I was at a picnic, and all my neighbors and friends and family were there, even my son’s father. The weather was so lovely and we were all having such a lovely time, that it saddened me to know that I my son was at home, probably sitting in the dark, feeling lonely and miserable. So I left the happy scene and headed for the house, just a few blocks away.
Suddenly I was driving our old 1967 white Mercedes, and people started massing into the streets. I slammed on the brakes, barely missing an old man. Up ahead I saw tiny grey clouds wafting up from the ground all around us. A policeman stopped me at an intersection, and, crouching down, shouted for everyone to take cover. I didn’t feel very frightened as I hunched behind the steering wheel.
The ground shook violently in a thundering explosion. Something had blasted part of the road away. The policeman stood up and ordered everyone to stay away from the punctures in the asphalt, but I had already started to drive ahead, through the tunnel where I thought I saw enough good road to get me home, to Brendan, to see if he was all right. No policeman would separate me from my child.
But my car wheels grazed one of the steaming potholes and the whole surface gave way, pulling my car down with it! I scrambled out the window up onto the side of the sinking car, and, using my mountain-climbing skills (which I seem to need in many of my dreams lately), I pulled myself up the enormous, concrete wall and up onto a ledge. Unfortunately, the earthquake had pushed the road far, far beneath me, probably ten stories down. Trapped!
The policeman was rescuing a man stranded int about 5 stories down with a cherry picker. He was directly below me. “Help! Help! Help!” I shouted at him. He seemed to ignore me but soon came zooming up to bring me down.
I got into a bus with a number of other women and men, each of them as dazed as I was. We talked about our symptoms: racing hearts, shaking hands, difficulty moving, hazy, slow thinking. “We’ve been traumatized. This is normal,” I said. Brendan’s father was on the bus, too. I threw my arms around him and cried, “I am so grateful that you are here. We must always stay together.” We would look for Brendan together.
They took us to a police station where officious men and women made us take a test. Each person had to do a different thing. To me, they said, “look into this light and speak as fast as you can.” They didn’t tell me what they wanted me to say, but indicated that my fate depended on my words. I burbled out my accomplishments, my virtues, my job experiences, my talents, anything I could think of. Someone else had to type as quickly as she could on an old-fashioned keyboard that was difficult to operate. Some people were not allowed to take the test. I could not see where Brendan’s father had gone to.
I must not have done well because they sent me to a labor camp processing radioactive pigs, where workers typically lasted for no longer than 5 years. “It’s better than dying now, isn’t it?,” one of the officious people asked me, not expecting an answer. Less than a minute after I arrived, I stumbled into one of the boiling vats on the assembly line and began coughing up blood. A man with hollowed cheeks and sunken eyes in a strangely puffy, yellow face, held me as I retched.
I learned that the earthquake had jolted me far forward in time, and that the entire planet had fallen under the control of giant casinos. All other businesses had failed, and now the gaming industry ran all public and private institutions. Even though I had a Ph.D. and many years of teaching experience, I had not attended a casino-run university, and, therefore, my qualifications had no value.
Somehow I got home to the house, after all, years later, and found Brendan. “You are safe! You stayed here!” I cried out joyfully. “No,” he replied. “I left. And I traveled for years and learned many things.