It was drizzling lightly as my friend (here referred to as "Elayne") and I walked down a rutted and muddy track bordered by fall-season forest that led to an open field. We had just met up there, seemingly by coincidence, and were heading to a cultural dance event that was to take place at the field. I had recently escaped from what promised to ultimate doom. Let me tell you about it.
I had been traveling with a band of knights, though they were not exactly the paladin-type knights-in-shining-armor one normally envisions when talking about these things. Sure, they had the swords, the armor and the brawn, but they were, in character, more the scruffy, roving, take-what-you-can-get-when-you-can-get-it rogues that can either cause a person great mischief or great fortune. Fortunately, it seemed I was in their good favor.
However, we had become trapped on a raised platform of stone, about five-and-a-half feet tall, that was surrounded by a low stone wall. For some reason, we couldn't escape. The motley crew of men were huddled around a fire they had built, feeling grim and desolate.
That was when the first cloaked figure rode by on a horse. As he passed, he flicked something silver high in the air. It landed on my palm with a satisfying "plip" sound, and I saw that it was a quarter. On the back was the California quarter design. One I've never encountered before.
I turned triumphantly towards the men, only to realize that they were staring at me in shock and horror.
"Put. That. Down," one of them hissed.
I tilted my palm and let the quarter drop to the ground.
"No, I meant outside the prison!" he said, hysteria rising in his voice. "Now, only three hundred and thirty-two to go...Oh, we'll never make it out of here alive."
Bewildered, I stooped to pick up the coin, but could not part it from the stone of the platform. It was stuck, though by no means that I could see.
At that moment, another rider came past, flicking more coins into our hollow as he did so. It became clear to me that if the hollow was filled with three hundred and thirty-three quarters, the whole place would go up in flames and no-one would be able to escape.
We spent the next hour madly trying to catch quarters and throw them out into the forest or somehow pry the quarters that had landed on the floor off of it. All to no avail.
It was a while before I got a grip on things and just left, jumping to the ground from a hole in the wall. None of the knights noticed me leaving, and in no time at all I found the path and met up with Elayne.
By this time, we had reached the field. I was surprised to see that there were no Morris dancers present, except for Elayne and myself. All the rest of the people were from a local Hmong traditional dance group.
Elayne and I walked up to them and began to learn a dance. It was fun, but I can't remember any of what we were doing. About halfway through, I noticed Elayne had disappeared.
I made my excuses to the dancers and set out to find her. Eventually, I discovered a track much like the one we had followed into the field, except that along this one there was a railway upon which rested sleek, black, carriage-style train cars. One of the porters beckoned to me to join him on the train, but I, distrustful of him and the train, shook my head and stuck to the muddy path. I hoisted my skirts and walked.
At last, I arrived at -- you guessed it -- the Mall of America, though in this dream it was a different version, made all out of reflective copper and silver, black velvet and poshness. It had a kind of steam-punky feel to it, though this was more ominous. I had a feeling that Elayne was in trouble.
I found her in an elevator, staring blankly into the shining metal wall at her reflection and whispering quietly to herself.
"Elayne," I said softly, reaching out to touch her shoulder.
At the sound of her name, she whipped around, turning her blank stare on me for a fraction of a second before her facial features returned to their more normal state. "Oh, hi there, Green," she said pleasantly. "You should check this out, it's really jazzy," she chirped, turning to face her makeshift mirror again as her eyes glazed over.
I stared at her in confusion. There was nothing reflected in the metal except the pair of us.
"It's really cool. I got these implants in my eyes that allow me to see things written on pieces of glass or other reflective surfaces. It's like somebody breathed on a cold windowpane and is writing in it with their finger," Elayne said, still transfixed by her reflection.
"What sorts of things?" I asked, grimly fascinated.
"Oh, stuff like relevant advertising, the latest gossip," said she, as if it were perfectly normal to want to read about these things non-stop.
"Alright," I replied, trying to hide my worry. The elevator bell dinged and we stepped out into a part of the mall that looked a little more like shopping centers usually do: all sparkling lights, polished surfaces and easy-listening music. I privately shuddered.
"Ooo, let's look in there!" squealed Elayne, pointing to a jewelery store immediately in front of us. I decided it was best to humor her at this point, so we walked over.
A Jamaican man met us at the door and led us on a tour through his shop. He refused, however, to show us the back room, claiming that there was something extremely dangerous, a medusa, in there. But, while he was distracted by a girlishly giggling group of customers, Elayne and I crept into the off-limits room.
Inside, we found Elayne's older sister. She turned around and smiled cutely at as, then continued arranging jewelery on a mannequin. For some reason, Elayne and I both agreed that it wasn't safe for her sister to stay with the Jamaican man anymore, so we brought her with us when we left. He didn't notice she was leaving.
We caught the carriage-train back to the field and rejoined the Hmong dancers before my dream ended.