My Brain, the Memory Mangling Torture Device.
CW: death, horror
Had one of the worst nightmares today.
I should preface all this by telling you that I have a pretty horrific memory, and my trauma prevents me from absorbing a lot. I write these things because any time I recover a memory or even things related to memories, I tend to write about them. Telling things as a story helps cement reality.
My dreams are viscerally real. The bad nightmares, especially, tend to be immediately traumatizing and affect me for a while.
I was working back at some dream version of the pool* I managed in college. The only real difference is that the bottom seemed to be smooth concrete, and it was a small town.
Was alerted that some kids ran by and threw canvas bags into the water, and something was seeping out of them. We didn’t know if it might be something dangerous so I pulled everyone out to rinse off in the showers.
Walking by me, I heard a kid say “Tik-Tok, I’ve seen this one, it’s just food coloring, don’t stress.”
As the last person was getting out, she said the water felt heavy and hot on her foot, which was starting to turn red and splotchy. I sent her with the head guard to the office and to call for medical assistance.
The lifeguards descended quickly, as the pool had turned a deep green, almost black, and it was moving. Waves slowly forming, from the deep end, smacking the front and spilling over, then pulling far back. We headed toward the office.
The bottom of the pool had turned dark.
Before we could get far enough away, the movement was able to create a sizeable splash, sending droplets burning through our clothes into our skin. It was extremely hot.
The office was glass, not too far from the pool, so we ran inside, screaming.
The next wave pulled far into the deep end, almost like sludge or slime, pulling back and shooting it up into the air a few feet.
Then I saw the kid out of the corner of my right eye. He was running right toward the pool, then stopped and turned around, yelling something I couldn’t hear, a peace sign near his face.
I ran out of the office toward him but he was closer to the middle than I was.
I screamed ‘STOPPPPPP’ at him as the liquid pulled all the way back, exposing the concrete, but he turned and jumped into a full-body flop.
His body cracked on the concrete.
I screamed while the water engulfed him.
My instincts were to run in and help him out, but we couldn’t.
None of us could help him.
The water calmed, then stilled.
Then it cleared and we could see his body.
I hoped he’d died on impact and not felt the water.
— — —
*I’ve had a lot of dreams about working at pools, and various disaster scenarios within that. I guess you never really think about how that sort of thing affects you when you are doing the job.
You feel responsible for someone’s life sitting in the chair, even though you’re really just assistance for first responders. I’ve not had any close calls personally but I have guarded some interesting things that led to me being bled on profusely and helping someone with broken bones. Both were diving incidents at the highly competitive level.
But these dreams always remind me about the poor girl who died at one of the pools. It was years ago, at Ellenberger Park. She was around 7 I believe.
She was a guest who came along with a cousin. Her cousin was enrolled in a summer camp that frequented the pool.
It got cloudy, and part of the pool was closed. At Ellenberger, there were areas that got dark when it was cloudy, so that was pretty normal protocol. They were still allowing normal swimming on the other side, two guards stationed for a smaller, shallow pool.
When the heavy rain started, the summer camp called all the kids to head back.
The bus full of kids left.
Three hours later or so, the office got a call. A girl was missing who was with the day camp. Her grandmother had called the camp panicking, who didn’t know she was there (wtf), and then us.
The manager found her body.
She’d slipped into the deep end somehow. She had dark skin and a black swimsuit and it must have happened as the pool got dark or right after. The manager could not see anything in the rain and had to go into the pool.
The blaming started. The cousin, who was really young and just didn’t notice that the other little girl was gone. The lifeguards on duty, because even though they went by a protocol, an extra guard at that end even with no kids was the better option (and was common). The pool manager/Indy Parks, the grandmother, the camp coordinators, the list goes on.
In the end, we all failed that little girl. Our only jobs are to guard them and watch them, and no one was watching her. Accidents happen, of course, but this one haunts me and I wasn’t even there.
There was more to my dream, but I wanted to leave it there because I’m sure the dark water was meant to remind me of this story.