I’m in clearing in the middle of a rolling thick forest. It’s dark. A fairly large community of people started living here ever since a Black Magician put a spell over the land. We live in trailers and eat whatever we can scavenge. There is a political science club that holds classes on political theory — I am in this club — and we are currently studying for a national test that will award a monetary scholarship to those who score in the top 5 percent. I couldn’t care less, but I’m still kept up at night trying to solve annoying practice test questions. The teachers of this preparatory class are my former high school professors — I know they don’t like me very much.
Life in the forest has a very cinematic quality to it. Everything feels predetermined, as if at any moment someone much larger will hit an otherworldly fast-forward or rewind button. Tension is running high through the community. Word is out that the Black Magician will be up to something particularly sinister this evening (and this is the night before the big test on political theory!).
The ground begins to tremble and the surrounding trees are swaying frantically, though the sky is nursing no wind. Over the treetops an enormous glowing purple mountain begins to amass . . . no, not a mountain . . . . It has eyes! And a dreadfully large mouth lined with razor-sharp teeth! A giant beast is approaching! It’s body is a bit translucent through a hazy purple hue, with stout arms and legs protruding from its robust round figure.
As it enters the clearing I can see that it is at least thirty trees tall. Almost immediately it explodes into hundreds of large jelly balls . . . and then those balls explode into thousands of smaller one. This multiplication of itself happens about four more times until the earth is covered in millions of balls the size of a human hand. Deep dimples form in the balls, two of which fill in with mean glaring eyes, and one which hollows out into a sharp hungry hole. I have a gun that shoots lightening. I take aim and fire, but my weapon is useless against the ravished jelly beasts. My childhood friend (Joe) drive up in a cardboard bus. He is going to save the day (or at least that is the sentiment that his arrival elicits). About thirty people dressed in white assemble against side of the bus — they form a wall, three people high, standing on top of each others’ shoulders. Suddenly a massive saw blade begins slicing through the bus, and it passes smoothly through the bodies of the people whose white clothes are now red with blood. They collapse into a withering pile of limbs and heads. The monsters are hypnotized by the spectacle, and quickly begin to gorge themselves on the human offering. After being hypnotized, myself, for a few moments over the feasting monsters, I make my way to a quite trailer at the edge of the village. I have to inquire about a particularly difficult question that I’m nervous is going to be on the test in the morning.
Freakin’ test! Do I really need to take it? I hate these kinds of tests!
I’m in a junkyard filled with smashed up cars. The world is set in a deep blue cast. The crushed cars are arranged as a labyrinth — the walls, six high. I am wondering through this maze and a woman, a college crush of mine, is following me. I’m annoyed by her presence. She never cared for me. Why the hell is she following me around? She flirting with me and I want her to stop.
I catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection of one of the cars. Do I have a second nose? What’s going on here!?
No, it’s not a nose, it’s some kind of bump or pimple to the left of my nose. And it’s growing. It isn’t painful, but it is hideous. When I squeeze it nothing happens. Every time I see my reflection I shutter. Will this thing ever go away? Or is it new and here to stay? It has now exceeded the size of my nose, and it’s expansion is showing no sign of stopping. Should I cut it off? . . . or learn to like it?
And why . . . why is this girl following me?
I’m in Texas, but this Texas isn’t landlocked. There is a sea that floods in at high tide and renders travel impossible. I’m traveling, trying to find my way to . . . wait!? To Where? Where am I going?
Through hitchhiking I’ve made it to a strange roadhouse. It’s nestled between two short brown dusty mountains, but high up, and I have view that extends 100s of miles into the desert. I don’t have a lot of time here — the tide is coming in, and when it does I will be stuck here for days, maybe weeks. I decide to make a call to my mother. A familiar voice answers the phone, but it isn’t her. I must have dialed the wrong number, but I can’t just hang up — I know this person. I have to figure out who it is without tipping them off that I unintentionally called them. I ramble uncomfortably about nothing for a few minutes. . . .
Got it! It’s Kirsten. I know her, but haven’t spoken with her in years. Shit! Now is not the time to catch up. I need to get out of here — I have to find a way to make this short. She then tells me it’s her birthday and is upset cause no one (other than me) has called her. The tide is coming. I’m stuck. I’m staying. I’m listening. The flooded mountains do look magnificent — but I left my camera in the trunk of the last ride I caught.
