“Mysterious Spacial Rift” (short story) by Juza Unno
English Publication History: Science: Hopes & Fears [Volume 1: Selected Stories] (2018)
Original: Japanese (不思議なる空間断層), 1935
Translated by J. D. Wisgo, 2018
Receipt: Free from the translator
Synopsis: Hachiro conveys to a friend of a dream in which he enters a long hallway, opens a door with a golden knob, stares into a large mirror, sits in a chair, raises a gun and kills a woman who he thinks is his friend’s salacious wife. In the end he realized he was only dreaming and woke up. But Hachiro found himself in the dream again, and like other recurring dreams, he follows through the motions: entering, staring, sitting, and shooting… only a few details seem skewed, including his victim, when he’s then arrested for the crime of murder; thence, he dreams of his trial, a wise judge, his sentence, and his death walk. Still, he doesn’t waken.
Analysis: Upon waking, dreams either cling to the mind with pasty fingers or remain hidden until an association is made much later. Just today, I read of metal birds in Brian Adliss’s Barefoot in the Head which evoked my shooting clay pigeons from a dream last night… only one image without a place, time, emotion, or companion. Sometimes, dreams are mere snapshots, a shard of association from a broken dreamscape. Other times, you wake up with a gushing recollection, where cause and effect cascade from tiers of action and emotion; you can follow its richness from beginning to end.
There are also times when nightmares strike, hardship ensures and the dreamer yearns for an end, begs the question of Is this a dream? Rarely does the dreamer realize the ethereal nature of the hardship, but relief is oh-so-welcome upon waking. When real-life horror or betrayal manifests itself, we often think to ourselves Surely, I’m dreaming. We pinch ourselves, shake our heads, check a digital clock (see Part 1, a trick I use), but reality stubbornly refuses to warp, wisp, and wither like smoke.
Hachiro is having one of the latter nightmares, one with recalcitrant inertia seeking the lowest energy state: his misery.
Review: This is a nifty story. I always enjoy stories with dreams, which is good food for thought in terms of meta-fiction, dream interpretation, and psychology. The later part of the story tends to taper with a gushing monologue (yet again, which seems to be a common trait in the author’s stories) from the judge. This, too, provides food for thought, but could have been better integrated, perhaps evening tapering off early to give a more open-ended conclusion.