ZHANG XIAO JING: My dreams are usually very strange. Often they are influenced by people I see or things that happen around me. Sometimes I dream of disasters, like the end of the world or the spreading of some virus such as SARS. Maybe that’s because of the movies I watch. Once I dreamed that some vampires were chasing us. I was with some friends but they didn’t care about me, they just wanted to save themselves. I thought that was very selfish of them and it upset me, but on the other hand I could understand them. After all, “every man for himself, and the devil takes the hindmost” as the saying goes. Everyone in this world has to take care of himself first. If someone has a charitable heart, then maybe he cares more about other people, too. So I could understand my friends.
    I kept running from the vampires until I came to a strange old house. It was quite a big building with many levels. It looked a bit like the Qiaojia Grand Courtyard. It reminded me of the old days when women were unfree and could not leave their houses. Although compared to women from poor families, the women at the Qiaojia Grand Courtyard were actually quite well off.
    So I came to this place and, strangely, my friends were there as well. It seems the old house was our home. I ran up the stairs to the fifth floor to see if there was someone who could help me. The vampires were still chasing me. Finally, I found a big room where I could hide, but it looked quite ghastly and scary. I thought, this must be the place where the women used to live their miserable lives back in the old days.
    Some time later, one of my friends came to rescue me. I’m studying accounting and my friend who rescued me is one my fellow students. He is a nice guy and very strong. In my dream, he came to rescue me like Superman. That was quite dangerous because there was a virus spreading among the population. I don’t know why he came to rescue me. Actually I don’t know him very well, but whenever I meet him I feel happy. In my dream, he was willing to help other people. I saw my friends leave the building but I didn’t know where they were going.
    I find this dream very strange, but actually it hasn’t had a big influence on me. Maybe it’s something from my subconsciousness. If you have a close relationship with someone, it’s easy to get into conflict. Your close friends may turn away from you, and some not-so-close friend may come and help you. What surprised me more was that I should dream of such a strange old house. It seemed as if I had witnessed something that had happened in a previous life. My friends were also very much surprised when I told them about this dream.
    I want to tell you about another dream that I had. Are there any people who study dreams and who help you when you have mental problems? Because there are some things that I’m really confused about and I don’t know whom to talk to. I don’t know if anybody else has these problems, too. I really want to tell someone about it, maybe my problems can be solved.
    Some time ago, there was a rumour that some people with AIDS were going around pricking other people with HIV-infected syringes. That scared me a lot. It happened in Guangzhou and in Kaiping. That is to say, I heard people say that it had happened but I didn’t know if it was true or not. But it scared me very much. I was afraid of going to crowded places. I even started dreaming about people pricking me with an infected syringe. This whole thing really confused me a lot. I really started thinking that everyone wanted to hurt me. Actually I know that this is very unlikely and that there are very few people who want to hurt others. Some people just want to scare others, so they spread those rumours. But at that time it really scared me a lot. Even now I still feel a little uncomfortable in crowded places, though much less so than before. When I was younger, I used to be afraid of many things, but as I grew up I lost some of my fears. I no longer see so many bad things lurking everywhere. Some of them are just rumours. Like this story that was being told a few years ago, that people from Xinjiang were putting HIV into their barbecue.