As far as dreams go, this one was a garden variety anxiety dream, things left undone, slight guilt involved, and nothing dramatic or scary or even incredibly interesting happened, except the detail of the dream, the vividness, the sheer sense of reality, and how even when I was awake and sure it was a dream, I was not at all.
The setting was here, at Hickory Head, and my neighbor owns an overflow pond which is mostly dry. In the dream, someone I don’t know in reality, but was a main character in the dream world, okay, let’s pause for this.
The dream character was a man who clearly was involved in the day to day operation of my neighbor’s farm. He was a middle aged guy, long hair and a beard, friendly, fair, but concerned.
He came to ask me what I planned to do about the gouges in the bank of the overflow pond. Apparently, he had pulled my truck out from near the bank, and it had left deep grooves in the grass. He wanted me to fill them in, and smooth out the area.
This is how it should be. If you leave a mess on someone’s property you ought to fix it, and no one should have to ask you about it. Of course, I was aghast at this, and even though we were inside my house, I had a memory of the event, and how it looked after I was pulled out, and I knew if it rained, and it had, the ruts would get worse with erosion.
Now, the event itself, of me getting pulled out was not part of the dream, but inside the dream, I had a memory of it.
My mind created a memory out of nothing, inserted that memory into my dream, which it had created out of nothing, and the two creations were part of a whole, even though they were different.
In the dream, I quickly agreed to repair the damage, apologized, and the dream shifted away from that event and into something I cannot remember now. Yet when I woke up, somewhere around three this morning, my mind made plans for the work. I would fill the ruts in, compact the soil as much as I could, and transplant some grass there, to keep it all from being washed away.
Then, my mind sought a memory of the event, and found it filed under Dreams, and I slowly became aware none of this had ever happened. Dream, and dream memory, fought with reality, and finally lost. But it took a few moments for the feeling, the emotions, to dissipate.
When we listen to someone with dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease, and wonder how is this possible, remember in your own mind, waking up terrified of some dream monster, or anxiety ridden over some unfinished dream task, or aroused and ready over some passionate encounter in a dream, all of this, every moment of it, exists entirely within the realm of your mind.
Two shells in the shotgun, and five rounds for the rifle. How many men would come down the trail, no one knew, and maybe they wouldn’t come this way at all. But we expected the main force to hit us head on, at the camp, and a smaller group to try to sneak around the back. My mission was to guard this path that led to the farm, and I thought they put me here because I was older, less useful in the attack up front, and the only man in the camp not a veteran of at least one firefight. At a minimum, I would make enough noise to let everyone know there was company coming. Yet it was hoped there would be bloodshed, and not all of it mine.
Deer, maybe a racoon. That noise, the sound of leaves being crushed underfoot. Loud in the early morning stillness, the sun now above the horizon, the silence of the day just being violated. A tree branch fell to my left, and distinctly someone whispered, “What the fuck was that?”
I saw a spider crawling up the stem of the bush in front of me. It was a small, tiny, and slow moving thing, and the smell of crushed greenery wafted in. They had come in slow, without a sound; my heart pounded. In front of me, close, and they too, were waiting. I knew they would rush forward as soon as the shooting started. I eased the shotgun barrel forward and became part of the woods. I felt sweat flowing like tears. I felt small, and helpless, and scared.
Twenty feet of light underbrush would mean nothing to the stainless steel ball bearings loaded into the shells. Finger off the trigger, finger off the trigger, wait, wait, wait.
The sound of the rifle fire crackled, two hundred yards behind me, and this was the moment we would live or we would die. The men rushed forward, suddenly, and one of them saw me, too late, he stopped, halting the men behind him, and both barrels of the shotgun erupted in fire and smoke. Screaming, screaming, screaming, falling bodies, wild shots, and smoke.
“Aim low,” Billy told me, “knock’em down, make’em bleed bad, and they’ll be useless in a fight, and somebody’ll have to carry’em, after that, you got five rounds, no more, make it count, Mike, close the backdoor.”
I was the only man between the camp and the raiders coming in from the back. If they got past me, there was nothing.
