I can never get to sleep without the aid of fantasies.
No, not those kind of fantasies. I assure you that all my bedtime fantasies are suitable for family viewing. (This is not because I am as pure as the full moon, but because I do my best to push away less savoury imaginings.)
Most of my bedroom fantasies revolve around the idea of safety, of invulnerability.
I think this is because bed is both a very safe and a very vulnerable place. On the one hand, you are lowering all your defences, extinguishing the lamp of the eye and barring up the portal of the ear. You are as defenceless as a baby in the cradle. On the other hand, bed is the one place where you know you are unlikely to be berated, embarrassed, frozen, rained on, rushed, stressed, or to suffer any of those other ills that flesh is heir to during waking hours.
So, being both uniquely sheltered and uniquely vulnerable, our minds turn in the direction of safety. At least, mind does.
One of my oldest bedtime fantasies is that I am being driven around a city in the back of a van. People-- my enemies-- are looking for me, intent upon working me ill. But my allies have me smuggled away in the back of the vehicle, and my enemies will never find me. (Please note how this fantasy combines megalomania and paranoia.)
Another of my oldest fantasies is the fantasy of having the best of both worlds-- having the warmth and comfort of pillows and blankets, while also being able to go out under the sky and into the streets.
How do I manage this? Well, this fantasy occurred to me when I was a schoolboy, creeping unwillingly to school on some cold morning or other. Wouldn't it be wonderful, I found myself thinking, if I could somehow send a doppelganger to school-- a double of myself that would brave the morning chill, sit through classes, and endure all the unpleasantness of the school day, while I lay snug in bed? I would be able to see through the eyes of this other me, and hear through his ears, and enjoy all the enjoyable parts of the day. But all the time the real me would be warm and safe in bed. And when I didn't want to see through this doppelganger's eyes any more-- say, if he was getting a dressing-down from a teacher-- I would simply switch off the connection and lay back, knowing that my other self could manage things on auto-pilot.
In the years since, I have developed an enormous amount of variations on this theme. The agent I control from my pillow is not always a doppelganger. Sometimes it is a whole army. They surround the house I am sleeping in (in the fantasy it is often a house in the middle of a deserted and picturesque countryside) and protect me from my multitudinous, fanatical enemies.
(Lest you should think I am being cruel to these doppelgangers, I should explain that-- though I didn't mention this at first, since the basic idea was bizarre enough and I didn't want to complicate things even more-- they are not so much doppelgangers as holographic projections. They have weight and solidity and can interact with the world, but are not independent entities. It's like a more elaborate version of throwing your voice.)
Another favourite fantasy actually came to me while I was asleep. I was on a day off sick from work. (I would like to point out here that, even though I am an Evil Public Sector Worker and I doubtless deserve to be put in the stocks and pelted with rotten fruit, I don't think I have ever reached the private sector average for sick days in a year, never mind the public sector average.) As I lay asleep, dreaming feverish dreams, I imagined that I was in work but that I was invisible. Nobody could see me, because I wasn't officially there, but I could see and hear everything around me. I remember standing by the water cooler and listening to the conversation.
Well, you see the appeal of that, I'm sure. I quickly incorporated it (and variations thereof) into my repertoire.
I can imagine some psychoanalyst reading this and muttering, "Oh my Lord, this man needs help, and quick. I've never encountered a case as bad as this. We need to get someone out there right away."
Well, I warn them that they'll drag me away kicking and screaming. And also that I have a mind-controlled army to protect me.