I take a deep breath and close my eyes. I start to feel cold and something is tickling the bottom of my foot. I open my eyes and see I’m in a tub outside filled with ice water and tiny frogs. I pick up the frog tickling my foot and bring it close to my face, “Frogs don’t like ice water” I say. Feeling dazed I step out of the claw footed tub into a backyard, the frog drops from my hand and 6 cats pounce on it. The child in me cries for it, but the other part barely takes notice.
I look around realizing that this is the layout of my backyard growing up, but with certain differences. I don’t remember parts of the ground being solid black granite nor do I remember there being a massive three trunked tree with leaves that have red X’s printed on them. The biggest difference, however, is the house. Striped black and white with no visible windows, it is definitely not the house from my childhood. I find the backdoor open and wander into a long hallway where I’m greeted by the smell of cedar, each step seems to bring a new smell, now it’s a cheap motel room, now it’s cotton candy. The child in me is awe struck; the other part just keeps saying “fuck” over and over again. I remember this place now, this is the home from my dreams, this is the house I made in the town of Sendia.
* * *
I should probably think about this more, figure out how I ended up in my dream town while awake, but I’m a bit scared it could all fade away at any moment and I’ll have missed this opportunity to explore the place I created in such vivid detail. Walking out the front door I can see a dome shaped house across the street. A woman in a top hat and trench coat is crouching outside of it talking to a plant, as I approach I can see it’s marijuana. She looks up at me, slowly, recognition fills her eyes “Gwen, it’s been too long, and you look far too sober. Would you like to come in? I just finished making a ginger bread house of only the finest ingredients.” she lifts her hand slightly that is still holding the leaves of her plant plainly expecting a compliment on her fine ingredients. This is Shock Palina, or Ina, as I so nick-named her. One of the many people I dreamed up to populate this town, she experiences all of life from the various perspectives of many different drugs.
“Maybe later Ina, I was kind of hoping to get a look around town, I’ve forgotten a lot about this place.”
“Another time then” she reaches a hand towards me and starts to pet a wolf at my side; I didn’t even notice it was there. She recoils as the wolf snaps at her and smiles up at me. “Maybe later tonight, you look like you could use a break.”
I look from the wolf back to Ina and give a slight nod as I keep walking.
I take to the road with the wolf in step toward the Glimpsy Glance, the only restraunt in town. I try to inspect my new companion as we walk. I don’t know that she is a companion for certain, it seems like the wolf might be a part of me, somehow I feel I’ve fragmented out in this place, and the wolf is just one of the pieces. I can’t control her, but it seems like I know what she knows and vice versa.
Along our path I stop to look at an odd and massive plant. After looking at it for a while I realize it is the roots of a tree, one can only assume the tree itself is underground. I remember when I was a kid reading Alice in Wonderland I was confused as to why she wasn’t flipping her shit. I guess we all have a wonderland in our heads, and if you’re crazy enough to go down a rabbit hole to find it, then you’re crazy enough to handle it.
The tinting on the window of the Glimpsy Glance changes into an intricate pattern of 8’s as I look through it, Jim is sitting out front ringing his bell and nods to me as I walk to the door. Walking in the front I notice the building seems to form a little slower than my ability to view it, it seems to appear as I begin to remember it rather than as I see it. Silhouettes are dancing along the border on the walls to the tune of neighborhood #3 by arcade fire and the ropes of light in the glass bar are swirling and changing color in time. The wolf pads over to a table and I follow suite where I’m greeted by the waitress with coffee already in hand. Her name is Mocha and she is attractive in an odd sort of way. For, biological reasoning be damned, people are only attracted to Mocha’s nose, which she always keeps covered with various accessories. Today she is wearing a green scarf over her face with a matching knee high skirt, and since it doesn’t bother anyone, no shirt at all. Her voice is scratchy from all the smoking “You look too thin, you’re not trying to fly like that Tiffa girl are you? Cause your legs are just too pretty to be going and cutting off. I’ll see if Wafe can put some mozzarella sticks on for ya and I think he’s got some zebra steaks cooking that the wolf would like.”
She walks off toward the kitchen where I can hear loud clanging and bits of muffled yelling followed by a loud crash and then Mocha storming out with a hot plate of food. “Wafe says he missed you… in so many words. I’m sure he would come out to say hi if he didn’t have so much work to do. We had a visit from some of those gypsy’s again today, ran off with half a dozen salt shakers, so he’s busy trying to make some tasty poison or other. This, however,” She sets down the plate piled high with mozzarella sticks “is poison free”. I take a bite of food to appease her and seeming satisfied she wanders off to refill coffees. Instead of mozzarella sticks it turns out this is a plate a varying fried cheeses. As I’m slowly picking through my plate trying to find another cream cheese filled stick I notice someone watching me from a few tables over. Someone I don’t remember ever being here.
