Stranger in a Strange Land

Something is wrong here. Something is definitely not right. It isn’t just that everybody is carrying a musical instrument like it’s part of their anatomy, it isn’t that all the houses have round windows and domed roofs. It’s that every face looks decidedly foreign and that all the street signs are unreadable.

The air is unquestionably warmer than ten minutes ago. It even smells different, and that vague outline of mountains on the horizon has undoubtedly not been there before.

This isn’t Kansas. Or even Costa Rica. It certainly isn’t home.

Imagine walking down a familiar street, not noticing much, lost in thought. Then the sudden urge to pee and the welcome sight of an Asian looking fast food joint. You duck inside, and for a few brief seconds you’re really in the moment as you close your eyes and let go, feeling the pressures of the day drain away.

The quickest way out is through another door, and once out of the alley behind the restaurant you’re soon lost in thought again, trusting your feet to find their way.

It takes a while for it to register. First there is that balmy breeze, carrying the scent of unfamiliar spices and fleeting melodies. Then the growing suspicion that things aren’t what they should be. Did you take a wrong turn and ended up in a parallel universe or is this the hookie cookie district?

Your brain struggles as it’s confronted with the inevitable choice. Has the rest of the world gone mad or have you? There must have been a mistake somewhere, and you retrace your steps.

Soon, you’re lost between the domed buildings. You could ask for directions but whereto? Back to normal? Those strange faces couldn’t tell you anything. You wouldn’t understand the language, and also, you can’t shake the feeling that talking will somehow finalize your predicament.

You start to run and then stop yourself. Best not to attract too much attention. You walk a few blocks, fearing that every step is taking you even further in the wrong direction.

This isn’t going to end well. People are starting to look at you. Soon, they will close in and you’ll be trampled or pushed into an abyss.

Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe then you’ll wake up. But this doesn’t feel like a dream. More likely, your whole life up till now has been a dream and this is reality.

That pee you took was you wetting the metaphorical bed, and now you’re very much awake. Every fiber of your being is alive and pushing you forward.

You enter a store that looks like a pawn shop, filled with trinkets and all kinds of junk piled into every nook and cranny. It’s dark in there, and blindly you find your way to the back, down a long corridor and then through a door you hope will lead to another street, away from the mob.

The cold air hits you in the face as you leave the building. Not looking up, you make your way out of another alley, only to be stopped in your tracks by a honking car.

There weren’t any cars before, were there? The music is gone, and everything around you looks familiar again. No more domes, the street signs are in English and the faces around you are the usual familiar looking strangers.

Did this really happen? It already feels like a dream, fast fading from memory.

Copyright © 25-10-2017 Theo van der Ster

The comments on this blog are closed, but feel free to interact with me through email.