What A Dream

To begin, I’ve parked my car on a road by a small, rocky but sandy beach. Others are there. Someone says, “Look.” They’re pointing.

I turn and look. A large whale is being washed up onto the shore. A man is down there trying to wrestle it into place, an impossible idea. But past that, huge waves are rising and rushing toward us.

I say, “Oh my god, look at those waves.”

The first guy says, “That’s what I was talking about.”

I reply, “Run,” and start running along the beach.

Enormous waves crash behind us. Water is swirling back there. We’ve escaped. We’re on the move and still in danger. I’m with two others, males. They’re friends and younger. “We gotta go,” I say. “We need to get away from here.”

We find a rusted and repainted (gray and white) panel van. I start it and drive away. We drive and drive through the night. The van has a bench seat and no rear seats. It’s empty. The gas gauge is broken. We’re driving parallel to the ocean. Huge waves are crashing. The sea is rising. We need to go until we can turn inland.

I feel like we need gas. Finding a station open, we stop. I have forty dollars. That’s all the money between us. We’re hungry. But — I have a credit card. I talk to the attendant. I’m surprised but relieved he was open. Yes, but not for much longer, he tells me. We’re probably his last customers. I ask if I can pay with a credit card. Yes, he replies, leading me to another man. He’ll take care of us.

We eat and buy supplies, paying with gas. We’re exhausted. We talk about sleeping in the back of the van. Then, I have an idea: let’s go back in time so we can warn people. My friends like that, so that’s what we do.

We arrive at an air force base. I’m in uniform. One of the guys wants to attend a service. He’d died before; this service was for him. He wanted a chance to say good-bye to himself.

So we agree to wait for him while this happens. As I’m standing there, a U.S. flag is ceremoniously folded and handed it to me. I accept it with proper protocol and then give it to another. That was my part.

We go into a briefing room. It’s more like a theater. An officer friend is briefing about a weapon failure. I know what happened because it’d already happened. I push to the front and tell them what happened and convince them that I know the future because I came back from them. I warn them about the growing storm and the need to take action.

The dream ends.

A Sprawling Flood Dream

At the start, my wife and I are vacationing on the coast. She and I become separated (as often happens in my dreams that feature her, an intriguing trend).

While we’re apart, I get lost on some mountain. Eventually, I find a path and decide that it might take me to where I want to go. Impatient to have it resolved, I begin running along the path.

The path goes up and down mountains. Although it’s strenuous, I run it with little effort, and can see myself, in short blue gym shorts, young, muscles pumping.

I come to a place and slow. The path is cutting through this place. I can guess from what I see that it’s a vineyard. Encountering a young boy and a woman, I ask for directions. They assure me that I’m on the right path for where I want to go. I worry, though, am I trespassing. It’s fine, they assure me.

Off I go.

Now I’m back at the hotel with my wife. We’re in the dining room. The hotel is an older place, a motel affair from the vintage sixties of U.S. road travel. Not completely run down, but far south of its splendor years.

A large package has just arrived for my wife. She’s excited. Before she can open, though, I look up. Outside, through the open door, I can see roiling white waters rushing towards us.

“Flood,” I shout, pointing. Repeating all that, I grab my wife. As she sees what I’m pointing out, she takes up the warning, and then the woman behind the counter does the same.

My wife and I rush into our room. We leave the door open. I open the window, with the reasoning, if the water enters and gets high enough, it’ll go out the window, and we’ll be safe. We get on the bed to watch and wait. The cats, I remember. I hope they’ll be okay. I don’t know where they’re at.

The water comes into the room. The room quickly fills. Soon the water is going out the window, but more water is coming in. The mattress is floating. Then, I float out the window with my wife’s large package. I’m trying to save it, but I’m taken out to sea.

It’s not the sea, I realize. It’s a river, and I’m rushing toward waterfalls. Knowing that, I frantically swim against the current. I can’t do it while holding onto my wife’s package, so I let it go. Unburdened by it, I swim toward some fallen trees. Grabbing branches, I pull myself to the shore and out of the water, saving myself.

But I’m miles downstream, I realize. I need to get back to the hotel once again. Fortunately, I recognize the winery.

I go there. One, there’s no flooding there. Their weather is delightful. Two, they don’t remember me at first. It takes some prompting. I take some time to admire the vineyard and learn about the property’s history. It reminds me of Italy.

I run back to the hotel. The water has receded. Clean up is underway. I talk to my wife about the vineyard, telling her that I admire the people’s foresight in buying the property. She’s snide about it. I try explaining again.

Then I remember the cats. I’m worried about them. Could they survive this disaster?

I find one of the cats, a ginger and white, right away. He looks dead but when I say his name, he responds and comes to me. He seems fine. I put him in a laundry basket for protection and resume my search.

