Mission Improbable Part II

Nature Calls

Carrie slid face downward across a smooth floor until the top of her head encountered a wall, bringing her to an abrupt halt. “Owww!” She pulled herself into a sitting position and rubbed her nose and head while she blinked and looked about.

She could remember Rogue barking, Toodles yowling and a glowing green mist that sucked her into a cupboard and… She looked around again. The creamy white ceramic floor she had slid along rose seamlessly into walls and a ceiling, as though she were inside a roofed coffee cup. Behind her, the place she had entered through was now smooth and whole. She searched the area, running her fingertips over the surface. There was no sign of an entrance, and the green mist had completely disappeared. Stepping back, she peered left and right. The corridor was curved like a tunnel and led away on either side of her, lit by a soft glow which seemed to have no source.

Carrie smiled and nodded confidently. “I get it. This is a dream. I must have fallen asleep. Shouldn’t have had that half bottle of wine after dinner.” She shrugged. “Oh well, might as well follow it through.” She pointed at the either end of the tunnel alternately, mouthing an old nursery rhyme, before settling on one and striding away.

Curved recesses that Carrie assumed were doors of some kind lined the tunnel walls, apparently randomly along the sides, floor, and ceiling. Bordering each recessed section were long lines of symbols, some black, some raised, and some flashing intermittently. Pressing on the recessed areas and the symbols caused no reaction, Carrie discovered. She frowned, wondering when she would wake up.

Walking farther, she found that new corridors opened in the tunnel walls, and she followed them randomly. They all seemed identical but for the symbols along the edges of the recesses. She examined them closely and found that no two sets of symbols were the same. The only factors linking them were their positioning in the corridors and their utter lack of any apparent meaning. There was nothing she remotely recognised. She began to take a dim view of her subconscious for coming up with this stuff.

As she wandered along, a nagging ache in her lower regions alerted her to another reason she needed to wake up. The after-dinner wine she had drunk had made its way through her body and was now asking to be released. Carrie stopped and closed her eyes before quickly opening them wide. “Damn. Why can’t I wake up?” She began marching in small steps. “Come on, dream, be over.” She increased her pace, hoping her dreaming mind would supply an exit.

She stopped. There it was, unmistakeable, the symbol to answer her prayers. Towards the top of a recess was a black circle above a triangle with a rectangle below. She had found the women’s toilets. Her sleeping mind must have put the symbol there as a way to leave her dream.

Reaching up, Carrie thumped the symbol and stood back expectantly. The recess didn’t open nor move even slightly. “Oh, come on.” She scanned the rest of the meaningless signs and pressed them up and down the line randomly, then in sequence, then in patterns. She tried hitting them hard and pressing them gently. “Open up! I want to wake up now. I need to spend a penny.” The motionless face of the recess seemed to mock her. “Now you’re being really annoying.”

She drummed on the symbols, the walls, the recess, and the floor until, an uncomfortably long time later, she gave up. Up and down the corridor all was still and silent. This dream was crazy. She vowed never to drink after dinner again. And maybe even before dinner. Or while eating.

Wondering what to do next, she rested her hand against the recess. As her palm made contact the barrier disappeared, sending her tumbling through an open entrance.

Her knees struck the floor and she threw her hands out while screwing her eyes shut against a glaring white light, much brighter than the soft glow of the corridor. She opened her eyes a slit, then immediately closed them again. Her dream had turned into a nightmare. Her brief glimpse had told her she was in a cream ceramic room, and at its centre squatted a large, bronze, hard-shelled, many jointed, bug-eyed thing. Carrie swallowed and, with a sense of inevitability, looked over her shoulder towards the opening she had fallen through. It was no longer there.

“Wake up now, please,” she squeaked. Squinting ahead once more, a faint hope formed in her. Maybe the creature wasn’t alive? Maybe it was a statue?

Ten pairs of legs started simultaneously into motion. The thing scuttled towards her, and Carrie scuttled backwards on hands and feet, never taking her eyes from the monster, until she reached the corner of the room. “Dream be over, dream be over.” She pasted herself into the unyielding wall. The huge bug approached, dripping mucus from its jaws as they opened, the claws at the ends of its legs tapping against the ceramic floor. When its head was a short distance from Carrie’s face, the creature stopped. She was entertaining a fleeting thought that there was a tiny, remote chance she wouldn’t be eaten, when another set of jaws, smaller, sharper and infinitely more vicious, appeared from the gaping maw.

Carrie closed her eyes and waited for the end, wondering if it was possible to feel pain in dreams.

“Thank you for coming. Would you please take a seat?”