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EEL TOWER

Dreamed 1981/4/23 by Chris Wayan

Eel Tower stands just offshore, on oil-rig legs. It's shaped exactly like one of those styrofoam coolers for beer at the beach. The roof even has giant handles. Open steelwork towers were added later at the corners, each with two ladders up to the roof. It was an experiment, the first large structure to be built of steel-reinforced concrete. A century later, it's still sound, but it's never been used much--it was unwisely sited, far from cities and major highways.

It's used as an eel storage cooler. The bay here, in the West of England, abounds in eels, and scuba hunters bring along their excess catches, and toss the eels in through chutes in the roof. They don't even feed them, just let them eat each other. A coin-operated vendomat at the bottom lets you buy eels. They ooze head-first from the slot. But they're not very fresh by then. Ugh--stale eels!

You see why it's little used.

But things are busy today around Eel Tower. A great liner sits dead in the water, with an odd tilt. Hit a reef, or deliberately being scuttled? A saboteur or killer is believed to be hiding on it. The liner's passengers were evacuated and their identities verified one by one; now the crew is leaving too. The rich man who owns the liner will sink or roll it to drown the killer. Seems to me he's unaware of the damage his ship will sustain!

Yes, he knows. To defray the cost, he invites rich and upper middle class teens, including me, onto the ship before she sails on her death voyage. I meet them in their mansions--go from party to party. Meet a bright sexy girl--we kiss. At another house, get another girl to invite me to a party... say "I want to kiss you" to her too. We date. I have a strong sense of propriety and worry I'll be causing jealousy in one or both, but the first one says "No, no! I go out with other boys too, after all." I'm relieved. All through the party scene, I never see ANY possessiveness or jealousy! Impressive.

Now we go on the ship. Someone brings records. Shallow pop, but fun to dance to. But the owner roars "Take that off! Only QUALITY music on my ship! Classics! Classics!"

He's removed all the lifeboats, too.

So he plans to send us down with the killer. Simpler and cheaper--after all, we prepaid.

One kid, an aspiring ballerina, slips away and exercises alone in a small dance studio, part of the liner's gym. I watch in my mind's eye. Under some gear and mats in the corner, she spots a small dory--a lifeboat! She pulls it out and hides it under another pile. Now we have an escape boat, when the liner rolls!

She wants to see where the sea-door is that we'll launch the boat from if we need to. She opens a hatch seeming to lead outside... Instead, a dark room. Piano, faintly. A light... She begins screaming in horror. We find her... look ourselves... and get her off that ship.

On the beach. Death ship on the horizon. I sit on a rock, hold her, her head in my lap (which is turning me on a bit, but it's not the time to tell her). Stroke her back. She shivers and gasps and chokes, remembering what she saw in the dark chamber. Sloshing seawater, full of rotting human corpses. Like an Eel-Tower the eels have built for us! I say "You won't be trapped in that tower and you aren't going to rot. I've read the research and even if your body dies and it rots YOU won't. You get another chance, another body. Though... I'd miss this one!" And kiss her. "But I promise, you won't be trapped in that room. You'll live again." And then just hold her, as she cries it out...


Line drawing: a beach. A boy sits on a rock; a kneeling girl cries in his lap. They clearly swam ashore from the sinking liner on the horizon.

NOTES



LISTS AND LINKS: eels - food and anorexia - ships and boats - dating - dance - death - nightmares - body image - reincarnation - abiku: homesickness for heaven - the power of oaths and promises

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