"The military is coming to get us," he said. "I'm getting out of here."
He left without another word.
With nothing else to do, I took a look at his puzzle myself. It was a large rectangular case with a glass panel on the front side that allowed one to see a series of rows of tiles with various letters on them. The tiles were attached to long rods that extended from one side of the case to the other, and by manipulating the handles on either side of the case one could remove the tiles from these rods and move them to new positions on other rods. In this way, the young man had been trying to spell the word mayonnaise at the bottom of the case, although at the moment it read, "mo unaise."
I figured that I could finish what he had started, and so I moved the "o" right out of there and replaced it with an "a." I found a "y" and tried to move it into place, but upon doing so the tile split into four: XY, YX, XX, and YY. Frustrated, I moved those out again and tried another "y." Same thing.
Around that time, I glanced out my parents' window and noticed that there was a large silver van arriving. I knew that this was the military that the young man had assured me were on their way, and I also knew that I had to get out of there. So I grabbed my things, mostly a stack of books and papers, and made for the back door.
I tried going around the west side of the house, but after opening the gate I saw that the soldiers were already getting out of the van and would spot me if I went that way. So I went back the other way and through a large arched gateway into the alley beside the house.
Proceeding southward down the alley away from the building, I glanced over my shoulder to ensure that the soldiers were not there. I continued past a small golf course and then a desert enclosed by large sandstone walls.
Eventually, I found a cushion evidently made into a makeshift bed by a hobo. So I lay down there and set down my things beside me. Looking back, I saw a hobo coming and immediately stood to apologize.
"No, it's okay," he said, waving his hand dismissively. "During the daytime I don't need it."
So I stayed put.
In a short while, I noticed the silver van coming down the alley, so I hid beside a corner and waited for them to pass.
Of course, they did pass, and I observed that luckily none of the soldiers inside were being quite observant enough to look around the corner, and so they didn't see me. Unluckily, they stopped a short ways down and got out to search the area. I clearly could not escape without being seen.
So I did the logical thing and lay down again, pretending to be a sleeping hobo.
I felt that my performance was really top notch, that even if they were to find me there, they would be fooled and I would be free. I snored loudly, lending further credibility to my charade.
The soldiers did indeed approach, and upon examining me they discovered my perfectly groomed fingernails.
"This is no hobo," they said.
Having seen through my act, the soldiers sent me away, back to my parents' house. Strangely, they allowed me to return on my own without an escort or guard. So I decided to travel back there by cutting through the desert I had passed earlier.
Making my way across the sand and amongst an array of large sandstone blocks, I came upon a woman with blonde hair off to my left. She was leaning against two of the large blocks, which had fallen and were lying lengthwise rather than upright.
As I approached, she smiled without really smiling, lending slight pronunciation to the subtle wrinkles on her face. She was neither a young woman nor an old one, but I felt that she was important.
"What is the meaning of all of this?" I asked her.
I don't remember now what it was that she said to me. Not the exact words. I believe that she said something about how the meaning was up to me. Then again, that might be what I only hope she had said, just a subsequent fabrication or reconstruction of my mind, created only in retrospect from out of the ether.
~ ~ ~
What is the meaning of all of this? Indeed. Who can be sure?
My name is Luke, and the narrative that just ended was a dream that I had last night. There are details that are gone, and some of the details that appear above have almost certainly changed from initial dream to subsequent recollection. But what can I do about that? Perhaps it doesn't really matter.
Subterranean Ether is a blog in which I record my dreams. I have been in the habit of posting snippets, mere snapshots of my dreams, as status updates on my Facebook Wall, but at some point the idea dawned on me to record them more completely in a blog.
So here it is.