One Red Box...

Yes, this really was a dream...

I am in a forest. It is night-time and there is a heavy wind. Classic horror-movie fare. I've got a flash-light in my hand and I'm tromping through the woods, along with a dozen other people. We are all fairly evenly spaced apart. But, of course, I'm the one that finds the kid.

Lightning flashes and I see the kid huddled in the hollow of some overgrown roots. He's clutching something to him, but I can't tell what it is. He's rigid with fear and his eyes are closed. Thunder rumbles in the distance as I call to the others..

Later,  I'm in a white room. It is not rectangular or square. It is curved on two ends, like it was built from taking a section out of a architectural donut. The larger semi-circle has a doorway to the city, outside. There are people protesting there. The inside semi-circle has a blue-door with no ornamentation.

Before me, on a white raised hospital bed, the boy I'd found in the forest lies still. He's breathing, at least, but he has tubes up his nose and in his arms. There is a tall thin woman with ebony skin. She wear a white smock and has a silver badge. She's supposed to be a special kind of doctor. I think she should be frail, but she fairly thrums with vitality. Something about this place.

She gives to me a small red wooden box with carvings I've seen before. I'm reminded of the tattoos a co-worker has on his hands. Tribal markings. I'm also reminded of some of the scarification markings the Yoruba make. (In the dream I was certain it was Yoruba. Now, I'm not certain. It might've been Ibu).

I pass through the blue door.  It is an entrance to a dream world, and it isn't very clear whether I am in the boys dream-world or my own.

I am standing in an enormous bazaar--filled with hundreds in not thousands of people. There are so many colors and textures and sights and sounds and flashes of emotions and scents and tastes that I am overwhelmed. People wearing faces I've seen on the bus or at work or on the street argue with others wearing the faces of friends and co-workers and ex-girlfriends and lovers and doctors and my old car mechanic. They talk and argue and some kiss and laugh and flirt. Some pass goods between them, and some barter for services... But I know that none of them are who they appear to be and I push through them.

At the far end of the bazaar, I still have the red box clutched to my chest, and I find myself before a stairwell with a rickety old railing overlooking St. Paul's Cathedral in London  Only I'm going down.

We find ourselves in an empty train-station. The blue letters on the wall say "Wellesl", and I'm pretty certain I've been here before too. Definitely not the kid's dream-world.

There is someone with me. The woman I'm with is shorter than I am, has a mop of black hair. It is stringy and has bits of plaster in it. She wears a ripped navy sweater and black leggings. Something long and wicked gleams at her side.

I look like I've gone through a train-wreck myself. I feel like I've gone through a train-wreck. I've been beaten, drugged, sapped, stung, driven over, driven through, hollowed-out, eaten alive, spat-out, undressed, wrapped-up, cut-up, portioned-out, drawn and quartered, jig-sawed and crazy-glued back together. I've eaten faux flesh and formed coherent bubbles of thought from the spittle of exquisite snails.  And still the red-box remains empty.

The woman I'm with--I never do figure out her name--is arguing with a pile of rags standing on the very edge of the platform, on the yellow line where it says "DO NOT STAND HERE." It groans and moans and creaks and chirrups, but she does not relent.

Eventually, she pulls the sword from her side and the pile of rags falls apart, one single scrap of blackened paper floating to the far edge of the platform, into the gap.

She jumps off the platform and I follow, wondering why I didn't get a sword.

I catch up with her and her lips are thin and tight. I ask what he'd said, and she shakes her head, but I can see the tears on the lips of her eyes and I push. I always push too much.

He'd told her that she would find what she seek, but that she'd have to become what she wasn't to save what she was.

After a small montage of scenes, we'd moved so far down that the semicircle of the building was visible again.  We were almost at the heart of me.  I turned to make note of this insight, but my companion was gone. I was saddened, but I accepted that it was an inevitability. They always leave.

Still the red-box was empty.

Ahead, there was a long wooden hallway with doors looking in on empty wooden rooms. It looked reminiscent of how I'd imagine a 1930's newspaper office might look. And in the far room, the editor's office, another stairwell.

I stood outside a grey-fronted building with a road going off to the left and to the right. Above the grey door hung a bunch of garish purple and red grapes. It was a symbol I knew and I knocked on the door long and hard. I rapped until my knuckles bled and the blood caused streaks of black, pooling at the bottom.

She answered, of course.

Gone was the blue sweater, gone the black tights, gone the silver sword at her side that I'd so envied.  She was pale and naked and glorious. But she was so very very cold. Her lips were blue and her eyes were grey and her flesh the color of alabaster. Her finger nails were white as ice and she looked on me without emotion.

I remembered there'd been fire there once.

I opened my mouth, aghast, and she raised her hands to her neck, crushing several blue grapes to her chest until streaks of blue ran down her breasts, dripping off the tip of her erect nipples to plink plink plink into the pools of black blood I'd rapped from my knuckles.

I fled, though I do not remember which road I took--the left or the right. And it was important which road I took. Everything depended on the road I chose at that junction.

The End

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