The search is interrupted. We’ve left the hotel and checked out, but we didn’t turn in the key. My wife has it, but gives it to me. It’s a standard key on a large, plastic diamond. I’m supposed to be going somewhere, so I promise to turn in the key.

Then I remember, the cats. I was looking for them. Of I go to find the cats. I find a cache of cats that include kittens. They all dry, but they all seem dead. I’m horrified, but remembering my earlier experience, I speak to them, reassuring them that the storm is over. They all open their eyes and start leaping out, safe.

But where are my cats? I find the third. He’s okay. Where are the other two? After searching, I remember that I found them and put them in laundry baskets.

I hurry to that location. There they are, safe in their baskets, waiting for me. I set them free.

Now I’m in my car, a small sports convertible (another trend to my dreams). I drive to the hotel to turn in the key. I’m blocking operations of some sort that I can’t understand. The road here is a muddy set of two tire tricks along a grassy path. I drive forward and stop. A young Clint Eastwood is part proprietor. He’s working on something, insists I’m in his way, and urges me to go on. I show him the key and explain why I’m here. Mollified, he accepts the key. We wave good-byes, and I drive off.

I go down the road a bit. I need to leave my car to get to where I’m going. I enter a large, well-appointed dining room. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Crystal, china, and silverware sparkle on white table clothes.

There are few people there. Two are Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. Talking with them, I explain where I’m trying to go. Adam tells me that I’m on the right path. Drew agrees, telling me to listen to Adam because he’s followed that path and knows what needs to be done.

I go deeper into the building. I’m carrying a package. I’m at the the top of a steep, narrow stairwell. I’m supposed to go down here. The package is too big for those steps. I need to leave it.

I hear a young boy. He’s with his family and he’s throwing a tantrum. He and I look across the space. I tell him, “Shh, it’s okay.” He stops crying and goes on.

I begin to descend the steps. Something makes me turn around. I see the boy. Although it’s as large as him, he’s about to steal my package.

I threaten him, warning him that if it’s gone when I come back, I’m coming after him. He starts crying. I hug him and tell him that it’s okay. He stops crying.

The dream ends.

Interruption

He came across a disaster. Dead ants were spread everywhere. Most were smashed into small, curled bodies. Some were obliterated. Ant parts were everywhere.

He couldn’t imagine what’d happened. Down on his hands and knees, he ignored the traffic in the street beside him and mourned their losses, watching as the bodies were collected and carried away. After the final body was gone, he went to rise when he saw the ants come out and face him. All were still for several moments. When he felt an appropriate amount of time had passed, he bowed his head and said, “I’m sorry.”

The ants retreated to resume their lives, and he went on his way.

Vaughn

To recap. The Beagle is a colonizing starship that arrived at a new world, Feynman. Juancho Ferrado is a bureaucrat who lives and works on the Beagle who was selected as part of the Coronado landing party. Shortly after the Coronado’s successful descent to the surface of Feynman, the Beagle inexplicably exploded. All personnel onboard were assumed to be killed. That left the Coronado’s crew as the only survivors. Four years later, only Juancho remains when Roger Lancey startles Juancho with his sudden appearance on the Coronado.

Then Lancey disappeared. 

Now, the tale continues. Don’t worry, it’s certified completely organic and vegan, GMO-free, non-fat, and with no added sugar.

###

“Hi, Vaughn.”

Opening his eyes wide, Vaughn Parks looked around Captain Mayhew’s office. Vaughn had once been a heartbreaker, a man with a slender, athletic build that prompted thoughts of grace, and green eyes that glistened like wet emerald jewels. Pronouncing, “I’ve seen enough of life, and now I want to experience death,” he’d chosen to age and die once they’d reached Feynman. “Captain.”

“How do you feel?”

“I feel like I was dead, and now I’m apparently alive again. I feel like warmed-over leftovers, something you may not know, Captain.”

Captain Mayhew chuckled. “I’m older than I look.”

“Probably.”

“I know what leftovers are. I like leftovers.” Captain Mayhew smiled at private memories.

Vaughn saw that and changed vectors. “Virtual stimulation via artificial intelligence?”

“What?”

“I’ve been brought back by virtual simulation via artificial intelligence?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“We need your opinion.”

“On?”

“I’m about to impart that.”

“Sorry. I seem to think very fast.” Vaughn gazed up at the ceiling. “It’ really interesting, like I’m experiencing time on a different level.”

“Perhaps you can follow up on that when we’re done here.”

“Oh.” Vauhn swiveled his look to the Captain and grinned. “Yes, you brought me here for a reason, didn’t you? What sort of emergency has invoked the virtual regeneration? This is the first time I’ve been back, right?” Face crinkling with humor, Vaughn continued, “Never mind, I’m catching up with my records. Unless you’ve manipulated my records, this is my first time back since I died, just two years ago.”