I am standing on the utmost peak of a jagged mountain. It is a moonless, pitch black night. The lightening flashing around me is the only source of light. My naked body is hunched over a pale rock. I am sweating, muttering words in a language I don’t know . . . words that come to me as if whispered by a worm inside my skull. They have a ghastly power, and the world around me changes as I untangle the invidious words from my stern lips. The wind begins to rip through the pulsating darkness like an estranged uninvited guest. And I see, in the frantic flickering light, the mountains grow and topple, the vast cracked desert expand endlessly, the dark seas come rushing in. All on my whim. All on my whim!
I am alone in this world — it is me, and I am it.
But wait! What’s this? Something is happening to my body! I am undergoing a metamorphosis. I twitch against the pale dank rock. My fingers and arms elongate to my knees, my eyes sink into my hallow skull. Ribs sharpened, stomach turned in. My skin, a pasty blue.
And when all this horror has ceased I see that my testicles have dropped and become like flat stone tablets. But they are spongy, dense, and soft, still connected to my groin by a long thick pinkish tube. Though they are heavy, I can lift them with my long crooked arms. On the tablets are more words . . . more terrible words I don’t understand.
Dreams are barely linear. How can I describe how we talked of Elbe, its desolate carved mountainous contours with only a train station running through. Even then I was walking in a plot of weedy land, seeing it for its potential, thinking of composting inside the abandoned race car seat hulk. Big skunk cabbage leaves everywhere. I wandered in this solitude; sheered off by entering the house to hear her crying for me. She crawled and hung by her fingers from the red tool-chest with stickers. Then she was the size of a fist and cradled in a small hammock. The baby in fever beside me; in the dream I turned off the hot spray of air and a cold shower dripped onto her wet face. I lay there in a naked embrace with the trio of our generation, for her father had joined us. The lights came on as the bikers returned. Carl, Lars, and a third black-clothed carabiner-wearing crew member were in the room. Lars was finally ready to talk.
He took me somewhere and said.
“Someone suggested I write this down, so I did.”
He had a black and white composition notebook from which he read, “When I got there he was covered in blood and was flushing the face down the toilet.”
I stopped him there. “Was there a body?”
Lars sort of froze, expecting the words to speak for themselves, without question.
I wonder now, did I get off the train in Elbe once, and walk the brown soil, brown facade of a town, emptied of its old mining families; like a dusty set of “Bride comes to Yellow Sky.” All I can picture is a combination of images accrued from reading about burnt firestorm scenery North of Berkley, and from the hills of Seattle seen from a plane. And why would Lars hide something so awful? I did not sit and listen to what he had written unfortunately, and since I was dreaming, I will never know the content of that book, nor what face was flushed away.
I look to the right outside the passenger-side window into a blue crystalline cove of water with clay formations holding sparkling pools. I say nothing, but I too am amazed at what we found right near us. To the left is a huge tuft of brownish grasses and the air is vast in the landscape. I feel a palpable hope. We are cresting a hill in a car. We have escaped into a paradise. J is smiling. The sky is a vivid blue and everywhere I look is a sparkling water, or a formation of clay. We are walking now. There is a large conch-shell shaped formation that juts up on one side It has huge loopy openings. I hear a familiar photographer’s voice saying a technical term from photography. I float up to get a different angle. Looking down the long dusty road we came from in the distance, I think I make out a white bus coming. Then I see colors in the dust which are people everywhere, and up in the high clay cliffs, people running in Jalibiyas and turbans all coming for us. Some are carrying vendor boxes. We head back. We sort of run too…Its exciting. A short wet headed man looks up at us. He has skin the color of a muddy river, and he is wearing a nightdress or a Jalabiya.” Happy New Year!” J says. We are making a run for it. I don’t know why we are scared.
We push through double doors and are in a subway corridor. J slides in to sit at a bench near restaurants. Two large African American men in glossy eighties Baseball jackets are sitting in front of us but I don’t look at them. I am looking at the food. I noticed some enormous grilled scallops. You are upset about something irritating your mom did. I sort of tune you out and listen to the people around us.
Children are complaining about their orders. “Smaller shizzazz stew.” A boy said in a bored voice and sends his bowl of goulash back. A doe-eyed girl has a chunk of lard with black things in it on her right shoulder. As we talk J says he has to go set up for the hootu ritual. Says he will do just about anything for Lars. This doesn’t make much sense, being that my brother Lars doesn’t do rituals that I know of.
