I dreamt this the other night.
I was standing in a room on the ground floor of the home I grew up in. I was not alone but am not really sure who stood with me. We were both alarmed. For out a window, looking north-west, we could see something evil. Of that geographical direction I am most certain. I made note of this particular detail even though I knew this was just a dream.
Our view was obscured. There was a kind of unnatural fog covering the ground between us and the neighbouring land. There we spied an ugly beast, akin to a bear, but more muscular and grotesque. It wore a tattered khaki cap with a metallic badge, bearing what looked like a red star. It was menacing and malevolent, had already reared itself up, poised to attack. Other, lesser, beasts joined it, but they were indistinct. We did not worry about them. It was obvious the bear-thing is what we would have to face.
I looked to how we might mount a defence. There was nothing much to hand. Even having a friend beside me wasn’t much comfort. I remember thinking he was quite small, wouldn’t really be of much use in a fight, no matter how heartened I was by his company.
My only protection was a kind of bow. I don’t remember much about its construct but it felt rather flimsy. There were only a few arrows. They were black and looked sharp. I knew they would damage anything they hit. But were they enough to deter this demon?
Then, without warning, the devilish thing crossed the fence separating us, a border breached. It fell upon me. Even though its attack was expected I was still shocked. I loosed off an arrow but missed. The bear saw that and laughed.
We had no choice but to fall back, retreating south-east. Through all of this I knew we were still in my parents’ home. Depressingly, it was obvious we were being routed. There was not even enough time to slam doors as we withdrew, turning west. We began climbing a staircase, leading to an upper floor. This would give us higher ground, a good defensive position. We stopped, just below the landing, determined to hold. I nocked another arrow, made ready to fire. Still the bear came on. I shot and hit it, in the neck. It was but a glancing blow yet it drew blood – I saw red – enough to give this demon its first pause. But our defence did not stop its onslaught. The beast kept coming. We had no choice but to turn again, pulling away in a northerly direction.
We barricaded ourselves in a washroom, hoping to slow the invader, buy time, perhaps enough for someone to hear our cries and come to our aid.
The beast was relentless. It crashed against the door. Desperately, I called to my comrade, begging him to fire his revolver through the collapsing barrier, hoping a lucky shot might just kill the bear. But he would not. “Why?” I cried. He replied he had only one bullet left, would use it on himself rather than be dismembered.
I took another arrow from my quiver. There were just two left. My fingers trembled as we sallied forth into the hallway, on the offensive, and I fired again. Our rally surprised the bear-beast, which must have thought we were cornered and finished. Again I hit it and now came its turn to back up. Wounded it headed north-west, withdrawing to another room to recover and regroup. Our feint had secured only a temporary respite.
There was only one remaining option and we took it, scrambling up a flight of steep stairs into the attic, the last unoccupied room in what had once been my home. Here we would make our last stand. There was simply nowhere else to go, no exit left other than a small, east-facing window. To go out that way meant falling from a height no one would want to survive. We realized our cause was lost but didn’t flinch. That was never our way. Better to die in battle than surrender ourselves to be eaten by this bear. What did weaken us was realizing that no one had ever intended to come to our aid, even after they heard our desperate cries for help. We were abandoned.
Still, we fought. We dumped whatever we found in the attic into the stairwell, hoping to impede the beast. It didn’t work. The thing kept coming on, mocking us as it smashed through those final, failing, barricades.
I do not recall whether I felt despair or just cursed as the bear’s paws reached out to render my flesh, for just then I started awake and this troubling dream ended. I found myself lying in bed, praying this was not a foreshadowing of Ukraine’s near-future fate.