We were sitting at a picnic table by the water, trying to fashion fish bait out of hamburger ingredients. My fiance was there, along with my grandmother, mother, sister and brother. I cast out for the last time and didn’t catch anything. My brother asked me if I was capable of wanting and not receiving. We left the picnic table and walked together towards a low and dark building of smooth concrete, the sun had set and it was dark in the entrance. My brother was warning us about something, but I was distracted by four shining dimes that had been pressed into the ceiling above us. I plucked them and proceeded through the doors in front of me.
I became alone in what looked and felt like a dilapidated insane asylum. The only light came from the moon where it bled through structural failings in the ceiling and walls. A long hallway stretched out in front of me, rooms like those of a hospital on either side. Feral animals had taken the place of patients, I ventured into a room and was chased out by a rabid dog. I peered into another and was hissed at by a cat that looked more like a large coyote as it brought its clumpy form to the edge of what was indeed a hospital bed. At first I was terrified, but soon I was on the offensive, running full speed into hospital rooms and screaming like I was going to war. I became terror, and if I let a dog give chase it was only so that I could cut around a corner and quickly about face to attack it. This back and forth continued until I realized that it was going nowhere, and that there was another room waiting at the end of the hall. I left my feral enemies and entered a room that could have, in a past life, been an industrial sized kitchen. It was less exhausted than the last room, it was also darker as the leaking moon was still the only source of light. But I could clearly see a gang of men – all resembling inmates – turn their heads towards me before they stood to close in for the kill. I fought the way that only a caged animal fights, albeit more viciously. I fought while I ran – flew, rather – around the perimeter of the large room. I leaped onto a counter and kicked a man in the face with the heel of my boot, I jumped backed down and in doing so brought my elbow down centered on top of another’s head. I pulled hair back and punched exposed throats. Anyone who fell or was knocked down I kicked in the head, but no matter how ugly I became I could not incapacitate enough of them to achieve any sort of victory. Not knowing what else to do, I ran through the door opposite that which I had entered.
There was just barely enough light to see, one small hole in the ceiling cast enough gray on everything to establish that I was in something akin to a dungeon, the screaming coupled with the whispering coming from the cells on either side of me served to establish that this was indeed a psychiatric ward. A man’s silhouette, his profile, was standing down the hall. He slowly turned just his head to look at me; I slipped quietly back into the kitchen full of inmates. I fought just as I had before, but this time I found a foot long terracotta spoon, glazed green. I broke the end off on a counter and used it to stab a particularly large assailant four times in the stomach. Each time I plunged it deeper, and each time his eyes grew wider, but after I retrieved my makeshift shank we could only stare at the blood dripping off it for a moment before we resumed fighting. As I fought I tried to remember what it was that my brother had said outside the door, something about getting stuck in what you were trying to gain, or was it prove? I kept fighting and running until I had positioned myself directly opposite the door to the psychiatric ward, when the way was clear I sprinted through it, slamming it open with my shoulder. I kept running, and before the man’s silhouette could turn to face me I drove my fist into the side of his head hard enough to break his neck, and kept running. At the end of the dark hall I burst through another set of double doors and into a crowd of travelers in what appeared to be an international airport. I saw familiar faces with luggage and family, but I kept running. I ran through security and into the terminals, I saw the gate that I knew to be mine at the other end of the airport. I quickened my pace. Then I heard my father’s voice, off to the left. “Hey Aaron!” I slowed down to a jog, and turned my head to see him sitting with his legs loosely crossed and his arms wrapped around the seatbacks to either side of him. He was smiling at me, very proud of me and very much alone.
I kept running.
photo credit to Kendra