Highly elemental dreams: Water, water everywhere…
The greenhouse was elevated on metal posts. Water appeared (seemingly out of thin air) and coalesced around the posts, forming large stalks of vertical rivers. The greenhouse uprooted itself and took off to unknown terrain.
At the edge of the ocean, I can see a strange island in the distance. The humans are performing fantastic and dangerous feats. I want to play with them over there. At the moment, I am simply wading in the warm waters.
I talk to my brothers while I assemble pieces of enchanted jewelry. One of them will hide the alien sphere I found. In the meantime, I’ll be disguising it as an elaborate bead.
Raven came to me. He talks in visions and movements rather than caws and calls. This time he was a giant. She tried to take him with her to school. I didn’t warn her against it, despite an unsettling feeling that increased throughout the day. That Raven died that day. The story was told to me as a flashback, triggered by the sight of a radiant, warped, amber full moon in the Autumn night sky. Through the sheer veil of clouds, a young Raven emerged. He flew through the open window of a nearby parked car and took a seat in the back on the passenger’s side. Looking at me through the glass, I felt the connection to him, like a family member that had returned from their travels. I got in the car beside the one in which he sat. We left the lot as the Raven flew from the car towards ours. Before we could get down the street, we all heard a thud. My first thought was that we had hit my Raven brother. I jumped out of the car, sweaty with panic. Relief washed over me as I saw him standing on the street close to the rock that had left the dent in the car. He obviously stopped the car, and he obviously did not want me traveling with these people. I heeded his silent warning, and excused myself, saying I would walk home. Raven followed; I am under his watchful eye.
My average days are becoming thick with the Wyrd.
While cooking, he showed me his hand. A line of paler, still tender flesh ran vertically across the palm, not so unlike the Fate Line in palmistry. This is the mark he received several nights prior after wrapping his hand around a handle of a hot cast-iron skillet. One that I had unintentionally heated while preparing for baking. I heard him talk about the pans, and I saw him approach the counter. My mind shouted “Don’t touch!” while my mouth lagged behind the message. He burned himself due to my lack of intervention. He forgives graciously, but forgetting is not an option.
“That mark will probably be permanent,” he says.
I furrow my brow in disappointment in myself and in beseechment of forgiveness from him once again.
He shrugged and smiled. “Now I get to say that this mark is from the Witch I live with that scarred me for life.”
Silent laughter erupted as we both nodded and exchanged knowing looks. “It’s true,” we both agreed.
And then I said: “Witches tend to do that, y’know…”
We ascended the majestic staircase side-by-side; it was important for our ascendance to be just that way. Neither could attempt to lead or follow. When one rushed forward or fell back, the staircase flattened and stretched, becoming a conveyor belt that sent us backward.
So we walked together, talking and enjoying each other’s company. The air grew thin and the visuals danced like stop-motion oil paintings. Agape we pressed onward: Up, Up and Away.
Delivered to one of my more natural psychological states (buoyantly floating under the indigo expanse), I found myself again in the graces of the Goddesses. My vision of the world around me rolled with the gentle waves that cradled the nondescript vessel that held my body. Countless sparkling guides wove myths into my hair as I witnessed their life paths as stardust strewn across Nuit’s naked canvas. I was far from alone in my reflective solitude.
My diamond-rope hair jingled as I sat erect. Salty floral notes stuck to my face from Nuit’s warm sighs. The bubble in which I traveled was clear though still enchanted. The distant shore, on the other hand, was dressed in a tenacious haze. I heard the music faintly on the breeze, more of a distortion to my ears than pleasant vibes. Two circular objects overlapped in the Western sky: a ghostly Ferris Wheel and the “Nightly Sun.” Free-swinging carts moved mechanically, stopping and starting independently of the riders’ Wills. The bottom half of the Wheel seemed to disappear into the haze around it. In front of this apparition hung “the Sun” of the Night. Rarely seen, it is a circular image, an optical illusion, comprised of two disjointed, curved lines of precise, searing blue that cut through the sky like unapologetic lasers. There is no center or substance between these lines; it is an image created solely from the outline. These two images, of the Ferris Wheel spectre and the blue-beamed illusory Night Sun, co-localized within the haze of which I was no part, close to the shore to which I was not venturing. I watched the machine Wheel move slowly through the Sun’s absent core for several moments before turning back to my preferred view of the sky: a beautiful wash of indigo and violet dusted with shimmering Dakinis.
