OLD AND IN THE WAY
Dreamed 1999/5/3 by Chris Wayan
I'm in Redwood City, California, near Bayshore and Whipple, where a long dead-end street used to be. It's shorter now, but still has the turn-around at the end. Only now, even pedestrians must do it--go round a loop that's called "Old And In The Way".
I obey the sign--walk to the end, turn round and head pointlessly back toward the main road. Pass a huddle of teenage girls. They look up at me and I recognize two: my sister Miriel, and her friend Ariane! They're both younger than they were... Ariane is stunningly beautiful. I wish I could stop and talk to her. But I have to go on--a crisis is developing and I'm in danger.
The lane forces me into a secret passage behind a hearth of brick and stone. The passage splits; one VERY narrow branch slips behind the flue. It's barely passable even for skinny little me, sideways, exhaling. The other's much wider (though still narrow, a squeeze for a normal person). I know the passages meet on the far side of the fireplace, so I take the wider one--it's bad enough.
Behind me, the light suddenly cuts off, as someone follows me in. No. Some THING. Shadowy tentacles grope at me. It's a hostile alien! I've heard it's been asking about me, looking for me. It's caught up at last. I have a knife, but I don't really know how to use it. Dead end ahead. It's trapped me here in this dim tomb!
But I go round to the back mouth of the narrow passage and lure the alien in after me. It's wider than I am, struggles to get at me. I slash at tentacles and squeeze into the narrow return passage. If I can lure it in, it may get stuck, and even if not, to chase me it'll have to leave the front door unguarded. I could even get behind it and attack--could pin and kill it. I'll never get a better chance.
Suddenly see I'm ENJOYING this fight, despite my fear: the creature's been stalking me for some time, and I've felt angry but helpless; now is the first time I have a chance to pay it back.
I almost regret that our fight will be restricted to a narrow range, one or two tentacles. Even if it's riskier, I almost want to fight it in the open where I too could go all out.
But I should keep my tactical advantage; with the monster wedged, I may just end this war today.
NOTES NEXT MORNING
One year after the dream, my father was abruptly paralyzed by a rare virus, and entered this hospital, and died there.
Ariane lost her dad suddenly. So her presence may have been warning that the dream was precognitive, foreshadowing the loss of my own dad.
And the constricted passages and the life-and-death struggle now seem painfully obvious; I felt what my dad faced just a year later. Struggling to move, to breathe...
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