Dream - The doomsday machine
In the dream, in this other universe, I had just had a birthday (in real life, my birthday was months ago), and I was taking a paper plate of brownies, wrapped in plastic, with me to eat on my trip. I was traveling by car, driving to another state to visit various military installations out in the desert. The installations were small, with small groups of people, where doomsday weapons, generally missiles of various types, were being worked on. We had been in a low-level war for a long time, against a large country on the other side of the world.
At one of the installations, people from another universe visited, appearing in a dimly lit and uneven hole in our universe. The people were dark-skinned, and looked like normal black people. They said that they, too, had been visited by aliens. They said that the aliens didn't talk much, but that the aliens did say they were from another universe or dimension and were not like us. As the visitors from another universe said that, I could see in my mind the aliens beside them.
The aliens looked like vague, three-dimensional shadows with wide, flat heads with points on the side, almost like flattened cat ears. The aliens' eyes were wide from side to side and somewhat narrowed, and glowed yellow-white with orange around the edges.
The people from another universe said that they didn't, themselves, possess the technology to come here and were just piggy-backing on the alien technology and couldn't stay long, and they soon disappeared.
At some point, I ended up in a restaurant in a small town. I was sitting at a table attached to a wall. Some other people were at the table with me. I had brought two large cloth bags with me. The bags had wide canvas straps for carrying and long zippers holding them closed. They held various things I brought with me on my trip, mainly notebooks and books and pens and pencils and various other things.
I opened the bags and began taking things out, laying them on the table and the floor. One of the things I took out was a computer, which was not something I had originally brought with me, but was something I had been given at one of the installations. It was about the size of a closed laptop computer, but it didn't have a hinged screen; the screen was built into it.
The screen display was dark, with a lit outline of an image. I was trying to adjust the display, to increase it to maximum size but not so large that the edges would be lost. The image also tried to tilt, and I had to adjust it to straighten it. It was difficult, because the controls at the bottom were very sensitive and just a touch made the screen move, and because the display was dark and the image on it didn't have straight lines or extend to the edges of the screen, which made it hard to see where the edges of the screen were.
The image on the screen was a colored outline of the United States. The image disturbed me, though, because there seemed to be something wrong with it. The outline seemed to show how the United States might look if the ocean had risen significantly and covered part of the coastline.
I finally decided it was time to leave the restaurant. I had been there a long time and it was getting late. I tried to put the things back in the cloth bags, but most of it seemed to be missing. As I looked around for it, more of it seemed to disappear. I finally left one mostly-empty bag there by the table, hoping that if someone found the missing stuff they would send it to me. I picked up the other, not very full bag, put it over my shoulder and left. Outside the restaurant it was dark. I put down the bag and fiddled with the computer display again for a while, before giving it up for later and moving on.
Sometime later, I was with a girl in a small car heading back to a town. We had evidently been out in the desert looking at some installations. I was in the passenger seat and she was driving. She was not very tall and was probably somewhere in her thirties, but it was hard to tell. She was wearing a short-sleeved lightweight dress that fell below her knees. The dress was wide, but extended out only moderately and seemed to want to hang in large folds. The dress was dirty with dust and what looked like soot, and so was she. This seemed to be normal; at least I didn't think it was anything unusual.
Outside it was daytime, though the sun wasn't very bright. The sky seemed to have a smoky haze with thin, smoky clouds. This also seemed normal. The car we were in was small and seemed to have very short fenders. From inside, I could see the tops of the front wheels. The tires were very wide and the tops were almost straight, with only a trace of tread. They seemed to be old, but I felt that new ones would not be much different.
The road we were on was dirt, and was wide and had a slight upward slope. The dirt of the road was the same color as the dirt of the desert, a pale brown, almost cream color, and seemed roughly bulldozed, with an occasional large chunk of sharp quartz rock on it. The tires didn't seem to care, though.
After we got back to town, we went in a small building with several rooms. I decided to take a nap. While I slept, the aliens communicated with the girl, with voices in her head. They told her how the conflict could be ended, how the war could finally be over. They told her how to build a doomsday machine, not a missile but something that would shoot poison gas high into the atmosphere and cover the Earth. It would take about half an hour to cover the Earth and settle down to where the people were, and another half hour to kill them. There was no cure and no antidote. Everyone would die.
She listened to the voices in her head and built the machine, while I slept on unaware. It looked somewhat like a large, very wide artillery shell, and was close to three feet tall. When it was finished, she stared at it for a while with eyes that were a little wide. Then she activated it.
An extremely dense column of air shot up, so dense that it was opaque, with ripples in the air at the edges. It continued for a while, as she watched, and then, its job done, either stopped automatically or was shut off by her.