I recall that we were home, I wondered if I smelled like sex. I was dressed and ready for work and thinking I might not go. Still, I went to work at school on a Wednesday, even though I didn’t work on Wednesdays. I had gone into an office where my old principal was sitting in a roly-chair. I was stapling my credit card readout like one does in waiting tables at the end of the night. I asked her for the tape and began to put it back in the drawer until I realized it had been to the right of the computer keyboard before. I felt as though she was disappointed and shamed me. “Its wednesday, I didn’t have to come to work.” I said, in my defense. “I was surprised to see you.” she replied. Earlier I had sat in the back of a class, broken up a fight even. In the classroom, I had asked a question about having a cultural day. I was braiding a left chunk of my hair as I spoke, and forgot my question, so I asked about hair braiding. I wanted to know if we could all braid our hair like Dion. I could see the students in front of me. I could feel my blond hair in my fingers. It was an awkward question toward the end of class. I could tell the teacher did not appreciate the distracted opening into chaos. A few rows up, a girl I haven’t seen in more than fifteen years was saying she would like to have her hair braided too.
When I left the classroom, I entered a place of smooth dark glossy over-buffed floors and brick walls. I saw that under a ladder, a box of wine had broken. A few Latina women tittered about the spill. I smiled even though the specific funny word that raised her eyebrows meant nothing to me. There was a cleaning up and everything seemed cleared away and pushed back to reveal space. It all had to do with a man with a forgettable name.
In my dream I’m telling someone about the dream I just had: from a bird’s eye perspective I see a row of houses on an elongated island in a river. I know I’m in Vienna, Austria. I’m smoothly flying or rather gliding by the houses and over the water. I can see that one of the houses is in fact a stage-like building on the water with a huge advertisement for a German electronics supplier. I continue my air glide towards the mountains in front of me, everything looks extremely 3D and feels intense. I suddenly am in a room where everything, floor, ceiling and walls, are made from dark mirroring material. In the middle of the room stands an opulently decorated Christmas tree.
As I’m telling the person all about the dream (the 3D effect and details) and come to the point, “…and in the middle of the room…,” he/she ends the sentence “…stood a Christmas tree.” I’m highly excited that the person has had the same dream, but then someone tells me that they put psychedelic mushrooms in the cookies I had eaten before. I’m extremely disappointing and angry that the wonderful feeling of gliding and the 3D effect didn’t come from deep inside me, and that I didn’t have the precious experience of a shared dream, but that someone just drugged me and injected the pictures. ☆
I’m now in a squatted house in Berlin with a friend. There’s some other people and we are waiting for a concert. There’s several rooms and empty door frames, lots of couches everywhere. We wander around and look for a good place to stand and see the band. But we can’t find the stage. I feel like I’m in a labyrinth. ☆
There’s a lush landscape with a weirdly shaped long basin which doesn’t look natural. Steps go down to where at first there is impressively green grass I can see from above. I’m now in the basin and it’s flooded with grayish water. Pieces of wood and furniture and boats float in the water. ☆
I’m now in a medical practice (perhaps I entered via footbridge from the flooded basin) and lying on a cot. I’m not wearing pants so I guess I’m waiting for a gynecological examination. I don’t like the male doctor from the beginning. As I’m lying there half-naked I can see that he didn’t close the door and people who walk by could see me. I’m angry because my privacy is invaded and the doctor doesn’t care. I want to complain about his behavior and try to find someone in charge. ☆
There’s broken bits of glass everywhere and a lot of it in my pants and underwear. I desperately try to remove them and not cut myself. ☆
(One night later) I’m confined in my grandparent’s house, someone who wants to harm me is inside too, and I freak out smashing the windows, screaming and shouting desperately. There’s broken glass all over the floor again. ☆
I’m in a foreign town that I am familiar with. There are occasional giant pools of water in the streets, perhaps from flooding. A man I don’t trust is seeking out my advice regarding the town. I offer him a small amount of information and try to exit the situation; but somehow I end up in a room with him and a few others. They want to know things about the underbelly of the town, but I clamp up more and eventually leave.
I’m walking home through the wet, busy streets. It’s taking a long time. The man bikes by, and I hide from his sight. There is word of a school up on a hill that is offering a language class I want to take. I climb the mountainous hill with a female friend (whom I don’t remember), and the “school” comes into sight. It is a massive ark, bigger than I have ever seen before in my life — I can’t even hold a view of the whole thing from one position. It is enclosed in black steel beams and glass; and a vast, complicated network of tubes is how people enter and move throughout it.
I’m in the ship, it looks like someone’s house that I know but I can’t remember who. There are books everywhere, but they’re old and they don’t seem to have the language book I want. I take my leave and start back down the mountain again. This is a long hike home and I do it everyday. I contemplate the ark-school for a while and realize it is so massive and stationed high on the hill in preparation for the flood the that will surely come and wipe us out one day. ♨