. Those that were incurable and more intrinsically (indelibly) Bird Flown or still-Bird-Flying (albeit only in dreams) were forced from their beds and frog-marched next door to what was called a Lethal Chamber. One patient was jerking in his or her bed—as if pitifully trying to fly from within the heavy quilt. The nurses—who themselves were not dissimilar to human-like ostriches—continued, undeterred, the painful process of plucking that did not seem out of place amid all the wailing noises. As Greg and Beth left—after their tour as tourists—they spotted a long winding queue of hopping creatures leading to one of the notorious Lethal Chambers. Some hopped a few feet into the air and then flopped back. Greg averted his eyes. None of this would go in the book.”

  6. This book has not sold very well since 2011.
    If it does sell more copies because someone decides it is a useful imaginatively prophetic-in-hindsight healing or hawling device in the world’s current dire circumstances, and if there are any royalties due to me as its authorial facilitator, then they will be verifiably paid over straightaway to the NHS.

  7. Covid-19 is in itself a truly dreadful global event. Deep sympathy to all of us. Whatever science fiction I somehow dreamt up in 2011 does not change that fact. Even if Covid’s potential side effect may positively help alter the eventual course of the planetary climate change disaster, nothing can alleviate any of the dire predicaments facing us all today. (My wife and I are in our seventies with already underlying health weaknesses.)


    • Examples of ‘smell’ and ‘taste’ in ‘Nemonymous Night’….
      “… and even with her eyes closed as she concentrated on unthinking all her doubts, the smell of the smells continued to smell around her. And when the parents entered the room to find her, she had vanished!”
      “…he sensed a deeper undertaste or aftertaste even more insipid. He was savouring not so much the taste or drinkability for a deadened thirst but more the mental effects that sped to his brain in a direct socket-to-socket fashion from the tongue, or so it seemed.”

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