In the dream, I am at my old desk, in my old cubicle, at my old job. Except it's totally dark in the building, and the light from my monitor is flickering and eerie. It's a spooky dream. I've had it once a week, at least, since the campaign started.
Jessica is in the cube with me, but she's way in the back. The cube is impossibly deep in the dream, and the light from the monitor doesn't reach her, but I know she's there, so I try to block the screen so she can't see what's on it. It's an unnecessary gesture -- the screen is so dark that I can barely see what I am writing. It's actual work, oddly enough, since I maybe did two hours worth of actual work a week while I was there. But the problem is IM windows keeps popping up. I close them as soon as they pop up, so I don't know what's on 'em, but I know it's something I don't want her to see.
This lasts a long time, hours it seems like. Then I'll click one and my computer just goes blank. I've lost all my work. Jessica laughs, but she sounds like Murray when he's drunk, which I've only seen twice. I should call tech support, I know, 'cause I've got a lot of important work on the machine, but I'm worried they'll see the IMs, so I crawl under my desk to check the cables.
It's damp under my desk, and smells like fresh dug earth, like my grandpa's field after the rock has been picked and the tiller's been through and maybe it's rained a little. In my dream I say to myself "Smells like loam."
I knew "loam" has something to do with earth, but I didn't know the exact definition, so I checked it out once at dictionary.com. "Soil composed of a mixture of sand, clay, silt, and organic matter." I hate when my sleeping brain knows something my awake brain doesn't. It's creepy.
Anyway, when I feel around I realize that the floor under my desk is indeed "loam," and, like the cube itself, it's dreamy-huge. I stay on my hands and knees, even though I sense there is room to stand up, because I'm worried I might hit my head, which will make Jessica laugh even harder, as it always does. After a few minutes, I find a tangle of cables and follow them to my computer, which is nearly as big as I am, and covered with blinking lights and dimly glowing dials. There's a milky window on the back side, and through it I can see the shapes of dozens, sometimes hundreds of people, just shapes and shadows. They're moving around and bumping into each other. I know they want me to help them. I think maybe they are who was sending me the IMs. And then I think maybe they didn't send the IMs, but can read them from in there. Either way, I need to get them out, fast.
I reach in my pocket and get my little Swiss Army knife, the one that I always carried until I forgot to leave it at home and it was confiscated at the airport last year. I use the screwdriver tool to start removing screws from the back of the computer case. I put the screws in Jessica's hands -- she's there with me now under my desk. She's crying. There are so many screws, but I work fast, piling them in Jessica's hands, and pretty soon I have the back of the computer off and the people shapes come pouring out. They're still just shapes and shadows, but they start to cheer.
And I turn around and Jessica is laying on the ground, covered in little computer screws, and there are two jammed in her eyes. She's still breathing, but she's almost dead. I kiss the inside of her palm because I know she likes that and tell her that she's my sunshine. She says, "I know." Then she dies.
That's usually when I wake up. Sometimes it's earlier, when I see the shapes in the computer, and one time I stayed asleep and watched her body sink slowly into the loam. Sometimes she looks like the last girlfriend I had before I met her, but it's still Jessica anyway. I wake up sweaty and sometimes crying.
It's the only dream I've really ever remembered, except the nightmare about the stranger in the bathroom when I was in kindergarden (the weird guy says, "Hello, young man"). I hate the dream. I've never told Jessica about it, like it's a secret I have to keep from her.
It's not the only one.