I return to the American School of Tangier, though it looks nothing like the school itself. I am on the bottom floor of the dormitory, and it is quite empty, and the person I have just been talking to decided he didn't want to talk to me and has left me alone. I try to get the attention of others, whom I cannot see, so I take a potted flower and put it in a lounge area. I leave the room and hide, and the flowerpot explodes. The bomb isn't powerful, though, so it doesn't damage anything, but it leaves gooey gobs of a gelatinous green substance on the walls, which sticks to the walls in well formed clumps.
The building remains empty, and no-one comes to investigate the explosion, so I leave and I discover that Karen is with me. As we cross a side street in the city of Tangier (which is not Tangier at all), a car pulls ups at a corner and the mad who would not talk to me is driving the car and he rolls down the window. He wants to talk to me now, so he does, answering my now forgotten question. He also has a question for me.
He drives off and Karen and I continue walking, finding ourselves in a residential neighborhood that is obviously American. As we walk along, more people join us, people we apparently know. We are trying to travel along a certain defined course through the neighborhood. The goal of this enterprise is to expend as much energy as possible doing so.
I decide to ride a bike over the trail. People say that that will make my trek too easy for me, but I say I'll set the gears to make it as difficult for me as possible. I do that, and still I move much more quickly than everyone else--yet I do use much more energy as well, since I set the gears in a way that makes even going downhill a difficult proposition.
I am at work, though not a workplace I'm familiar with in my regular life. The space I am in is much like a kitchen, and I am pulling out drawers and sliding shelves in cabinets looking for something. All I find are piles of butter knives, which I run my fingers through as I look for something else.
I move by touring bus to another location, another archives. It is raining on the highway as we travel, and we stop at one point and stand on the side of the highway watching vehicles drive by. Ray is one of us on the trip. I don't remember anything he is doing, but I recall he is talking. I remember hearing his voice.
The place we end up at is an archives in an old house, something of a mansion. Kathleen used to work here and she is looking for someone she knows. We are milling around on the corner as we waiting, talking. Eventually, the woman Kathleen is looking for comes out. She has long dark hair and seems much younger, early 30s, than how old she should be. Her name is Iorria. She walks out to the corner, talks to us for a little bit, then continues around the corner with one of the men in our group. As she leaves, I realize that I know her, and I tell our group.
Our group follows in Iorria's path, entering the building. We find ourselves in a large room with a cramped felling because it is overfilled with books. This does not seem like an archives at all to me. It seems to be nothing but a library. In one corner of the room, just under a bank of windows, I find a large illustrated book resting on a dictionary stand. It is focused on a particular branch of science, one I have never heard of before. I open the book, pretending to pretend to be interested in it. I recite the title of the book aloud, stumbling over the pronunciation.
Kathleen comes into the room, excited about the place, but I do not know why.
I am on a highway going somewhere, though I don't know where.
I discover that I am living in a city, specifically in an apartment with a strange mass of people, mostly children and an old man who is our leader. I understand this fact before some of us leave from there to go to an event in another location. A bus takes us there, and I know that the event is somehow related to my work.
When we arrive, we exit the bus and walk to a large nondescript building in a parklike setting. The building is white with a large concrete overhang that protects a deep porch before the entrance to the building. We enter the building and wander through a reception.
In the basement, some meeting relating to work is going on. Two staff from my work are giving a presentation, and they begin complaining about some hypothetical situation. I complain back to them, and Gail (who is one of the presenters) asked why I am disputing what they are saying. I say it is because they do not have enough information to make a decision. She is skeptical of my answer. The room we are in is something like a kitchenette in an office and it has the same drawers and sliding shelves as the earlier kitchen did.
Nancy and I have to leave quickly for another event, and we leave with a group of others who were on our bus. I now have a bicycle, so I use it to jump over the steps leading down from the building. These steps are arranged in three sets of steps, so I make three jumps. Apparently, the bicycle is supposed to speed up my travels, but I end up behind a group of people walking a pathway through the park to the bus. And I don't think to ride the bike around them and on the grass. Nancy says that we're five minutes late already and it's my birthday in time: 5:25. We are going to the installation of an eagle scout, and Nancy has to give a speech there. We hurry to the bus.