Two bullets made a frying sound by my left ear, close enough for me to feel the warm breath of the Gods of War. I pulled the rifle up, another bullet whizzed by, but men were down, screaming, screaming, I sighted and there was only one shooting back, wildly now, panic taking over. He saw the rifle and his eyes opened wide.
The man jerked hard as the first round caught up just below his throat, and he threw his hands up, as if he might undo the damaged flesh. A man got up, limping hard, trying to run, and the second round caught him in the back at the waistline. He screamed, screamed, and kept screaming. Other men were yelling, “How many of them? Where are they? Jesus Christ, we’re surrounded!” and for some reason, they thought the sounds of gunfire from the camp, echoing through the woods, were coming from all directions. Another broke and ran, dragging a body behind him. My next shot caught in him in the right eye as he turned to fire, and the top of his head exploded like a fountain. That was enough. Two men threw their weapons down leaving me with the injured and dying. I stood and fired. Pop! Pop! Both men went down hard.
“Don’t get your ass up for nothin’,” Billy told me. “We lose the front, stay down, make a run for it. You go south, move at night, take care of yourself best you can. We hold, if’n we do, and we’ll come get you. There’s be a party after we bury the dead.”
I waited. The screaming stopped. The shooting stopped, but who won? Who would come down the trail to get me. Five feet away a rifle lay on the ground so I inched forward, grabbed it, and checked. Ten rounds in the magazine, one in the chamber. The former owner started at me with the half open eyes of a dead man, the first I had ever killed. He looked past me into the void.
“Mike!” It was Salman, the foreign guy who had moved to America a few years ago. He was good with guns, and I looked over my shoulder at him and grinned.
“Sal, we win?” I asked.
“Yes we win. What you think?” Sal crouched down. “How many get away, Mike? You make a mess in the woods. I tell Billy you messy.”
“None got away, none got past me. We lose anybody?” I asked as Sal handed me a cigarette.
“We lose men, Billy’s brother Hank. And new guy, odd name. Bubbles. Wounded gonna die.”
“Bubba,” and I actually laughed. I looked up and saw a woodpecker fly over, glorious and huge.
“Let’s get the guns, go back and see what happens now, okay?” Sal said and he helped me stand up. “Billy tell me, ‘We put Mike on the back, nobody live, nobody get past.”
Wrex pawed at my face, waking me up. I sat up and smelled blood and gunpowder.
But I held the line before I came out.
The night was locked in clouds, a light mist, no moonlight, no stars, and I could walked to the place on the trail from here, in the darkness and it felt real, as if the bodies would still be there.
Breakfast felt odd, too much light showing, they would see me. The dogs whined, went in and out, as if they sensed the veil had been strained, the dreamworld and this one had gotten too close to being in the same time. I was a vet in that world, and I would miss the party. Billy, Sal, and the guys who I had drank with a few days before the fight. Bubba was dead. His wife, two kids. Billy brother, I can’t remember his name now. Quiet man, reliable, it ran in the family.
It fought me. I went to Yoga class and was dizzy, I stumbled a couple of time, this reality isn’t holding, the other cannot.
This is the explanation of a dream, if that was what it was. What about the other side? Are they used to people just disappearing? Did I? Am I still there, drinking to our fallen, secure in a place I helped defend, or is it gone, all gone, forever?
I wondered where it came from, and I still do. It’s a massive structure, revisited, my second time here, and it’s breathtaking. The edifice reaches the clouds, maybe two kilometers in the sky, maybe even higher, there’s no way to measure, and birds must fly around it, great flocks trying to gauge if it would be better to skirt around the man-made mountain or go over. It’s when the birds are close is when the scale becomes apparent. Tiny flying insects they become, against the soaring walls. Higher and higher the flock flies, up and up, until I cannot see them anymore.
Why red brick? There’s a reason it’s built out of red brick, and I feel I should know why but no. I stand closer now and have that feeling a person gets when they first visit New York City, and walk among the skyscrapers. But a good portion of New York could fit inside this building, and as far as I can tell, there’s no reason for it to exist, except it does.
Engineering would deny this thing in reality. From space, it would look like an old fashioned water well, simple and round, the walls only thick enough for a small truck to drive upon the open rim, a three meters wide, at most. I’ve been up there once before. I think I fell.
