Weird Tales: Adam Corbin Fusco on Salad Dreams

Writer: Adam Corbin Fusco
Weird Tales Story: Belair Plaza (Issue # TBA 2008)
Writer Bio: Adam Corbin Fusco’s fiction has appeared in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, vols. 7 and 17; Science Fiction Age; Borderlands 5; and The Best of Cemetery Dance. His blog is Heliopoli.

The Dreamquest of Unknown Salad

Well, it involves Clive Swift, a broken cathedral, the planet Saturn, and a giant cherub. It has to do with scale … and salad.

It began with the salad.

It had been some time since I had eaten a respectable vegetable. I had been having all sorts of trouble sleeping, so I thought a good dose of vitamins and minerals would help things along. So into a bowl I threw romaine lettuce, cut-up baby carrots, raisins (it’s OK; raisins are cool in salad), garlic, onion, cheese, red pepper flake, pepper, and Annie’s Naturals Goddess Dressing (I’m not kidding and it’s delicious).

Apparently, this is a recipe for dreams of cosmic terror.

I don’t seem to dream that often — or remember them, as they say. But that night after the salad I had a dream, and remembered it.

I understood that I was inside the Guggenheim Museum (originally called “The Museum of Non-Objective Painting,” I’ve since learned), with the walls that get wider the higher they go; but its sides must have stretched from horizon to horizon, open to the sky, because there was just a hint of whiteness far away, and I was really outside in the sunshine (though in the museum), with trees and roads, and I was somehow trying to catch up to some people. I went up a hill. Perspective floated horizontally after that, like I was riding a camera dolly, and into view swam some unfinished statuary, which included the large head of a cherub and a robed woman in the act of throwing something, perhaps a bowling ball. Then into view came a church, or cathedral, and now the sky was darkening to twilight, the peaked roof of the cathedral was broken, and in the foreground was Clive Swift (a very good British character actor you may have seen on “Keeping Up Appearances”) dressed as a bishop, with his hangdog expression like he was taking pity on me and his hand extended toward me. And … and now I hesitate, because, all kidding aside, this is when, for me, it gets scary, because filling the sky was a planet, huge and fever-dream-close, and I understood it to be Saturn, but it had no rings and was colored red, and, larger than it, was a statue of a cherub blowing a horn, golden, with the folds of its robe dark with age, its gold-leaf surface tarnished and torn — it was a statue in the sky, vast in scale, and it loomed from behind the planet.

Well, it was scary at the time. I can’t rightly describe the dream, nor the feeling with which it shook me. That’s why it’s such an honor to be part of Weird Tales. The past authors of Weird Tales, such as H.P. Lovecraft, can convey that sense of cosmic scale — those stretched perspectives, those hidden geometries, those secret roles of Clive Swift — and I’m sure the other new ones that you are reading about can too.

(There’s a statue at Fort McHenry in Maryland that conveys cosmic terror. Its scale makes you dizzy. It should be a little smaller or a little bigger. Don’t approach it from the bottom of the hill. Or, go to the Grand Canyon; no photograph can convey the sense of vast space you experience there.)

Anyway, Lovecraft would have understood about the salad. He would have told me to use a different lettuce. He would have stopped me at the garlic.

One last note on dreams: I have a recurring one. In the dream I am going to Italy. In every occurrence of the dream it’s a last-minute decision, I’ve forgotten my toothbrush, I don’t have any money, I didn’t pack — it’s always a panicky rush and I don’t want to go.

I did go to Italy about 20 years ago and loved it. In Rome, every visitor is supposed to throw a coin into Trevi Fountain (which, again with the statuary, features sculptures of tritons — one blows from a conch-shell horn — leading seahorses that are pulling Neptune’s shell chariot). The tradition says that if you throw a coin in Trevi Fountain then you are certain to return to Italy. I threw a coin over my shoulder into the fountain like any tourist and believer in cool things. I haven’t returned to Italy. My dreams have.

I’m convinced that throwing that coin in the fountain has meant that, if I don’t go back to Italy, my dreams will drag me kicking and screaming there instead. And they have. About once a year. You go back, one way or the other.

I’m glad I don’t remember too many dreams — you know, like they say about having surgery, that you’re actually awake, but don’t remember.

Just keep your salad away from me.