I’m a dreamer. Literally; I dream almost every night, and I recall them vividly. They are often bizarrely creative, including the odd chess dream, though occasionally, during stressful work periods, more boring topics sneak in.
But last night’s has left me with goosebumps all day. It was a hot, moonless night in Milan. I remember waking up during the night to some sounds in our courtyard. My clock said 3.00 am, and there was a cool breeze blowing through my bedroom window. I fell back asleep.
We’re in the jungle. I’m driving a roofless military jeep, frantically, along a dirt path – we’re being chased. My uncle’s in the passenger seat, and my two best friends are in the back. They’re yelling at me to go faster to escape the unknown assailants. Branches crash into the windscreen as I weave and dodge, desperately trying to keep the vehicle straight. I briefly glance up at the dirty rear-view mirror; there are black sedans chasing, but the windows are heavily tinted. I yank the steering wheel hard to the right and we skid on the dirt and fishtail into some sort of rocky opening, a cave. The cave extends deep into a network of tunnels. I can barely see ten metres ahead through the darkness, but we keep careening on, wheels screeching. The sedans follow. The tunnel keeps branching and I randomly take lefts and rights, trying to lose our pursuers. The tunnel floor seems to be sloping upwards. My friends yell at me to keep going; I floor the accelerator, and now there is a definite incline; we’re going up and up, but I still can’t see anything.
Now it’s very steep, and I can’t see anything in front or behind, and as we fly forwards, I’m sitting almost horizontal in my seat, like at the start of a roller-coaster, but faster. Suddenly, we burst out of the tunnel into daylight, and we’re way up in the open air, on some sort of massive, elevated road suspended miles above ground. We’re at the height of a plane when it levels off. The road’s narrow, just about the width of our jeep, just a strip that goes up and down with no supports, and we’re speeding along it. I can see houses like dots below us. My friends in the back yell that we’ve lost the cars behind us, and my uncle shouts at me to slow down, but I can’t – the accelerator is stuck, and the break’s not working. The car’s speeding up and we’re rocketing at top speed, and I’m desperately trying to keep the wheels within the narrow edges of the track, but it’s an impossible task, and now everyone’s screaming at me, and suddenly I realise that it’s inevitable, there’s no other way for this to end.
The front-left tyre slips over the edge and the jeep jolts violently to the left, and my friends in the back are thrown clear into the abyss. Then the whole jeep tilts over and falls, front-first, and I’m looking through the windscreen straight down as we start hurtling towards the ground. I can see my friends below us; they’re falling back-first and I’m staring into their faces. They have their mouths open, screaming, but I can’t hear them, only the whistling of the wind. And the ground’s coming so fast, and all I can wonder is whether I’ll die instantly, or if not, whether I’ll be in pain, even for a second, and I find myself wishing just that there’s no pain, please, let there be no pain. And my uncle’s still next to me, and we’re floating next to each other now, like two sky-divers, and he looks over and says, so calmly and so clearly:
“With the world’s collapse – the brief slowness of time.”
As his last word hangs in the air, I stretch my arms out above my head and I smash into the roof of a house, spread-eagled like a pancake, and everything goes black. For half a second I’m aware that I’m still alive, but dying, and then my vision goes blindingly white, and I feel an incredible numbness in my outstretched arms. As I start to lose consciousness, I feel my shoulders start to tingle, then my biceps, and then my forearms as the spears of pain move their way down to my hands and fingertips, until my whole arms are tingling, burning, and I can’t think anymore. And as I finally slip away from life, I hear a computerised, female voice echoing a single word in the distance: “Reboot”.
I woke up in my bed, lying flat on my stomach, arms outstretched above my head, with pins and needles all the way to my fingertips. I looked up at the clock; it was 3.00 am. There was a cool breeze blowing through my window.