There’s a tiny café to the left of the entrance and people time their visits to avoid the guy mowing the grass here. He pushes a loud, smokey, clunky mower, just like you would find in suburbia in the mid 1900’s and honestly, I have no idea if one person could actually mow the inside area and not have a permanent job. But the men and women working to repair the wall also have a full time job. There are hundreds of them, scaffolding clings to the bricks in various places, and stray bricks fall at random times. But overall, there are vast, immense areas where unbroken fields of bricks stretch into the skies.
But why red brick? The question comes to me, even as I walk in the freshly mowed grass, I can smell it, and I know it’s a dream, but the red brick stage setting intrigues me. Something tiny to give The Well a larger sense of proportion? I have no idea. Then I see her, the woman I was looking for last time, sitting alone, waiting for me. The dream is repeating, the dreamscape and characters are back, and even though I know it is a dream, the smile is involuntary. I’ll ask her why the bricks, why everything, over a drink, and a cigarette, but I wake up instead.
The dream stayed in my mind, like the residue of honey in a refilled cup of coffee. It’s not there, not even the memory of the dream is there, nothing but something akin to a psychic aftertaste, something floating around in the mind like a speck of red dust in the air, reflected by sunlight for a moment in time, picked up by imperceptible currents in the room, before drifting back into the shadow near your closet.
It’s still there, it still exists, you know for a fact it does, but you also know you couldn’t find it, and by looking for it, by trying to define it, you would pollute and distort it, change it so completely as to destroy the vision entirely.
How can it be both there, not there, remembered, not remembered, forgotten, not forgotten, Schrodinger’s Cat, with your conscious being the radioactive isotope, that triggers the poison. Your subconscious doesn’t know if there was a dream, or if you dreamed there was a dream, but the if you look for it, you kill the dream.
Perhaps the same part of your mind that forgets people one millisecond after you’ve been introduced is responsible for remembering your dreams. It’s a faulty device, battered by television shows, bumper sticker politics, and Prosperity Religion. If you spent more time reading, you’re remember what you had dreamt in more details, and Barbra Anderson’s name after you met her.
You can feel it, can’t you? You know it’s there. You meet someone and you’re looking at her, she’s speaking to you, and her name was said out loud, you shook hands with her, and now you’re scrolling through names in your head without a road sign or a map to help.
Feels just like when you’re trying to remember a dream, doesn’t it?
When was the last time you did remember a dream? The dreamscape, the setting of the dream, was it familiar only while you were there, or it is a real place? The people, were they characters in your life, or did they only exist in your slumber? Perhaps there was fear, some creature that meant you harm, were you lost, were you missing someone, was there abject terror of death, fire, falling, bullets, bears, or Johnny with an ax?
Maybe that’s why we don’t remember dreams, it’s a self-defense mechanism keeping us from screaming during the day while we remember what happened in our sleep. And perhaps, for mechanisms we cannot quite comprehend, it’s the same reason we forget the names of strangers.
The dream began with a group of us high school students still in Early County High working on “the final project”. Steel boxes, no, not coffins, nothing that obvious, but the boxes were thin and flat, like security cases for cookie sheets. I didn’t understand how we could be in post-graduation mode and still have this “final project” but that made as much sense as having a teacher scream at us about acting like adults but not letting us go to the bathroom when we had to pee.
In the dream I walked home, and one the most enduring memories I have of the high school was this: a cow pasture with cows in it sat next to the school, and if you think the coffin metaphor was cliché’ imagine the cattle comparison. But right next to both the school and the pasture was a cemetery, so there is that, too. The sidewalk beside the pasture was my path to and from school, and I grew up thinking concrete fence posts were common, because that’s what was holding up the fence around the pasture. As I left Early County, and Blakely, and got out into the world, I never saw another concrete fence post.
In the dream, the pasture was already gone. In Blakely Georgia, the cycle was for someone to build a new “shopping center” that had a new grocery store, everyone would leave the old one and it would close, then in another seven or eight years it would happen again. There was the Piggly Wiggly when I was a kid, then the IGA when I was in high school, and finally, there was the cow pasture strip mall, where they paved over the cows’ home, built a new store, and I think it’s closed now. I haven’t been back for over a decade and won’t unless someone else I care about dies.
