Ever since I was little I have gotten dreams of things before they occur. Days before, weeks before, sometimes months. As I've gotten older and connected with more people (the kind that are on Onstellar) I have learned that there is a large segment of the population that had dreams of September 11th, before it occured. Here is my story of my 9/11 dream and the way it prepared me for my own trauma that was about to occur. The story is true and my personal experience but has been narrowed down to make shorter ; there is far more carnage and chaos then is told here. Please feel free to comment if you too had a dream of 9/11, prior to the event.
In the Sea of Calm
What kind of crazy woman buys a pair of shoes that costs more than the rent for her apartment? This woman, that’s who, I think as I inspect the three new blisters along the sides of my tender feet. A small voice from inside my head, or rather somewhere above, reminds me, “Go get your gym shoes, they’re in your car. Remember?” Ah yes, I sigh in relief, if I can make it the eighty-two stories down to the ground, I’ll feel so much better.
As I limp down the congested corridor towards the elevator I pass offices full of men with their feet kicked up on their polished wood desks. Just as I’m about to press the illuminated down button, a beautiful slender blonde, who seems to glide rather than simply walk, briefly passes by me. She takes notice, stops and screws her face up in a wordless enquiry. I push out my bottom lip as if I’m a distraught two-year-old with a boo-boo. I push my purse around my hip with one arm and with the other my hand points to the hellish pair of shoes currently persecuting my feet. I consider this woman, Amy, my best friend, and we’ve spent years perfecting our word-free friendship telepathy skills.
As I reach the solid asphalt world below, I catch a glimpse of myself in the streak-free windows of the gleaming tower I call my office; the World Trade Center is emblazoned in smooth metallic letters above the door. I look forward into the reflective surface and shake my bangs across my forehead then lick my fingers to smooth down the frizzy bits. I then turn to my side, covertly suck in my stomach, and carefully use my hands to smooth down the small wrinkles and creases in my purple tailored pantsuit. A huge dizzying sound suddenly explodes above my head. The excruciatingly loud noise shocks me out of my vain parallel universe. The sound continues to rip and tear apart the previously peaceful ambiance of the morning sky. A dark, toxic, almost demonic plume of fire and ashes form a hefty storm cloud above my head. As my back is arched and my head tilted towards the heavens ash snows down upon my dazed face.
Amy! I attempt to shout but absolutely nothing comes out as I stand in horror. Still staring up, I hear another loud but low frequency humming noise overhead. A piercing combination of callous echoes rips apart the still blue sky. Suddenly, another fiery inferno juts out from the second tower. The ashy snowstorm continues to cover me as I stand paralyzed in the same spot. Bodies are running past me in a sea of blurry custom-made black and navy suits. I know they’re screaming, but I no longer hear anything.
The world is suddenly silent. Just as abruptly as the noise stopped another started. A voice wraps its presence around me from behind and says, “It’s going to be ok.” “How can this be ok?” I ask the voice angrily. “It’s going to be ok.” The voice softly repeats. I turn around to see the face owned by this reassuring voice and all I hear is “CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP. . .”
My childish Tweety Bird alarm clock chirps and burrows itself into my semi-conscious mind. It jolts me wide awake. I snap straight up in bed as if doing an incredibly fast sit up. I begin moving my hands around the comforter. I soar out of my still warm bed and land in front of the mirror. I face forward, then turn sideways, suck in my stomach, and run my hands down my wrinkly pajamas. I shake my head, but there are no bangs to rearrange. There are plenty of frizzes, but an ocean full of spit wouldn’t fix that. I drop to the floor and check my feet, no blisters, nothing, but it felt so real. I sigh and open the dark and scratchy linen curtains letting the tropical sun explode across the surfaces of my messy bedroom.
Outside the window my vantage point couldn’t be any different than a sprawling metropolis with sky scrapers. The reality was a rainforest filled with an endless range of brilliant green hues. My reality was a warm ocean in a shade of never-ending cobalt that formed the distant horizon. My reality was one where we had to remember to bring in the laundry off the drying line or else the monkeys would run off with our underwear. This is the same world I fell asleep to yesterday, and I’m more than a little thankful for that. The rest of the day was a long list of all sorts of different things all staying the same. I casually walked the same way to school, picking up rocks and tossing them at imaginary targets. At school I talked to the same children, most of whom I called friends, and some I merely tolerated. I wore the same uncomfortably starched school uniform and braided my long hair over my left shoulder like every day before. That day in art class though, I drew something a little different from usual.
The first thing I drew wasn’t the horror and chaos, it was her. Her pretty brown eyes, her full lips and purple tailored pantsuit. It was the horror and chaos that found its way into the backdrop behind the scared woman. The sunset hues I used to color the flames made the scene seem too cheerful. I tried adding more reds and blacks and then dark blues to the scene, but nothing I did made it seem as scary or as sad as it truly was. I started to draw Amy’s distraught and lost face staring out of a window. I stopped and slowly erased the penciled outlines of my best friend, I mean her best friend.
