This is a dream I had at the age of 9 that has stayed fresh in my mind for the past 14 years.
I awoke to the sight of canopy trees and a bright grey-white sky behind them. The glow behind the leaves fooled my eyes into seeing them as black. I sat up. The heat was heavy enough to cut. The brush stuck to the underside of my arms.
I cleaned myself off and positioned myself. I looked around but didn’t recognize my location. The leaves that had first appeared black had given themselves away as green. Masses of green, everywhere. It was the same jungle as far as I could see; more canopy trees front of a grey-white world.
I felt a presence pass by behind me. It felt urgent. It had spun me around, and I looked to see what it is. I see a boy sprinting. Before I could contemplate what he might be chasing I saw another runner about 15 feet to my right moving in the same direction. I looked to my left and saw another running in the distance, again to the same direction.
Compelled by nothing, I started running too. I didn’t have a particular care about where they were going, or what they might be running from, but my legs were moving.
I came up to and made my way through the thick bamboo to a circular opening. In the center of the opening was a stone tower standing dark-gray in tone. As I looked and saw that it had reached high up into the clouds, I noticed that they were curiously low. I surveyed them to notice they were turning darker. Storm clouds. I ran my eye across the top edge of the encirclement we were in; no more bright background. The dark walls of bamboo surrounded us and the sky was losing light.
As the people around me started climbing the tower, I stood and scaled it. I had always liked climbing, but have never been too good at it; I had no idea how I was going to follow through with this. Standing next to me on my right was another boy scaling the tower. The boy was my age; he had dark skin and was of Asian descent. He had a mohawk and war paint around his eyes. There were no words spoken between us, but there was an understanding that he was on my team. We nodded and started the climb.
At first it was easy. The texture was made for easy maneuvers: lots nooks and crannies in close enough proximity to one another. But as we made it through the low clouds, the tower started to narrow. People started to slow down and bunch together. There wasn’t enough room for everyone to climb. I saw someone about 20 feet over to my right shove a fellow climber off the wall, pushing them to their death. In that moment, chaos ruled.
It spread like fire among the whole tower: berserk mindlessness. I looked at my friend and motioned for us to keep moving. If we had stayed and fought, our chances of survival would have been slim. We kept climbing. As we progressed, the chaos trailed. My friend and I had made the agreement that I would lead and make headway while he would stay a pace behind to fight off adversity.
I would fall back to help him, but he would look at me fiercely and point forward. It was him and I versus the tower at this point. It got to the point where he would push climbers off as we approached them. There was a point where I cried out to him in question, as the climbers at the higher points didn’t come off as berserk. He would remain stoic through my question, and I would accept it.
Finally, we reached the summit of the tower. We stood up on the stone top. It was circular with a diameter of 25 feet. All I could see from the edge was a sea of clouds, but above them was the familiar grey-white sky. No one had reached the top from any other spot around the tower. In the center of the platform stood a small shack, decorated in rich, golden Asian décor. My friend stood cross armed and motioned me to go forward, alone.
I entered the shack to find an old meditative Asian-looking man.. His beard was white and about two feet long. His room was even richer in décor. He opened his eyes and peered into me as I approached. He held out a plain brown box to me. I asked what for, and he told me indistinctly to just take it. With a smile he said “now, go” and pointed out the door.
As I left, the scene had changed. Suddenly there was a flowing of water from behind the shack to a tubed slide leading down to beneath the clouds. My friend jumped in without hesitation. I had to follow. Holding my box tight, I followed. The ride was short and exhilarating. It shot the both of us deep into a freshwater lake that I also hadn’t noticed before we started to climb. As my friend and I hung in aquatic limbo, I saw the floor of the lake open up. It had turned into a whirlpool. But before I could panic, the box took itself from my hands, began to light up, and position itself into the center of the whirlpool, unaffected by the currents.
A long and lanky dragon emerged from the box. A burst of light emanated from his body that lit up the whole lake. Suddenly, it didn’t seem to matter that we were all getting sucked into the bottom. We were saved. My friend, the dragon, and I instead would rejoice as we spun around to the bottom.
I was content. I felt I was where I should have been. And then I woke up.