On Monday I was walking home with Paulette and Kim-chi. The rainy season decided to show itself with an unprecedented downpour and only Paulette had thought to bring a tiny umbrella. Kim and I were soaked through by the time we reached our respective apartments; the umbrella was only big enough for 1.5 people and walking lopsided to keep my head covered got old pretty fast.
After shedding my wet clothes and taking care of the rabbit I visited Apple's movie preview page to catch up on the movies I wouldn't be seeing within the next couple of years. I think that had a lot to do with what happened when I took a nap. I woke up with a pounding heart, but smiling at the complete absurdity of my dream.
At risk of overusing the word suddenly, I’ll simply remind you beforehand that dreams are like Looney Toons—I can suddenly be somewhere else or grab a club off the ground with which to smash others into waddling pancakes. I also switched back and forth between a sense of retrospect (past tense) and immediacy (present tense) and have recounted one of the strangest dreams I’ve ever had.
At first I was running around an office building with three Kameoka JETs (Paulette, Kim-Chi, Margaret), Hannah and Gillian. It was morning and we were barely going to make it to our desks in time for the morning meeting. We worked on one of the top floors, but it seemed as though as soon as we reached the top we'd forget something and have to go back down. Both Paulette and Margaret would become very irritated and invariably push a wrong button in their haste, further delaying our progress. Then they would snap at us and each other, making claims such as, "If you hadn't eaten breakfast like a hippo, we wouldn't be in this mess!" and "Well, if you would just let me talk to the Japanese people and ask them what floor we're going to, we could get the right button."
The last time we went back up it was raining and we had all ridden our mountain bikes to work. We struggled to make room for the businessmen and women who crowded onto the elevator with us, holding our bikes vertically and trying not to touch anyone else with the muddy tires.
When the elevator finally opened we all rushed off, afraid of making it to our desks after the morning bell tones sounded. Of course we were on the wrong floor. Paulette and I had been at the front of the herd shoved out of the elevator, and so were the last to turn around. The elevator had changed into a platform that simply rose from the ground and carried its load upwards. Those wanting to use it froze in place, hoping that when the floor rose we would be standing in the right spot. Paulette and I weren’t, and we watched in dismay as our smug companions were lifted into the air by a black marble column. Paulette called them jerks and threw her bicycle. I was more focused on bribing someone to tell me the secret of how to make sure I was in the right spot to get on the elevator. Then I would leave everyone behind in sweet revenge.
I was at home with my family. I had two sisters and a neighbor who was best friends with my younger sister. We were all vaguely olive-skinned and had 1940’s pageboy haircuts. Woody Harrelson was my dad.
Our house was an old, rustic split-level in the country. The street in front of our house was a highway, which meant plenty of traffic, but we were surrounded by thick green forested hills. Our front door was a flimsy, faded, blue piece of driftwood that was hinged like a saloon door.
My younger sister and I went to find our mother. We scampered up the road to an area cleared for glass Frank Lloyd Wright-esque buildings built into the sides of the mountains. Due to the recent rain and humidity the parking lots and sidewalks were conquered completely by grass and other short ground covers. The sky was gray and the air humid, and my sister and I knew that it would rain soon.
In front of one of the houses dangled a long wire with a handle attached. We suddenly weren’t sure how to get up to that tree house where our mother was, and had to pause and think for a moment what Mom had told us.
My sister recalled the advice before I did: Pull on the handle and BOOM! You’re fired up! She grasped the handle and pulled. I watched her take off like a rocket, flames shooting from her feet while the wire guided her path into the faraway tree house. I followed suit to find my mother ushering out some shady-looking guests in dark trench coats. I knew that they were either mafia, vampires, or both.
As my mother, sister and I ran back home it began to pour. I knew that an apocalyptic flood was coming, but didn’t have the breath to say anything about it. I figured that my family knew. My sister and I both realized that before the end of the world we had to go back to the tree house and be super sneaky to get something from upstairs.
We go back to the family house and discover that the earth is flooding. Peeking over our driftwood door we can see that waves are overturning cars in the street and people are running wild. The youngest of my sisters runs out to get something and I am unable to stop her before she is out of sight. I just know that we need to reinforce our front door because people will start turning into zombies and come to eat the survivors. Everyone else wanders away from the door, seemingly unconcerned with our impending doom.
Sister comes back. I can tell straight off she's a zombie because she's moving a little lopsidedly and one of her eyes keeps drifting. The family is confused, so I throw an empty plastic laundry basket at her. She flinches when it hits her shoulder, looking a little hurt, but doesn’t say anything. The family reprimands me for being mean, but I know that it's really just her zombie-brain that can't process objects hurtling towards her head.
I yell that I’m getting out of there, that she’s a zombie and they’ll all get infected if they let her stay any longer. I run out the back door and see my sister looking confused and sad; my family took my advice to heart and drove her out of the house. They waited too long, though, and will soon be zombies themselves. I sprint past before she notices me and run around the neighbor's house.
I head back out to the tree house. I skirt the people wandering the streets, zombies and otherwise. My sense of self-preservation is strong, and I know that the tree house will be my last fortress when I have to defend myself against an army of zombies, like the Swiss Family Robinson against the pirates.
No one's around, but then it's night, raining cats and dogs, and even in my dreams I recognize that I’ve seen this kind of scenery in a Donkey Kong video game. The pulley to swing me straight into the tree house is either broken or would swing me straight into the claws of a harpy. I have to navigate through a series of pulleys and metal railing/scaffolding no wider than one of my feet. The railing zigzags against the cliffs that surround the cove, and across the crescent-shaped area I see the tree house. It's at the top of a tree on the tallest cliff, perilously placed and possibly filled with harpies. There is a dark pool of water beneath the scaffolding, unwelcoming despite its brilliant blue color.
