As I lay on the living room couch, I hear an odd rat-like noise from our back room — but not identifiable as one of our pets. I’m a bit playful when I go to investigate but creeped out by a bunch of our pillows that’ve been slashed almost in half. In an instant I realize no rat or other pet could’ve done this, and a malicious someone in likely still in the house.
I bolt awake, heart pounding, from sleep on the couch… remembering that I couldn’t fall asleep there; I had to give one of our rattie boys his medication.
I’ve been tricked into “checking out” some sort of vacation retreat with a very culty vibe. I try to leave but quickly find myself mobbed by a crush of people who aren’t allowing me to go. I think one even delivers the “it’s for my own good” line; bone-chilling in these circumstances. One bespectacled man grabs my keys and puts them in his pocket. Struggling against the huddle of bodies I manage to retrieve the keys — though I’m almost alarmed they let me have them back. They’re reluctant to do anything resembling an unambiguous assault. I escape climbing through a bathroom window when I think no one’s watching, though at this point… I wonder if they are.
I’m assigned a new group at Burning Man while it’s halfway through (not much like Burning Man — more like a week-long summer camp in an elaborate multi-story wooden atrium). I’m paired with three affable Asian kids younger than me. We’re moved to a different bunk room (a frequent occurrence) and shortly afterwards my first group, of which I’m still kind of a part, gets assigned a room that’s closer. I sleep there as it’s a bit easier, especially moving all my stuff, but I feel disappointed and conflicted for abandoning my cool new friends.
While lying asleep in bed, I hear one of our pet rats crawl up onto my wife’s side. It makes its way across our pillows, feeling oddly familiar. It crawls under the blankets right in front of me and I peek one eye open. It’s a grey rat, but we haven’t had any grey rats since… I bolt awake, realizing that one of our babies that went missing two months ago, Silveroo, has returned.
But he’s not there. There’s no rat at all. I was, for the second time in a night, having dreams of rats, set in the very place I was actually sleeping.