A little while later I woke up. I had done pretty much everything I needed to do on this trip, and it was time to go home. I gathered up my bags, now fairly full again, and noticed that I still had two brownies left on the paper plate. This disturbed me somewhat, as I had intended to have them all eaten by now.
I went with the girl, then, to a local mall to have a last look around before I left. I had my bags hung over my shoulders by their straps and was still holding the paper plate with the two brownies, wondering if I should start eating them now or leave them for the trip. The mall was large and crowded with people. The ceiling was unusually low for a mall, perhaps only ten or twelve feet high, and a large grate was in it not far from us.
As I looked at the grate, blue air, clear and see-through, started flowing out of it, looking almost like flowing blue water. The girl beside me looked up at it and her eyes grew wide in panic. She began to run, crossing in front of me and going to the right, and ran rapidly off down the mall. She was soon lost in the crowd.
I didn't understand what was happening, but I knew something was wrong and ran after her. I couldn't see where she was, but I went in the direction that she had been going and where I hoped she might have gone. As I ran, I changed direction to go at a long angle across the wide aisle of the mall, and I found a door at the other side. I went through the door, though I wasn't sure whether she had gone that way or continued down the mall.
The door led to the outside, where a large, narrow triangle of landscaped ground was. It had lots of green bushes and some strange green trees that looked almost like giant broccoli sprigs six or eight feet high. Between the plants, pale ground was visible, the same ground that was everywhere else. To the left, a wide, paved road came out from under an overpass, an overpass that seemed to be an extension of the mall. The road went past me at a slight angle toward the mall, and was filled with vehicles moving very fast.
I started running to the right at an angle toward the road. I was running very fast, the figures 60 and 66 miles per hour came into my mind. I saw the bushes and trees rush past me as I ran. I felt that I could have merged with the traffic on the road, but I decided to run in the dirt beside it. Early on, I had dropped to all fours, reaching out with both hands and grabbing the earth with my fingers, pulling on it and sending a spray of it backwards as I went forward, bounding along.
As we left the landscaped area, the plants thinned out and became sparse and changed in character, becoming more like clumps of grass and occasional small bushes. The road gradually turned toward the town, or what I thought was the town. I could see it in the distance, but it was much bigger than I remembered; it was a small city. The buildings were close-spaced, with occasional tall buildings sticking up. All the buildings were a light tan color, the same color as the dirt.
I was losing energy now, though I didn't really feel tired. The vehicles had all gone ahead and the road was empty now. While they were still there, the road had become progressively less maintained, and had turned briefly into a dark gravel before becoming dirt. Now I continued alone, still by the side of the road, on hands and knees now, still reaching out both hands at once and pulling myself along.
A raised area had appeared by the road, perhaps six or eight inches high on the side by the road and perhaps half that on the other side. The somewhat-flat top was about eight inches wide, and the sides dropped off sharply from it. The raised area had a line of holes in it, a line that extended into the distance, and had uneven, eroded cracks between some of the holes. The holes appeared to have originally been a few inches across, but were now mostly filled in. Some of the dirt in the holes appeared to be relatively fresh. As I pulled myself along the raised area, I wondered if some animals might be living in the holes, and might jump out and try to get me. None did, though.
Eventually, I came to realize that the raised area with the line of holes was all that was left of an ancient wall of dried clay blocks. The clay blocks were built somewhat like concrete blocks, in that they were about the same size and had hollow areas, but the hollow areas in the clay blocks were smaller and the clay blocks didn't seem to be as tall.
I continued toward the closer-but-still-distant city, crawling on my stomach now, still pulling myself forward with both hands, fingers clawing at the hard, eroded surface of the dried clay blocks, sending more dirt into the holes. The raised area that had been a wall of blocks was down to the level of the rest of the desert now, and the only things that distinguished the dirt of the still-wide road from the dirt of the desert were the flatness of the road, the lack of vegetation on it, the occasional tire track, and the line of holes near the edge of it.
The part of me that knew what was going on wondered if somewhere, someone would realize what was happening and set off the missiles, in an attempt for revenge against an apparent attack. Wouldn't it be funny, I thought, if the atomic explosions when the missiles hit turned out to destroy the poison and allow a few people to live on. Wouldn't it be funny, I thought, if the missiles that had been intended to be doomsday weapons actually ended up saving a few people.
The part of me on the ground knew nothing about that, and didn't understand what was happening. I knew something was wrong, and that I was very weak and getting weaker. I had hoped that I could at least reach the city before I died, but I was afraid now that I might not make it. I looked at the city, still so far away, and continued to slowly crawl toward it.