During a weird robot Armageddon:
The sky was grey with black clouds of smoke and pillars of fire from the rampant destruction all around. Large machines were steamrolling over major cities all over the world. I was currently in one such city. I got the sense that I had been with my intimates, a number of them, before the hellfire started. Coming into consciousness of the dream mid-run, I only saw one recognizable face keeping up with me: Y. We were headed to the nearest intact building for an emergency town meeting. Horns were sounding all around as people scurried in a frenzy, like ants from insecticide. Amid the chaos, some of us managed to dodge falling debri and keep our wits about us.
Y and I safely found our way into the building. Once inside, I noticed that it was an old, somewhat modest Catholic church. A town leader, sweating and bloodied, was pacing at the altar with papers and weapons in hand. Y and I caught our breath in one of the pews.
“We can’t wait for everyone,” the leader said. To the people just coming in: “Close that door. We have to make this quick before they destroy this building, too.” With that, he began ranting about devising action plans, taking certain escape routes out of the city and forming escape groups. Despite his words and thin veil of encouragement, the people were losing hope fast. Painful shrieks and catastrophic scenes had already broken their spirit. Most people in the church were mouthing prayers or beseeching their personal god. It was evident that the majority was not listening to his words, but, instead, they were making peace with their imminent end.
Y started saying something; I phased in mid-stream and caught that she didn’t want to remain here. “This is likely our final hours, right?” She stated.
“Then let’s go. I don’t want to be here with these people waiting for death.”
“OK,” I said. “Where are we going?”
We both looked to the ancient, defunct citadel with the historic belfry that had always been restricted to the public. “I’ve always wanted to go inside and sit at the top.” She said.
“Me too.” I smiled.
We exited through the front door of the church. There was so much commotion and catharsis inside that no one noticed. Outside, fiery debri still rained from the sky and maelstroms of sound emanated from the machines that ripped through the town. We ran the mile in our ragged clothes under smoke and oil. Once inside the belfry, we fell beside the staircase to catch our breath and share some water before our long ascension. We talked about the missing as we hiked the stairs. She was torn apart at losing track of K. I was equally saddened by the separation from W1 and W2.
In the middle of the staircase, there was a strange opening to a room. It was a small room, with only enough space for a narrow mattress and a shelf. Decorations were scarce. The few apparent were all spiritually-oriented. We took repose in the room, again to share what little water was left, attempting to spare some for our tenuous future. The desperation within us came out in that room. To share fears at the proverbial 11th hour was foolishness, so, instead, we shared secret desires and fond memories. Amidst our conversation, sexual feelings arose. Though the end of the world seems like an inappropriate time to engage in such activities, it is also perhaps the most appropriate time. There wasn’t much of a conversation about my inexperience with women, as Y already knew that. I wasn’t particularly awkward, which was better for both of us.
After a brief and superficial tryst, we had made our way to the top of the bell tower. There was a large open area with a ledge where we both decided to sit. She leaned against the right side while I took to the left. From our perch, we watched the city burn and the sky turn colors. We knew that the destruction of the tower was inevitable, but at least we’d be at peace in a place above the world of humans when the final blow came.
I was split in two: one to ride the chariot in the sky, the other to look after the blonde girl. I picked up a handsome stranger the same time I arranged the gemstones in accordance to constellation correspondences. The Light ran out too quick after numerous interruptions), so we had to promise the blonde girl “another time.” At least I got to ride the sky chariot though.
I was a man with talent for negotiation. As the sky burned liquid fire, I was faced with ‘Transcriptions That Never Were.’ I was silently nominated to deal with the demon that promised momentary protection from the fires. The group around me cowered before the skeletal spectre, grinning like a maniac; he didn’t scare me in the least. Neither ink nor blood was laid to paper. The Scorpions burst through the door, many filled with intent to kill. The demon called his legions and fled. I inquired about the promised protection, to which he replied with considerable delight: “I never said I would protect you from the world of men. That is your own affair.” I became claustrophobic as The Scorpions’ shadows engulfed the room.
My head ached. Tilting it just so, I was able to pry a neon green sandal from my nose.