Later that evening dad got home exhausted from work and said, “Turn on the news.” When living in Indonesia, a country that’s ninety-eight percent Muslim, it’s important that you stay up to date with world events. You quickly learn that at any time you might be rushed off to a foreign country. Depending on what geopolitical incident was predicted to happen, or actually had happened, depended where in the world you might find yourself.
When the colored screen of the TV flickered on it was filled with a single image of a single tower consumed with billowing black smoke. I gasped as I watched reporters stumble for the appropriate words to use. As we all watched I said it’s a terrorist attack dad. Those buildings are going to fall. He looked at me, and then my brother, and finally my mother. No one said anything. When the second plane hit, my Dad informed us we were to spend the rest of that night making sure our passports and important papers were gathered together. My brother and I spent the rest of the night in our rooms, trying to decide what clothes we wanted because we might have to leave them all behind for good. The rest of that night I tried to find my way back into that same dream; I needed to know if Amy was ok. At 1 a.m. the phone rang. I heard my Dad answer it during the first ring, he must not have been sleeping either. My dad told us to grab our go-bags and get in the car; we were leaving just as we had prepared for. In the car my parents were whispering in hushed voices.
My dad told my mom that several churches and the houses of many Americans were being burnt down across several islands. On the buildings that remained standing the words, “Go home Americans, death to Americans, and the Jihad has begun,” were written in red spray paint. As we neared the port, my dad told us kids, “Be good for your mom; I will join you guys later.” “You’re not coming?” my brother asked bravely, but I could tell he was scared. “Only women and children for right now, son” he said matter-of-factly. “But don’t worry I’ll be right behind you guys.” He gave us a reassuring smile. My family said their good byes, and we carried our bags over the rickety wooden dock. As we were pulling away, I waved to my dad and that same voice I heard in my dream said, “It’s going to be ok.”
Women and children quietly took their seats, that was until the seats ran out, and then they just gathered in groups on the floor. No one was talking in anything other than soft whispers. The ride out of the bay was uneventful and quiet, other than the soft sobs of mothers trying to act bravely. The salty air felt so heavy or maybe it was just so many emotions packed into one confined area that made it feel that way. My brother and I played on the floor, and he asked if this part was in my dream. I told him no; I wasn’t me; I was her. About twenty minutes into the trip the seas decided to give us our own traumatic event. Walls of water would surround the boat; as we sunk between the dark valleys of waves we could see fish out the windows. As we bobbed down and then catapulted back up the other side of a wave, we could hear screams. The only other time I heard screams like that was on an amusement park rollercoaster, but these screams weren’t screams of joy. These screams were like the screams from my dreams, earth shattering shrieks that pumped your veins full of ice.
As I looked around, I surveyed how many people now had the skin tone of the inside of an avocado. Women were beginning to scream hysterically. The doctor on board started going around and giving quick jab injections of anxiety medication. I watched as he held the thin quivery arm of a young mother. He sat next to her swaying in tandem with the ocean, waiting for a brief pause in which he would have the stability to give the injection. As he pulled the metallic needle out of her arm, her fear faded fast from her face, and she slumped almost carelessly back in her seat.
We finally arrived safely on land after ten hours of being tossed around like a lone sock in a massive clothes washer. We were transported by armored vehicles to a safer location. As we snaked through the warped and twisted dirt roads, those people who didn’t vomit on the boat ended up doing so on the bus. The putrid smell of fifty people puking is something I still remember and sometimes can smell, twenty years later. As my brother and I were sitting on that bus together, plugging our noses, I turned and told him in a nasally voice, “It’s going to be ok.”
This is when I realized that in a sea of frantic people I was one of the few that felt calm. We arrived at the compound without incident and stayed there for quite some time. On the surrounding islands the majority of homes, businesses, and churches were destroyed, and most Americans fled the country for good. New security measures were put into place and the company negotiated our safety by large bribes and protection orders. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned that thousands of other people had similar precognitive dreams, especially relating to the September 11th attacks. Many others either watched the terrorist attack from the sidelines before it happened or like myself felt as if they were someone who was a direct victim of the attack, but still had the dream prior to the actual event.
Throughout my life these same strange events of clairvoyance and synchronicity have not just baffled me but caused a range of emotions, primarily intrigue. As I got older, and my dreams increased in frequency and clarity, my father began to tell me about his own dreams. Dreaming of a helicopter crash with soldiers screaming in pain until death finally brought them comfort, and then two days later a phone call comes in to tell his father that his best friend had been killed in Vietnam-- in a helicopter crash. My father was able to explain the facial features right down to where certain moles were of a man he has never met. How can that be so? I believe there are a lot of extraordinary things we don’t understand in this world, and possibly never will. I believe dismissing things as merely coincidences does a disservice to the magic that does occur all around us. I believe dreams are there to guide us, protect us, and tell us it’s going to be ok, even when we are not so sure it will be.