By Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books; 2009)
In this lively 86-page novella the world is destroyed by a plague that causes people to dream while awake; seeing as how this is a horror story, a lot of killing and insanity are sure to ensue. Thus we have an account very much in line with the zombie apocalypse and insanity plague novels that have become so popular in recent years, yet THE LUCID DREAMING contains some key divergences from the formula–quite a few, actually.
For starters, the first person heroine, a trash-talking young woman named Spike, is a paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur. Being schizophrenic, she’s doped to the gills on Prolixin, which apparently makes her immune to the dream disease. Prolixin naturally becomes a highly sought-after substance once its dream-reversing properties become known, so Spike is ahead of the curve in this instance.
Spike starts out locked up in an Oxnard mental hospital–largely because, she claims, she told her superiors she wanted to be President of the United States–but promptly busts out. She begins her odyssey by picking up a “new age freakazoid” named Teddy (the two greet each other, appropriately enough, with the words “I love you”). From there, with the world steadily collapsing around them, Spike and Teddy chill out in a Beverly Hills mansion.
The road beckons, though, and anyway, Spike reasons that “these rich places had turned other decent people into assholes, and I didn’t intend to become one of them.” With the perpetually sleepy Teddy in tow, Spike makes her way through Arizona and New Mexico but is halted in “Fucking Texas” by a family of redneck assholes. The story takes an altogether unexpected turn at this point, with Spike actually settling down (in a manner of speaking) for a time.
I appreciated Spike’s sassy, world-weary point of view, which lends the perversely ironic culmination of her odyssey a satisfying resonance. Without giving anything away, I’ll reveal that Spike does (sort of) get what she wants. The fade out is also quite cool, with one of the most memorable final lines I’ve encountered in some time.