The line moved quickly as each individual raced down the chute without much regard for the previous rider. While I thought it was a foolhardy decision, I was pleased with each inch closer it delivered me to the open mouth of the slide and unknown route of the plastic tongue. My bare feet arched away from the dry and pointy floor boards. Under normal circumstances, I would have never surrendered my feet to such sharp and dubious unfinished wood. But I was drawn to this ride in ways that still eluded my logical mind. The support structure was old, rickety, unstable, with splinter teeth that pulled away from the beams. Separate pieces of the poorly molded, plastic chute was connected together shoddily; stinging ridges bit at the flesh that bulleted by. Brown water cradled the body on its journey, leaving a rank, organic film on the skin after emergence on …wherever the Other Side was.
Come to think of it, I could not recall if I ever saw the patrons that rode exit in the same place… if they exited at all. Thinking on the matter (though not much), my eyes barely recognized the fact that there was now only two people ahead of me. I had previously decided that I was going to wait a full thirty seconds, at least, after the person in front of me went in to dart down myself. I didn’t want my ride to be spoiled by rider collisions or an obstructed view. (Nothing is more dissatisfying than having another’s experience infringe upon one’s own when submitting to the Great Letting Go.)
The brunette (about my age) in the bright red bathing suit was having trouble committing to the action. She sat, then stood, then sat again. Looking back at us with an apologetic smile, she stood up again and began stepping forward and back in a ritualistic, indecisive dance. The boy with matted (blonde?) hair ahead of me (about a decade our junior) crossed his dirt-caked arms and began rolling his eyes in melodramatic exasperation. In an attempt to overcome her own apprehension and to break the rising impatience around her, the brunette laughed nervously and made a self-deprecating comment, mostly to herself though she was looking at me and the boy for reassurance. The boy tilted his head back and looked down his nose at her before muttering “I’m done waiting,” and popped into a streamline as he belly-flopped in the shallow water. Splashed with murky water, she frowned a little as she looked down at her suit. Her eyes then asked me to wait for her, and I obliged after feigning consideration by summoning words of encouragement. After a couple more minutes and some impatient groans from the others in line, she tentatively pushed herself down the shoot, her eyes looking for support from the sky, the random seagull, the hazy sun, or anything else that might be sympathetic to her confused desires.
Finally, my turn. My lips took their time rounding over silent numbers as I counted the seconds since her departure. Peering into the floating grime and muddled reflections, my mind glossed over the possibilities of where I was headed or why I wanted to do this at all. There was no sensible reason, just these etheric hands guiding me to the mouth and my insatiable curiosity. I stepped into the water; it was lukewarm and a little gritty. My feet wanted to recoil, and my nose crinkled. But I pushed the criticisms and warnings about sanitation down, and realigned my determination with my curiosity and necessity for novelty. Head-first or feet-first? Sitting upright or lying down? I don’t remember which position I chose before launching myself into the Unknown.
Brackish water, slung to the sides of the chute, flowed into my nostrils and partially open mouth. The light shifted from the yellow-white haze of polluted city daylight to sudden black as I passed between open and tunneled segments. Adrenaline began to surge with each new twist or sensation. I spilled down hills and whipped around turns, the underside of my thighs, against the plastic, hot from the speed. Passing swiftly through the air within the tunnels, smells of mold and organic decay were augmented. Was I now in the alimentary system, headed to the belly of the ride? I kept going down…
“Hello, and welcome.”
A lean, attractive man with dark, curly locks behaving erratically over his hazel eyes greeted me. I took his warm hand, extended from a flamboyant cuff of a blouse underneath a burgundy jacket sleeve. I held my hand in his, and let him initiate his measured shake. I didn’t want him to let go; he caught it and cleared his throat as he dropped my hand. “First time?” He asked me.
I raised a well-groomed eyebrow and gave a bit of a smirk as I headed off to the iridescent purple-blue-green wall to my left. Light (unknown, artificial-looking source) danced of the facets, enough to give those with a predisposition towards it seizures. The more I moved, the more light danced. At this point, I noticed I was holding something. A collection of prints, photos and papers in a somewhat ragged but thick gray folder. I repositioned it securely under my arm, freeing up both hands to explore the intricacies of the wall. As if my hands were trained, they found several nooks and niches quite easily. I sensed the organization within the wall and intuitively found its switches and safes. Pressing it just so, I managed to open a section up for me to step into. As I moved within and between the crystalline walls, I found artwork, lockers and old arcade games wither made of or embedded into the walls. High above me were small trails on shining crystal; higher still were ornate chandeliers and hanging lanterns made from the iridescent matter.I saw no particular structure I could call a ceiling though.
