running

The King of Friday Night

I had to meet my father in the city centre, and I couldn't rely on the buses, so I ran, and very quickly running normally (which is so SLOW) turned into running on all fours, one of my most frequent recurring dreams. I relax quickly into the steady lope of a wolf, but now and again to get around people I display a primate's agility, running halfway up walls, swinging around lampposts, jumping over obstacles and onto rooves.

Running turns into gliding when the wind picks up, and I let myself drift down streets carried by the air. Sometimes gusts pick me up, and one of them flings me sixty feet in the air, panicking me a little, but it drops me gently again. Then back to running when I hit the city centre, the dense claustrophobic lamplit streets. It's Friday night in Dublin and I'm running through an exaggerated version of Temple Bar, massive cobbled streets and back alley networks stretching for miles and filled with drunks and students and goths and even families wandering around trying to find a way to get their children home safely.

Running on all four speeds up my journey and fills me with euphoria, but the drawback is that it draws everyone's attention, making me feel mildly embarrassed and them either curious or threatened. At least, that's how I explain the fact that Liam Gallagher, on seeing me run past him like this, turns around and yells at me, then gives chase, followed behind by his two massive bouncers. He outpaces them and follows me down a long alleyway, and I stop and turn around and without any explanation he tries to punch me when he catches up to me, a strange kind of joy in his face. I grab his arm and twist it behind his back, hold him for a moment and then shove him away, hoping he gets the message. He doesn't. He tries to punch me again and I grab his arm again and put him in an armlock, then grab his other arm, twist them over each other and flip him on his back and hold him there. Notably, I haven't said anything this entire time; I'm not sure I can speak in this dream. Liam looks up at me with a savage grin and says "Man...you're the KING OF FRIDAY NIGHT!!" He's happy to be fairly bested in the drunken macho ritual of his mind. The bouncers arrive, huffing and puffing, and I run off again.

Without finding my father, I realize that I have to go home again. My mother and my grandmother are waiting for a birthday party - whose, I don't know, but it's after midnight and there are no buses (and I don't even know what bus to get) so I start running again. The urgency is greater and so are the risks I take - running across rooftops, diving through windows, impossible gliding leaps. I run through the Irish government buildings to a far door and when I open it I'm out into the Phoenix Park, which is full of teenagers, an entire side of a hill covered with them smoking, flying kites, sleeping, cuddling. There's a young guy in a wingsuit gliding high in the air, but then he loses control and crashes fifty feet down into the grass. I'm concerned briefly, but he bounces up again. I carry on.

The Phoenix park darkens and becomes Cabinteely Park, and I'm getting closer, always getting closer. I jump over a gorge and the earth on the other side rises up suddenly to become a cliff, and I have to climb, digging my fingers and toes into the stone. I'm nearly there, nearly there.

Monsters and Islands in the Sky

I'm in the streets of a strange city, at some unspecified time in the past or future. It's hard to say if it's even on Earth, because everything is mixed together so strangely - the architecture is Greco-Roman, with low, white, columned buildings, wide streets, plazas and statues, but there are cars and restaurants and horses and the people are dressed in 20th century clothing. The sky is a pure, perfect blue and the air is hot.

I've been chosen as the prey in a national sport, as punishment for some crime that I can't remember. I can't remember exactly what the sport is, until I look into the sky and I see the head and arm of a gigantic monster, just like the Rancor from Return of the Jedi, but far, far bigger, a mile high, with eyes tens of metres across staring down at me. This is the game. This monster is to catch and eat me, and the citizens of the city will know that justice has been done.

I run and hide in one of the buildings. I know instinctively that there are certain rules to the game - the monster is intelligent, and will follow these rules. It is an embodiment of the judicial forces of the city, and it will not just randomly crush houses and kill indiscriminately in order to get me. It can only kill me, and it will take as long as it takes.

I can feel it trying to reach inside the building to pluck me out. It seems to be able to grow and shrink as it pleases. I nearly dive into a waste chute heading downwards from one of the walls inside the bulding, which is full of old clothes and baskets, but a sign on the wall says that it is full of acid. I leave the building and run across a square into a maze of narrow alleys.

Later, I'm ascending a hill which is completely covered with houses - a densely populated, elevated quarter. Somewhere along the way I've picked up a companion, a woman who says she can help me escape. I'm in no immediate danger from the Rancor, which I can see in the far distance searching a different part of the city, but the realization is starting to sink in that I can't elude it - the monster is tireless and immortal, and it will never stop hunting me, and one day I'll just be too tired or careless or forgetful, and it's hand will reach down out of the sky and grab me at last.

We pass a famous theatre where actors perform Shakespeare's plays on a balcony hundreds of meteres above the street, and we go from there into the warren of buildings that cover the hill. It's almost like the entire hill is a hive of people, honeycombed with houses and streets and shops and lit by torchlight. People who we talk to seem willing to help me, but there are also people pursuing me, who want to give me up to the monster, so we have to keep moving.

I reach the far side of the hill, where the city ends and the landscape opens out to something like the Arizona desert, with high, jagged mesas and lightning storms. It's getting close to sunset. I swim across a small pool of water to stand on the city wall, and I realize I don't want to become a wanderer out there. I want to stay with the people I know and love. So I decide to remain, and take the chance that the monster will catch me.

Days later, I'm in a restaurant having dinner with some friends, and when we come out I look up into the sky and I see an island floating there, green and blue and white, like a child's version of heaven up in the sky. Clouds all around it spell out its name, which I can't remember, only that it began with an A. Then I see the Rancor again. I realized I could always be found because I was electronically tagged, and whenever I paid for something, like in the restaurant I had just been to with my friends, my location would be broadcast to the authorities.

I wanted to give up. I thought I would just let the Rancor kill me and get it over with, and in that moment I saw the reality of my own death: no certainty, no heaven or hell, no inevitable return, and the loss of every companion, all my loved-ones and friends, all memory and familiarity, sucked into the universe and washed and forgotten. I was too afraid then to give up, so I ran again.