Dream May 25, 2012
“It’s not only a game show; it’s a theme park!” said the invisible announcer.
An old friend and I stood at the bottom of stadium bleachers, which were filled with loud audience members and contestants. One stairwell to the right of the seats rose up to the top.
My friend looked up, and I followed her eyes, seeing a gargantuan sign with huge illuminated letters. I had no idea what they said.
“God, I hate game shows,” I said. “I hate the Price is Right the most.” Everyone in the audience began to shout, “HURRY UP! HURRY UP!”
An old-fashioned microphone was stapled to a grassy hillock by my feet. I realized what I’d said had been amplified.
She grabbed my hand. “I hate them, too, but both of us love slides. Come on!” I trudged up while she ran to the highest row of seats. The audience scowled at me, continued grumbling, “Hurry up! Hurry up!”
The stairs were lined by a railing on the right, and far, far below were the rippling waves of an iron-colored ocean. The altitude dizzied me, and I could see enormous shadows of creatures swimming in its depths. As I approached the top, the air to my left exploded, and the host appeared floating in a blazing starburst. His head was much bigger than his body. He startled me and I fell against the railing, which stretched like soft rubber out over the water.
“Whoa!” he said, pulling my arm and me to safety. “Hello there! Are you our first contestant?”
I glanced at my companion, who gestured it was okay for me to go.
“Okay.” The rules of the game were foreign to me. I shrugged.
The host picked me up and we floated to the highest step. He turned me around so I was facing below. For a moment I caught a glimpse of what bordered the other side of the stadium. It resembled a cluster of dirty buildings in the poorer sections of London.
A grating sound erupted from below and the audience roared. The stairs folded, merged together to create a flat, sloping surface. The host pushed me and I fell on my rear and slid down and down through the crowd. However, despite the incline, my descent was slow and hitched with pauses. From all around resonated, “Hurry up! Hurry up!”
I finally came to rest where we had started. The host pointed to the strange sign. “Now, Son, pick a category.”
I looked to the sign, but I could find nothing on it to guide me. Just moving, shifting letters in a language unknown. This wasn’t the Price is Right. I didn’t know what the fuck this was.
Members of the audience stood up and threw food at me. During my indecision, the host was literally swelling with anger. In desperation, I blurted, “CATERING!”
“Catering?” the host repeated, obviously confused. He and his starburst rose into the sky until the clouds enveloped him.
I walked up to sit by my friend. She had grown old and her nose was a huge wart. Her toenails were long and curled. She scooted closer to me and whispered, “I’m tired of pushing Jonathan away.” I nodded and put my arm around her.
A woman screamed from the poor neighborhood to our right. An emaciated man wearing no shirt had struck her, and she wailed. Half of her face was ripped away. She retreated into an alley, sobbing. The man skulked after her.
On the other side of the dark street was a warehouse, whose wide door was open and visible to everyone in the stadium. The woman’s scream had silenced the crowd. All watched the warehouse. From within emerged alien moans and wails of pain. Disfigured figures tortured monsters inside. The man who had hit the woman stopped at the edge of the alley to peer into the warehouse opening. A mouth came out of the dark and bit off his head, and his body danced in the street and eventually fell. Those within noticed us watching, and began to block the open doorway with what appeared to be giant body parts, fitting them together like stones in a country wall.
A voice called out, “NEXT!” and my friend stood.
Those below had completely walled up the warehouse with limbs, but a monster with amber crusted, external teeth broke through the wall and huffed in the street. Its head rose and fastened on me with spider eyes. It scrambled into the alley.
Shivering, I turned to my friend. She balanced on the railing, her hands clutching the bar of a hang glider. I looked down at the surface of the water. So far down! I got dizzy and begged her not to do it. But she laughed and jumped, and the wind lifted her so high I couldn’t look. I closed my eyes for what seemed like hours while I heard the rustling of her long hair. I eventually opened my eyes, and watched as she landed in the water far off. She abandoned the glider and swam the butterfly form with tremendous speed towards a new shore. The shore was my home driveway in Paris, KY, bordered by the two story garage. She reached the asphalt and climbed out, disappearing behind the garage. After a few moments, a light switched on in the second floor window.
I looked down at my shoes. The stadium, the people, everything had vanished except for a colossal ladder plummeting hundreds of meters down into the water. I clutched the top of the ladder, my shoes on the fourth rung below. It remained completely vertical in the air, and a propeller was affixed to its base beneath the ocean’s surface. The laddership moved at a slow 10 knots in a straight line towards the asphalt beach.
My fear of heights had multiplied, and I trembled, trying to keep my eyes on the destination.
Something jolted the ladder.
I glanced over my shoulder. The creature from the London warehouse was climbing the rungs. The entire bottom half of its large head was rusted teeth. It ascended gradually. I turned around on the ladder, horrified. After several minutes, the thing had reached my feet. I kicked at its head, and it snapped and growled. I kicked again and burst its arachnid eyes.
The laddership stopped and began to sink into the water. The beast snapped again and engulfed my shoe in its dark yellow jaws.