I woke up many times in the night, so as usually results from that, this dream was highly fragmented. Lots of different, seemingly unconnected scenes. They were very vivid and detailed though, I think because I slept for so long and was sleep deprived beforehand. Those seem to be two reliable predictors for wild, rich dreams.
I was initially inside some sort of cave system. Tunnels connected to this gigantic central cavern, on the ceiling of which there was this snaking metal overhead rail way. Suspended from it was a sort of hanging industrial metal platform which could slide along the rail system, controlled by a pedestal with all manner of knobs and switches on its face.
I used this moving platform to cross the subterranean chasm. The floor of the cavern was so far below me I could not see it, just an endless black expanse. When I reached the other side and climbed from the platform into the tunnel, I found something else entirely.
You know those networks of pneumatic tubes at banks that they use to transport cash and paperwork in those little sealed capsules? It was like that, but in an underground tunnel system. “We could use this to send a message to the surface” said some guy in a hard hat who appeared beside me when I wasn’t looking.
I declined, explaining that I knew the guy who built this tube system and found his personal politics highly disagreeable. Foer that reason I was apparently unwilling to use something which he had built, even though it could’ve been immensely useful to me right then.
I woke up here. The next dream, after I returned to bed, found me sitting in a car just outside a brightly lit up gas station at night. Everything was blanketed in thick snow. I was waiting on someone to finish using the bathroom in the gas station I think?
While I waited, I played some music. The mechanism for doing this was unlike anything I have ever seen. Some kind of huge cartridge, very slim but not as slim as a playing card. A bit thicker, like a floppy diskette. Only it had exposed pins on the end so it was indeed some kind of solid state flash storage device.
The thing is, it had four ports in it you could slot smaller, SD card type cartridges into. Somehow I knew each smaller card was called a CU16, and contained a single song. The larger card was called a CU64. Together, they were basically a system for manually assembling mix tapes. Just slot the smaller cards into the larger one, in the order you want the songs to play.
While I was doing this, I noticed the card had begun to slide down the slope behind me. The snow and ice must’ve made it slippery enough. There were dozens of other cars bunched together, also sliding down the slope, but the people in them did not look bothered by it.
When I rolled down my window and shouted at the car next to me, they rolled down their window. I asked if I should be worried about how we were all sliding down the slope. The woman in the other car assured me it was not a big deal, because the snow would melt eventually.
For some reason I accepted this as a satisfactory answer. Don’t look at me, dream logic at work. I woke up again here, and when I next fell asleep, I found myself inside a mid 1990s mall. I’m sort of ashamed at how frequently this setting appears in my dreams.
Often it’s not a mall exactly, but a vast contiguous living space made out of the same kinds of stuff as malls. Same carpeting, same decorations, like if you were to take a mall from that time period and just keep expanding on it until it was the size of a city, then add in stuff like apartments, schools, hospitals and so on.
I chalk that up to being brainwashed by the aggressive consumerism of the 80s and to a lesser extent the 90s. Maybe some part of me thought we’d all be living in malls by now. But then again I was also always fascinated by airports, which are architecturally similar.
I find the idea of huge indoor cities cozy and comforting somehow. Like the ultimate expression of chrysalism? As a result, many of my dreams take place in some sort of retro-futuristic indoor city, or “arcology” like this.
I was shopping for a laptop for my mom. Not a laptop exactly, much smaller but very very slim and a clamshell design. Like an oversized palmtop? Touchscreen, full desktop operating system, I think what would today be called a notebook computer, or a micro laptop.
I was checking the specs to see if it could emulate consoles she used to enjoy playing puzzle games on, but someone whose face I do not recognize (yet apparently was friends with in the dream world) dragged me away from it.
“You always go straight to the computers” she complained. Frizzy red hair like that girl from Starship Troopers who wasn’t Denise Richards. She was dressed in the sort of outlandish neon patterned clothing that was fashionable in the 80s and early 90s, but a one-piece mixture of spandex and neoprene I’ve never seen on anybody.
“I want to see the pet shop!” So we did. There, a middle aged man with dark hair and a big gut was feeding the fish. She asked what kind of fish they were. To my surprise he plucked one out of the water and it flapped what looked like thin, membranous wings. “Flying fish” he said, matter of factly.
Only, I know what flying fish look like. These were more like blue tangs with flying fish fins/wings on them. Some kind of hybrid? Some police then appeared at the entrance asking about a shoplifter. We said we didn’t see anybody run by here.
After they left, the middle aged man confessed he wasn’t really the shop owner. That the shop owner had stepped out for lunch and he was pretending to be the owner to evade the police. “You two should get out of here. Don’t tell anybody you saw me.”
I woke up here. That was just the end of it. Lots of different themes going on here, like feeling anxious that there’s something wrong with the world around me nobody else seems bothered by (the sliding cars), desire not to make use of the work of somebody whose views I dislike (the pneumatic tube network) and the recurring culturally ingrained consumerism of these bizarre indoor mall cities.
Each seems like the barest beginnings of some meaningful message, but none of them really went anywhere with their respective core concepts. That seems to happen frequently. They’re just starting points, which I often explore further in writing when I make them the basis for stories.
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