La Ciudad Muerta: The Origins

So as promised, now that I’ve finished the story, I’ll tell you the story of where it came from.

La Ciudad Muerta is based heavily on a recurring nightmare I had for years as a child.  I don’t remember when the first time was, but the last was when I was around 12 or 13 years old, so for several years prior to that.

The dream always got longer each time I had it, too, only it always ended the same.  It got longer on the front end, more lead-in, but always ended the same.

I changed a few details here and there to make it make sense (as dreams often don’t) and to turn it into more of a story than a nightmare, but for the most part this is very close to how it played out.  The dream was always from the point of view of the narrative character in the story, and that character was always myself (yes, the character was male and I am female, but that’s dreams for you.)

The main differences are I added a fourth character (there were only ever three in my dream) and the character that got entombed alive in the stone was always me.  I also added the temple as a focus , whereas it used to simply be the center of the city.   I added depth to the characters, and names, since it would have gotten confusing without it.  But mostly this a pretty good rendition of it: we’d stumble into a ruined city in the middle of the jungle, the images on the walls would seem to be us, but would also change when we weren’t looking, and in the end I’d be buried alive in stone.

That was the part of the dream that always terrified me most, when the stone would open up – the sound of the stone sliding against stone – and swallow me alive, and then the image on the stone would show me inside.  That was when I would wake up crying and begging god to take the nightmares away and desperate to not fall asleep again.

For years I couldn’t even talk about it, and every once in a while I wonder if I’ll ever have it again, like it’s sort of lurking just there waiting…

Oh, and the last change I made was to have the character returning at the end, sort of a nod to the ‘recurring’ part of the dream…

So there it is.  A childhood nightmare come to life in my stories.  If you ever wanted to know how someone comes up with these kinds of stories, it usually isn’t that we’re just sick in the head… (that’s *my* story and I’m stickin’ to it!)


4 thoughts on “La Ciudad Muerta: The Origins

  1. I used to have three dreams repeating and scaring me. I wonder why we dream the same thing over and over again. Sometimes there can be a message hidden in them, but mine were just scary dreams. It’s amazing how our mind works. Maybe you had to write a story and get rid of that dream. 🙂

    • Yeah, writing started as a way to get the dark things out where they couldn’t hurt me anymore. It’s been a long time since this dream caused the kind of terror that it used to (though I won’t say it doesn’t scare me at all lest I tempt it to return) but I think it was still therapeutic on some level to get it out. (and hey, who knows, maybe my childhood nightmare might one day end up getting me published!)

      • Wasn’t it Hemingway who said something along the lines of: Writing is easy, all you have to do is sit at a typewriter and bleed. It’s great that you’re turning a terrifying memory/nightmare into something else. And I always hated those kinds of nightmares, the ones that left you afraid to fall back asleep.

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