The Ted Dreams by Fay Weldon – 2015

teddreamsThe novella The Ted Dreams first appeared as an eBook and is now included in Weldon’s selection of her own short stories: Mischief.  The novella is about Phyllis, a woman with psychic abilities; a luridly tragic past and spooky identical twins. Her husband Ted has died in his sleep but Phyllis has quickly moved on and is married to an attractive American who works for the mysterious Portal Inc.  The ‘Ted dreams’ are her disturbing dreams of Ted stumbling through a dark wood where he is apparently ‘stuck’.  As the pace of the narration picks up it becomes apparent that many of the protagonists are on weird new pharmaceuticals produced by Portal Inc – and that the drugs are being developed as part of a NSA backed subjugation and interrogation programme, mixed in with the desires of a rich elite to live forever – either through medical intervention or through opening the doors of perception and breaking down the barrier between life and death.  Portal Inc is interested in Phyllis and her psychic powers – and her paranoia builds as she realises just how wide the plot might be to lure her into their programme.  Not only that: Ted seems to be about to fulfil the elites’ hopes and move back into the realm of the living.  All crazy stuff, but Weldon is not crazy – she writes about grief,  lack of power, the pull of the unknown and the insecurity of women and their sexuality.  And Phyllis, no matter how insightful and unusual, ends up just making the best of her life, lying when she feels it prudent to do so and living where: “It is one of the rules of modern society that one does not joke with officials”.  And yet she is the one who let Ted through the portal …

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