Main > Writings > There


There, in the beginning of a dream, lay the foundation of another day.

I saw in a flash, in an instant of powdery blue incandescent light showering me like a puff of smoke, the future of my reality.

The light above, below, in the field and in the city, in the forest and over the sea, over the mountain and under the tunnels. speaking of tunnels, I saw, in a dream, a place called Cu Chi. Some may know where it is, others may not. It was a dark place, damp with greasy mud and crawling with an undead life. In the tunnels, people lived, died, and turned putrid.

It was in my dream, just like that.

I saw the shade of a lamp glistening against a curved ceiling, in the distance of the darkness, and there were shouts in a foreign language. I did not dare shoot. What terrible deed I was about to discover I did not know. I crawled again upon this clammy dirt, shoulders against rough wall, and edged forward, one laborious pull of the elbow after another. What would I find at the end, under the wavering halo of yellowish light?

I stuck my hand forward and caught a man's foot. There was a scream and a rustle. I shot, eight times, at fleeting shapes, flashed forward into my mind with each burst of flame from my pistol.

There was a man laying on the ground, holding his stomach in his hand. His eyes, scared like those of a horrified beast, stared at me in fear. I was the cause of his fear, of his pain. I did not shoot any more that dream. I woke up and went to work, looking on the road at the passing cars and their impassible drivers, blaséd by an hour bumper to bumper.

I sat at a computer desk, and typed into the programming interface words that meant nothing to me.

Later, as I ate, I saw again the flash of the gunfire and the blood splattering all over the floor, all over the wall, all over my own clothes, my face, my hair. I stopped, fork in mid air, and slowly let it come down.

I saw, later, a pretty woman walking down the street. She was perfect, physically, the image of grace and sex. I looked again, but my car drove me beyond her and I was once again caught in the giant snake they call the 405.

There, in the shadows, lies a killer. In my mind, I see many things. My mind's eye opens the world that is unknown, that is foreign, that is fantastic and scary.

"Where are the whales", I shout to the wind, "Where are the whales?"

An officer comes to me, holding himself against the whipping wind and the crashing waves. His head is drenched in seawater and the junk dips and dives into the ocean, climbing again with each thrust from below, like lifted by a god for a few instants. He shouts back: "Sir! Come below!"

But I hear none of it. Salt in my eyes, I squint. The violence of the storm blinds and deafens me. I know down inside I should go below but the fury takes me again and I scream to the top of my lungs "Where are the whales?"

The officer looks out to sea, toward the thick of the storm, and points eastward. At least I think it is eastward. "Look," he shouts.

I follow the sight of his arm and see, only a few yards astern, the white body of a great whale. Clenching my teeth and fist against the chilling wind and pouring rain, I reach again for the power harpoon and start to aim.

"Sir!" The officer screams, "No! We cannot take it! The ship is already tight!"

I shoot. Wide. I curse my bad aim. The whale disappears again, for good. It will be more than a half hour before it comes for air again.

I curse again, shouting into the wind: "Damn you! Damn the storm! Damn you whale! I will kill you!"

I look at the lights in front of me, flashing, flashing, flashing red like cannons firing.

There is a car. I am on the 405 @ Mulholland. The downhill slope is covered by an army of cars, all intent upon fighting, grinding through this mad freeway. I miss a car. A truck stops short of killing me. I slam on my brakes. A gesture, an angry word, sweat pours off my brow and my hands tightens around the shaky steering wheel. I am still alive.

Outside, the sun shines, rays of dust pollen and smog all mixed together rise above the hill, casting the red rays of the orb into their tiny bodies and swirl, swirl, red and amber, lighting the eerie that embalms us into the concrete of the freeway.

I turn, I steer, I push my steel machine. I fear my steel machine, three thousand pounds of steel, racing along other such monsters, screaming and tearing and growling and slicing the air. There are so many. I follow the crowd, I dare not slow, I dare not fight. I follow the herd. The hunters are here too. I see them above circling with blades, eyes seeking the weak and sick on the side.

I shake my head. The Pink Floyds in the radio kill my mind. Their words and melodies race through my consciousness in a violent yet erratically peaceful maelstrom of crescendos and basic tones that soothe.

I park the car. The air is silent, eerie. A bird calls out.

I am alive.

I breathe, it seems, my first breath of air.

Yet the race goes on, and I grab my bag, head for the hill, for the buildings where actions take place. A man talks, people listen, sleep. This is night class.

I am late. thanks to the snake and the program and the people dying in the tunnels.

I sit. Listen, thank God I am alive, not caring what grade I might get to garnish my tomb with.

The hum of the building next door pulsates in the air. There is a truck; a big truck. I look outside but see nothing under the gray mantle of clouds that shrouds the structures.

It is the AC unit atop the flat white roof that fooled me.

There is a spear flying through the air, spinning and spinning. A staff perhaps. A voice comes; a woman's face, glimmering with sunrays against a deep blue sky. I cannot hear her words, her voice, like glassy water, ripples through and around me. I see nothing, the sky turns red. There is a man laying in a pool of blood. There are white-cloaked men walking about, milling about, speaking in soft reserved tones. I shout, they barely look. I drift. There, in the immensity of a room, I float above the ground. The mist fills me and I feels cold--I shiver.

© 1999 Christopher Mahan