His expression changed. “Just two years? We’ve been on Feynman for two and a half years, and now there’s a problem that you think I can help you with?”

“Correct.”

“Well, fill me in, then.”

“It’s Juancho.”

“Juancho.” Recognition flushed Vaughn’s green eyes. “The ship’s artificial intelligence?”

“Yes. You should have access to Juancho’s logs.”

Looking inward, and mildly squinting, Vaughn said, “I do.”

“Go ahead and read them.”

“I have.”

“Already?”

“They’re digital, I’m digital…there’s a certain digital sympatico taking place.”

“Oh.” Captain Mayhew looked interested. “That’s fascinating.”

“But something to pursue after this.”

“Yes, if you’re interested, and willing to stick around.”

“Well, we’ll see. So I’ve read the document….”

“Yes, you’ve read the document.”

“What do you think?”

“Of it? I don’t understand that question.”

“Well, Juancho appears to be fantasizing about the Beagle exploding, and essentially, being the last human on Feynman and living on the Coronado.”

“Yes.”

“Is there reason for us to be concerned?”

“Why?”

“Well, it’s A.I. Do you think Juancho will act on it?”

“Oh his fantasy?”

“Exactly.”

Leaning back, Vaughn crossed his legs and stroked his mustache. “I don’t know.”

Mayhew exhaled. “That’s not thrilling to hear.”

“Sorry.”

She stared at Vaughn. “This doesn’t concern me?”

“I’m still thinking about it.”

“What about the part where he pretends one of the crew members is looking for you, and doesn’t know where you went.”

“I thought that was interesting.” Vaughn grinned. “I wanted to know where I went.”

“Does any of this worry you, though?”

Slicking down half of his mustache with one finger, Vaughn uncrossed his legs, and replied, “No. It’s just simple fantasy. My take is that Juancho is a powerful A.I. system. He brought the Beagle across the galaxy to Feynman. That required tremendous resources. Now, I suspect, he’s bored.”

“Bored.”

“Yes.”

“That’s what some of the engineers suggested.”

“They’re probably right, I think. Let me ask you this.” Straightening his frame, Vaughn said, “Have you asked Juancho about it?”

“We tried to. We’ve sent people in, but he plays games with them. He will only permit certain people in, in the first place. For example, he wouldn’t talk to me.”

“Yes, yes, I read that. He said you were disturbing his muse.”

“Yes, exactly. That’s why we’re worried.”

“But, other than this fantasy, he’s functioning normally, and nothing has gone wrong.”

“Yes, but we’re worried. You can see why.”

“Sure, sure, I can.” Rubbing two stubby fingers together and looking at them, Vaughn inhaled.  “What do you want me to do? Want me to talk to him?”

“Do you think that’ll help?”

Vaughn shrugged. “I don’t think it’ll hurt. Hang on a moment. I’ll be right back.”

Mayhew’s brown eyes widened. “You’re going to do it now?”

“Why not? You have a reason why I shouldn’t? I’m here, he’s there…let’s get it on.”

“Okay. Great. Do it, then.”

“Okay.” Eyes becoming lost in a nest of wrinkles, Vaughn smiled, flashing straight, white teeth. “I’ll be right back.”

Coming tomorrow: the conclusion.

Dual Storms Dream

Howling winds hurled gray sheets of rain across the landscape. Thinking of the dream, I remember endless, gloomy gray. No lights were ever seen. The wind shrieked and howled. There were waves and waterspouts, and there was rain.

We’d been striving to prepare for the heavy, increasing storms, but their cycles sped up, and the storms were more sudden and violent. Many people and places were surprised by the storms’ viciousness and frequency. Others tried taking them in, because, what else could they do?

But a strange disease began sweeping the settlements. Virulent, contagious and deadly, symptoms appeared with little warning. The population quivered with anxiety. Civil cooperation vanished. An era of selfish fighting for survival erupted.

I came into the dream seeing others and racing from them, ensuring I avoided others because I didn’t want to die from the disease. I’d already lost friends and family. My desperation to avoid others drove me to leap off cliffs into crashing waves. Constantly on guard, continually traveling, hoarding food, I felt exhausted.

Then, during a relatively calmer, quiet period, one man called across to me. He was a hundred yards away. I didn’t want him to get closer. I believe he said, “They have a cure.”

Although dubious, I was interested. I didn’t know who they were. The storms lessened. During a period of trudging between buildings in search of food, I saw posters. The posters claimed there was a cure, and gave directions.

I was leery of a trap but made my way in a general manner toward the location of the cure. I saw others. We kept our distance from one another but called across, sharing information, trying to address, who can vet this, and how can it be vetted? More people closed in on the center where they supposedly had a cure. Suspicions kept me back.

The storms finally abated more. Weak sunshine washed the wet land. More people were encouraged to go for the cure.

And I, tired of solitary fight to survive, joined them.

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