In utter frustration I turn my face to the sky and scream, “God, how am I supposed to fight harpies without FIRE?!?”
I know that I will likely perish before I get to the tree house, but I must die trying.
The harpies are green, copper-haired women with beaklike noses and blue, watery dresses. They hover in designated areas and wait for travelers to cross their paths. I know that they’ll follow me as far as they can, but if I keep moving they’ll eventually give up and go back to their original patrol zone. They are moderately slow and have very little capability for direction control, but if they touch me I’m done for.
I charge towards the first harpy, using a rope to swing around her as she flies towards me, claws extended. Unfortunately my monkey tactics put me between two more harpies, who sound the alarm with banshee cries. I jump for the railing above me, heart pounding, and feel harpy claws brush the bottom of my jeans. Abandoning the metal bar I swing forward and grab another rope, barely skimming the water as I swing slowly, too slowly towards the final scaffolding in front of the tree house. A harpy waits in the shadows of the scaffolding (it’s daytime) so I grab onto another rope and swing back over the cove, narrowly avoiding another flying body.
A cold wave runs down my spine when I realize that the flying thing I almost hit wasn’t green at all, and had brown hair like mine. I look back.
It’s my youngest sister. Zombie.
She sees me looking at her and grins like a Cheshire cat. “You know you can’t escape,” she says in that creepy child’s voice reserved for horror films.
My sister floats around me while I switch ropes again, desperately trying to build up speed and avoid the harpies. I realize that she’s toying with me; she can fly much faster and isn’t bound to any specific areas like the harpies. Her best friend, that neighbor girl, is also drifting lazily towards me.
“You’re going to die,” my sister says, her tone cajoling. “The harpies will get you, or I will, and if you fall into the pool Claris will take your soul.”
I say nothing, adrenaline pounding in my body, and switch ropes again. I swing back towards the tree house, almost high enough to clear the scaffolding, but see three harpies circling. One leaves her post to screech after me, ready to tear me from the rope. My arms are tired.
The rope pulls me in a different direction than I expected, straight towards my sister. She opens her arms and waits. I feel my eyes widen and a sense of hopelessness overcomes me. Must I choose from three deaths?
“If you fall in the pool and try to breathe before five minutes are up, Claris will have your soul,” my sister reminds me. “And if you fall now (I’m over a shallow part, no deeper than my knees) you’ll crush your bones and I’ll have you anyways.”
Her friend makes a disgruntled squeal.
My sister turns her head to snap, “I’ll share with you, idiot,” and I use the distraction to leap for the last rope I’ll ever touch. My sister screams in outrage, swooping after me with an open mouth and clutching fingers extended. I’ve lost a lot of height and velocity and so am in prime location for the cluster of harpies at the other end of the pool to tear into me. Releasing one final sob I choose my death and let go of the rope, falling into the pool.
Claris is a bodiless liquid evil, a Nereid witch who collects souls and feeds the bodies of her bloated, drowned victims to her flying sycophants. I have only time to spread my limbs in preparation for a frenzied swim for the surface before I see her awaken. Large white eyes fix on me from the pool’s sapphire depths and I am frozen, encased in a thick glass or plastic that blocks my nose and throat.
Don’t breathe, I think.
Claris chuckles in an ethereal alto, swirling around me. “You can’t escape. Breathe, it’s easier. Breathe.” Her voice is intoxicating, soothing. My eyes close for a moment, but if I fall asleep I'll inhale.
If I can hold out for five minutes at least she won’t have my soul. From outside my body I can see that my grave is yellowed, thick and veined. It looks like the egg of some alien bug, growing from the bottom of the pond.
“Breathe,” Claris coaxes.
Edward Cullen is looking for me in a hospital. In my state of limbo (I think I’m waiting to be rescued from Claris’ clutches) I recognize him from my mother’s tree house. He looks tired and is unshaved, and resembles Clive Owen in Shoot ‘Em Up more than Stephanie Meyer likely imagined. Even in limbo I am shocked that such a personally disdained pop culture icon is intruding on my existence, and resent the hopeful feeling that he’ll figure out where I am and get me out of the glass/plastic death case. At least my soul is my own.
The vampire and a nun are standing next to a window in a softly lit room filled with orphaned babies. I think it’s obvious that as a fully grown woman I wouldn’t be there, but I get the impression that Mr. Cullen is growing desperate in his search.
“We haven’t seen anything like that,” the nun says apologetically. There was a family with three girls living a few houses up the road, but they’re all gone now.”
I want to scream that it was my house and my family, and the vampire should look for me there. He'll find clues, follow me to the cove, and get me out of the pool.
“Are there hospitals that serve adult survivors, Sister?” Mr. Cullen asks.
The nun is about to answer when a battery-operated 1980’s radio sounds from the table. Edward Cullen looks at it with disgust.
“Is that your family?” the nun asks sympathetically.
“The radio is my family,” he responds, and sits down in a chair. The nun goes to the other room to give him some privacy. She doesn’t realize that he’s telling the truth—the radio is a transportation device for his vampire family. They are using the radio to transport themselves from Italy, and although Edward doesn’t like it, he needs their help.
To release his family the vampire opens a bag of Chex Mix that was sitting on the table and dumps the contents onto the floor. The Chex are puffy and triangular, about the size of my palm. Within a minute or two the puffed rice cereal snacks will morph into trench coat-wearing vampires. Edward picks up a chocolate Chex and puts it in his mouth while I think-shout, NO! at him. He doesn’t close his mouth and takes the Chex back out, licking it once. I breathe a sigh. Edward watches the snack mix on the floor for a few seconds, looks at the Chex in his hand, then puts it back in his mouth.
I wake up.