I and a handful of others were in a steam locomotive working our way through a long system of tunnels. We’d come far already, having traveled a great distance under what felt like a vast mountain. Reaching a fork in the path, the train split into two part, each with its own locomotive. From an initial position at the front of the first loc my perspective switched to the cow-catcher on the second engine, from where I could see and hear the engineers running them talking to one another. The first loc was driven by a dark-faced man, the second by a woman with dark hair. They were both wearing World War 1 style doughboy helmets and had to duck back into their compartments repeatedly due to the tightness of the translucent white tunnels through which we passed. (The tunnels were open at parts, bisected here and there by pillars that seemed organic, as if they’d grown into place.) The trains rapidly decelerated, and the female driver informed her counterpart that the tracks stopped just up ahead.
At least five people left the trains and walked into a large cavern located at the tracks’ terminus. Both tunnels opened up into the cavern via vaulted passageways. The rear and side walls of the cavern were of rough-hewn, living stone about five meters high and ten meters wide. Its ceiling was shored up by rough timber scaffolding and sloped in a rounded fashion downward from the rear wall forward, which I could see had a door of wooden planks set into it, locked with heavy iron chains. (The cavern was shaped like the quarter of a cylinder.) I and the others began to explore the cavern, finding a running spring to our left (protected by a rusted iron fence whose gate stood open) and four separate raised garden beds, two on each side with a shallow trough running between them. I began planning out where we could sleep and in which beds we could plant crops. As the others continued to explore, I floated over and examined the locked door, at which point I discovered that some of the planks had fallen aside, revealing through a square of intact mosquito netting (set into a framework painted red) a suburban street beyond (the street was one located on a hill above UCLA in Westwood, CA). Our group rejoiced upon finding that our journey was nearly complete.
Using a power-drill I then began to try to pull out the large screws that secured the chains to the crude planks of the door. They were slotted screws and my bit kept slipping, as I was using a Phillips-head. Suddenly, I and two other unseen presences were sitting on a vast mudflat which stretched ahead of us for at least five hundred meters, terminating in a coastal road with tall green mountains rising above it. The screws I was trying to undo secured not a door but chains wrapped around a gambling machine the size of a 1980s boombox. The machine had slots for coins and bills, the jackpot being a million dollars. I asked one of the others for a dollar to feed into the jackpot slot and was rebuffed. Attached to the rear, right-hand side of the gambling machine were various removable implements such as a multitool and an old-fashioned label maker, both of which slotted neatly in grooves designed for them. (The label maker was marked with the numbers, 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 19, and others.) I was attaching a slotted screw-bit to the multitool (for some reason, it featured a low-quality, full-sized steak knife), removing other tools so that I could manipulate the screws using the short bit. At that point the seawater started to rise around us and I patted my left pants pocket, dismayed to find my mobile phone located there. The unseen others and I grabbed the gambling machine and scattered tools and rushed for a mound of mud behind us, at which point I saw at least two others, the dark-haired woman and a man, bathing in a pool of blood-red liquid to our left. (We became halfway submerged before reaching the mound, which caused me to fear for my mobile phone and plan for ways to dry it out using rice.) Once reaching higher ground, a blond-haired woman jumped carelessly into the aforementioned, gated spring, which now filled a deep basin of tan sandstone, the roof and one of the sidewalls of the cavern having disappeared. The dark-haired woman, still dripping with red fluid, entered the pool as well. When she resurfaced her hair was also blond. I turned to look at the far shore and reckoned it would take us at least an hour to swim over to it, the mudflats upon which we’d been sitting have been entirely filled up by the sea.
[ americanifesto / 場黑麥 / jpr / urbanartopia / whorphan ]