“Sorry I didn’t mean to stare at you like that…. it’s just you seem different than the others here. Not quite as… strange. I was wondering if you might know where we are?” The wolf looks up from her steak and tilts her head slightly at the stranger.
“This is Sendia.” I pause to look at the stranger for a moment and try to digest the implications of him being here in the town I created. “What’s your name?”
“What is ‘Sendia’?”
“It’s the name of the town we are in. I don’t know exactly where the town is, I just know what it’s called. So, what’s your name?”
“Jacob, what’s yours?”
“Gwen.” I move over and take a seat across from him. I stare at him for a bit longer until he obviously begins to feel uncomfortable. Maybe I thought this guy into existence too, someone I’m just not remembering. “What’s the last thing you remember before you came here?”
“Oh, well, I came home from work, same as most days, and went straight to the shower. Then after that I sat down in front of the tv to watch the news and wait for my wife to come home. I’m guessing I must have fell asleep in the recliner…” he looks up at the wallpaper border which has silhouettes actually dancing on it “strangest dream I’ve ever had.”
“Let me guess, most of your dreams are about falling or your wife cheating on you?”
He looks at me with some surprise “well, yea, mostly.”
The button down shirt and khaki pants the slight beer gut and bald spot in his hair, this guy is a prop for an office, like a stapler or a desk chair. He’s boring as hell, which means he’s real, or at least not something I dreamt up. So if I made this town up in my dreams and it’s all in my head…how did someone else get here? I crunch on another fried cheese stick and mull this over for a moment. It’s the same problem as in the real world how do you prove someone else is real and not just a figment of everyone else’s imagination? I suppose first things first “Let me see your menu.”
Jacob slides it over to me “go ahead, I couldn’t eat anything right now anyways.”
I look at the menu and read the first few lines aloud “Today’s Specials include: Red spotted mushrooms and pickles fried in penguin fat or Peacock pot pie with a side of mangos glazed with honey.” I close the menu and set it back down on the table.
Jacob makes a face “Definitely glad I passed on the food.”
I look around the restaurant a bit trying to let my mind wander. After some time passes I pick the menu back up and read the same few lines again.
“Didn’t you just read that?” Jacob asks.
“yea….you can’t read in dreams. Books are either filled with unintelligible symbols or the writing changes each time you look back at it.” I set the menu back on the table “take a look”.
Jacob picks up the menu and looks it over “I can read it just fine”.
“Yea, me too. I don’t know about you yet, but this place seems to be real.”
“Oh come on, that can’t be a full proof test. I mean obviously this place isn’t real… hang on what do you mean you don’t know about me?”
“It’s as full proof a test as we can get. It was too many words in too short a time frame for me to memorize and you confirmed I read the same thing twice. As for you, I’m just not convinced you’re real, is all.”
Jacob looks genuinely offended at that “I’m real.”
“And how do you know that?”
Jacob taps his thumb on the table while he thinks it over “Because I have thoughts and feelings and I know I exist.”
“Great, now, how do I know what you’re saying is true?”
Jacob drums some more and finally nods his head “you don’t, ok I see your point. I am real though.”
“I’m sure you are.” Though really Jacob being a real person makes the least sense. I could have had a mental break and taken up residence in my own head. I mean who’s to say what catatonic schizophrenics think about. I look over Jacob’s shoulder a few places down a couple of patrons have just started a small fire at their table. Looks to be the cook’s teenage twins Scorch and Cinder. I can remember them, they were here when I was dreaming of this place. Mocha looks up from some papers and catches sight of the fire “If I’ve told you two once I’ve told you a thousand times! Do not start fires inside!” She picks up one of the many fire extinguishers from behind the counter to put out the flames while the twins playfully try to talk her out of it.
“Aw come on Mocha, it’s just a tiny fire.” Cinder says, putting a hand up to hide the flames from her.
Scorch doesn’t even look up, just feeds the fire some more bits of napkins “yea, it hasn’t even got started yet.”
Mocha ignores them both and sprays the whole table down with the extinguisher. Both twins jump back in time to avoid getting sprayed only to each get grabbed by the ear and dragged with much protesting into the kitchen. Mocha talks over them “I don’t want to hear it. You two have way too much time on your hands and I’ve got plenty of work to keep you occupied.” She’s not their mother, but she might as well be. Wafe the cook, is also a chemist who uses the kitchen at the Glimpsy Glance for his experiments as well as preparing food. I remember Mocha telling me that when she found them as babies in the kitchen, Wafe was working next to them ignoring their cries and she asked him if he planned to take care of them. To which he promptly replied “It takes a village to raise a child”. Thus most of the town took part in raising the twins, except for Wafe that is. I remember waking up and wondering how Wafe had ended up with two babies in the first place, since there was never any woman to speak of.
Jacob turns back to me after the spectacle “Bunch of crazies in here.” he mutters “So then, real or not, how do we get out of here?”
“Well, you can do what you like, but I have no intention of leaving.”