I was looking for one of the concrete fence posts in the dream and couldn’t see one at all. The shopping center was in ruins, and broken concrete pillars were half buried in the dirt. The ditch that had run like a scar across the field, and across the cemetery, had drainage pipe laid in it, and buried, which seems stranger than anything else for some reason.
Reality began to set in when girls I knew became pregnant and dropped out of high school to have babies. Their boyfriends, or husbands, which were usually the same guy, would get some menial job, they would put a trailer in the backyard of her daddy’s house, and live there until they could afford to move. In due time the baby would grow up, go to the same school with the same teachers, and be taught no to have to pee until class was over. They would be taught not to be tardy, and they were told to just say what the fuck ever to drugs.
No one wrote, no one painted, a few people played piano or guitar, and I did know a trumpet player. But by and large, no one left, no one did anything but produce the next generation of students, unless they died young.
I woke up from the dream wondering about the fence posts, and what the symbolism was with the cookie sheet steel security boxes, with their heavy-duty rivets, and hinged flaps in the front. I wondered if they ever fixed the electrical outlet on the north side of that room, where we dug out the granular insulation, a small pile each class period. I wondered if all the teachers I once knew, and hated, were all dead now, and if former students came to the funeral, and were sad.
I wonder what happened to those concrete fence posts, dozens of them, now remembered by only a few people, maybe just one. A day will come when that school is torn down, another built, and someone will send me an email, telling me it’s gone, just like the other schools I went to as a kid, yes, all gone. The lesson they never taught us, for they themselves did not know it, is this ends, this all ends, everything, and one day, nothing will remain of the world we once knew, and we certainly will not survive it.
The cows, the kids, the teachers and the posts, the building and the final projects, yes, even those, will simply cease to be, except in dreams.
“Remember that party at Beth’s, you walked up and we cracked up laughing?” she asked in the early morning darkness, the chill of the morning slain by our bodies.
“Yes, neither one of you would tell me what you were talking about, and you turned a very lovely shade of red,” I replied. She and I had been friends for a while, and recently decided to date. We went to the beach with some friends, spent time together and enjoyed it, walked by ourselves and talked. On the ride home, we were sitting next to one another in the backseat, and I reached over, held her hand, and she squeezed mine back in reply. It’s odd how two people can wake up one morning alone, and then the next morning they are together, and perhaps in more ways than just physically.
“So are you now going to reveal what you and Beth were talking about?” I asked, and she laughed again, and again, turned red.
“Before we started dating I had sex dreams about you, three or four times, and honestly, I’ve never had sex with a guy I didn’t know. I’m not easy,” she said with a smile.
“I can attest to that. But if you were already thinking about having sex with me, why make us both wait?” I asked.
“Men allow their dicks to make decisions for them, women are more prone to ignoring the advice given by their vaginas. Not that it doesn’t happen; we are hormonal creatures, after all,” she sat up and looked around.
“So were the dreams, uh, specific?” I asked, feeling that this conversation was leading somewhere.
“All of them were us on the floor,” she said grinning, “right there.” She pointed beside the bed.
“I can make your dreams come true,” I said tossing a pillow overboard, and she grabbed a blanket.
Apparently, there was four dreams involving two different positions. There was nothing earth shattering about acting out the dreams, there was no astral choir or trumpets, I think that would have been a distraction, but it was different. Later, she told me the beach trip was set up so the two of us could spend time together, but she wanted to make sure we were compatible before she started flirting seriously with me. I’ve always thought women had the hardest part to play in dating. In my life, I’ve had two women ask me out, and one of them told me she had never done that sort of thing before. That sort of thing, like asking a guy out is akin to soliciting sex or sending him a nude out of the blue. Women seem to think that asking a man out is too forward, while I think it’s culturally backwards for the channel to only run in one direction.
The first time we were making out, and it was very clear things were heating up, she suddenly stopped me, put her bra and shirt back on, and just seconds before, I thought more clothes were coming off. Later, she told me she wanted to make sure I would stop when she asked me to, and she wanted to make sure if she was ever in a vulnerable position, I wouldn’t simply overpower her and keep going, unless that was what she wanted. How, I asked, was I supposed to know? She said if I knew her well enough, I would know, and that’s one of the reasons she stopped me, was because neither of us were at that point yet.