A pull on my shoulder to my right. My hand slid softly over the cool, smooth faces of the lockers until I felt the urge to stop. Tap, tap, tap in three specific locations on the face, and the locker clicked open. Nothing remarkable was inside, merely small trinkets that I didn’t recognize. I shut the locker quietly and continued to explore, walking down random hallways, following my whim.
Telegraphic snow sputtered high on the wall in one room to which I was delivered. No projection source could be identified. The crystalline hearth was a few hues lighter than the walls and stood out considerably. I doubted it housed any fire known to mortals. (I was unsure if there indeed was a fire burning inside that my human eyes mistook for confusing light play.) I walked passed the stools and benches. Didn’t indulge in the presented foodstuffs on the table (they all looked to shiny and waxy anyway). Images flickered (in front of me? behind me? within me?). Geometric shapes rotated in spaces that switched in and out again rapidly. Each rotating object looked like glass etchings, condensed fog or spiderwebs. My pointed finger crooked outward to the empty space around me in anticipation and hesitation. I simultaneously wanted to and didn’t want to touch. As I moved slowly to the other walls within the room, I found rotating objects seemingly embedded into or projected out of the walls. Some looked in/out only inches from the surface of the walls, while others looked in/out many feet or yards.
I stopped in front of a rotating cube that seemingly hovered about six inches into the wall. Its movements switched between fluid and jagged, spinning effortlessly for a few seconds before it began snapping through differing positions abruptly, like skipping music. The cube itself could fit within the palm of my hand. I decided that it pleased me and that I was going to take it. The task of pushing my hands into the wall was surprisingly easy. There was some tension and pressure around my skin and between my veins, but movement within the wall was much like shifting solid sheets or disks through molasses. Move slowly and with purpose, and flesh could adapt (or the wall could adapt to flesh) just fine. Move quickly and unpredictably, perhaps the sheets would feel like needles or knives. My hands closed in around a rectangular structure that seemed to be the ‘container’ for the cube. It felt a few inches thick, like a frame that I could clasp tightly between my thumb and the rest of my fingers. Extracting it took some time, pulling treasure through what felt like drying concrete now.
It came out dry and thin, no thicker than cardboard. On it was what looked to be a drawing of the cube (pencil), a composite of all the positions within one space. Lines pointed from areas on/within the cube, leading outward to the empty space, where math and unknown symbols were scribbled. I ran my fingers over the writing, detected no grooves or smudging; the markings were permanent. Picking at the edges of the ‘cardboard,’ I found that this, too, was seemingly indestructible, at least from superficial insult. I stowed the cubeboard in my gray folder and easily found my way back to the main room, where I had been greeted.
To my delight, the dark-haired man was still there, almost in the exact spot where I last saw him. His eyes caught me instantly, though he was in the process of greeting others; he shifted them quickly back to the other woman so to not appear rude. I felt his calls in the quick glances he stole and his shifted stance, pointing a foot my way. His hand unsuccessfully fought the urge to gesture to me ‘one moment;’ the microsecond message conveyed perhaps unconsciously with the hand that rested by his side while the other gesticulated a show for the woman. I hung back patiently and enjoyed watching him become slightly antsy. After some more words, the woman thanked him, took something from him (a flier? a pamphlet?) and walked away. He began to say something to another greeter, probably excusing himself for a bit, and then my view was obstructed by a cleanly shaven, bald, attractive man in thick, black framed glasses. My eyes attempted to dart pass him, but he moved with my intentions so that he was the focus. I’m sure my annoyance was written clearly on my face, but he just ignored it as he donned his charm-laden smile and continued his welcome spiel. Most of his words ran right past my brain without a hint of acknowledgment, except for “Labyrinth.”
“Blah blah The Labyrinth blah blah. Maps and guides, blah, blah, blah. The Labyrinth blah blah blah.”
I almost asked about this title when a hand, complete with the ivory and burgundy, patted the bald greeter’s shoulder. “I got this,” my hazel-eyed man said as he motioned to me. The greeters exchanged looks of contempt and irritation. No doubt this exchange aired the subdued competition. I wondered if all the greeters were in competition with one another. Looking around, I took note of a handful of other greeters, both men and women, that spotted the quiet tension. Most turned away quickly after a facial tick of commentary.
