Not Lake Tahoe.
© 2016 e.gosney
A quick write up of a dream I had in January 2016.
Like a satellite crashing to the earth, my vision zoomed unfathomably fast from the heavens to the brown nothingness of Oklahoma. Just before hitting the ground, a gust of wind pushed me upward again. In the clouds I glided, surveying the almost non-existent typography below. My cell phone began to ring: video call. A face appeared in front of mine, sans phone. (Technology is much more advanced in my dreams.) It was Tony Stark and I was being briefed on my new role as part of The Avengers. “Finally!” I yelled to myself, keeping my cool on the outside. Avengers always keep their cool. Except Hulk, but we’ll give him that. I continued to fly while Tony Stark, who was at that moment getting geared up into Iron Man, told me that we all had to meet up in California immediately. And also, I would be at a disadvantage on our missions since I hadn’t earned the privilege of an earpiece yet.
The call ended and the possible consequences of the new information I’d just received began to form a list behind my eyes. “California, eh?” I thought to myself. “That’s much too far away. I’ll never make it in time. Let’s just jump over to Nevada to make the trip a little more manageable.” So jump I did, over Texas and Colorado and Utah, touching down near Lake Tahoe. “Much better.”
I’d strategically landed near an airport (smart), so now I could just make my way to the ticket counter to purchase passage to Anaheim (obviously we’d be meeting at Disneyland. This is The Avengers). That’s when the seriousness of my no-earpiece situation began to register. “How will I communicate? That’s HOW they communicate! Will they be able to hear me but I just won’t hear them?” Then I started questioning my identity. “Am I truly an Avenger? Who am I really? What is this life? Where did my cat go after we moved away? Did I lock the door when I left the house?”
By the time I had settled on the fact that I was, in fact, part of the Avengers and I would, in fact, get an earpiece of my own one day, I had made it to California. Images of the Hulk smashing up blocks of city streets and Hawkeye arrowing down enemies flashed in front of me occasionally, like a dream within a dream.
To get to the rendezvous point I had to snake my way through a minefield of kiosks in an average California mall. A jewelry stand stood out amongst the rest, the kiosk fashioned to look like an antique hutch painted robin’s egg blue and burgeoning with gaudy necklaces. The owner — a portly woman with a sour face and long brown hair — approached me as I tried to avoid eye contact. “Where do you think YOU’RE going?” she spat at me. I made a break for it, only to find myself and the kiosk transported to the top of a burned-out castle, encircled by blackened brick in a nearly-windowless touret. “You’ve destroyed our business!” the woman screamed at me, while I took in my surroundings and tried to find my bearings. “Are you listening?” Another woman spoke to me, appearing from within the kiosk. She was, no doubt, the owner’s daughter. “All of our necklaces are ruined!” the daughter shrieked, shoving one of the larger-than-life fake gemstones in my face. I could tell this was going to end soon and end badly. Avenger or not, I didn’t have an earpiece, therefore I didn’t have a hope.
Just as I was reaching for my cell phone, sure that there’d be an app on there that would help the situation, Iron Man burst through the door, blew up what was left of the kiosk with his hand-rocket-thing, and motioned for me to follow him out through the hole in the roof.
We were close to the rendezvous, I could feel it. We landed in the middle of a structure not unlike what I imagine a Russian prison would look like brand new and actually built in the 21st century. Huge gray walls made of concrete rose above us, jutting and turning in what I was able to picture from above as a human-sized rat maze. “Stay alive,” Tony said to me, “and meet up in 15 minutes.” He flew away, leaving me with a belt full of hand grenades, an assault rifle, and a machine gun. As soon as he blasted off, I started taking on fire. I ran for cover, finding the high ground quicker than I’d anticipated. Safe — for now — behind one of the concrete walls, I looked down at the labyrinth of wall-encased pathways to find my attackers. “There’s some!” Without a second thought, I propped my gun up in the opening and fired three shots. Pop-pop-pop! Three men down. I withdrew, throwing the gun around and onto my back as I sprinted up a ramp and away from where I’d just given away my position. More bullets came at me, whizzing past my ears and tearing at the edges of my sleeves. Dropping to my knees, I turned and fired behind me with the rifle again. Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop! Five more fell and I was still unscathed. Truly I was an Avenger.
As I turned back around to take out any other attackers who may have snuck up on me, I noticed movement in the distance. An overhang shadowed their identities, but instinct took over and I didn’t stop to consider if they were on my side. I pulled a grenade from my waist and lobbed it low and tight into the darkness. The explosion bounced off the walls and deafened me momentarily. Good thing I didn’t have an earpiece to worry about damaging.
I continued my hurried but calculated path through the compound, taking note of how good it would be as a museum if not for the bullet holes and corpses that would be sure to dampen the image. More bullets flew, narrowly missing me as I turned on the men from whose guns the shots were fired, taking them out with just one bullet of my own. I could not be stopped. The Avengers needed me. Then, just as I was approaching what I was sure was the rendezvous, a mortar skidded to a stop at my feet. This was the end. I could not run. I would not survive. I made peace with my 12 hours as a superhero and looked up to gaze into the eyes of my killer as I was blown to smithereens. But I couldn’t find them -- no doubt cowering behind one of those dang walls — but neither did the mortar blow. Once again I had escaped death. I would live on to be an Avenger for a little while longer. Perhaps even long enough to receive an earpiece and truly be accepted as one of their own.