All of this is way past what I was going to write about this morning, but pertinent because last night I dreamed I was sitting in a coffee shoppe, drinking coffee with a woman I know only from Facebook. Sharply dressed, in a black outfit and her make up expertly done, for some reason I thought she was going to a job interview, or something work related. Florence and the Machine was playing in the background. We were talking about if snakes could survive in a zero gravity environment, or if catching prey would be too difficult.
“I’ve got to go,” she said, and putting her purse on the table, she pulled out a Glock, aimed it, and shot me in the chest.
People screamed, as I fell over backwards, and hit the floor. It felt like I had been kicked by a mule and the pain flared like a supernova.
She walked over to where I lay on the floor, pointed the gun, smoke still wafting from the barrel, at my head and said, “Don’t bring that up again, okay?” And fired.
As far as odd, and detailed, dreams go, this one went on for a while. It started with me talking to my girlfriend, and we were both excited about being at the beach for a week. She was pretty, blonde, great smile, and we were standing outside a nice restaurant waiting to be seated. The sun set in about half an hour, with hopes of getting a table on the patio. It was perfect.
Let’s call her Mary. In the dream no one said her name, or I don’t remember it, and so Mary sees a motorcycle parked near the restaurant and wants to take a photo of it. She walks over to the bike, and at that moment, the hostess steps up to speak to me, and her nametag reads, “Devvin” as her name, and underneath it someone has written, “by the sea”.
Devvin and I exchange greetings, I look over and see Mary talking to the guy that owns the bike, a tall, skinny, and long bearded man, she looks at me, looks away, then she gets on the bike with him, and they ride away.
I tell Devvin to hang on for a minute, walk over to where the bike was parked, and wait. I call Mary on her cell and there’s no answer. I send a text. Nothing. We’ve been dating a while, and this was our first real vacation together. A week at the beach during off season. But now she’s . . .? Gone?
After waiting a bit, I go back to the condo and wonder what to do next. Call the cops? No, she wasn’t kidnapped. I call again. No answer. But this is a dream that takes place in current time, so there’s one answer to every problem: social media.
I walk out to the beach, take a glorious photo of the sunset, post it on FB with the caption, “a fitting metaphor for today” and change my relationship status to “single”. It’s the most passive aggressive form of communication ever invented because you can get other people to do your dirty work for you, and the mutual friends of Mary and I quickly react to what’s happening, whatever that may actually be.
I get a call from her best friend who is freaked out. I tell the woman what happened, and she tells me I have to call the cops and report Mary as missing. If something goes wrong, and it might, then I was the last person she was with. What she says makes sense. If the biker kills her, then I’m left trying to explain her disappearance. I call the cops, they arrive, and tell me there’s nothing they can do, but get the video from the cameras around the restaurant, but they understand me making a report.
More calls, FB explodes with WTF, but no one has heard from Mary. I call the person who rented me the condo, tell him I want to check out, and he tells me this happens more than you’d think. A newlywed couple checked out after fifteen minutes when the bride bolted. She changed into her street clothes and walked away while her husband was in the bathroom. He tells me if he can rent the room the next day I will only be charged for that time, but if he can’t, I’m still on the hook for the entire period. I tell him to hold that thought. I might stay.
There are two suitcases, some clothes hung with care, and Mary’s purse. Truly, what are my responsibilities here? She’s left me, I think, and there’s no reason for me to pay for a condo just to keep her stuff, yet she made the decision to leave, so what do I do? I decide to spend the night drinking, and then drive home the next morning.
Three hours after all this has started, I get a call from Mary. Yes, she left me for a biker she had met and was overwhelmed by the moment, that was how she put it, and she left me. The problem was, and is, for her, is that he was meeting his group of friends in another town to take a tour of Florida. He’s got his stuff to carry on the bike, he’s sharing a room with a friend of his, who isn’t thrilled about either giving up his half of the room to Mary, or having to rent another room, and there’s little room for all of Mary’s stuff. She has no riding gear, and apparently her new found love has a history of picking up women on road trips that aren’t road savvy. Worse, she has no money because all her belongings are in the condo. I lie. I tell her I left right after she did, and I’m two hours out, on I-10, heading home, and I left her stuff beside the door of the condo where she could find it.
