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CHEAPSHIP

Dreamed 1996/8/6 by Chris Wayan


I'm a crewman on a ship steaming over deep water. Our owner's a cheapskate. The ship's falling apart--not just shabby, it's dangerous. The traction-mats stuck on the deck wore smooth and peeled off long ago, and even the railings are gone in places; you have to walk slowly, hanging on to window sills and pipes.

I need to go down to the lower deck around the anchor-well; it looks like a relatively safe stair, protected by solid gunwales. I start down, but find the steps so slick and worn they're only a sort of curving slide. Hang on and creep down. Could do this job ten times as fast if the captain weren't such a cheap bastard. Indifference to his workers' lives--my life--that I could understand even if I hated it, but this neglect wastes time and wages too. Makes no sense, even for a selfish man.

At the stair's end, where the railing is all that keeps you from going over, I find it's torn away, just a bent dangling pipe now. I'm leaning on the remaining half, seemingly bolted securely into the wall--but it starts to bend. I scramble in horror, hug the smooth gunwales, not much to grip--hang on as the rest of the rail peels off groaning and falls a hundred feet into the sea. Creep back up the stair like a rock climber, taking many minutes, checking every step, every handhold.

I make it alive... just.

But I can't go on working like this.

NOTES

It's a manysided nightmare, a fine example of how multidimensional a dream can be:



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