I woke up from a dream on the penultimate day of 2017. Jen Cwiok and John Cwiok were in the dream with me.
The first thing I can remember about the dream was seeing a car drive up a long, curved road almost as though it was tracing the circumference of some massive sphere. Suddenly, I was seeing things from inside the car like trees and houses, though the houses were far from the road and buried deep among the trees and manicured bushes.
Eventually, the road narrowed to one lane and came to a dead end between two rows of seemingly identical, deciduous trees. I got out of the car and walked along a dirt path that started where the road ended.
On one side of the path I could see the back sides of some of the houses, still obscured by trees but less so than the front. I could hear the sounds of the households; the hiss of showers, dishes being washed, bare feet running along carpeted then hard wood floors, murmurs and yelps from the people inside.
Distant, quiet but distinct.
On the other side of the path, the ground sloped down like a hillside. I felt like I was walking along the backbone of a half-buried and forgotten dinosaur. I kept walking until I came upon a gorgeous campus nestled in a ravine. It was beautiful but I felt something was wrong. There seemed to be smoke, flickers of fire in the distance and silence.
My perspective changed again, this time I was watching a monster covered in bright, flexible armor like an armadillo or the Predator, chasing a young boy through the campus and onto the path I'd just walked. As I watched I was aware that what I was seeing had already happened before I arrived. I seemed to "know" things about the boy beyond what I could "see".
What I could see was that the boy was young, not yet a teenager. He was African American, he had a bald fade, a big smile and long eyelashes. What I knew was that he was very smart, very precocious and even though he was afraid of the monster he was enjoying the adventure of escaping it.
I saw that the boy had left the campus with the monster in pursuit. He had returned to his home and hid in some kind of contraption in the basement of the house. The contraption seemed to function similarly to an attic door that you pull down in order to climb up or the hatch of a space ship that opens up from the hull and allows you to walk down. The house was modern, lived-in and luxurious, but there was no one else there. My last vision of him was sinking into the circuits and cogs of the contraption, trying hard to hold his breath and not make a sound while the monster searched for him.
At some point, Jen and John joined me at the campus. Jen was dressed in grey pants, black boots, with a turquoise tank top and what appeared to be a cashmere cardigan. John was wearing a golden, corduroy jacket with fleece lining and red pants. They were there to help me find the boy and solve the mystery of the monster's origins. They seemed calm, diligent and prepared like they'd seen this sort of thing before.
John suggested that he might know where we could find more clues about what was happening but that we'd need to travel elsewhere.
The next thing I saw was a small house in the middle of an industrial district, like a navy yard on the water, filled with warehouses and train tracks. There were no trees or greenery of any kind and the house, which looked like it had been pulled out of a children's story book, looked completely out of place. On either side of the house and several yards away were two, massive elevated train tracks. On the not-too-distant horizon, just on the other side of the water, was downtown Chicago. I could hear the trains rumbling by as the three of us walked toward the house. And I could see us, from a distance, making our way through this brutal scene. wedding party guest wears look sexy
The interior of the house was much more grand than the exterior and was filled with mid-century modern design. Everything from the furniture to the rugs to the lighting fixtures seemed sleek and retro-futurist. John spoke to the concierge who then gave us free reign to explore the premises. John immediately took Jen and I to what looked like some kind of reliquary filled with small, strange objects, though they barely looked like more than colorful parts of some dismantled machine. Jen, however, seemed to have some knowledge of many of the objects and muttered to herself as she examined each one. There was an arcane atmosphere about her as she gathered individual objects from around the room.
Then, from out of nowhere, a blonde woman appeared. She was dressed in a long-sleeved, green dress with a turtleneck and her hair was wavy and big around her face. I was aware that she was the same age as me and Jen and yet we seemed younger than her or rather more of this time.
The woman was aloof but interested in what we were doing and offered to show us another room in the reliquary that we hadn't been aware of. We followed her into what seemed like a panic room and inside was a brown box shaped like a rhombus. It was knee-high with a shiny, lacquered veneer but no other details I could see. For some reason I got the impression that this box was actually a machine or robot of some kind. Before we could go any further, though, the woman asked to take a picture of me, Jen and John with the box.
The three of us sat down on the floor in a diagonal line; first John then Jen and then me with the box next to me at the end of our line. I remember seeing the photo of us, taking great care to look at the order in which we were sitting and frowning a bit when I noticed John was wearing sunglasses. I then looked at the brown box next to me at the end of our line and had some kind of realization.
Then I woke up.