The dream starts in a fairly innocuous
way - we're all at dinner, at a nice but slightly eccentric
restaurant. It's late. I recall boisterous
laughter around the table; many toasts with wine, good coffee
, friends, conversation. The hour grows late. The restaurant, apparently, is closing down, and rather than letting us wind down, they become increasingly rude
. This simply makes us carry on longer.
Finally, the lights are turned down. The restaurant looks like it is built inside a cave, or mineshaft - lots of natural stone, and no windows, with some few flickering light sources. We sigh, acknowledge the hour, and begin to look for our coats. There are many missing.
Our waiter returns abruptly with a pile of coats, which he throws at us, and vanishes again. I'm beginning to become ticked off, but my friends (who live nearby) are laughing; apparently, the 1 of the staff is part of the restaurant's 'character' and isn't actually real. I shrug and pull on my coat.
On the way out, however, we reach an antechamber from which the only exit is in a corner, and there are many packing crates and boxes stacked around. From the exit door pour five or six soldiers, armed with rifles, in nineteenth-century uniforms that appear to be an amalgam of Napoleonic and Russian pattern. Four of them level rifles at us. The leader starts barking orders; my friends and I look at each other. I look to them to explain that this, too, is part of the cachet of the eatery, but they look frightened, which doesn't help my frame of mind.
Finally, in a curious sort of high, I reach the end of my patience with the officer's barking, incomprehensible speech, and casually elbow the nearest soldier in the face. He goes over backwards, and I end up with his rifle. There is a sudden pause, as everyone looks at each other, and then a whirlwind of motion as some of my friends and some of the restaurant staff (who have appeared from the back, dressed like Romany) jump the remaining soldiers. All are down, save one; he escapes out the door in the corner with two or three of us in hot pursuit.
On the other side of the door, there is a container truck trailer parked across the room. This leaves a narrow flat space with the container squeezing us against the wall. I catch the fleeing soldier and throw him up against the truck's side. We struggle. The waiter (now with long black hair, looking much like Lo from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) grabs the soldier's shirt while tossing me a small object. I catch it; it's a small, slightly archaic revolver.
We're both acutely aware that there may be other soldiers on the other side of the container, and like all semitrailers, this one doesn't go to the floor; there's a three to four foot gap under it which (as far as I can tell out of the corner of my eye) appears to be stacked with empty pallets, boxes, and the like.
The waiter, struggling with the soldier, says to me "Brain him with that." Makes sense to me; no gunfire to alert others. I take the revolver, and holding it flat in my palm smash it against the bridge of the soldier's nose like they do in movies. Surprisingly, it works, and he falls bonelessly.
By this point, others (friends, staff) are crowding in through the door. I duck under the trailer, and see two or three soldiers milling about on the other side, windows behind them. Windows mean outside; outside means freedom. I take aim at one, and have time to realize that in real life I've rarely fired a revolver and not done too well when I have. I adjust aim slightly and mentally shrug, pulling the trigger - there's a flat CRACK and my target throws up his arms and falls over backwards. The others shout and begin to unsling their rifles, but I move to each in turn - CRACK-PAM and they join the other. I can hear distant shouting, probably from outside. I duck back under and hand the revolver back to the waiter, who nods and ducks under the container. Rushing back into the anteroom to find my friends and some of the staff, I ask the latter where the weapons are.
One shakes his head. "Tell Karl that closets one and four are empty." I don't know what this means, precisely, except it isn't good. I rush back out front and relay the news to the waiter, who is picking off soldiers running into the room on the other side. He shakes his head.
"We must split up, then."
And we do. I don't know how. I'm driving a Lexus up an incredibly steep and snowy mountain road, one that twists and turns through woods. I am grateful there's no ice, just snow; the traction control and the V8 engine get me over the worst bits. I come to a man standing in the road, his arm up to stop me. I stop and get out. It's a soldier; this one is dressed in what appears to be World War II Russian garb, and is carrying what looks like a small recoilless rifle over his shoulder, holding a machine pistol in his hands. I approach. He looks at me suspiciously.
"You don't look like part of the space program." He raises the machine pistol, and I hurriedly raise my hands before speaking.
"Oh, I am, I am…I'm trying to get up to the peak, but this -" I gesture to the Lexus- "isn't really the best way. I was about to start walking."
"Oh, I see. Well, I'm walking there, you can join me."
I nod eagerly and retrieve my coat from the back seat of the car before rejoining the soldier. We begin slogging up the road. I am thinking frantically; I know I have to get rid of him. I have to stop the launch; the booster on the launch pad atop the mountain is carrying a surplus Soviet killersat, and is intended to detonate itself next to the ISS. The resulting chaos will allow the Russian government to continue funding Mir.
A kilometer or so further on, it's quite dark except for a light on the soldier's helmet and lanterns we both carry. I turn to him as if to speak, and suddenly chop at his throat. He clutches his Adam's apple and falls backwards. I feel guilty, but I need the weapon on his back to stop the rocket launch. I roll atop him. Unlike before, this movie move hasn't worked; he's still conscious and looking at me in fury while trying to breathe. I hit him several more times across the bridge of the nose using the edge of my hand; this hurts terribly but appears to knock him out at least temporarily.
Breathing hard, I roll him out of his cloak and coat, and yank his rucksack and the rifle off him. As I'm transferring the ammo and gear for the rifle into the rucksack from the frame to which it's attached, a light comes up the road. I hurriedly finish, and throw his cloak over the small pile of military gear I'd extracted from his form before turning to wave down the light.
The light turns out to be a lantern carried by an older woman. She is followed by a group of strangely-moving things, some of which carry lanterns whose light illuminates all around them except the bearers. Strange shadows flit back and forth. She runs up to us, asking what happened. I tell her that I found the boy (the soldier can't be more than eighteen) lying here, arriving just too late to help his father, who had slid over the edge of the road and down the ravine. She pales, remarking that the water down there is deep and fast at this point. We agree that the soldier must be moved to hospital, and while she turns to make arrangements with her crew, I see his eyes flutter and clock him again just in case.
Her companions turn out to be skeletons. Greenish colored, they are, with bony smiles. They look like something that has shambled directly out of Quake. Three or four of them stare intently at me, grinning, holding lanterns high, as the rest bundle the soldier off down the hill after the woman. I* have the feeling they know I'm lying, but since my motives will lead to chaos, they approve. One approaches to look me in the eye - I hold my ground - and reaches out a bony digit.
The chill when he touches my nose is acute, and I scream and wake up.
There's a ferret licking my nose.