The city outside of The Seventh Circle was a furnace whose incomplete combustion rendered spent, fetid air. Each time the bar’s door opened, squalls of ash and heat punished One Ball. He ignored the oily soot that coated his skin and leathers. This was where he sat. His headaches bloomed every day and were getting worse.
Hundreds of hermit crabs wearing toothpaste caps as shells shuffled through the dirt at the construction site, dirt so full of broken glass that it sparkled even at night, even with no light. Aref knew probably only he saw that seemingly infinite sparkle, just like he knew the hundreds of hermit crabs were really only one because you’d never find that many crabs wearing toothpaste caps for shells.
Jock’s folding his pyjamas back under his pillow when he hears it. A low, growling hiss. His twin daughters are elsewhere, probably playing in the walls, so it’s just him and the mannequin dressed as his wife in the bedroom. He’s searching for the source of the noise when the duvet shifts on the bed. It’s a slight movement, like wind-ruffled marram grass, but it’s something. Carefully, he pulls back the covers, revealing the green and yellow-chevroned scales of a king cobra.
I’m in the club. In the home of smoke, dope, short, short skirts and low-cut, nipple revealing tops, iron-hard six packs, bulging biceps, desperate dealings, shitty, shady pick-up lines and nine-millimeter lethal put-downs.
My stomping grounds. I embrace my ex. Look over her shoulder for my next ex to be.
I’m bouncing to the beat with a hottie that got potential and a none slip differential – and then I’m not.
When the bell rang, signaling mid-morning break, the floors of the factory shook as workers scrambled away from their stations, rushing to vending machines or out exit doors for a smoke. Morning break was eight minutes. The men on the loading dock kept working. They kept working because they were blind and eight minutes was not enough time to navigate from one place to another.
In the dream, all I had to do was keep going until I got to the center of the city and then turn right to get to Grand Central Station. Before that I had been in L.A. where some cultists were convinced the world was going to end in another two days. They saw the signs in the street and were all standing around and pointing at a string of lights laid out in a certain way. My boss, Steve, thought they were crazy. He, or someone else, was telling us about a new service, a van set up as a portable office at the airport where you could sit for a while and do your business. Someone handed me a pile of photos which Steve wanted to see so I handed them to him and he found one of himself and his wife and there was a visible reaction that showed me they were very close. Before that I had been standing on my lawn and about a hundred noisy kids were living next door and someone had come by to replace my cell phone and he wanted to know if he should remove the loudspeaker. The further back I went the more complicated the dream got. In any case it must have been Steve who sent me to Grand Central. He liked to have us exercise, so there was someone else from the office out walking too, a woman, but she turned off where there was a fork in the road, following an arrow, while I continued straight through, catching green lights all the way.
I don’t hear the car. The storm has swallowed the world in a white noise that bites at my ears. It pulls up ahead. Silent. Expectant. Home is a 3k walk away, and a slick trip down the mountain. A beautiful vista on a mild day, tortuous when a storm came to town.