I am in a room in Hammons House. From the layout of the room (front, sideways-sliding picture window on the front wall and small window on the right wall) and the view outside (parking lot and tennis courts to the front of me, Blair-Shannon in the distance to the right) I can tell I'm in one of the *12 rooms, fairly high up. Probably 612, 712 or even 812.
There are a lot of people here, random people I have experienced in my past. There's my high-school salutarian (or is it salutatarian? maybe if I knew, I'd have been salutorian instead of 7th in my class) and the woman who used to waitress at the restaurant I frequent, who now works at Wal-Mart. Oddly, there's nobody here who is contemporary to the time I lived in Hammons House.
It is some sort of party, although not a rambunctious one. I don't think anyone is drinking. The atmosphere is more like a reunion of some kind.
It is storming like hell outside. It is nighttime, but the yellow lightning is so constant it allows no darkness. We are all watching the storm.
Then I see it, flying across the sky from left to right in the distance on a slightly downward trajectory. Some sort of object, shaped like a cross between a bullet and the old teardrop manned space modules that parachuted back to earth. Even at the distance, I can see it's features in remarkable detail. Metallic, battered. The color is somewhere between aged copper and bronze.
It disappears beyond view to the right, and another object appears in front of us, flying toward us. This one is white, shaped like a soup can, and seems to glide more than fly. I get the sense that it's rather flimsy. Think styrofoam filled with helium, with a thin plastic coating. It glides over our building. Or maybe lands on top of it; I don't know.
That's when the military gets involved. I see it coming fast. I only have time to point and say "Chase Plane" before it's on us. Seems to be a heavily armored F-14, coming straight at our window. There's no time to get out.
At the last second, it veers to our right. We can see the underside of the plane as it passes in front of us. It is covered with a red and gold fabric that reminds me of a bedsheet. It disappears from view.
We all take a sigh of relief and begin to discuss "What the hell was THAT?" when someone goes all ashen on us and points to the side window. It is covered with the red fabric, as if the plane is parked on the side of the building.
The murmurs of "What do we do now?" rumble through the group. I decide the first thing we should do is find out what is beyond the red fabric. I slide open the side window (from what I remember from my time in Hammons House, the side ones didn't slide open; only the front ones did, but apparently here they do) and grab the fabric (there doesn't seem to be a screen on the side windows either) and pull it in.
The size of this piece is about a quarter of the size of a bedsheet, the edges somewhere between frayed and ripped to tatters, as if something grabbed it as the plane went by and ripped it off, then threw it onto our window.
The fire alarm in the building goes off. Over the intercom comes the familiar "There is a fire emergency in the building; Exit via the nearest stairway immediately" that happens everytime someone in the residence hall burns a pancake or fires up a doobie in their room.
We know there's no fire and that someone wants us out of the building.
The question is - is it the good guys trying to get us out of harm's way, or is it the bad guys trying to lure us outside where we'll be easy targets?
Collectively, we decide that if we're dealing with a malevolent advanced alien intelligence here, they'd have no problem finding us even if we stayed inside, so we leave the room. Scattered all over the floor of the hallway are shredded pieces of the red fabric. We head down the stairs and exit the building.
Here the surroundings are drastically different from what I remember. We exit the building at the back, but when we get outside we're in the little parking area at the front of the building. And Hammons House is, like, fifty stories tall and has identical buildings to my left, right, and straight ahead, with a courtyard that looks remarkably like Tiananmen Square in the middle.
And the military's already here, herding us away from the building and keeping us from looking up too closely.
Surprisingly, they don't gather us all somewhere for interrogation about what we've seen. Instead, they tell us to get away from campus and stay away until we get the all-clear.
We fast-forward a little bit, but apparently in the interval I have decided that when one is in the middle of an alien invasion, the thing to do is to go antiquing.
Because I find myself in a flea-market, looking over a used-book rack in the booth belonging to some stoner. At least I ASSUME he's a stoner, judging from the black lights, Doobie Brothers apparel, grow lights, and "Cannabis for Victory" literature.
One book in particular catches my eye. "Springfield's History of UFO Activity." It costs a buck. I buy it, although who I buy it from is kind of fuzzy, because I never actually SEE the stoner.
I wander around the flea market awhile and come across another booth with used books, this one run by a Mexican gypsy type woman. I come across what appears to be a small graphic novel, a Star Wars/Transformers crossover. On the cover is Optimus Prime on one side, R2-D2 and C-3P0 on the other, with what is apparently a new character in the middle, who looks like C-3PO had sex with Iron Man.
It costs fifty cents. It says so right on the first inside page. I take it up to the Mexican gypsy woman.
"That will be a dollar fifty," she says.
"But it says it costs fifty cents," I reply.
"That one does," she tells me, pointing to the graphic novel, "And that one costs a dollar." She points at the UFO book.
"I didn't get this here, I bought it at another booth."
An argument of what seems like several hours ensued. At some point, she got both books away from me and refused to give them back until I paid the buck fifty. At another point, I showed her the receipt from the first booth. At the top was something like "Mike's Marijuana Funhouse." And a book was one of many items listed as bought, although I only remember buying the book.
She was not impressed. "That could be ANY book, not necessarily THIS one!"
I suggest she look inside the book and see that it has a different vendor number under the price than hers. She refuses, telling me she doesn't HAVE to look because I am drunk and that she smells whiskey on my breath.
I forget that we weren't drinking at the party (maybe I had gotten drunk in the fast-forward time) and tell her she can't do anything about it, because I don't have any alcohol on me.
All the while during this epic argument, one by one, these men would show up and take a chair and watch us. They were dressed in fatigues and combat boots. Some clean-shaven, some not. I got the sense they were Soldier Of Fortune, survivalist types.
Finally, I give up and tell her. "Look, I don't want YOUR book anymore. Just give me MY book back and I'll leave."
She goes into this little rant parsing the phrases "your book" and "my book," still intending to make me take both books and charge me for both.
Then this guy steps up from the Soldiers of Fortune and approaches me with an angry, wild look in his eyes. He has black hair and an ample beard. He is wearing combat boots, fatigue pants and hat, and a black T-shirt with white writing on it. I can't read what it says. I don't know if it's the standard not-being-able-to-read-in-dreams or if it's a foreign or perhaps alien language.
He is holding an icepick. He grabs it with both hands and raises it high above his head, intending to plunge it into my skull. I tackle him and try to pin his arms down, but his comrades are getting restless.
And that's when I woke up.