Escaping a house which represents Ukraine, as besieged by the Russians. I was a journalist and accidentally became stuck there, making the most of it going from room to room. Noticing near the end they finally changed everything and cleaned up all the rooms, and are dragging away my big metal box. Yank it away and flee through the front hayloft door. I manage to warn incoming friends about a girl with a vagina between her digits (middle and ring finger), that she secretly works for the Russians. The paper topper for my box detaches and blows across street — I walk to retrieve it, thinking about the image of the Angelic Sword of Michael.
A country house just off a main road somewhere small, rural California, where we’ve moved. My wife and I still have a landlord but are overall happy finally settled into the new place.
It’s bright midday and I seal up our younger rats, Pierre & Roscoe, making sure to stretch the three wire cage doors so the locks are tight.
Outside it’s so much quieter than the city. I ponder the neighborhood as I gaze down the dusty street where ours is the corner house. I haven’t fully explored the area yet. Feels like a hot day, summer. I observe a distinction with the city I never thought of before: here, people are spread out enough that you kind of miss them, back in the city it was so packed that you often like people less because there’s already too many of them.
All our old stuff made it there but most things still need arranging. A few items are out on the grassy brown lawn, or under a covered porch with built-in brick planting beds. Our building is old, and has a name on a vertical sign with green letters — something that sounds like a Chinese restaurant. There’s a smaller sign underneath for wayward out-of-towners, clarifying that it’s just an old name, this is a house, and they can find an actual restaurant a couple lanes down.
Back inside, I see Roscoe is out of his cage. I’m sure I locked it securely, and sure enough I see he’s managed to bend several wire metal bars at the side of the cage! I tell my wife and we’re not sure what to do. There’s a square patch of grass on the lawn where the cage would fit, and be blocked off securely, but the ratties might easily get overheated in the sun.
Someone reveals something about my parents I didn’t know (this part is confusing in retrospect as it’s a persona shift, perspective remains continuous, but the backstory isn’t from my l life). When I was first adopted, my parents kept me in this very house. They were inept, and couldn’t keep things up, to the point where they couldn’t keep me either. They only got me back much later, though I was too young to remember any of this.
Inside a few of us (guests and I) are playing around, searching through storage areas in the house. We’re also in part of a lobby for some unnamed organization, a nexus accessible from many locations. There’s a dried mud sculpture, arched and abstract, looking like the letter Π hunkering in the near distance. Old refrigerators containing long-term food stocks hold many curious root vegetables. Some are still viable, and I take one from the drawer with a 3-foot long taproot and swallow it down to the base as a trick.
Danny Glover is there among us, and soon after I’m beside him at a stone sink (I can think of no connection I have with Danny Glover, his presence is puzzling upon consideration). When I pull the long root out of my throat, the thin length ending in a tangled clump, I realize that it could still be planted in the dirt outside. Whether it’s the worse for wear being in contact with my stomach acid for an extended time, I simply won’t know until I bury it in a garden bed.
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.
I encounter the one and only Belle Delphine. Despite how famous she is, I decide to start dating her. This isn’t easy, as she has very high standards and it’s used to respect without feeling like a simp.
The dream switches to first person from her perspective. I escape via some back stairs into another area.
I’m a girl living in an apartment built into a rock outcropping, containing crystal protrusions, waterfalls, and garden diorama-scapes. A distinct relaxing Japanese feel. I make my way out of the enclosed 1-person space by navigating up a waterfall (much higher than expected), revealing that the apartment generously provided for me was also a restriction — there are much bigger areas beyond what was accessible before. I pass over a wooden gate into a back alley, with a tiny, quaint moat running along one side. I can now view my place and its exquisite dioramas from the other side, and it’s 1 of 3 similar apartments for elite long-term guests… guests of who, I cannot recall, if I ever knew. But if I can see so clearly, it seems perhaps our hosts were watching us, keeping tabs. A tiny snowfall lands on the miniature traditional town hall.
I’m angry at my brother Patrick, giving him an explicit warning in the car backseat. About what, I can’t remember.
I am, after a long hiatus where I was kicked out of the in-group, back on Chicken John’s bus. We’re driving at night, sleeping in shifts, on some mission more serious than the usual Chicken bus trip. It seems he’s chosen to ignore the past between us, but while I’m fussing about with various jobs on the bus I realize that while I’m relieved to be back with my friends, I hardly trust him at all. There’s a soft, eerie glow which under-lights the driver’s seat that accentuates this.
After a wake cycle in the early morning, perhaps 7 am, the dream is echoed, reflected, continued. A group of me, my wife, Rich, perhaps others are trying to cross the Bay Bridge in Rich’s RV. There’s a closure, or a slowdown, or shutdown, and I end up re-routing us on a residential road through Marin, which is located about where Treasure Island would be on a normal map. The road turns triangular along a marina where homeowners have semi-privatized the road, and eventually we run into a yellow house which has an addition built blocking the road itself. I can tantalizingly peek between the corners to where the road beyond, but on examining the map zoomed-in I see only more privatized, road-blocking, rich-people nonsense.
I’m now sneaking about, avoiding some kind of mindless hunter-police. I’m breaking into my own home, a sandstone-colored villa. I parkour over a corner wall into the backyard, similar to the narrow gap from the yellow house earlier. I bypass a few armed guards by wending around their sight-lines. Now I’m in the long backroom, a wine cellar with sunlit arched pane windows. I crawl gecko-like along the stone wall, avoiding the searching guards, and find the alcove of the hidden room. The stray thought occurs to me, “I should really change this code, it’s too easy” before I tap the top left stone and it recedes, opening the false wall into my sanctuary/safe room. It’s a chill dark movie lounge with little colored lights and popcorn and a home theater. Like a cozy fabric-lined cave. I was really happy to spend time there.