My dream last night kicked off with multiple home invasions, only the home being invaded wasn’t the one I live in now but my childhood home. In the dream, I was the age I am now but I was living there. There were three separate invasion incidents, but I can only recall the specifics of one right now, and the person doing the breaking in was a former coworker, Dan F. He’d kicked in the door even though it was locked with a deadbolt and rushed up to what was my childhood bedroom and startled me awake. My dad came in to help me subdue the intruder, and it was only then that I realized who he was. He was drunk and incoherent, obviously distraught, but I guess I didn’t care to hear him out because I was tired of people breaking in. I’d considered looking into alarms but first I wanted to examine the door to figure out how it was happening, and my wife offered an explanation of how the lock kept being forced. The next person to come at me was another former coworker, Rachel R., who was upset by my cold-shoulder treatment of Dan. In the dream, she and Dan were friends, though their time at our office didn’t overlap and I don’t think they know each other in real life. She informed me that Dan had committed suicide, and I was both upset and guilt-ridden by the news, but also defensive. After all, if he’d reached the point where breaking into a former coworker’s house in the middle of the night was the last place he could turn, there was likely little I could do for him (or so I told myself). In the next part of the dream, however, I learned that what she told me wasn’t true. Dan was still alive. He came to my house to apologize and explain himself. We took a walk and ended up in a field where a small music festival was going on and we sat in the grass and caught up.

Then, this part of the dream dissolved into me working in a high-end department store, doing the kind of assessment work Changez does in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (likely because this is the book I’m reading right now). Only in the I didn’t remember the book, just the job in it. In any case, I was being trained to assess the value of the department store for potential buyers, and during the course of my training, I thought, I’ve read a book where there’s a job like this, but I couldn’t remember the name of the book. Eventually I landed on it, and I thought, I should recommend that book to the guy training me, but then I thought, no, that’s not the kind of book you recommend to your boss in a company like this. He probably reads things like Tony Robbins and Tim Ferris.

Then, I wasn’t working for the firm anymore, but for the store itself. It was situated high up in a Philly high-rise with a beautiful view, though I can’t remember which way the windows were facing. My old boss Ed came through on a shopping trip, and since it was my lunch break, we sat down to eat together in the cafeteria. His style had changed somewhat I noticed. He was wearing a brown leather jacket and had a goatee. We chatted a little bit about my new work situation and he said it seemed to suit me well, but over the course of our conversation the person across from me became an Asian woman about my age and not Ed. She was supposed to be someone I’d either gone to high school with or worked with, but I couldn’t identify her by name. In the dream, she was someone I knew as a good friend. In the midst of our conversation, a hush fell over the cafeteria, and when I looked up, I saw floating in a beam of red light what was either a large house or a church, flitting about over the city and sort of rotating. The sight was transfixing at first and we all just stood there, agape. But then I realized that whoever controlled the red beam was looking for a target, and finally, it hurled the smaller building toward our larger one.

I grabbed my friend’s hand and pulled her toward the fire exit. We made it there and started down the stairs. She dropped her wedding ring at the threshold and didn’t notice so I grabbed it to give it back to her later. In the stairwell, I spotted Superman hovering above the fleeing workers, handing out gas masks, and though I wanted one, he flew off before I could reach him. I found one on the floor and strapped it over my face. I’d lost my friend in the chaos of flight, and once I reached the ground and got out onto Broad Street, I saw that Philadelphia was a ruin. I turned south  and made my way west as well, weaving along, the street numbers climbing. It was less crowded here, and I wondered if I should go to the subway station and try to take refuge in the tunnels. Then I saw what was controlling the red beam. It was a child, immersed in this womb of red light. Every time I tried to evade him and escape, he threw something in my path that blocked me. I’m not sure how I got away, but eventually, I got to Jefferson Station where emergency trains were ferrying people out of the city. Before I got on board, I decided I wanted a snack and a drink and something to read, so I stopped at a kiosk that looked like something at Penn Station in NY more than anything in Philly. I can’t remember the snack I chose, but I kept trying to purchase a half-pint of whiskey and a copy of Zoetrope: All-Story, but each time I reached the counter, the whiskey transformed into a full fifth and the magazine was gone. Seeing this, I’d run back to the shelf and grab another copy but it happened again. It appeared I’d been caught in a time trap and had no means of escape.