The Doctors' Convention in Las Vegas hadn't proved as successful as I had hoped. Most of them seemed more interested in taking the call girls that frequented the hotel lobby back to their rooms for cavity searches, than they did listening to me tell them about my stainless steel gadget that would make a routine procedure simpler.
All was not lost, though, I had some leads. Several hospital administrators made appointments for me to visit their staff, which I could do as I weaved my way home. My ETA at home, about four days.
I had picked up Interstated 10 outside of Phoenix and it was a welcome relief from the constant traffic jams I dreaded on the East Coast. I hadn't encountered another car in hours, when near dusk I came upon a stop sign at an intersection. Strange place for a stop sign, not a living thing in sight. I thought to myself when suddenly something seemed to envelop my car from above.
"Don't touch the water, it might be poison." I heard someone say as I awoke. I opened my eyes to see a pair of buckskin work boots on the feet of an older man kneeling near a circular pool, with a fountain in the center.
"I don't care if I die, I want out of here." The elderly man said.
I admit, the water did look inviting and it was probably harmless, since the old man scooped it up in his cupped hands. When I sat up, I did notice a plastic bag and a paper cup floating on top of the water, but as quickly as I saw them, they were grabbed by what appeared to be a maintenance worker in an unnatural and almost mechanical motion.
As I watched the maintenance man continue on, I became aware of my surroundings. I was in a large room with small groups of people and individuals scattered about randomly. The entire structure seemed to be made of metal, even the floor. When my attention turned back to the maintenance man he was disappearing into a corridor. I followed, calling for him to stop. I wanted to know where I was and what was happening.
I could not catch him. The corridor curved and he always seemed to be just ahead of me around the bend, but I could hear his footsteps echo as he walked. Finally I came upon a set of double doors, with a man standing by each door. "Please return to the rotunda." One of them said. Both men had the look of being homeless. Dirty and rumbled clothing with a several days growth of beard.
"I want to speak to the man that just passed by here." I told him.
"I'm sorry, you must return to the rotunda."
As I turned to go, I noticed a man in a storage alcove leaning on a broom. I began walking back, but just out of sight of the men I stopped. Call it a premonition. I returned to find the two guards gone and the double doors locked. I looked at the janitor and asked. "Donde estan los hombres?" I don't know what prompted me to speak Spanish, for he didn't appear to be Latino and I surprised myself even more that I could put the phrase together.
"Quien sabe." He answered.
I hesitated for a moment, then asked. "Gli uomini, dove sono?"
"Chi sa c'e." He responded.
I had run out of languages, but I had a feeling if I had spoken Japanese or even Austrailian Aborgine, he would have answered in kind. This was getting stranger by the minute.
After being back in the large circular room for several moments I noticed another corridor. I also noticed high up near the ceiling were small windows, probably used to observe us. using the fountain for cover as long as I could, I then joined one of the groups of people. They appeared dazed and confused when I engaged them in conversation. I stayed for a while, then moved on to blend in with another group. Finally I made a break and hastily headed toward the new found hallway.
A metal stairway took me to a platform, I hurried along, wanted to see as much as I could before I was stopped, as I was sure I would be. I realized I had passed a window looking into what appeared to be an aquarium for octopi. Except, if my photographic memory was working correctly, these octopi seemed to have more than eight arms and they were a stange species, with either scales or pseudo-feathers. I didn't recall seeing suction cups on their tentacles, I went back to reaffirm what I saw.
I woke to the smell of coffee brewing and the familiar sound that a Mr. Coffee makes, which to me is reminiscent of some Industrial Revolution Era steam engine. What a strange dream. I thought. Usually I could decode my own dreams. Mostly they were somehow connected to an event in my recent past or tied into a conversation I had had recently. Not this one. I don't watch science fiction movies and I'm not some Redneck i a pickup truck that believes in alien abductions.
"Hi honey." Margie said as I reached the kitchen. "I didn't expect you home for several more days. What time did you get in?"
What time DID I get in? I was just about to tell her I dodn't remember anything about the night before. My mind raced. I couldn't remember anything that happened on my way home. Had I made my scheduled appointments? Had I been partying with the doctors? There was no way I could tell her, that wouldn't sound damning. Just then, the phone rang.
"Hello! This is she. Yes, he's right here. No, everything is fine. I...I... don't know. Wait, I'll put him on." She covered the mouthpiece with her palm. "Honey, its the FBI, they've found your car abandoned in Arizona."