Oh, we’d been working, a long, hard period. There’d been many of us but now…well, the situation was different. Changing parameters meant only five remained, plus the overseers. I didn’t know who any of these were, outside of myself. Selected as one of the final five, I felt privileged and flattered. Then, classic imposter syndrome kicked in. I had no idea of what was going on.
It seemed like different things were ‘going on’. We were trying to help someone else find direction. There was a map to that effect. But we needed to gain their trust. Also, how did we convey map directions to them? Borders and other problems precluded simple, direct methods.
A huge map dominated one wall. I was summarizing to myself. Fix the borders. Define them. Find the person we were to help. Gain their trust. Get them over the border.
The map seemed to be taking shape. Mountains dominated — very mountainous place. We were adding borders but I stayed mystified. Why were we the ones finding the borders? Didn’t the borders already exist? Asking these questions, I learned in roundabout manner, the borders were known but were lost, so we’re recovering them.
We thought we’d done a pretty good job. Black borders were drawn in, though some areas, like in the south, remained open.
But the overseer was furious. She told us, “You’ve drawn a face.” I looked at the map but didn’t see it. “These are not the borders. You’re running out of time. What is wrong with you? Get it done.”
This berating restored my bewilderment and confusion. Worse, to me, it seemed to make sense to the other four. But I couldn’t comprehend it. What was wrong with me?
I was beginning to feel left out. Abandoned. The other four turned attention to drawing the other to us and gaining his trust. I was befuddled about who the other was. They all knew and seemed to think that I should know. With some surprise and suspicion, I thought a few of the other five were different people. When did that happen? Had they changed?
One stormed in with an idea. He — the one we were trying to lure to us — whoever that was — was a Niki Lauda fan. While I knew about Niki Lauda, this revelation only deepened my confusion. But, wanting to belong, I spouted Niki Lauda info that I knew. Niki Lauda, young scion of a wealthy family. Getting a loan to go racing. Racing in the seventies and eighties. Three time Formula 1 world champion. Big accident, almost killed. Retired from racing, had a failed business, Lauda Air, returned to racing. Also raced BMWs, didn’t he?
Wasn’t sure about that last but saying these things earned a greater measure of trust from the other four. We decided that we needed to rest. There was one bed. The five of us got into it together and rested, shoulder to shoulder on our backs, like we were in coffins. None of us slept. We were too keyed. So much remained to be done. What else did we need to do? The time was almost upon us.
I still didn’t know much but I felt better because I was more accepted and included by the rest. One would always pause to ensure that I was there whenever they went off to do something else.
We had some sort of breakthrough. The end was near. Naturally, I didn’t understand. We were so tired and hungry by then. Going to a new location, a venue where a celebration had been held, we stole in to find food and drink. You can’t be in here, we were told. You must leave. But another said, you can come in.
We went in. A woman came over and told us that we must leave. Another came in and told her that we could stay for a few minutes. She also said there was leftovers for us to eat. They had chicken. Would I like chicken?
Yes, I said. They brought me a bucket. Here’s a piece in here for you, I was told. That’s not chicken, I thought as I picked it up. Something about what it was made me not want to eat it. One of the other four said they would eat it, and took it from me. He tore into it. Rabbit, we all realized, it was a fried rabbit breast. Why would they tell us it was chicken? They lied to us.
I shuffled into another place. There, I saw people dressed in very fancy evening dress who’d been present for a celebration. The celebration was over. They were preparing to leave. A server, male, in white coat and black bow tie, brought me a cup and shot glass on a gold tray. He spoke soothingly to me as he poured a clear liquid in the shot glass and espresso into the cup. I told him I couldn’t drink that now. He reassured me, firmly stating, “Oh, you need to drink both of these now.”