I dreamed about the place where everyone goes for their real-life city dreams. It was called Noetic City. It was always night, and there was no visible sky, just darkness and the glow of neon and streetlights. It's cold and wet and there's a sheen of water on the streets and shallow puddles everywhere.
It's where you meet the dreams you have, or you see them in the movie theaters, or they just happen to you.
It's thronged with real people though, all the other people having dreams. No cars. You walk everywhere, many alleys, many buildings with walkways to walk through. Lots of shops.
So I went through this place and saw everything.
The best place was a place where a man carved things out of wood that became living things or real things. Like, he could carve a tiger and it would become a real tiger, or it represented a real actual, individual tiger. He said if I stayed, I could learn too, but it was really dangerous. He had a whole case full of real miniature things. These things that he made were the only objects capable of crossing over for real.
He offered to let me take something with me, but I don't remember what, if anything, I took. He had strong hands that I think were made of wood like the wood he worked, because they were very dark. The saw he used was a big jigsaw, and really scary. He carved things from wood slivers mostly, like those snap-together 3-D wooden models you can get in the kids' section of the craft store. The bits and pieces came around on a track like a model train, with all these little dioramas around it, until they reached the blade, and then he'd carve them and his assistant would put them together, and it was just so cool to watch.
There was a clothing store that only had one thing that would fit you. You had to find it, but when you did you realized it was just what you were looking for, and you always liked how you looked in it. There was a room that was all mirror, and you could see yourself from any angle. You put the outfit on and you took pictures and this was added to how you thought you really looked.
There was a restaurant where they served you anything, as much as you wanted, all for free, and nobody left hungry. You came with friends and you left with friends, but they were not always the same people. That's not creepy as it sounds. Mostly it just means that you were making friends with dream people you'd never met, and that's why some people know each other, or feel like they do, before they've met in real life.
There was a place where you could get records/tapes/cds of everything anyone knew. Poe was popular, for some reason. But they were all dead people, who had been dead a long time so their stuff was public domain. All their secrets were bonus tracks, and listening to them was not necessarily recommended. Most people only bought one thing, then never came back, but there was other stuff to buy, like tee shirts and stickers, so they did okay.
There was a shop that sold magic tricks that were actually just things that worked like they were supposed to. It had a bin full of playing cards of all kinds and sizes, for 2 cents each (but not really, it was just a sign, and you could draw one if you wanted one). You could choose as many as you liked, but since these were all playing cards lost from real decks, you'd never have all the cards from any one deck, which meant that you couldn't use them as playing cards. You really needed to know what you meant to do with it when you took one. Some people interpreted them like tarot cards. Some people used them to write messages on. Some people just put them in their pockets. I picked some for these kids behind me; little half-sized cards.
There was a tattoo shop called Premonitions where you chose your flash and they tattooed it on you using music (and that's why you have songs stuck in your head sometimes). These tattoos are representative of things that are going to happen soon, and the tattooist is the one who decides which of them to give you and therefore tell you about, even though all the ones you picked mean something, and represent things that are very likely to happen.
There were places, too, without anyone in them, or hardly anyone. Like places that are part of bad dreams, or which are the dreams of places that have bad dreams, but most of those were inaccessible. There were people caught on the edges. People obviously sick, people who couldn't leave, or people who were lost. Lots of addicts.
There were whole sections just for people other people had dreamed into existing. People who were parts of other people's dreams. The sex dream ones were sex workers. Some were bad people because people dream about people who hurt them. Some were fading away and semi-shapeless and it wasn't possible to tell if those were fading dreams or dreams that hadn't been born quite yet.
And walking down between these two squalid, pressed-together apartment buildings, a door banged open and a girl with two ponytails and amber hair came running out, holding some sort of animal in her arms. She was running from a bunch of big dogs that were barking and snarling after her. A man was yelling for her to get her ass back there; he was really gross and scary.
I walked past him, then turned around and yelled at him so he'd look away from the girl and not see where she went. I told him to shut up and stop yelling, to just stop it. He threatened me pretty graphically but I knew he was a dream, I knew it was all a dream. I knew he couldn't hurt me. He yelled and foamed and I yelled at him to GET BACK, like a dog, and he settled back, surprised, because I wasn't supposed to be able to do that. I was supposed to be scared. It was his job to scare people, it was what he was, what he did, and I ordered him and his other dogs back inside.
I worried about the girl because maybe it was her home that she dreamed about, or her past, and I knew she'd maybe have to come back, but at least the dream was maybe over. Maybe I made it to where it wouldn't be as bad next time, or maybe he hadn't been a dream but a real person, and he'd wake up slightly less of an asshole. Walking away, I really didn't know.
There were rats with the tails of other animals – I don't know what that was about.
Nobody bought anything there, you just traded what you had with other people, and sometimes those trades were fair and sometimes they only seemed like good ideas at the time and sometimes they weren't fair and you knew it, and you did it anyway because the other person really needed to take what you had or give you what they had.
And for everyone who comes there's a thing given to you, a special thing. You never know what it might be but you know when you have it and when you have to give it up. You might forget about it or lose it, but it can't be lost forever, and nobody can take it from you; it has to be given away. Some people start with nothing or lose things or just forget where they put them, but they find it again, always.
I had a woven blanket (green, rough, a little too small) of experiences, words people gave me that were good, and it's armor and magic and a the map of the place all at once.
These things, your thing, once you have it, you may give it to someone else when you know it's time, when you see that they need it.
But when you do that you will forget everything about the place, and you have to start all over again. With a different thing.
I started wandering around just looking at this place, and the people were mostly just lovely, and I thought, this can't be all there is to it, because nothing is this nice, really. I moved back, back into the darker parts, behind, looking around. I saw two people crying, a white, blonde woman in a salmon sweater, and her black boyfriend who was wearing glasses and a green cable-knit sweater-vest, and he was comforting her and I thought she needed a blanket, but she had him, so she'd be okay.
I passed a little girl who was lost – a different one – and she was clearly concerned but not hurt or scared so I thought she didn't need it either.
I passed someone calling their cat. What use is a blanket there? What he needed was a lost pet sign, and maybe he could get one made at the tee shirt shop.
I passed some old people sitting in back of a shop which they couldn't keep open, and a blanket wasn't going to help them any.
I passed empty body shops, and an empty strip bar with a really offensive name, and behind restaurants and among the steaming pipes that wound between buildings until I was pretty sure I was wandering way away from where I was supposed to be. But I was looking for someone. I knew I was going to wake up, I'd already half-woken up three times. I had a blanket to give away, I needed to do it, but none of these were the right people.
I finally found a guy who looked really miserable and desperate, clearly homeless but maybe newly so. He was digging in the garbage bins. He had something in a bundle in his hands and I don't know whether he had just pulled it out or was putting it in there, but it was still the only thing he owned, obviously. So I went up to him after he did that – because that was obviously what he needed to do – and I gave him my blanket.
He took it from me and thanked me sincerely, and I said "I don't know if that's what you've been looking for, but it's what I have, and I gotta go soon, so maybe you can use it to find something better. It's a good blanket, not like as a blanket because it's rough and scratchy and too small even for a short person, but because it knows things and will whisper them to you, and that makes it hard to be lost, or at least makes you less scared of being lost, so you take it and I'm going back to the real world, and wow, you don't even know this is a dream."X-posted from Dreamwidth. Comment count: