The Cape (a dream)

The world was largely abandoned. Civilization stood empty save for small groups of roaming people. We were such a group.

I was not privy to the names and identities of the individuals in my group, but they were familiar to me. Such is the way of dreams. Sometimes things are just understood and not explained.

We were seeking shelter, walking down a long stretch of road when we came upon a large shopping center complex. It was an old department store with a massive parking lot. On the lot was a standalone building that resembled a fast food restaurant only about twice the normal size. It had the curved glass plates that rounded into the roof to let in natural light, but the typical glass walls had been covered by some sort of white adhesive paper from the inside.

Of course, the doors were locked. Walking around back, we noticed that the roof ladder was stuck halfway down. With some effort, we were able to dislodge it and climb up to the roof. To our surprise, the roof portal was not locked. We all climbed in and dropped into a room complete with a shower like hose and tile walls, presumably for cleaning. The washroom led to a kitchen area that sat strangely void of any cooking utensils.

Leaving the kitchen, we entered the main room. The floor plan was wide open. It looked as though the dining room of a massive restaurant had been converted to… well… a multipurpose area. All throughout the room were items often found in a children’s day care. There were crayons, sheets of construction paper, toys and small tables and chairs. Yet, in this same room were beakers, microscopes and other tools found in most labs. There were couches near the covered glass walls by the locked front door. And the whole scene looked as though it were out of 1974.

We decided to make camp here tonight. It seemed like a good place to shelter. But we did not know that this building had a secret.

The sun finally sank below the horizon so we lit some candles and settled into our places. One by one, sleep took us. And one by one we learned our fate. You see, sleep was not the only thing that took us. Once you fell asleep, the building took you into its own reality. Not collectively. Just you.

I woke to the sound of adults singing. I looked up and I saw Paul F. (a real life friend who passed several years ago) leading the group in a song that sounded like a nursery rhyme but included a line about some Greek god’s cape. I looked around the room and noticed that everyone was busy. Another familiar face, Lisa S. (another real life friend who is very much alive) stood by the sink scrubbing children’s toys clean. Several people sat around a microscope. Some swept while others straightened shelves. But everyone sang. And somehow Paul’s voice rose above them all. Every time the song would end, he would begin it anew.

I got up and walked back into the kitchen. There was no one here. But the baby monitor mounted to the wall blasted Paul’s song in a disturbingly monotone, AM radio way. I shuttered and went back out into the main room. Everyone was gone. Everyone but Lisa. The singing had stopped.

Lisa looked up at me and said “What are you still doing here?? Come on, let’s go!” This was the first time that anyone had seemed to notice me. Honestly, I had begun to believe that I was a ghost. I followed her.

We walked out the back door of the building. But instead of the parking lot, the door opened to a grassy field that was vibrant in saturated colors. The wind blew through the trees in a blustery way that stirred the birds into flight. Lisa beckoned me on. “Come on!” she said, “You don’t want to be late”.

Across the field we went until we crested a hill. On this side of the hill, the ground was littered about with graves. Lisa kept walking. I tried to read the names but the language or rather the characters themselves were not in any tongue I had ever seen. We approached the forest tree line. Nestled right in front of the woods was a small mausoleum. When I say small, I mean perhaps double the size of a dog house. The front door was ajar. Lisa approached and opened the door. She turned and waved me forward. “Come on! You have to preach Paul’s funeral! Everyone is waiting and we can’t wait to see what you have for us!” she said as she stooped down and disappeared into the small doorway.

To say that emotions from all sides battered me is an understatement. And at this point I woke up in real life with the sense of incredible loss of Paul and of life and hope. It took some time to go back to sleep. And once I did, I found myself in front of that mausoleum door again. Fear and curiosity both gripped me, but I bent down and went through the door. Inside were stairs leading down into a dark tunnel. I made my way through the tunnel and wound up in a large dirt room. The room had a podium at the front and some candles burned illuminating about 25 empty cots.

I approached the podium and again felt the intensity of sorrow and loss. No one was in the room. Just a bunch of empty cots. I stood at the podium for some time thinking of my friend Paul and then my Dad… and then Don… and then… One by one the lives lost walked through my mind and I observed them. Finally, a sense of quiet came. I stepped away from the podium and walked down the center aisle, between the cots. As I arrived at the back row, I looked down at that last cot. My soul knew what was to be done.

Slowly, I untied my shoes and removed them. Carefully, I climbed into the cot and laid down on my back, eyes closed. I felt the stirring. I opened my eyes to see the smiling faces of the living and the dead standing around me. The living like Lisa looked down with a smile that bore some slight sorrow. The dead, like Paul looked down at me with a strange, knowing smile but their eyes were closed. One by one I looked at the faces until my own eyes grew heavy and sleep took me.

I awoke in a building singing a nursery rhyme with some line about a Greek god’s cape. People busied themselves around me, but they sang along. And in the kitchen, my monotone voice caught the ear of a confused explorer.