Storming the Gates of Cyan
(A dream? Methinks not . . . .)
Last week, I gave a talk at a conference in Spokane, Washington. On the flight over, the passengers received some Cracker Jacks, which I ate without realizing the powerful somnambulant effect it would have. I fell asleep before I could even open the surprise, and my dream, it seemd so real . . . .
My plan was going exactly according to plan. I was on Alaska Airlines Flight 2352, Portland to Spokane, scheduled to arrive at 11:32am, just in time to get to the conference and give my talk.
HAH! That’s what I wanted them to believe. The prevailing wind shifted as we neared the airport, right on schedule, and the captain gave us the news. “We’ll be coming into the airport from the north today, ladies and gentlemen, so please remain seated in your seats with your seatbelt firmly seated around your seat . . . .”
I was up before he could finish the sentence. Rapidly tying a knot in each sleeve of my coat, I squeezed through the window I had earlier cracked open with the surprise from my Cracker Jacks snack. The wind rushed over the wing, but I held my coat tight until I could see my objective below.
There it was! Mead, Washington! And there, just off Highway 2 - yes, the late morning sun sparkled off the disc golf hoops, and I knew it was time to go. I grabbed the coat’s lapels and held it over my head. The wind filled the sleeves with its gale force, ripping me from the wing. Down, down, down I went, and down some more, and then down, down, sideways a little bit, and then down, down, and then -
THUNK! I was on the roof. My coat had served its purpose, but I dreaded the dry cleaning bill.
My arrival had cause some alarm, for I could hear the sounds of monitors being turned off and office dividers sliding across the floor, to be put away. What didn’t they want me to know? Answering that question was why I was here.
I got the Cracker Jacks surprise out and cut a hole in the roof. Dropping through to the floor below, I could see that panic was afoot! Scooters crisscrossed the floor like a bad plaid shirt, while a large group across the room struggled to dismantle a wire-frame model of a big tree. I spun around - it should be right over there, I thought to myself, and indeed it was – the elevator! I dashed inside, just ahead of a raging mob, who had finally figured out I was alone and armed only with my surprise. I twisted it into the shape of a key and inserted it into the access panel, which popped open. All the buttons were there – I pushed -3. The doors slammed shut, bringing the onrushing mob to a halt.
As the elevator slowly trundled into the depths, the excitement began to overwhelm me. I was on the verge of the ultimate revelation! The door finally opened, and I stepped out into a room of unknown size and dimension, completely dark except for a shaft of light ten steps in front of me. In the middle of the light was a podium; on top of the podium was an opened book; and on that opened page was . . . . ?
I stepped forward, intent on finding out.
A figure shot out of the darkness, blocking my path to the podium. Backlit by the light in back of him, his identity was in shadow – but I knew who it had to be.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Miller,” I growled.
“I know why you’ve come,” the figure calmly replied. “And you can’t have it.”
“‘Can’t’?” I quoted, “or -“ I quickly thumbed through my copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, looking for the contraction of “may not.” Not finding one, I tossed the manual aside, took a step forward, and pointed my surprise at the figure.
“Give me the negatives! – No, wait, that’s someone else . . . . Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia!!! – Dang, let me start over . . . .”
“It’s ancient, you know,” the shadowy figure said. “We really did find it underground, in a cave. And it was the American Southwest – how else do you think they got those buildings to stick to those cliffs?”
“Then the camels were a ruse?” I queried. “You fiend! The years I wasted, combing the Sahara!”
The figure chuckled. “Artistic license. Sorry about that.”
I took another step. The figure stiffened. “No beach to walk on . . . .” he muttered.
The time had come. I could hear the elevator trundling back upstairs. The mob would be here any moment. If I couldn’t make an escape, at least I could die with the knowledge I had sought all these years.
“Please step aside, Mr. Miller, this surprise is loaded.” He didn’t move. “I need that book,” I pleaded, “and what it has. I need that recipe, that mudpie recipe. It’s in that book, isn’t it, on that page, I need that page!!"
I could hear the elevator doors open behind me, but I rushed toward the book anyways. Rough hands grabbed me, shaking my surprise loose, ending my quest.
The figure stepped forward. “But it’s so simple,” he said. “All you need is a little water, and a little dirt!”
“NNNOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!” I cried, as the mob dragged me away. “But I still need to know – what kind of dirt!?!?!?!?!?”
The stewardess gently shook me awake. “We’ll be landing in just a few moments,” she said. “Please bring your seat to the upright position.” I struggled to shake the dreams from my mind, looking out the window at Spokane below. Something was clenched tightly in my hand. I opened my fist – my Cracker Jack surprise. I smiled. My flight home would be in only a few hours, in the afternoon, when the winds were strong. And I had heard that if the winds were strong, flights took off to the north.