“In your suitcase.”
“Seems one of us will be.”
And she ends the call.
Mary finds herself in a hostile environment, and the group of riders tells her new love this is his issue to solve, and he can catch up with them. Mary freaks out and asks him to take her back to the condo, and he calls Uber to drive her back, and is done with her. Meanwhile, Mary is texting her friend to come get her, her friend is texting me to please go back and get Mary, it’s a five hour drive one way, and I’m kicked back on the balcony being a terrible person for dragging this out, and lying about it.
I go across the street to a store that sells mixed drinks to go and bring back a quart of Margheritas. I take Mary’s credit cards, all three of them, and call the numbers on the back and tell them I found them lying on the ground, and they kill off the cards. I also take her cash, and I make it look like someone went through her stuff. I sit in the hammock on the balcony and drink, and wait.
Mary calls in a couple of hours, she’s at the front door of the condo, and her stuff has been plundered, could I buy her a plane ticket home?
“Greyhound would be much cheaper,” I tell her.
“You want me to get on a damn bus?” Mary is furious. “Don’t be petty about this.
“You could always ride a bike.”
Her friend sends me a text, and tells me it’s going to take over a thousand bucks to get a plane ticket this soon, and would I please turn around and go get her? I tell her I’m nearly home now, an hour or so out, and if I go back, I’ll have to find some place to stay, and I’m sure as hell not spending the night with my ex. I recommend greyhound. A couple of hundred bucks and it’s a done deal. Mary gets an Uber ride to a bus pick up point and is on her way back home by midnight.
Okay, it wasn’t really this detailed, but the gist of the story was what I’ve written. Then the dream shifted into an even more surreal adventure.
Memory, in your brain, in the human brain, isn’t like memory in a computer. I once read we do not store memories at all, but store the scaffolding of it, and rely on external input to fill in the blanks. This doesn’t make sense at all, until you think about the number of times you’ve remembered the words to a song, but only after hearing the song on the radio. You couldn’t have written them down, but now the song is playing, you’re singing along just like you were a very long time ago.
Dreams are worse, in as far as remembering them goes, for they are not reality, sometimes not even based on reality, so there’s nothing there to grab to build on. They are here, somewhere, in your brain, then the dream is gone, and you cannot remember anything but how it made you feel.
I started getting up and writing down my dreams, back in the 1970’s, when I was in high school, and that helped me remember them. As is usual, the effort you’re willing to make to do something will define how well you do it. But most people ignore their dreams, consider them transient things that happen, and afterwards, only a vague unease exists.
Last night a dream began, ended, and as it was gone before any sort of writing could be done, I cast my line into the darkness trying to snag an image or feeling, or anything that night help. A house, in the darkness, lights on, and that was it. I knew who lived in the house, a woman I have not seen, literally, in decades, and right now I’m having trouble remembering anything about her at all. Wait, it’s the house she lived in with her husband and kids, and I want to say I know where the house is, but I cannot.
You would recognize the house where some character on television lived in, the rooms, the kitchen, but you know it’s a set, not a real structure, and in your mind there are places that actually exist but you’ve never seen them in their totality. Ever been in the kitchen of your favorite restaurant? Ever been on the roof? You go home with someone for the first time, you sleep in their bed, and leave the next morning, and if you see that person again, they show you their garden in the backyard, and it’s a surprise to see the rest of their living space, just as it was a surprise to see their body for the first time. Interesting tattoo you have there, why did you get a unicorn riding a unicycle?
But then the person is gone. This person you were once joined at the hips with has eased out of your life, and you’ve eased away from the backyard and bedroom, and now you are a memory, and so is that person. There was a fight over money or infidelity, or there was nothing there but heat to begin with. Or you were unable to keep from being weird. That happens.
Now, years later, something sets off the scaffolding and the memory is recreated, flawed and patchy, holes in the details which your mind dutifully fills in, and destroys the memory in doing so, but you still, even if you know this as a fact, accept the memory as whole.
