My dream last night

On a large mountain full of trees and jagged rocks, I'm hiking with a group for a weekend trip. We're outdoors for the entire weekend, and have already hiked for at least an entire day. We're far away from any main road, and have almost reached the highest point on our hike. As we are just about to crest the top ridge line, I notice black clouds gathering in the sky. We haven't noticed them since they had been out of our view, obscured by the tall mountain ridge. I can see the clouds swirling and boiling, as dark as the black smoke from a diesel engine. These clouds have warped and compressed themselves into some impossibly potent form. Waves of red and green shimmer across the otherwise black velvet surface, hinting at powerful forces restrained inside. They indicate how much energy and rain the clouds hold, and will soon be releasing on the mountain.

Our hiking group was totally unprepared for this black swan storm. We had no way of predicting it since our cellphones were all out of range, and weren't receiving signal. We couldn't see the storm clouds gathering, since our line of sight was obscured by the tall mountain ridge as we climbed it. Nobody else was around to warn us about this approaching thunderstorm, and we had walked right into it.

As the swiftly moving clouds crested the peak from the opposite direction, their intense rain hit the watershed line and started flowing towards us. Luckily we were very close to the top of the mountain, so the flood waters had little space to gather. There wasn't much area for the water to gather before pooling and flowing towards us. Still, I could see a wave of filthy mud-saturated water flowing towards us as the drops started to hit. Its foamy gray front hit our shoes and knocked a few of us down, but nobody was swept away. The large irregular rocks and the cavities between them provided enough drainage to allow this water to pass us by.

We climbed further up the mountain, and saw a neighborhood of cookie-cutter McMansions. Their wealthy owners had abandoned all of them for the season, and nobody was home. We picked one of them for a refuge to wait until the storm passed. Here at the peak of the mountain, a few of our hikers were able to receive signal in their cellphones and checked the weather reports. The storm was forecasted to last just less than one week, so we were stuck indoors until it passed.

The house would provide us with shelter, water, electricity and even a vantage point for cellphone signal. However, we found no food in the entire building. This was not the least of our worries. Many of our group were smokers, chewers or otherwise nicotine-dependent. Whatever we had packed with us would have to sustain our habits for the time we were sequestered in this rambling mansion.

We found it wise to shelter underground in the multi-level basement, where pumping and generating equipment was mounted on steel scaffolding. one of the more irritated and proactive members of our group called a meeting. They elected to leave the mansion before the storm had entirely passed, to reach safety. This was mostly motivated by their desire for nicotine and to a lesser degree for food.

I had been distracted while they called the meeting, and was trying to operate a pumping machine built together with one of the electrical machines. It was operated on a pull-chain mechanism that regulated how quickly it operated. Unlike a pull-chain for a light switch with its discrete ON and OFF positions, this pull chain varied the pump speed continuously. The beaded chain looped over an axle, and rotated the central axis as it was pulled in either direction. A user could set the pump speed by pulling either end. This would only set the initial pump speed. As the pump operated, it would slowly rotate this control axle and eventually turn itself off. I did an experiment and set the initial speed to a low value, then watched the pump gradually slow down and turn itself off.

Eventually we arrived home, but I found myself in the bathroom of another expensive building. It was either a restaurant or a private home and had an exotically designed toilet. This toilet had a self-cleaning feature that relied on a series of bubble apertures in the bottom of the bowl. Pulling a string would turn the bubbles on for a short time. In three small streams, the bubbles would flow through the apertures and cleanse the inside of the toilet. It was unclear how they worked exactly, and the entire mechanism seemed flimsy and unreliable.

It seemed that the hikers had made a brash gamble in leaving the safety of the mountaintop mansion so early. Even though we hadn't waited until the storm was entirely over, nobody was injured or lost on their return trip. We didn't return as a group and instead split up and dashed back to the parking lot as fast as we could. Some of us were concerned for the other hikers, since we lost contact with them. It seemed that each of us was more concerned about getting our fix and filling our belly than with the safety of our fellow hikers.