A shit-eating grin came across the bald man’s face. “Of course you do.”
My man came between me and the bald man and turned back to the other greeter, waiting for him to leave us. “Is she new here?” My man was not expecting the question and furrowed his brow. “Because you know, newcomers are not allowed to roam the halls without an escort. Surely you already asked her that before you allowed her to scout the area.” This was not a question; it was a threat.
“I am not new here, in fact.” I said, stepping up so I was just beside my man.
“Oh,” the bald man said rather loudly with much affectation, drawing the attention of other greeters and newcomers alike. “My mistake. Terribly sorry. You must already know Ted. I’ll just leave you two alone.” He proceeded to dig his heels in and put his index finger to his chin. “It’s just…” he shook his head a little. “Well, it’s just that… I’ve been here for a while and I can’t seem to place you.” He stared at me with a smirk he let leak out the sides of his mouth as he feigned bewilderment. The tenacious bastard was engaging in foreplay before the inevitable interrogation.
“My look changes quite frequently.”
He nodded. “Hm. Well…” he looked me over, making it obvious to both me and Ted that he was indeed checking me out. “I have a knack for remembering…” Pause and his eyes slid down my body. “…faces. And I’m sure I’d remember you.” He winked.
I shifted my stance, brushing up against Ted. I felt the heat licking off his body; his stony face did not betray the hot temper.
I was beginning a reaming about how none of this was any of his business when the bald guy’s aura changed. “What is that?” He motioned to the folder. Again, not a question, an accusation of some sort.
At this point, some of the other greeters gravitated over and were bending their ears (not so subtly either) to hear us. I looked down at it, now in my hand, and raised it in front of me to examine it. I didn’t really know what it was. I knew it was mine; I had the feeling it held important information. But the only piece of information I was sure about was the cubeboard. I hadn’t felt the urge to check to see what else it held. To him, I probably either looked like I was a moron or that I was taunting him, staring blankly at the folder that I flipped and turned in front of us. He clenched his jaw and took my uncertainty for provocation. Quickly, the folder was snatched up and pulled open by the shithead greeter.
Inside there were notebook pages full of diagrams and comments, the cubeboard, a moving snapshot of what looked to be static and snow, fluid apparitions contained in tablets and numerous photos and sketches. He leafed through some, moving away while trying to focus. Ted grabbed at the folder and many sheets fell to the ground. We regained possession of the folder and I crouched down to gather up the notes. Onlookers could not make sense of the contents of the folder nor our squabble. It seemed some eavesdropping greeters may have had an idea about what was going on, why the contents of the folder might be important, and who I could potentially be or represent. (I still had no idea though.) Ted kicked the bald man away as he was trying to shout something. Another greeter, a 30-some man with long brown hair and an easy-going vibe, pulled the bald man off in another direction, telling him to calm down. Female greeters started at the scattered materials without assisting.
After Ted and I reassembled the notebook, a small swarm of people closed in around us. Salespeople? They were definitely trying to solicit something to me, each one pushing a folder in my hand and attempting to talk louder than the other. Many of them were women in skirt suits and updos with bleached smiles and tired eyes that strained to twinkle brighter than her neighbor’s. Ted attempted to keep them within arm’s length, holding up his hand while trying to get their attention. “Ladies!” And then “Sir, please, don’t crowd us,” as a well-dressed man with a comb-over squeezed his way to the front. As Ted pushed back at the crowd, I looked down at all the folders being tossed my way. Many had names scrawled across the front in fancy fonts. Some had photos, phone numbers, emails, ID numbers or hologram images. Every folder was crisp, clean, eye-catching, pretense oozing from every square centimeter.
The squawking was silenced by Ted’s impressive bellow. “You all must leave now. You are intruding on our time.”
Catty remarks and sour looks were flung in Ted’s direction. A lot of “She would be better off with so-and-so,” and “How did he get so lucky?” “What does she think she is doing with him?” “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” “She doesn’t know what she’s doing.” “Probably worthless anyway…” One young woman demanded that Ted give me his folder, waving her finger in the name of Protocol and Rules. She crossed her arms, intent on watching him complete the task.
