Dream Asylum

I don't pretend to understand them.


I dreamed that I was part of a gang on the Vine Hill elementary school campus. It was night-time, and school wasn't in session, but something else was. Parents and suburban cars milled about in the parking lot. We were superheroes, and in the lower playground we beat up a crew of evil aliens. I punched one repeatedly in the face. The parents cheered us as we trotted smugly across the parking lot.

Halfway to the exit ramp, I remembered that I could fly. It was one of my talents, something that the other superheroes didn't do. I thought about superpowers differently, and had figured out how to fly through simple experimentation. The others could learn how to do it if they trained, but they thought the ability was beyond them.

I ran very fast, jumped, straightened my arms and legs into a torpedo shape, and arched my back. The trick was to arch the back. I felt a slight pulling sensation, and began to ascend. Beyond the exit ramp of the school was a dark green valley, a blanket of dense, textured plants that grew in a repeating pattern like the rubber insulation in a cheap music studio. The rest of my heroic friends took a path arcing down the hillside. My father was in the lead. His hero form was the Horned Reaper, a character in a dungeon game I played last night after work. He took great strides with his cloven feet, stomping the bouncy turf.

I flew in a tight curve until I was facing my team, then went into a nose-dive. I was playing around. I ricocheted off the path just behind my Dad, then began to roll along with the group, making conversation. At the bottom of the path only myself and Carolyn's old Crown-Merrill apartment-mate Jon were left. I played a cruel joke on him, spraying him with water from my bottle, soaking his head.

The path became a set of stairs, ending in a rectangular living room. A couch was against the wall, facing a television next to a sliding glass door. Two strangers were sitting on the green shag carpet, watching the TV. A couple of sleeping bags on pads were nearby. One was mine, the other Jon's. I fell down next to mine, laughing uncontrollably at Jon and my funny joke. Jon was confused, and kept walking.

Fade out. Time passed.

The creepy evil police officer got his hand cut off in a fight. He walked through my Middle School campus and found a snack shop - a small wooden building with a fold-up panel and countertop, over which combestibles were sold by the snack lady. He dove over the edge of the counter, into the shop.

On the dirty tile floor he found a glass tank, like a fishbowl with a wrist-sized aperture. He filled it with water at the sink. He took his amputated left hand carefully from the folds of his black jacket, held it against his stump, and pushed it into the container. The neck of the vessel constricted, pinching at the place where his wrist met his hand, holding the hand in place. The pressure of the water increased. The man staggered and screamed, pressing the device to his stomach. Feathery snakes of blood swirled around in the fishbowl.

Cut. The fishbowl is gone, and the man stands upright. He has found the snack lady; she was hiding in a cupboard. She is pressed against the back wall, hands flat on the rough white paint, her head turned to face me. Her dark brown snack-lady lipstick is still in place, but her costume is disheveled - it is thrown up along her back, leaving her naked from the waist down.

She moans and pushes her backside out eagerly as the evil officer penetrates her. The man is grinning with all of his teeth, eyes vacant, his mind elsewhere planning his next evil deed as his body has rythmic sex with the snack lady. His left hand hangs idle at her waist, the nails long and blackened, the fingers bony. The repair procedure has corrupted his hand.

The snack-lady swears breathlessley that she is close to an orgasm. In a few short seconds her voice rises to a scream of pain ... and she explodes. Her pelvis splits from the center out, up to her spine, spraying the walls with gore, revealing the corpse of a parasitic monster. The rest of her body dissolves in blood, and the monster falls to the dirty tiles in a wet smack. It resembles a large knot of gristle and thin tentacles, attached by a stringy line to a huge blind eyeball. It had been nesting where the snack-lady's reproductive organs were.

The officer screams in surprise and disgust, and vaults over the counter and out of the snack shop, hitching up his blood-soaked pants. In a jerky haze of adrenalin he gains his feet and takes off up the cement pathway, trailing red footprints for the first thirty yards. "That was," he thinks to himself, "the most disturbing thing that's ever happened to me."

I saw him go, long enough to see that the look on his face wasn't going to change anytime soon. Until the dream faded I stayed hovering around the outside of the snack-shop, examining the blood footprints pensively.

Fade out. Time passed.

Carolyn and I were having a conversation outside my Scotts Valley house, standing next to the flowerboxes. The road was roughly paved, and irregularly joined with the driveway, setting the timeframe to the early 90's. I can't remember what we were talking about, but I do remember that a girl who was my next door neighbor was spying on us from the top of a tree on the other side of the property. We knew she was there, and she knew that we knew. We paused and waved to her. She put her binoculars aside and waved back. I couldn't figure out how she'd got up there.

Fade out. Time passed.

Carolyn and I had just finished a jog. We were standing in a large bathroom, floors partly carpeted. The bathtub was full of hot water. I shut off the lights, expressing the opinion that moonlight was more romantic. We both got in the tub. We talked, and after a while I got out again to take off my hiking boots. As I slid them off I remarked about how my socks were still dry, even though the boots had been completely submerged. Carolyn was impressed. I got back in the tub. Eventually the water got cold.

Fade out. Time passed.

I showed up for Rocky Practice. It was taking place in a large room, divided in half by a partition. The joining hallway was sloped, part of the administration building of my middle school.

I walked into the room. It was absolutely packed with people trying out for parts in Rocky and some other movie. Carolyn was sitting up against the wall on a desk, wearing a long, sheer dress made entirely of red velvet. I was impressed. I walked around the partition and saw a long line of recruits, standing at attention against the wall. All were wearing costumes approximating Riff-Raff, and Beth was walking up and down the line, wearing a dress in a different shade of red, with translucent sleeves and a plunging neckline. Her arms were cocked at her sides in a directorial stance, and she appeared to be studying the lineup carefully.

I quickly scanned the row, and realized that I didn't know anyone in it. Eszter wasn't even there. Most of the people were short-haired, subtly hungarian women, but none of them was Eszter. I walked around the partition again, to look for her there, and saw someone in a flashy princess costume sitting at a table dealing cards, reciting lines from the dinner scene of Rocky Horror mixed with something else. She was practicing for a part.

Chris tapped me on the shoulder. She was dressed in a sharp looking tuxedo. "There you are, dear, we've been looking all over for you!" she said. "Come with me, we need your help with something."

I followed her out into the hallway. She pointed up to the wall, where I saw two large wooden doors, like the front of a barn, latched shut. "Could you help us open those doors?" she said. It didn't look that hard to me. I was about to give it a try, but everything faded out.

Fade out. Time passed.

I was testing out a new keyboard for my computer. A huge spacebar, four-by-three inches, was placed above the arrow keys. There was no number-pad. The keys were all too flat and sticky. It was a terrible keyboard. I unplugged it and plugged my old one back in.

Fade out. Time passed.

I was sitting on the old green couch in the upstairs living room with my buddy Andy. On the other side of the couch sat my co-worker Pam and another office employee, Erik. They were having a conversation about working in the computer industry. Andy and I were talking about old jobs, and how much some of them sucked.

Andy declared that he was never going into a food service job again. I agreed, and started talking about how humiliating such jobs were. Pam stopped talking and listened to me, then started in with a comment of her own. She was sitting on the couch with her legs up, arms wrapped around her shins, like she does on her chair at work. She asked Andy to describe his situation, and Andy was almost in tears as he confessed his problems with finding a decent job and decent pay in Sacramento and Michigan. I commisserated with him, and realized that I could understand how he felt.

Then I woke up.