When I was around 11 years old, I had this occurring dream for a while where I was in an empty room in a kind of prairie landscape. No house around the room, just the room, like a cube with a door in it. I know this because at the same time as being inside the room, I could also see the whole thing from a distance. Quite surreal.

It was completely silent, except for an eerie creaking: the door was softly opening and closing, again and again–nobody there.

Then a man with a gun entered. I was now lying on the floor, resting on one elbow, looking up at this stranger. He didn’t say anything, but it was clear that he was going to shoot me, and my reflex was to ward him off with my free arm. He didn’t shoot, but he was pulling a face like he really, really was going to shoot me any second now. This went on for a while, long enough that I had the time to think that I shouldn’t try to block his shot with my arm. Because then I might not be completely dead, and that would hurt more. So I forced myself to lower my arm. It was the hardest thing. And he still looked like this time he really, really was going to shoot me. Really. I couldn’t help myself; I held my arm in front of my face again, not being able to decide what was worse, being shot, or not being killed.

Like I said, I was 11 years old. I lived in the Netherlands and I hardly ever watched TV and I absolutely never watched anything violent. I have no idea where this came from. My 14-year-old American son, who has grown up with TV and cinema, and who wants to be a movie director when he grows up, has a recurring dream, too. Filled with violence and creepy suspense? No, he dreams that he goes to the movie theater full of anticipation, only to find that the movie is being shown on a teensy-weensy little screen. Oh, the horror!

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