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April 4, 2011 / Bika

Burning Blades

I have the weirdest dreams.

***

There’s a table in a lodge where everything is bare logs and whiskey. It’s warm inside and the table is brightly lit, but the corners of the room are filled with shadow and the windows are dark. A handful of comedians and writers take their seats at the table, laughing and talking. They’re funnier than I’ll ever be, and I feel lucky to be included as they settle in for a long evening together. They decide on a drinking game, one where everyone takes a shot and the person with the razorblade in their glass is asked a question. The more clever the response, the more points they are awarded. Most of them are amazingly clever, so they begin racking up the points as the night goes on.

The glasses fill on their own, and as I sit there quietly tipping back shot after shot of booze, I can’t help but wonder whether I’m supposed to swallow the razorblade when it’s my turn or what, because no one is explaining it. They just know what to do, and everyone else seems to be fine. Some of them display their razors between their teeth when they win, grinning, but I never see anyone take them out of their mouths, either. After a few rounds mostly spent worrying about razorblade etiquette, I begin to feel sleepy. I take a drink–this one has no razor either–and close my eyes.

I dream I’m watching the news, not on a screen but floating through space as though I am suspended inside the camera image. A man’s voice narrates as I watch a giant metal device, something he calls the Titan Space Crane, being sucked into an expanding black hole in the center of our galaxy. The announcer says that scientists are sorry for the loss of a valuable piece of research equipment, but excited for the chance to observe the effects of a black hole on a known object.

Meanwhile, people flood grocery stores in London in anticipation of a massive storm, buying out everything on the shelves and waiting in long lines to pay for their emergency supplies. For a moment I am a dark-haired girl carrying loaves of bread to the cashier, running to beat the storm, but it’s only a detour before I’m back in space flying over a burning planet.

At one point, the narrator tells me, the planet was colonized by a group of North and South American natives who left Earth because they saw a grim future for their people. To escape the imminent end of their society at the hands of foreign explorers, they traveled by spirit to another planet and established a new one. They prospered, but eventually discovered the planet was in a deadly orbit, pulled by gravity into the path of a star. There was no collision, but it didn’t matter. Just passing near that neighboring sun was enough to obliterate life as they knew it.

I watch, horrified and fascinated, as the planet burns and burns, slowly being pulled toward oblivion in the center of a black hole.

Flying over the surface of the planet I see there’s fire everywhere, engulfing tall, slender structures that don’t look like any buildings I’ve ever seen and that never seem to be consumed. The fire burns without fuel, covering hills and valleys. Flames dance on the limbs of trees that will not turn to ash. I move closer and weave my way through the old dead buildings crawling with fire and the ghosts of people who died there. Sometimes when I turn corners I see bizarre spirits lurking and shifting in the dark spaces. My language is inadequate to describe these beings, except to say that they are geometric curiosities and move in alien, improbable ways.

I wonder if my own planet is next, then remember that it’s almost my turn and I haven’t found the razorblade yet. Suddenly a pair of hands grip my ankle under the table where everyone is waiting for me to continue the drinking game. “Wake up and drink,” someone says, and I do.

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