We cling to the scaffolding of memory, not the memory itself. The memory doesn’t exist, it never has, and it never will. We accept this, unconsciously, subconsciously, for it is all we have ever known, literally. Dreams lack this, so we allow them to pass into the ether, and even though I suspect the two are closely related, we will declare one a crop, and the other a weed.
The house, the woman of decades ago, the memory of the past is an illusion created in my mind, and after I am done writing this, soon now, it will recede again, a coin flashing and reflecting as it sinks deeper and deeper, until forgotten.
I have repeating Dreamscapes. It’s the places where the dreams take place, a certain building or a town, maybe it all exists in real life, like your childhood home, or maybe it feels like home when you’re dreaming, but the setting is alien to you once you awaken.
The factory building is a massive thing, as big as a town, and it’s a hundred feet tall, at least. Inside there are catwalks and ladders, with no hint to what might have been built here at some time in the past. It’s a feline Dreamscape, with multiple levels, multiple ways of getting from one to the other, lots of chains hanging from the ceiling, and on the very bottom floor, it’s a maze of interconnected offices and rooms.
I was here twice before. Once someone was chasing me, and I dropped a bucket of burning gasoline down a ladder as he was coming up. There were several of us, and some people didn’t get out before the whole damn place burned down like the end of the world or something. It was so hot we were standing by the front gate, four hundred meters away, and could feel it.
The last time was vague, with a low speed car chase in the parking lot, with me against someone else, with both of us trying to kill one another. I have no idea who won, but I’m still alive. The parking lot, by the way, is enormous, like a surreal black plains with grass growing out of the cracks.
There’s a group of guys chasing me, but I’ve led them here. I know it by heart, and they are lost and getting more confused by the moment. I get them into the center of the factory, and then I hit the main breaker to kill off all the power. It’s as dark as a cave now, and until sunrise, they’re stuck where they are. (Yes, no one has a cell phone in the dream except me)
I took some videos of them planning to kill me and posted it on FB. They have no idea they’re already famous, but I still have to get away.
I walk out under the stars and it’s an incredible night. At the very edge of the parking lot is a drop off, maybe a couple of hundred feet, and I walk out to the edge. I can see the stars in the sky, billions of them, and out over the valley there are lights from homes twinkling as well. I forget about someone trying to kill me, but I look down, and there’s an abyss, and one more step and I would fall.
In the dream, it occurred to me that this is how people in real life view the concept of Death. They know it’s out there, and in a broad sense, it’s not really that frightening, and there’s a sort of peace to it. But then, on a personal level, when you look down and it’s right there, it’s scary.
I was in a bar, and the weird thing about the bar was how bright the sun was outside. It was like one of those washout photos where the exposure is so high there’s barely any images left, just outlines and shadows that barely exist. “This is a dream,” I said out loud and the bartender, a really cute young woman who was bored to tears looked up from her phone, as if the idea of conversation was repugnant to her. I finished the Scotch in the glass in front of me and thought, hell if this is a dream, at least I’m drinking the good stuff.
“I was kidnapped, once,” a man sits down beside me at the bar as starts talking, and why would you throw the word “once” in there, as if I might get confused over which time you were kidnapped. He’s shedding light, brilliant pieces of brightness fall off his clothing, like water might drip off someone caught in the rain. I look back towards the window and it’s brighter than it was before.
“There’s a trail in the forest of a national park close to where I live,” the man continues after waiting for me to ask, and I didn’t, “and this guy walks up to me and demands my wallet, and I handed it over. Then he handcuffs me and I knew he was going to kill me, I mean, why else would he take me? But you’d be surprised how much a gun effects your ability to resist. He leads me off the trail about fifteen minutes worth of walking and know it will be a while before anyone misses me, or looks for me.
“I’ll be back in three days, okay?” the man tells me as he handcuffs by hands, with this small tree at my back. With a hatchet and five minutes I could have cut it down, but there I am, sitting in the woods, handcuffed, with this tree there I can’t do a damn thing with.”
The waitress looks over at my empty glass and arches a brow so I nod. The man pays for my drink, gets a beer, and keeps talking.
“The first few hours were pretty bad,” he says, “because I kept thinking that guy would come back and shoot me. Then, after a while, I noticed that I couldn’t hear anything but birds and stuff, and I began to worry about bears, or maybe coyotes. I could stand up, move around the tree, and see that if I could have gotten up the truck about three feet, I might have been able to catch that first sizable with a foot, and pulled the tree over. That gave me something to do, but it wore me out and made me thirsty. I decided to wait a bit, and waiting was something I was going to do a lot of.”
