Aloft in a dream, I scan the expanse below – windswept sand in scalloped patterns mirrors my movements. The hypnotic undulations induce uneasiness, vertigo. Soon I am spinning wildly, uncontrollably. I repeat the phrase that has served me throughout my life, “This is a dream. This is a dream.” but it does not calm me. I am aware I am dreaming but I am unable to steady myself.
My eyes are moist. I am swept up in a maelstrom of emotion. Weeping now, I reach up to wipe away the tears. Upon withdrawing my hands I see blood-red. I am bleeding from my eyes!
My tongue swells. I am drifting in and out of consciousness and I can feel myself falling earthward. A cocoon-like darkness engulfs me and stifles my onrushing panic. Soothed, I understand I have achieved a threshold – a dream within a dream.
Looking down at the sun-bleached desert, I come upon a vast blue-black crescent that cuts directly across my view of the landscape. All movement stops and for a moment I am poised above the dark arc. One half of my body is in the area of the light and the other half in darkness.
An instant later and I am spinning above the terminator making countless transitions from day to night. On the light side, I can see the sun speeding by, completing hundreds, thousands of iterations from west to east. In the darkness the stars move in their paths at an ever-accelerating pace.
After a desperate effort to fix my gaze on something stable, I locate Polaris. Rapidly, it traces a full circle around the dome of the universe. The idea of precession of the equinoxes occurs to me and I calculate a passage of twenty-four thousand years.
As the thought of this enormous timespan takes hold of my mind, I start to decelerate. Soon I am hovering again above the dividing arc. The sun, the stars, the moon, and planets take their places in the new epoch. Rushing forward now, I feel the cool dry air of this nocturnal space – so very different from the tropical atmosphere from which this dream was spawned.
Miles later, in the star-flecked darkness, I find myself once more moving toward high ground. This time though, the higher I climb the colder I feel. Ahead, near the side of a bare hill, I see another entrance to still another cave. I hear my thoughts: “But I’m still inside the cavern on the warm plateau. Is an exit up ahead or another entrance?”
The hillside is split before me. Before I can consider the slim dimensions of the aperture, I am through. This is no exit. I am in a new chamber, surrounded by wet rock walls, smooth and shining. Rippling reflections from pools of water ricochet around the perimeter and I catch quick glimpses of dripping stalactites, ceiling, and walls.
And suddenly – without warning – I awaken. The sheet I kicked down at bedtime is now wrapped tightly around my torso. It is too sheer to have warmed me in this chilled bedroom. The air conditioner is stuck – pumping out cold air. The room temperature reads 55 degrees. Out into the hall, I press the reset button. The machine shudders to a halt, the fan stops, and the unit falls silent. Grabbing a towel to wrap around me, I walk out on the balcony into the damp heat of the island at night.