6am, Creativity, and Nightmare Face.

From the mind and desk of Dane Davis
To whom it may interest,

It happens that I purchased the limited edition of Fable 3 for the XBOX360. I received this leather-bound parcel at 12:20am; day of October 26th. It was a Tuesday in all technicality but I still experienced that time as part of Monday.

I have been doing little else than play this game for the last three days and sacrificed much needed sleep in an attempt to absorb all that I can. I finally, willingly, took a break at 1am of October 29 (which is a Friday for those keeping score).

I'm still awake at 6am. I do not know if this is common amongst other people, but the conditions are perfect for the creative parts of my brain to begin working over time. Many mornings I have spent toiling with a sudden project birthed from this insomnia driven inspiration and many of those projects were left incomplete when the second wind wore off.

< At this point, please imagine the following is narrated by Twilight Zone icon, Rod Serling >

So in this state on this specific occasion, I have drawn a figure. A humanoid figure. I depicted this figure as a man-shaped mass of black ink donning casual clothing appropriate to the mild Autumn weather. The head is concealed by a trapezoidal mask, top wider than the bottom, the face of which has a lone vertical 'eye'. Fine seams can be seen extending from the sides of this eye as well as straight down as to (and forgive the redundancy) bisect a bisection.

In another area of the same page, I drew this figure again. This time the bisected panels of the box spreading away from the eye as a sort of robotic mandible-jaw. The exposed interior is simply a bubbling mass of the same black ink composing the rest of the figure's body.

I named this figure Nightmare Face and constructed a world inside my mind to facilitate it as a character. I placed Nightmare Face in a white-collar environment alongside ordinary human beings. The regulars are oblivious to the nature of Nightmare Face's being, addressing him as an ordinary human. Accepting its features without question to its origin like one would barely regard the difference between blue-eyed and brown-eyed folk.

But there must be conflict for this world because my mind doesn't allow for the utopia to exist for very long, if at all, even in thought form. It occurs to me that I might have become a pessimist without realizing, but I digress. Conflict, the very foundation of story telling, must be presented before my imagination will continue to entertain Nightmare Face as a character beyond a mere doodle.

One of the workers in this white-collar environment, generically named 'Howard' is the sole human being on earth who readily observes that the figure working alongside him everyday is not of this plane. Try as he might, there is absolutely no way for Howard to express how Nightmare Face is an impossibility without sounding completely crazy to the rest of the world. To them it would be like someone saying that trees are impossible or that fish are impossible.

This conflict, while beginning as an external one, begins to impose a much darker conflict unto his mind. Howard will eventually begin to believe that despite all instinct telling him that this creature cannot exist, that he may indeed be as crazy as everyone else says he is. Everyone seems to be perfectly accepting of Nightmare Face. Some might even call it a friend and invite it over for supper with their family or to play golf on the week end. Clearly it is Howard that is defective, not the world.

Howard is eventually destroyed by the many questions surrounding the existence of Nightmare Face, becoming obsessed with studying and documenting what it does that is so against our biology and physics. His desk, formerly tidy with the occasional loose file, becomes cluttered over time with composition books. Dozens of worn notebooks indexed with thousands of photographs and addendum sticky-notes. Howard's determination to disprove his impossible coworker's existence finally reaches the breaking point when, in a fit of rage, he confronts Nightmare Face with aggressive questioning in the middle of the office.

Imagine for just a minute that someone rushed up to you on the street and demanded an explanation for what you are and where you came from. How would you react? With fear? Confusion?

This is what Nightmare Face is suddenly experiencing when Howard loses control. A mild panic coming over it as it fails to find any answers to the suddenly violent Howard's query. Luckily for Nightmare Face, the other workers manage to quickly restrain the ranting Howard long enough to place him into police custody. An awkward silence sustains for a while before everyone goes about their day, some expressing concern for Nightmare Face's well-being and a few apologizing for not doing something about Howard when he fist became unstable.

Life goes on and the being known simply as Nightmare Face continues to exist peacefully amongst us. Who knows if anyone ever entertained the notion of impossibility Howard desperately tried to convey in his mountain of notes. Perhaps it wasn't Nightmare Face's presence on our plane that drove Howard to the edge of reason.

The reality of the situation is that Howard was thing that was out of place in his perception of reality. In a world full of people so accepting of a thing like Nightmare face, Howard was the lone person who harbored arbitrary prejudice against it.


What I meant to be a short post on the internet in the early hours of the morning to explain my state of mind has become my own personal visit to The Twilight Zone.

Dane Davis