Strange places in my head

I had an eerily vivid and compelling dream last night, that left me feeling very discombobulated when I awoke. In this dream I was somehow involved with a group of unremarkable people, all of them strangers to me,and all of whom who shared a belief in parallel universes. These enthusiasts (who reminded me of the sort of people who might believe in dowsing or the less spectacular types of paranormal manifestations) were quietly convinced that they had information about the next “conjunction” — the time and place when the universes would align in such a way that travel to alternative realities would become possible. They had managed to rent some vacant office space at this location, at which we were meeting to plan for this event. My attitude toward this process was rather peculiar — instead of my usual skepticism, I had more of detached, wait-and-see reaction.

As the projected time grew closer, the members spent more and more time hanging around in this room. One fellow, who I thought of as “Bob” (about my age, but looked older, with thinning, receding hair) announced he was going to start sleeping in a cot in the space, so as not to miss the conjunction (apparently the timing was a little uncertain). I pointed out that this might not be safe: “What if you transition into the middle of a freeway?” “Oh yeah,” he replied, “the floor level might be different, too. Maybe you should duct tape me to the wall? On the diagonal, of course.” [The explanation for this last remark is that these folks had a theory (or maybe it was just a metaphor) that one only had to find the line that was diagonal to the four orthogonals of normal space-time, in order to “slip through the crack” into an alternate universe.]

“Um, Bob, the wall probably won’t be there, either.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I guess I’m getting rattled.”

Eventually all of the members were crowded into this office, many of them armed with props. These consisted of right triangles cut out of foamboard or plexiglass that they held in either hand, apparently to help them “find the diagonal” (I  thought this was pretty loony, myself). One younger guy was brandishing a pair of very shiny knives, with peculiarly angled blades. Suddenly, a woman that I did not recall having seen before spoke up in an authoritative voice: “The conjunction is drifting. We need to go outside, now.” So we all followed her out of the building and into the street.

One the other side of the street was a suburban neighborhood; actually, it was more like one of those “new urbanist” developments. The houses were obviously new, but in various traditional styles, and there were sidewalks and young street trees, all the same species, perfectly evenly spaced. It occurred to me that this parade of misfits was going to look very odd in this context, and I started looking around, when I realized that a lot of other people had joined us (including my wife). Some of these people seemed to know what they were doing — they hustled us along in a certain direction. All of a sudden I had this weird feeling — it was as if I had crossed my eyes and was seeing double images of the view down the street, superimposed but not correctly aligned. Then the view got blurry, and everything seemed to dissolve. I saw a women nearby drop one of her triangles. It seemed to fall a long long way, then she started falling after it. Her companion released hold of both of her props and fell away, too. It was the last I saw of them. I grasped my wife’s hand.

The next thing I knew, a crowd of us were standing in a wide, dimly-it but otherwise perfectly normal corridor, facing a metal door. The door opened with a push, and we descended a short flight of steps into a large space that looked like the intersection of two tunnels, with high ceilings, curved stainless steel walls, and fluorescent lighting. A fair number of people were briskly moving through the tunnels. It reminded me of an urban subway station — it could have been Barcelona. But on the walls above the tunnel entrances, where one would expect to see signs, were unintelligible hieroglyphs. The people looked normal, but their clothes seemed a trifle off — a little too tailored, with unusual materials. I began to feel a growing sense of panic. After all, this was the equivalent of being instantly transported to, say, Tokyo, with no guidebook, no maps, no knowledge of the language (and no hope of an interpreter!), no luggage, and no money — and not even an inkling whether this was a benevolent democracy or a xenophobic police state.

I felt an urgent need to find out if we could get back. Pulling my wife along, I retraced our path up the stairs, out the corridor, until we found ourselves back on the suburban street. Taking a deep breath, we then decided to take one more peek at this strange new world.

This time, on entering the “subway station”, I bumped into a man who seemed to be reading a large sheet of paper, like a newspaper, but covered in the hieroglyphs. Without saying a word, he peeled off a long strip of the paper and handed it to me. I stared at the mysterious scrawls, until suddenly a word seemed to pop out at me. I looked for it, but it just as instantly disappeared. Then, slowly, the scrawls changed into recognizable words and phrases, as if the knowledge of their meaning had been transferred directly to my brain. Then I could see that the broadsheet was not a newspaper, it was more like a printer’s font book, with the same short paragraph repeated over and over in different styles of characters. While this was occurring, I overheard what I assumed was the same man speaking quietly to some one else behind me, “…this alphabet was developed by a culture that arose in the rain forests…”

Looking around, I found I could now read the signs above the tunnels. I was filled with a sense of elation, even joy. I was certain that we were not the first travelers that had come into this place, but I was glad that we had. I felt a strong sense of belonging, and I think… I think… I had decided to stay. Then I woke up.

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Apologies to my friend and fellow blogger Scott for copying his shtick. He has posted fantastic dream stories on his site Backstage Scene. Here’s a link.

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