I was a teenager again, living on the farm. A girl my age named Laura came to live with us. She looked like my old college roommate, with pale skin and long, dark brown hair. Her sister had died a violent death and her brother had died of some degenerative disease. I didn’t know what had become of her parents. Laura and I stayed in Mom’s house, sharing my old bed while Mom slept in the other bed.
We fell asleep and I heard Laura urging me to come with her. I opened my eyes and we were in a white convertible with the top down, gliding through the night along a staggeringly high bridge spanning a huge city, which was really a vast replica of the old dry pond bottom in our pasture. Below and to the west, a dazzling network of lights stretched to the horizon. At first, I thought the Statue of Liberty was striding toward us, wading amongst the skyscrapers. But as it drew nearer, I saw it was a giant man, rather pudgy, with a thick moustache, wearing bright red pants and an undershirt that were too small for him. His ponderous belly swelled out below the hem of his shirt, and his pants were coming down. He also had on a white apron and billowy chef’s hat. He raised his right hand and hurled a clear glass globe that flashed with green and purple iridescence. Laura reached out, waving to him, and easily caught the globe in her left hand.
The giant walked through a pair of swinging doors in the side of a mountain; they appeared to open into a brightly-lit kitchen. I saw that his pants had come all the way off and his drooping butt cheeks wobbled when he walked. There was a lot of black hair growing out of his crack. I thought it was pretty neat to notice minute details like that in a dream.
We reached the end of the bridge and descended into a sheltered area at the base of the mountain. There were a lot of people who lived and worked inside the mountain, and Laura seemed to know them all. We parked in an open, grassy area resembling the space just north of our pond in the pasture—except for the sinks, cupboards, and washing machines here and there. I realized this was a much larger version of the kitchen in the basement of the old Methodist church.
A young guy with thick, sandy hair was standing over a hot grill with a spatula in his hand, wearing a white apron. Laura and I joined him and I could see they were old friends. He asked if we wanted to eat with him on his lunch break and we said he could make us some burgers. He got three plastic shot glasses and filled them with dirty-looking cooking oil. He and Laura were goofing around, acting like we were supposed to drink it. He tossed his back, hesitated, then turned and spat the oil on the grill, where it hissed and crackled loudly. He dumped the rest of the oil on the grill. These were going to be some very greasy burgers.
Other people were lining up for lunch now, and, testing my dream theory, I studied their faces very closely. I locked eyes with a tall, skinny guy with blue eyes and shaggy, straw-colored hair. He looked very somber. This was a very close-knit community that seemed to be preparing for something—like Armageddon?
I awoke in the bed next to Laura. It was still dark and I checked to see how long we had before the alarm went off. Four a.m. An hour and a half.
“Laurie?…Laura?” I said as quietly as possible.
I heard her answer, but she hadn’t moved and her eyes were still closed. I started asking her about all that had happened in the dream, and she explained that it was a place she visited often.
Over in the next bed, Mom told us to be quiet so she could get some sleep before work. We kept talking, though, even as we entered another dream. It was still very early morning and we were walking through the fog in Mom’s garden. As if from far away, I saw Mom getting up and going to another room to get some peace and quiet. She looked like the mom on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I knew it was my mom. Everything was cold and still. The moon was going down, huge and red, in the northwest. The rosy glow of the approaching sunrise was also in the northwest.
Across the farm, by the window of my old bedroom in Grandma’s house, a man and his teenaged son were coming around the corner and preparing to start a tractor. I wondered aloud why they always came by my room at the same time every morning.
“Don’t you get it?” Laura said, amused. “They’re hoping to catch a glimpse of you getting dressed.” Of course. I wondered why this hadn’t occurred to me before. I peered through the yard fence, trying to tell if they were talking about me, but I couldn’t hear anything.
This whole time, I was still aware that Laura and I were actually lying motionless in bed, occasionally talking in our sleep.
Then, the light came on and I awoke on the couch in my real house, rather annoyed at Cliff (ex-husband) for turning on the light and interrupting my dream. He had the front door open and was busy hauling out a large box of household goods that weren’t ours. “What the hell time is it, anyway?” I asked irritably, putting on my glasses to look at the clock on the VCR. Someone else was in the room, helping him move the box; then they vanished. It was almost 5:30, time to get up. Then I began to look around, realizing this wasn’t even our house. I began to suspect I’d been asleep a VERY long time, maybe years. “Who lives here?” I asked.
He muttered a reply and I had to ask him twice more before I understood him. “You do,” he said crossly.
“Sorry, I couldn’t understand you. Who else lives here?”
I wondered if we’d split up or something while I was sleeping. “Don’t you live here?”
“Where is everybody?”
“I threw a lot of people out.” He continued out the door with the box.
Suddenly, I remembered Laura. “Laurie?…Laura?…” I called softly, leaving the living room and entering the kitchen. The floor was large black and white linoleum squares, like the kitchen in the old Methodist church. Strange, haunting, one-note piano music began softly in the background. I still remember the notes—like a mix of the intro to Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler and Stephen by Alice Cooper. Venturing further into the kitchen, I saw that every wall and door was painted pink. There were many drips and runs in the paint, and the doors did not fit well in their frames. I continued through the kitchen, calling her name, reaching for the back door.
At this point, I became fully aware this was also a dream, and fought to wake up. I knew behind this door lay another pink room, another door, and if I continued through each consecutive pink room, each one getting smaller and smaller, I would end up in a tiny room in which I would find a single bed. On the bed would be Laura’s corpse, horribly decayed. I would be trapped in there forever.