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Dreamed 1996/7/27 by Chris Wayan

I'm walking in a park, listening to a portable radio. Three songs in a row by the same band from Saskatchewan: the first is ordinary three-chord rock, the next sounds vaguely like Russian folk music with Indian microtonal singing, the third covers a Melanie Safka folksong, a sad song that fits my mood.

When I got up this morning I felt fine, full of energy, so I got in my red Radio Flyer wagon, the one I've had since I was a kid, and wheeled myself to the park... but now I feel tired and sick and wrong. It's not arm-fatigue, my muscles are used to it by now. Not grief for my semi-paralyzed legs--used to that too. Here in the park I even walk a bit, shakily, dragging the wagon up the grassy mounds. But something's very wrong with me, something I can't name.

Head northeast a bit, where the park flattens out. Can see for miles this way--miles of nothing. Just dry grass fading in the brown smog to no horizon. No Bayshore Freeway--no Bay, though there should be. Not one building--no, wrong, a tiny cube by a spidery radio tower. The KKHI shack--the local classical music station. So this must be northern Redwood City. Look out over the dead miles...

Suddenly a flash, and a brown cloud expands. An explosion up in the Foster City/San Mateo mudflats! Gets bigger--FAST! For several seconds, see flame inside, it must have been huge--tons of TNT! And bigger, spreading fast and low, like the of an volcanic or atomic explosion. Huge and looming. Have time to think "But it's not rising like a nuclear fireball, and the flash was wrong." A tactical nuke? Well whatever it is, it's hot and violent and fatal, a pyroclastic cloud... and I'm about to be engulfed.

Explosion on the Bay Area mudflats. Shockwave and cloud about to hit me. Dream sketch by Wayan. Click to enlarge.
Lie down behind the wagon and curl up, protecting my head. In the second before it hits I wonder "do I even WANT to try to survive, crippled and radiation-sick in some post-holocaust world? For what? Well, at least now I know why I felt so bad. Premonition!"

And wake sweating, just before the shockwave hits.



My parents confess that when my Uncle Hugh went crazy, they took me along to visit him in the insane asylum on the mudflats south of Redwood City, and when he got out he lived with us for months when I was 2-3; they let him babysit me occasionally; he probably told me about psychiatric abuse he faced, including massive shock treatments.

I've had nightmares since childhood about being locked up in sinister institutions, strapped down, tortured... and for years I've asked my parents if anything in my early childhood could explain it.. and they said "Oh, no, nothing."

And then, suddenly, they admit this! Not only were they telling me about shock, it was a double shock to me:

  1. confirming that my lifelong nightmares were family history... and
  2. that I still can't trust my parents to be honest with me.

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