Ethan Marcotte now blogs at Unstoppable Robot Ninja.

Weblog entry:

Dream journal, day #10754

I opened my eyes and I was on a peaceful city block, like you might find in the quieter parts of Brooklyn or (if you knew where to look) South Boston. The street was wide and full of people, and was lined with small shops and apartment buildings. In the street, children played, danced, laughed; from the wide stoops of their homes, parents watched, visited with each other, and bounced younger daughters on one knee. Off to the left of where I stood, maybe a quarter mile or so, the road forked; the two smaller streets (two branches, really…or those things on a fork—splines?) flanked a little inlet of oak trees and park benches, and it looked so inviting I thought I’d make my way over, maybe sit for a spell.

Off to the right, a small white car appeared. Though it wasn’t moving quickly, it was rolling forward with that dream-only kind of malice: it was the only car visible on the street for miles, and it was moving slowly, ominously. I yelled at the children to move, to shift to the sides of the street, to just let it pass, but they couldn’t hear me, or didn’t want to. Instead, they laughed, they danced, they shook their bones, and the white car moved closer.

Thirty yards away or so, the car sped up, and suddenly everyone on my dream-block became as bone-coldly aware of the car as I was. They ran in every direction but the right ones, and the air in the street became filled with panic. I grabbed one child who wasn’t quick enough to get out of the way, and yelled at a few more to move. The small white car made its way through the now empty street, and I could see that there were three people in the car—kids, really. They couldn’t have been more than fourteen, but they were dressed to intimidate: parents shouted at them from their homes, calling them thugs as they drove past.

I yelled as well, and it was then that the car stopped. One thug-child leaned out the window, and I could see that he had a gun in his hand: the street, empty a second before, was again full with children, parents running. This time, I ran as well—as I looked over my shoulder, I could see that the small white car was backing up, back toward the crowd, back toward me, and the child began to fire as they did so. The claps of the gun were loud, slow, and everything seemed to move as through gauze. I felt a dull pressure at the small of my back, and I fell to the ground. I stood up, and everyone was gone: car, crowd, buildings. It was just myself and the gunman (gunchild?) standing in the middle of the street, and the only noise I could hear was the wind blowing through the oak trees in the park off to the distance. The gunman (gunchild?) pointed his gun at me, and motioned for me to start walking. I nodded.

And then I blinked.

When my eyes opened again, my captor and I were surrounded by brownstones and poplars. I recognized the office buildings around us as the corporate park where my old studio had been located, though if I’d been awake I would have told myself that this wasn’t actually true. Still, it was familiar to my dream, so we walked. And as we walked side-by-side, my little capturer told me about a street called Walden, a street that had been dear to him and his friends in the white car, and how it had been taken from them by the dancing children some time ago. I nodded, keeping my hand pressed to the small of my back, and we walked on through the cobbled alleyways.

We rounded a corner, and I recognized the building as the one I’d worked in so long ago (though again, not really). We were, as it turned out, on Walden, and it felt so very appropriate for me to grab the door of my old office building. I offered to let my escort go first, and he did so, gun now slack at his side.

As we walked up the stairs, I told the gunman (gunchild?) stories of my old job: workplace crushes, drinking stories, friends long since gone and mistakes best forgotten. I remembered how much I’d loved, adored that job, and how each day was something I’d once anticipated, and now missed. He listened to me without replying, as I did to his own stories, and we walked up story after story as I told more of the same. Then, on the sixth floor, we were in front of my old office; I looked at the entrance for a moment, took a slow breath, and put my hand on the door.

Then I woke up.


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