With a sigh, he removed the light gray, ratty folder from his inside jacket pocket. Coffee and water stains rippled the fibers and curled the edges. Frayed edges of worn notebook and sketch paper stuck out the sides, no flaps holding them in place. Quotes and lyrics were written in black ink and marker across the back. Turning over, big bold letters declared “TED FUCKS.” My eyebrows went up. He pressed his lips together, glanced at the floor before shrugging with a smile.
The woman stepped up to me and whispered, loud enough for Ted to hear, “If you want any serious work done, call me.” She handed me her smooth, thick folder. Shooting Ted a contemptuous look, she headed off, heels clicking with purposeful rhythm. Ted began to lean in, and, as if she had Ted-deflating radar, she shouted without turning “In fact, call anyone else besides him.” Her clicking heels did not miss a beat.
I tapped my finger lightly over the declarative, revealing phrase on Ted’s folder. My inquisition was soften by playfulness. He exhaled, shrugged with open hands and said, “Everyone takes everything too seriously around here.”
I looked at the folder, “Ted fucks, huh?”
He proffered a sheepish smile, executed horribly; the obvious slight dilation of his pupils and mischievous glint in his eyes destroyed and feign of innocence. I had no line of questioning regarding his interest in me; I already fully knew it from his physical responses. His shiftiness indicated some uncertainty in his speculation of what I thought of him. So I smiled. “Good to know.” He let out a relieved laugh, and before he could get too distracted, I sat in a nearby chair and motioned for him to come sit next to me. “I have something to show you.” I opened my folder on my lap as he came and took his seat next to me.
Shuffling through the materials, I came to the cubeboard. “That.” I said as I pointed to it. I didn’t pick it up; instead, I let him lean across my chest so that his face would have to come near my breast, his breath hitting my bare neck and collarbone as he moved in close to see the writing. And if we didn’t have such things to talk about, I would have goaded him into taking me right there. After being momentarily distracted by my flesh, he focused on the cubeboard. “Huh,” and he laughed a little in delight.
“You know what it is?”
He nodded enthusiastically. “Yup, I know exactly what this is. And I feel fortunate to know the person that can Extract.” It was a compliment, the underlying implications I could not completely grasp. He was excited, and though I saw the intention on his face, the kiss still came as a bit of a surprise. He tasted sweet; we lingered. Then he stood up and took my hand. “Come on. I have a lot to show you, and we have a lot to talk about. Here is not the place.”
I gathered up the folders (mine and his), leaving the rest behind in a messy pile. Through the river of people, we made our way quietly and efficiently to the entrance of The Labyrinth. We disappeared like ghosts behind the glittering walls, and I felt cradled by warmth.
The night was a haze of visions.
A majority of my memories centers around a cabin in the woods. In one storyline, it was the setting of a romantic assignation. Up in the loft, I rolled between milk-white sheets in the sparkling rays of the morning sun. He had already left the bed. I inhaled his scent and savored the lingering sex in the air. My body was like a sponge for the delicious indulgence of pure sensation. Every touch was a secret luxury. When he returned upstairs, the light danced off of him like fire-water. Each ripple of his perfectly cut body was accentuated; the way his skin shone caused my eyes to retreat back beneath my eyelids every now and again. Sadly, I cannot remember his face, but every fiber of me knows him, my Lover, as The Morning Star.
At the next flicker, the cabin has changed, as the inhabitants have as well. I’m a little girl, no more than ten years old. I see a tall man lumbering through the cabin in a state of dismay. He is not my father. I hold my doll tightly to my chest as I watch him pace in front of the roaring fire. The walls reflect red flames woven between menacing shadows. I am silent.
The scene shifts yet again. Where my doll was a second ago there is now a suitcase of sorts. The pacing older man has become a sly devil of a charmer. His eyes undress me as he places my bag on the chair nearby. The wolf’s tail, poking out from underneath his unbuttoned, oversized, collared shirt, flicks with pleasure as he lunges in to taste my neck. My hand reaches up the back of his head, tugging at his hair and caressing his pointed ears. Between my fingers there’s fur or skin as one transitions into the other and back again.
The red walls seem to close in on me, and I can see the monsters that have emerged from the shadows. They stand beside me and behind me with their hands on my shoulders, acting as caretakers. The door slams behind the pacing man as he storms out into the night. I am left with the monsters… that dry my tears with their large, scaly fingers. Sharp nails run gently through my pigtails as I hear attempts at soothing tones through rough throats and guttural voices. I am offered a seat on the lap of a 15 ft tall, black and green, bipedal reptile with large brown scales running down his head and back of the neck like Mohawk dorsal fins. Once in his lap, he rocks me to sleep in front of the fire.
