FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1979
I wake up as usual and try to put all this weirdness in the back corners of my mind, so that I can get on with the normal day’s activities of getting through my high school classes. I still haven’t a clue as to how, or for that matter, a clear idea as to why, I’m destined to help Lana.
But one thing I’m sure of. I’m determined to figure out some way to get back to that dream place and take care of those rats.
“Forewarned is forearmed” is something that I once read and is advice I’m going to take.
. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 16th ed., gives the cite from The Modern Library Giant edition of Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra's Don Quixote of La Mancha as: Book III chap. 10 pg. 502. Though I cannot locate the same citation in my edition which is Signet Classic, New American Library, translated by Walter Starkie, 1964. Cervantes first published Don Quixote in 1605
CHAPTER FIVE : THE PRICE OF PASSAGE
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1979
Throughout all my classes, while part of me was focusing on my teachers and my assignments, another part of me was bubbling over with anticipation waiting to do what had to be done next. As always, my answer to any dilemma is to go searching for a book. Someone, somewhere, has faced most problems and lived to write about them.
During lunch hour, I peruse my high school’s library card catalog for some inkling of a clue. But I’m not really sure this is going to help. It’s not as if I can look up in the “How To” section and find a book entitled: “How to deal with a swarm of rats that you encounter in your dreams.”
I’m flipping through the subject file cards waiting for inspiration to strike. Hmm. Sort of like waiting or prompting Jaynes’s idea of the Muses of the right brain to speak. Anyway, the Muses don’t seem very obliging today. The only thing of any interest is that I discover that my school has a copy of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. I had read this book three or four months ago. In the novel, Lovecraft had created a fictional setting, which is a world of dreams separate from day light reality. This is similar to what my own dream creation, the Lord of Mictlan, was describing. I retrieve the book from the shelves and I scan through it. I come upon rat-like creatures called Zoogs. They’re sort of like the giant rats that attacked me!
My unconscious must have remembered this novel of Lovecraft and fabricated my own version of a Dreamland from my memory of his book. That is, unless the Lord Mictlan was telling me the truth and she was no figment of my imagination and neither were the rest of the events. Wow! It would be such an amazingly cool thing if there really were a parallel world, which you can enter through your dreams. Great stuff. But, could it really be real? Could I really have gone to a separate world, called Dreamland? That’s pretty farfetched, Lamont. But, no more farfetched than people walking off the face of the Earth in a flash of purple light which I happened to see because I’m dreaming and somehow connected to Lana. One theory is as bizarre as the other is. Who knows what is true? “Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.” “The more outré’ and grotesque an incident is the more carefully it deserves to be examined.” Well said, Holmes. The events of these few weeks are most definitely a three-pipe problem.
Presumably finding Lovecraft’s novel was what I was searching for, so now I return my thoughts to the mundane world of High School. I spend the night pushing around Camus’ book The Myth of Sisyphus a big homework assignment from Ms. Brandon, my English teacher, on existential literature. When I finish with my homework, it’s late and I go to sleep with the intention of returning to last night’s dream setting: the place that the Lord of Mictlan said was called Dreamland.
I can tell where I am by the distinctive smells of the Primordial Forest. Yet, I sense both familiarity and peculiarity about this Dream setting. I immediately decide, out of preemptive caution, to hide. Damn! Here I am again without anything to protect me against those giant rats! Not even a flashlight or a flame-thrower. Oh well, I sigh.
Suddenly I’m aware of that chittering sound mixed with the smacking of small mouths as they chew in delight. Fear now raises its small hungry head and takes a bite out of my gut. I cautiously peer around the tree that hides me. There are those rat things. They’re just finishing feasting on some poor soul.
That weird tingling starts at the back of my neck as I look to see who they are finishing off. It’s me! They’re feasting on my body. How is this happening? How did I get back here, at this time and in this paradoxical situation?
Unfortunately, surprise overcomes fear and a small cry of amazement escapes my lips. I watch as a few of the rat-things perk up their ears and listen. They try to smell my presence. Should I run?
Too late. Three of them come heading my way. I’m just sitting here! I can’t move. My heart is pounding. I’m sweating and trapped by fear. They, somehow, I’m certain of this, smile when they see me behind the tree. One of them opens and closes its mouth. This goes on for a few seconds as the other two sit there staring at me.
“Well? Has some nasty cat got your tongue? Answer me! What’s your name?”
My eyes must have looked like they would pop out of my face. The only source of the words I heard had to have come from the rat thing before me. Impossibility? Perhaps, when I was awake, but here, I guess not. I try to stumble out something coherent in reply.
