It was halftime at a NASCAR speedway. (Does NASCAR even have a halftime?)
My dad had started a grassroots ministry for troubled young men, counseling them to better themselves with Islamic teachings. This ministry had grown into a national phenomenon, and he was counseling all kinds of people, families were paying large sums to have him help their children, often on television—and at halftime shows. Like this one.
The session was being held inside a circular contraption that spun the participants around inside it, flattening them against the inner walls while my dad ministered to them. It was basically the Finnish Fling from Worlds of Fun. Volunteers made their way down through the stands and climbed inside. As the thing started to rotate faster and faster, it also rose on four wheels and began rolling around the racetrack.
Suddenly, the machine screeched to a halt. The door flew open and a woman stumbled out, holding her arm, which appeared to have a small cut oozing blood. She shouted to the officials that she was going to sue NASCAR for her injuries. Reporters hurried forward and her image appeared on the giant flat-screen monitors above the track.
Suddenly, her eyes went blank and she started yowling and shrieking, tearing at her chest and stomach. As the cameras zoomed in, she ripped open her own torso with her bare hands, and the screens filled with the image of her organs spilling out.
The thousands of horrified fans who were watching screamed in terror and revulsion—then their eyes began to change. In moments, they started ripping and biting at themselves and each other. It became a blood frenzy, those who hadn’t been watching the screens trying desperately to run from their neighbors, who were trying to eat them. Of course, everyone who got bitten was transformed into a carnivorous monster, too.
The stands were complete pandemonium from which there was little hope of escape, with thousands of blank-eyed, blood-soaked people scrambling over the seats, trampling each other, teeth gnashing.
Until now, I had only been watching from somewhere outside the dream. Now, I became Karen S. (childhood friend). As Karen, I clambered up into a stone alcove far above the highest row of spectator seats. The ravenous horde kept scrambling up after me, and every time one of them got too close, I smashed their head with my bootheel and sent them tumbling back down into the stands.
They were learning fast, however. They were coming in twos and threes now, from different angles. Two climbed up on either side of my alcove and began inching closer, a little at a time. The one on the left was Bill Murray. He bent toward the alcove, keeping just out of my reach, a casual smile on his face, his gaze trained on the chaos below.
“It’s just a matter of time, you know,” he said. “You might as well give in now, since there’s no escape for you.”
I made no reply, refusing to give up hope, readying myself to fight to the end.