It starts with an explosion. A man pushes a missile out through the window of a moving car. It launches toward a beautiful building with a rounded dome top. The course is set so that it appears it will bounce off the side of the dome but the missile alters its course mid-flight, circling around the building, tilting up and taking a nose dive into the massive lake that sits in the middle of the city.
I watch as a cloud of orange ignites beneath the water. A whirlpool builds just under the surface, it picks up and soon it has inverted itself outside, a tornado hovering over the lake, glowing orange, green, black. Now a million flaming arrows of dust tail spew out of the top, wrapping the sky in a firefly dome.
"Take cover!" These words seem to be coming from my mouth as I'm running, fast, for the only building I know is safe. Less than a block from here is a nano-enforced self-healing flat. The light in the night sky hovers briefly as I round the street corner, and then it descends.
Inside the building, a man is holding another at gunpoint. I know these men. The man with the gun is bad man, as men with guns tend to be. His name escapes me but I know he works for the man who launched the missile today. Whether he is after something or just wants to kill us, I'm not sure. His feeble adversary, quivering from the barrel aimed at his face, is my dear friend and business partner.
This flat is our office. The walls are lined with touch screen displays of the city, underground maps of the lake floor, schematics for the whole damned downtown. We were building a new bone structure for the city, a new foundation that would be safe from any natural or unnatural alteration. Earthquake? No problem. The city could take it, bending and shifting, padding the buildings with shock-wave absorbers and dynamic arches that bend but do not break. Nano-absorbent buildings that can take everything from fire to firebomb, filtering external elements into safe, clean, breathable particles.
"They are all dead out there. The whole city has been wiped clean. Not a biological spec aside from us here in this building. I don't have to kill you two. Devon is a lenient man. I can talk to him." The big bad man holsters his little gun and shrugs. He turns to walk out the door but pauses, "Oh, by the way, do you remember the combination to the safe in the office?"
I know the combination. 3167. It comes to me without thinking. "Oh, uh," I delay. "3... no, wait... oh, what was it..." I'm grabbing hold of a couch attempting to achieve the look of a man trying to remember. "Let me see if I wrote it down," I say, walking around the wall separating the main room from one of the offices. I hear my partner blurt out the code. Then I hear a quiet but certain shot. Silence.
A shadow moves across the hall and I lunge at the man. Wrapped around his back, I'm holding the gun at bay with one hand and clawing at his right eye with the other. His eye comes loose, external to the socket and I grab on with a whole fist to rip it from his scull. He doesn't scream. I take the other eye too, heaving them each at the ground.
Now that he's blind I run down the spiral staircase leading to the street. It's nearly a dozen floors down and I know that every level will increase the probability that he will come tumbling down if he attempts to follow me blind. Halfway down, I stop, exhausted, panting, he can hear me. I have his gun and I aim it up the staircase, awaiting his slow approach and soon I see him, all dressed in fine blue, save the spatters of red from his seeping eye sockets. I fire the gun. The bullet appears to go through him. I fire again and again. Still he walks closer. There are no bullets left as I click at the barrel for the last time and the man is gone. He simply vanishes before my eyes.
Making my way down the stairs, I head for the streets.
"What are you doing here?" This I address to an EMT I used to know, before she died. She's sitting on the stairs that go from the street level to the front door of the flat, next to a man who is bleeding from every opening possible.
"You are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress," she grabs my shoulder, "I'll be here until you get better. This man here isn't real. Put him out of your mind. None of them are real."
The stairway is laced with bodies, not quite dead, standing and staring at me. We pass them all as we descend into the street.
Now, there, just in front of me, a woman jogging, an old man walking a dog, college students laughing. A giant beach ball catches my eye and I turn to see a teacher in a playground with dozens of children, all circling around the ball, laughing, screeching. The noise of a populated city fills the air.
My old, dead friend calls to me, "we should keep you in the flat until you are capable of dealing with the outside."
A little girl stares at me from the playground. "No," I say, tears mixing with the blood in my scraped cheek. "That won't be necessary."
As usual, this is just a snippet of my dream. There were many, long, detailed moments that I left out because they diverted into a dozen or so other plot tangents but this is the story that wrapped it all up from beginning to end.
Notes for me later: Squatter village, filled with stuff--piles and piles of highly organized stuff (neckties and tv's, toys and books), filling makeshift backyards. The large yuppy parents attacking the mayor to remove this part of the city. Saving the turtle and the hare from the government agents who want to inspect the fallout. My argument with the youthful agents about how obvious it is that we are all suffering from radiation poisoning. The glow-in-the-dark wheat fields, bulbs like fireflies. The painful air. The battle inside the office space where I pretend to be dead until the henchman peels my eyelids back to make sure.