Twisted images, rising up through the dream fog. I am half aware that I sleep, and resent the awareness. I dream for insight, for inspiration, and for portents of things to come. Lucid dreaming is something I rarely indulge in. It defeats my purposes. If I want to dream awake, I have but to focus my eyes.
Airliners streaming through grey-purple turbulence, their attendants and custodians swinging from nooses as the plane rocks, gently, their feet occasionally striking the side like the clappers of church bells. Coffee, tea, or me? Idiots. Lauren’s husband, Patrick, is there. We discuss surgeons for a while, and then talk turns to parachutes. He advises me to take the kind that opens at the back, not the front. I nod: after all, I will breathe with the impact better if it’s from the front, the opening chute pulling me back. Then the plane begins to arc downward, and the rest of the passengers finally realize they’re in trouble.
Patrick stays to help the others don their parachutes. Lauren stays to be with him. I stay simply because I will not abandon either of them. The passengers are surprisingly calm, which may also be a factor. Were they panicking, helping them at all might be impossible.
Rabbits. This is why they go tharn, so the thinkers among them can help them with their parachutes. It is the “or” in “fight or flight.” Every mindset has its season. The Threarah was not wrong. Neither was Fiver. But I am not a simple rabbit. My sympathies will always be with Blackberry, and with Fiver, and even, on occasion, with impetuous Hazel-rah.
I do not know how many other passengers survived, or if any did. They did not have Names. It was not important.
The house is shabby, brown, with the impression of mold, dust and regret. It is the kind of house lived in by people who feel old, and walk with the age of mountains on their backs. Their memories do not bring them joy, only longings for times that may never have been.
I am there with some of Rhiannon’s friends, though she and they are in their twenties now. The talk is pointless, without soul. Gossip. The weather. Sociosexual melodrama and when will it rain. We could be on a porch on a swinging bench in any backwater rural route in the world, talking on everything and saying nothing. But we are in a living room, surrounded by piles of things forgotten and paintings too dust-covered to recognize. Briefly, we touch on politics. Then the conversation ends and starts up again, rinse, repeat.
There are knives in the kitchen and knives on the floor, but these are the jack-o-lantern people, hollowed and shaped by someone else’s design. One of them is a woman who I have not yet met in the waking world but spoken with on the phone.
It starts to rain outside. Perhaps it will wash them away.
Then, in my dreams, I wake.
In their house, Saturday afternoon, the day that follows a night of good writing. Talking with Patrick and Lauren again for the first time. All time is one. He is preparing for surgery, and his laughter has a strain to it, an instrument tuned too high. But for Lauren, everything is serious. Patrick’s name was bumped to the top of the donation list when the last patient died under the knife. Not by accident, Patrick assures us. The surgeons determined halfway through that their patient wasn’t going to make it anyway. They opened his skull and disconnected his medulla oblongata so he could die peacefully. The kidney, however, was recovered.
Dubious comfort. When I protest, Patrick laughs again. “Don’t worry,” he says, “This guy was an asshole. I’ll be fine.” Even so, I am uneasy. Everybody is seen as an asshole by someone. How well do they know this doctor? How well does he like them? Perhaps that will keep Patrick safer. Or, contrariwise, perhaps it was the other man’s doom. We’ll reference this later, in my earlier dreams.
Where is the fury, the beauty, the limitless horror? Where are the mountains carved from the skulls of gods? Denied, out of reach, melting like snow.
I wake coughing, retching, spitting and cursing.