A couple comes into the bar laughing and hanging onto one another, and shedding bits and pieces of light. The pain in the face of the waitress is obvious. She has better things to do than to wait tables in this sort of weather. But she sticks a smile on her face and goes over to the table where the young couple laughs while shaking the light off their clothes.
“Sundown was like watching the Titanic sink from a lifeboat.” The man says while watching the couple order. “I knew if I had a chance to die it would come in the darkness. It was kind of hot that day, and I hoped the coolness of the night would make the mosquitoes go away, but they still drifted in, in pairs and one at a time, just enough to mess with me. It wasn’t bad, not horrible, but still not good at all. The darkness killed my sense of time and not being able to see made me hallucinate things coming at me in the dark. Finally, I fell asleep, for a little while, but that made it worse; I had no idea what time it was at all.”
“Dawn came slow, like watching paint dry, and I listened carefully for the sound of voices. I knew better than to just start screaming my ass off, and thirst was already working on me. I peed on myself because I knew I would have to sooner or later, but it was in the middle of the afternoon before a bowel movement forced itself out. That’s when I started feeling screwed. There was no more water going into my system or food, and after one day, I was already feeling weaker and less sane. I tried to keep still and conserve my strength. There were times I stood up and looked around, but there were trees, and more trees, and I even tried to cut the trees down behind me with the chains of the handcuffs but it was more work than I could manage. Sundown came again with my wrists hurting like hell, my shoulders killing me, and thirst.”
“Glass of water, here,” he said to the waitress who had stopped playing on her phone and was eying the couple. I looked back over at them and they were leaning in, whispering, touching one another on the hands. The waitress and I grinned.
“Sundown felt like a death sentence,” the man said. “I knew I had a better chance of dying if even a small animal attacked me. I was getting weaker and knew it. Breakfast the day before seemed a long time away, and I wished I had drank more water before the hike than I did. My pack was still were that guy made me drop it, and I hoped someone would find it, but I knew no one would that night. By now, there should be a couple of people missing me, but no one knew where I was. I saw things that night. Bears and cats and a river of dogs flowed out of the total darkness to attack me. Maybe I screamed. Maybe I was just in and out and didn’t know what reality was anymore. I woke up after sunrise and had to fight to stand up. My shoulders were on fire and I felt my hands had swollen. The day was long, terribly long, infinitely long, and I got too weak to stand. I felt bugs crawling on me and couldn’t go anything about it. I hear voices, music, songs, but none of it sounded real. I was dying, and I knew it.”
“You need another?” the waitress asked and I nodded. The man got another beer and paid for it again. I lifted my glass as if in toast and he smiled.
“The third night I saw things,” the man continued, “it was like a Disney movie on acid. I knew this was what dying was like, and the pain didn’t seem as bad. But there were lights, people looking for me, helicopters, and as soon as I yelled it all went away and left me in the darkness. People found me, cut me loose, took me to a hospital, then I would come to and be chained to the tree. It was heartbreaking how real the visions were, and how horrible it was to be back in reality. I knew this was my mind’s way of trying to escape, but it was also a sign I was dying.”
I had to go, and almost said so, but it was so incredibly bright outside. The couple was looking out of the window and all I could see was their silhouettes.
“Sunrise came and I could barely see it,” the man said. “I was so incredibly thirsty. I remember looking up at the sky and praying a cloud would drop rain on me, or strike me with lightning, whatever. I just wanted it to end. Then there he was. The guy with the gun. He brought my pack with him, uncuffed me, and propped me up. He gave me a gallon of water and told me my cell phone was in my car. I drank water, puked, drank more water, and ate some energy bars. I couldn’t walk, but I managed to get to my car after about an hour, and called 911. I kept waiting to wake up and discover it was a dream. When the ambulance got there I knew I was going to wake up chained to that damn tree.”
I woke up. The man was there, and he uncuffed my hands. “Your cell phone is in your car.” He told me. “Here’s some water. I survived it and now you have, too.”