I woke up in a dream to find myself crouched down, as if from a blow. I was wearing the same white clothing I’d worn in the forest and on the mountain, only as I stood I realized I had boots on as well this time; the clothing wouldn’t come off when I tugged at it but I didn’t try too hard. I don’t have dreams where I’m naked. I was standing on black asphalt in a narrow alleyway, the walls around me brownstone brick, like in movies, with old fire escapes and piping running down them and windows that were all narrow and shuttered. I was in the movie version of New York, or maybe Boston, and could see the tops of the buildings. Five or six stories above me, so nothing like the impossible forest.
The sky was a deep purple, like a kind of bruised twilight through which stars flickered weakly. The moon was large, at least twice as big as normal, and shone down on empty dumpsters, me, and distant sounds of vehicles. Not a single emergency siren. I took a deep breath and walked ahead of me. There were bits of newspaper on the ground, wrappers from McMeals and Starbucks coffee cups but no other fast food outlets. The newspaper bits were all written in what looked like Russian, or maybe Greek, walls of text and no pictures at all.
The alleyway opened up to a gleaming-new road with fresh white paint, while the sidewalks were filled with cracks from which greenery sprouted up like fungus between the toes. The building across the road was also a movie-style apartment, though done up in white brick. Further down the street it fell apart entirely as I stared up at one glass and steel building that rose at least twenty stories above me and ended in what looked like the scrapers used on car windows in the winter in place of a roof.
“A sky scraper.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or groan. If someone ever made lucid dreaming an Olympic sport I figured I’d place somewhere near bottom. I could hear cars but still didn’t see anyone else. Some lights were on in buildings, mostly pale electric lights or what looked to the candles in the skyscraper. Further down the road were other apartment buildings, varying in size and style – sometimes within the same building, as though someone had cut apartments in half and simply welded them together. Most were vertical welds, though one looked like a broken jigsaw puzzle of brick, siding and stone. Weirdly, each building rarely had uneven windows as if my dream had some architect laying down certain rules while ignoring everything else. I spotted one distant building that looked to be made of honeycomb and tried not to think about what a dream interpreter would have made of any of this.
The street connected to another, and then another, and the apartment buildings gave way to empty strip malls, the parking lots littered with shopping carts and rusted out vintage cars. The street lights were lit by some kind of Victorian steampunk affairs that let off train-like whistles as they flickered to life each time I got close to them. Because motion-sensitive steam-powered streetlights made no less sense than the rest of the dream.