“Ahhh. Could you repeat that?” I mumble in apprehension.
“What’s your name and where are you going?”
“My name? My name is Lamont, and I don’t have any idea where I’m going.”
“Well, Lamont. We, Sumatra are...”
“Hey! You’re the giant rats of Sumatra!”
“That is one of our names; it is the name we have chosen for you to use. Now as I was saying, we want you to know that we all thought you were a very satisfying and tasty meal.”
The other Sumatra rats come to join the talking one, and soon I’m encircled by them. They talk amongst themselves and then the spokes-rat turns and makes eye contact and again addresses me.
“We’ve decided not to eat you again. We’re all full now. However, we are debating whether to take you with us and save you for a later meal, when the craving for flesh comes upon us again. Unless...”
“Unless what?” I plead.
“Unless you can satisfy us in some other way right now.”
I’m not sure what satisfy us means, but all sorts of bizarre and disturbing ideas go flashing through my mind.
I hesitate to ask, but have to, “How could I satisfy you?”
“Well. Can you dance? Can you sing? Can you tell us a story? If you can entertain us, and we like your performance, then we might let you go.”
Hope! Quick, brain, do your stuff—think! “Umm, I could, tell a story.”
With that, they all seem to get more comfortable and wait for me to begin. What kind of a story do you tell rat things that want to be entertained after they have just dined on your own body? Hmm? “Once upon a time...”
A loud and collective fluttering Bronx cheer comes at me. “We’ve heard all those already,” the spokes- rat says in an annoying tone.
What now? How to begin? “A long time ago...” I say to stall. My next words come out by some kind of reflex, “in a galaxy far, far away.”
“Yes. That’s one we haven’t heard. Go on.”
So, I go on. I start telling a bunch of rats George Lucas’s Star Wars story.
They are mesmerized. I really get into it. I know instinctively, as I’m telling the story, that I’ll have to follow the example of queen Scheherazade and string them along, and thus not finishing the tale. I’ll probably need to get past these rat things at some later date.
I’m a hit. They agree to let me pass on the condition that I finish telling the further Star Wars adventures later when next we meet. I’m free to leave their territory in the Primordial Forest. Eventually I come to the perimeter of the Primordial Forest. I gaze up at the tree-less sky. There a huge full and pale bone white moon rests in black velvet. It’s three times as large in this Dreamland sky as in the sky I see when I’m awake. After a moments’ thought, I hypothesize that the moon must be closer to the Earth here than in the Waking World. The sky also contains a dazzling array of stars, though I can’t recognize any familiar constellations.
As I walk down the road, some farm and village folk smile and wave to me in a neighborly manner. They tell me I’m in the city of Nir. They resemble some English farming village that you would expect to see in a medieval period television program done by the British Broadcasting Company. I ask them where this road goes and they tell me to “The City.” I ask what city and they laugh and tell me the city of Atlantis. Atlantis! Fantastic. I thank them and run on down the road. Which I now note is made up of yellow bricks. What wonders await me in such a place? I come to a river with a stone bridge and beyond that, I’m not surprised at all to see a dazzling gold and emerald city.
Walking over the bridge, I hear a faint, muffled, but still horrible, scream. Someone somewhere cries out in fear and agony. I look all around me, but I’m alone. The back of my neck starts tingling as if I’m in an electrical storm. My mind reaches a conclusion and informs me that the muffled screams could only be coming from within one of the bridge’s support towers. As the scream continues, it melts away my will to move.
“Okay Lamont, take it easy. Don’t panic. Calm down.” But the sound of another muffled scream sends more shivers down my spine. “I’ve got to get away from here.”
I take a deep breath and run as fast as I can across the haunted bridge. With relief, I stop running when I feel bricks under my feet. I make it across the bridge. I’m on the road to the city of Atlantis. Maybe this is what Miriam meant when she said that beyond that wooden door I would find a way to help Lana. And, presumably, this is also where that mysterious female voice, who kept hinting at my great destiny, has a body. She must be somebody in the city of Atlantis. I just have to find her. A simple matter of the old needle in the haystack problem.
 From the short story “A Case of Identity”, by Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in Strand magazine September 1891.
 From Chapter 15 of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, first published in The Strand magazine August 1901 - April 1902.
 The phrase Holmes used to describe how long he needed to consider the facts of the case that Jabez Wilson presented in the short story “The Red Headed League”, by Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in The Strand magazine in August 1891.
 Star Wars: A New Hope, written and directed by George Lucas, 1977
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