I am specially invited to the over-the-top birthday party of a billionaire — already in progress. Individual areas of a landscaped hillside are dedicated to showing off his different interests. Part of a cohort of other guests, I experience a sequence of fully-themed gardens and rooms. One building contains a pool where the water level rises and falls, revealing more amusements. I point out in another that a sword, casually mounted on the wall, was one of the most expensive ever made for a TV show.
Yet I remember, when I was young, I used to walk a trail through the dry grass nearby. Maybe it was a former family home. It all looks so different now, it’s hard to believe.
Eventually we catch up with the billionaire birthday boy. His manner is underdramatic, overly familiar in an unsettling way. Maybe I do know him from somewhere before — the sale of the family home perhaps? — because he seems to act like he knows me. It slowly dawns on me and the other guests, though. The glittery bombastic showcase was essentially a distraction. This place is a trap; once at the bottom of the luxurious hill one must serve one’s betters in order to escape. I become a butler, or something like it.
I have become a lone warrior on a long-term mission. Lately I’ve been hunting in the corridors of a building which feels like an attic bunker, with inadequate lighting and unfinished wood construction. By piecing together and following old training instructions I locate and make entry into a small interior room. I’m led to believe I can recharge there (the resource is perhaps a powerpack, perhaps water or food, etc).
But waiting in the room is an adversary: a deceptively-presented large fat older woman with wispy greying ginger hair and bulging yellow low-class outfit. She attempts to poison me with urine in a cup. We engage in a heated struggle and are equally matched. Other characters appear also, led to the same room in the same way. One is like King Mob from The Invisibles comic series. All are formidable. These six fighters crossing paths in a small room reach a grueling stalemate and eventually, I’m forced to search for further options.
Upon consideration, such a confluence of skilled warriors seems not likely coincidence. I notice a soft-spoken Latina girl who’s gone overlooked until now — cowering, or perhaps simply willing herself to go unnoticed. Her name is Garan. I get her to sign her name, and share whatever advice comes to her mind with the exhausted group. It fits in like a puzzle piece, a tangram that somehow finishes a set. We are released from combat and from that room, all of us. There then remains though, among we six formidable folk, the strange knowledge that this shy young woman, with her reserved manners and heartfelt words, is akin to us somehow… for all our quite considerable collective violence.
I’m still serving the same billionaire. I’ve been doing it so long, while working off my debt, that I’ve been endowed superpowers — temporarily for the duration, at least. Today I happen to be in a cheap portable building waiting on a job, idly examining a small lizard wrapped around my right index finger. Powerful critter; my digit circulation gets cut off. I infer when I awake later that this means I was left-handed in the dream — an odd detail.
After that I inspect a performance stage below a tent. The backboard features quotes which Mr. Billionaire liked, which given any amount of self-awareness are monumentally ill-advised and cringe. Much like the man himself. I still recognize him for what he is, even though by now I’m supremely skilled at my job for him. Not that I’m any happier with being tricked into the work in the first place.
There’s an issue I have to deal with. As more people filter in for the performance, I need to lure a giant monitor lizard (a komodo dragon) away and out. This is an energetic, determined beast, always focused on something. Even with powers of flight this is a challenge as I can only go so high up. While I can get it outside, and can reliably distract it away from other people, it manages to climb a tall Christmas tree growing among the dry grass field. I’m finally able to shepherd it outside a containment boundary. I am granted, or perhaps simply remember, that I can utilize a very useful power — invisibility.