As the bus returns us to the city, we see a few things. First, there are four wild turkeys perched on a third-floor windowledge of an office building, then we see five of these birds resting on a concrete platform by a building, each a flattened oblong of bird. An old woman is sitting by them, trying not to disturb them. We wonder about capturing the birds to use them as food, but we realize that will make the turkeys more skittish and we won't be able to enjoy their docile presence any longer. We also see a large brown building that serves as a home for boys. It looks like a pleasant sturdy building, but as the bus passes it we see it is surrounded by a fence and is no longer open.
At the bus station, we try to figure out what to do next. We are inside the station and an official there is asking for receipts for whatever we have bought that day. We don't know why or what he's going to do with them. One woman extracts her day's receipt from her purse for him. But I decide to leave, trying to find my apartment in the city.
The apartment requires me to walk up four floors and the stairs are huge taking up most of the available space on each floor. Our apartment turns out to be just the wide landing on the fifth floor. There is no other room there. The apartment includes an armoire at one end of it, which is filled with our stuff, and a large bed covered with papers, CDs, and toys. Some of my apartment mates are there, including a young black boy who is very personable and who is looking through the items of the bed for a CD of his. He can find two others, but not this particular one.
Without leaving the room, I am in China on a trip and walking around the same city I have just returned to. I am quite disappointed by the experience, noting upon my return that I have not even had any Chinese food while I was away. Back at the apartment, AM talks to me about China and about this one woman who was hired as an actress to work in a restaurant. She is not considered a good actress but is the best they could hire, and they do what they can with her. As she tells me this story I agree with the conclusion as I look out the window at a tall pine tree ending with an almost bare point that rises feet above the rest of the tree.
I then find myself in the presence of the actress AM has been talking about. She is blonde and American, which surprises me. I cannot tell what kind of actress she is because she is not acting, but she is ebullient. She has the outgoing character of many actors.
A black man with short salt-and-pepper hair shows up at our apartment, and he is a bishop, dressed in a bishop's less formal attire. He is there to talk to us. As he does, a man arrives looking for his son, and we realize that the bishop is simply the boy with the missing CD, who has somehow grown and aged over the course of a few minutes.
I am running in a train station, not fast, but steadily. I'm not trying to catch a train but catch up with someone. When I do catch up, I talk to the person.
From the train station, I somehow make it to a fire station, which is crowded with people. I am on the second floor when an alarm comes in. Instead of sliding down a pole to the waiting trucks, we move towards the open second-floor window. As we stand at the window, the wall opens up and we see a helicopter floating just feet above the window. The helicopter sends out a rope and we attach our harnesses via clip-on hooks to that line.
This line helps the five of us slide into the helicopter most efficiently and safely. But we don't slide up into the helicopter. Instead, we slide down into the shell of another helicopter, our fire department helicopter, which is now suspended in the air outside the firehouse, but higher into the sky. The line that we used to slide into the helicopter is now a fuel line being used to fill our helicopter's gas tank, but it's also keeping us aloft.
I'm the pilot, and I can feel the helicopter plummeting to the earth, though the passengers appear not to feel it. The tension in the line holds us aloft just long enough to allow me to gain control, but the helicopter swoops down and then over, in a dramatic half-loop, as I begin to maneuver it. By this point, the helicopter is not low near the ground but high up over an old city that includes a number of burning buildings.
I fly the helicopter low over one large building, and we dump water so close to the fire and with such volume that the fire is instantly extinguished. We continue putting out fires across this dark grey city.
After putting out all the fires, I fly the helicopter low over a building that resembles the Colisseum. One of the firefighters, a woman, is filling the center of that building with water while she stands inside the building. She is about twice as tall as it is, and the water is up almost to the edge of the surrounding walls. I tell her to stop filling up the building because she will drown the people there, but she doesn't stop. She asks why it matters.