The same cabin is now a mess of clothes, empty boxes and overturned furniture. Investigating each room, a story assembles in my head. There are two children’s rooms, a master bedroom, a den and kitchen; this was a family’s house. A young girl left many stuffed animals behind in her hot pink room. A young boy didn’t manage to grab his action figures before the family hurried out. What happened to them all? I can only see speculations in my head. The only obvious details are a struggle, a hasty escape, and the unlikelihood of return. But then, I hear the door. There stands the disheveled mother with both her ragged children.
Our tryst is cut short by the sounds he hears in the distance. “Sorry, Love, I’ve got to go,” he says as he pulls his pants on while still eyeing me hungrily. “What is it?” I ask as I sit up. He nips at my lips, and I feel a cold nose on my cheek for a second. “Stolen car. They’re after me.” The Wolf peeks at me from behind the Thief’s skin. He throws on his green jacket and tosses me a key before he opens the front door. A paw sweeps me off the bed forcefully and pulls me into his body. Our faces collide in unchecked hunger; one more deep taste before he’s off. “Meet me again,” he growls as he motions to the key.
First, your soundtrack:
My brothers and I arrived at the park about two hours before sunset. The vehicle that delivered us was a strange mix of a hippie van and a school bus. It felt like we were returning from a field trip or sporting event, yet we were dressed in suits and professional duds. We were all itching to get in some exercise at the park before sunset, maybe run a couple trails and do the circuit work-outs. All of us changed as quickly as possible at different ends of the van/bus. Some little fleshy dragons that could be mistaken for insects if one didn’t look closely enough kept flying in the window near me. They were cute and distracting, but they quickly became annoying as they insisted on buzzing around my head or landing on me. Some of them would bite or spit fire so I shooed them out the window several times. Once they were all out, I closed and locked the back window. Peering out, I saw our driver for the first time.
He was a small, thin, pale man, dressed in grays and blacks. A baseball cap covered his bald head, and the chains hanging from his wallet jangled as he walked. He looked at me through the smoke escaping his mouth with other-worldly, luminescent, steel-gray eyes. Storm clouds rolled in him and imps sought to escape his skin. Before becoming too transfixed, my brothers called for me to finish getting ready. I nodded and put on my sneakers. As I was tying them, the driver walked over to the front of the van/bus, a fresh cigarette hanging from his mouth. He began to bullshit with my brothers. As he talked with them, the sky changed rapidly. The sun quickly dropped closer to the horizon. The driver made eye contact with me before walking outside again. The numbers on the clock had jumped 30 minutes in their three-minute conversation.
My brothers shook their heads, as if they had water in their ears that they were trying to dislodge. I made my way to the front of the bus. A Brief History of Time, constellation maps and the Beastie Boys’ album Intergalactic were sprawled out on the floor of the van/bus by his seat. I rose my head to see the driver outside smiling as he crushed his cigarette under his foot. As quick as he was to light another, he seemed to jump out of my view.
The weirdness was apparent to me, but I filed the feelings away for now, deciding not to act. I still didn’t know what this encounter meant really.
“Are we doing this or what?” I called to my brothers. “It’s getting late fast.”
They stopped fiddling with their ears, and we all emptied out of the bus to run among the trees and ponds, toward the setting sun.
I’m in a house. But who am I in this house? Am I the cyberpunk woman with white hair and blue lips, dressed in a black and purple gown? Am I the little girl standing in the upstairs hall in a party dress, with my black hair done up in ribbons and barrettes? Or am I the hired help, somewhere in between these two females, that is supposed to be getting everything in order for the wedding? I think I’m the hired help: the 20/30-something woman in the crisp, white, button-down; the simple, black pencil skirt; and brown hair pulled so tight in a ponytail that my eyes always look like they’re slightly watering.
What am I doing? …besides not being productive and holding things up currently. My boss, a domineering matriarch with permanent frown lines and etched, sinister eyebrows, barks orders at me from the bottom of the staircase. What am I doing up here? Isn’t everyone dressed already?
Oh… OK, now I know what to do.
