How My Stories Find Me
Yes, you read that right.
I was up at 5:00am, started a wash, and made a scrambled egg/spinach/salsa burrito pounded together with a mound of melted sharp cheddar cheese.
Then, I made the ultimate mistake.
Being the weekend, I stuffed a comforter into the washing machine and — shudder — returned to bed at 6:00am.
It felt as if I were lying on a wooden plank. I could hear water slushing against a hull.
A buzz of voices, but as of yet I couldn’t hear what they were saying. It sounded as if the people were talking all around me.
Why couldn’t I awaken?
Mumbles became words — conversations about work, children, and books.
“I wrote a book,” I said, as I tried to push my body into a sitting position without success. “It’s called Atto Run.”
“I’ll have to look it up,” A man’s voice said with a chuckle. The sound of a pen scratched on paper as I gave him my author name.
My eyes opened. There were windows, but they faced dank walls — until light hit my unprepared eyes and the gentle rocking of our transportation stopped. There might have been 10 people aboard, and I had been sleeping on a plank that could have seated 5 more.
The boat/ferry/transportation thingy looked something like this, only rickety and with windows. The exit was on the side, not the front:
Everyone walked off.
Everyone but me.
“Well?” The boat captain asked. “You gonna get off, too?”
Imagine you’ve awakened in an alternate universe. You walk out of a boat propelled from place to place — by god-only-knows what — inside a tunnel filled with water…and outside you find a sky that isn’t quite right.
Now…most people would have questioned why they were following 10 other people deeper into a place they’d never been.
I was muttering, “How am I going to sell my books here?”
Yes, it’s funny now. But not when you’re walking through a place you don’t know that looks like a Detroit slum…
…only it has windows, and each of the squares were filled with water, and the sky was a pinkish blue…
…but not this pretty.
So many conversations going on around me! Yet everyone calmly walked through this travesty as if they were strolling around an outlet mall.
It was at that moment I noticed something that should have been obvious when I’d walked off the transportation thingy. All of the people were an orangish–pink–beige, about 6 feet tall, and skinny.
You have just crossed over into…
I stopped near the front of a building, watching people wander in and out, while I considered my options.
- What if I were stuck here?
- How long would I last before I was lunch?
- Where was my home — or possibly — when had my home existed?
Four of the residents began playing a strange game, sort of like an attempt at jai-alai mangled by uncoordinated people.
The ball kept dropping; one person picked it up and asked, “Would you like to play?”
I’m a master at being uncoordinated, so I thought, This is my kind of game.
How exhilarating! I was the only one able to catch a ball moving so slowly a turtle would have no problem intercepting.
A man wearing something that looked like a stethoscope walked up to me and asked, “Would you like to play professionally?”
This place may have looked real, felt real, and smelled like a sewer, but at that moment I should have known I was in dream world.
“Follow me,” he said.
The building’s interior didn’t look much different than the outside; brownish, unpainted, no carpet or tiling. More like an abandoned warehouse than an apartment complex.
In the center, a ring of people attempted to play the game that loosely resembled jai-alai. Their arms reminded me of rubber hoses flailing around when the water is on, and I have to tell you, it wasn’t a pretty sight. I dared not laugh when everyone else acted like they were watching the best soccor match of their lives.
I was sent into the game and, as the only one able to actually catch the ball half the time, there were cheers all around me. I couldn’t understand how they determined when the game was over, assuming it had ended when everyone left and my new “friend” seemed to be very happy.
“It is time for rest,” he said. “Follow me to my home.”
At this point, I wondered, “Am I’m going to be a pet, a housekeeper, or…something else?”
We walked to a door that opened into a room the size of a hotel convention center. At the farthest point away from us were large windows facing north. On the east and west walls were — side by side — toilet/seat, deep shelf, toilet/seat, deep shelf — in a row of at least 20 on one side and 20 on the other. In between, was enough space to build 10 open rooms on the east and west sides. A common area in the middle could have contained enough couches and chairs for 30 people.
My new friend asked, “Why does your mouth move when you speak?”
That is the moment I understood an important aspect of this dream world experience I’d overlooked: Not one person in this wretched place had moved their mouths when they spoke.
My new friend curled up on his personal shelf like a cat, and I asked, “Where am I supposed to sleep?”
Between the wall and the doorway was an open area on the hard floor. Too tired to care that I was suddenly wearing a full length down jacket with a fur-lined hood, I stretched out on the floor….
…and everything became black.
The moment I fell asleep in dream world, I awoke in my bed, and next to me was Karma.
Yes. That’s her name. It just seemed to…fit.