The little girl is not ready. She has no tights and no shoes, and she is starting to pick the rhinestone barrettes out of her hair. I take her hands.
“You mustn’t play with them right now.”
“But they hurt.”
“Oh,” I make a frowny face as I kneel down to talk to her. “I know it hurts. Barrettes suck. But you only need to wear them for a little while. After the ceremony, you can take them out. OK?”
She rubs her eyes and nods. “If it makes you fell any better, my ponytail hurts like a bitch.” She looks at me. “Uh… don’t tell the other adults I said that. OK?” She nods. “Great. Now, we need to get you in tights and shoes.” We go into her room.
As this is going on, the cyberpunk bride is arranging her “veil:” a silver headdress that extends over her head like horns and below her chin like tusks. Blinking lights frame her face. For some reason, she stays on the stairs while others prep her and workers try to squeeze by her to move from the top levels to the bottom ones. She seems cold and distant, almost dead underneath her impatient and dissatisfied exterior. She looks at her pointy, black nails or the glass, spherical chandeliers above her. A young man, who I soon identify as the groom, comes into view at the bottom of the stairs. His attire matches hers: black and purple with silver accents. His hair is wind-whipped; the black and white colors make it look like an electrified skunk has latched onto his head. He is shouting to the bride about something. I’m not sure what the argument is about, but he is certainly less than pleasant to her and she is certainly less than happy about or attentive to what is going on.
As his voice escalates, the girl, now sitting on the bed in her white tights and patent leather shoes, begins to cry. I don’t ask, but she answers.
“He always so mean to her. I hate him.”
I am guessing that the bride is probably her sister or half-sister. The bride is too young to be this girl’s mother, and the relationship seems too intense for it to be niece-aunt or cousins. As I am doing my assuming, the girl becomes very still, as if she is listening to me.
She changes. As she dries her eyes, I see that they have grown older and changed color. The muscles in her face tighten and she assumes a new persona. Her voice is that of a grown woman… or rather, female cyborg.
“I am Out of Time,” she says to me, plainly. We both pause. She flickers back into the little girl. “I don’t want to be here, like this.” She begins to cry again.
I try to handle the situation. So I start the only place I really can.
“OK. OK.” I lay my hands in the air. She flickers back to the lady cyborg; her mannerisms and demeanor show me who she is moment to moment. I ask her: “What Time are you in?”
“Many. I live several lives simultaneously.”
“Some I don’t know. Sometimes I cannot control where I go; I just pop in. I don’t know how many lives I am living exactly, right ‘now,’ but I do know that she’s me and she’s trapped.” She flickers and cries. Instantly, another young girl that looks almost exactly like her, except with blonde hair, appears behind her.
“Who’s trapped? Who’s ‘she?'”
Two, three, four more girls, all very similar, but slightly different, pop into existence.
Flicker. The voice is now a blend between the adult cyborg and the little girl. “The bride. Out there. She’s me. I’m her. She just doesn’t remember. He made her forget.” The crying of the girl with black hair begins to reverberate all around in the room. The other young girls look around with dry eyes. Many look focused on a task, or at least, are driven by strong feelings. They begin to talk in unison about numbers and counting and manifestation. I cannot make sense of it all.
I hear glass break outside. The chandeliers, they fell from the ceiling. Broken glass is strewn all over the upstairs hallways and down the staircase. The bride is nowhere to be found.
The young girls rise together and exit their bedroom. These mirror images begin to oscillate between one and many incarnations. When the girls come together as one, the image is of a young adult woman with black hair and violet eyes. She wears an oversized men’s button-down shirt. Her legs are bare and milky white. She wears no shoes and rolls her feet slowly from heel to toe.
Parents, relatives, the bridal party and guests all tell her to stay put, not to move. “There’s broken glass everywhere; you’ll slice up your feet.”
“I am aware,” she says as she walks forward without flinching or avoiding the glass. “You seem not to appreciate how much I do not want this. I will show you that I’d rather walk through broken glass (this broken Reality) than be a part of it.”
And she walks slowly and purposefully, never wincing or crying. In the windows and mirrors she passes by, all can see images of a thousand incarnations that she is, including the little girls and the cyberpunk bride, including tribal warriors and circus performers, including war machines and hummingbirds. The hallways are long, but she continues. Though glass embeds itself in her skin, she does not bleed on the forest-green carpet.