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Meandering fiction
Paul Stukowski, Mar 29, 2007

I find it is never a good sign for me to become so worked up about something I begin to dream about it.

I dreamt of rows of tables, piled high with books and posters and sketches. I was lost because, whenever you are surrounded by rows of anything, you have to be lost. Someone was talking about female zebras and muskrats in love, but no image came to mind for I have never seen a picture of a muskrat. There were cards on a table, and little, brightly colored monsters strolled around, detached from their images. I was lost, and wondered if I might make it to the shuttlecraft that was heading to space, for adventure, for new cultures, for romance.

I awoke and struggled to remember the last image, the one that frightened me so badly I popped awake. As it approached me I grew frightened again and pushed it away, then, curious, I summoned it once more. Someone in the dream sketched me, surrounded by squirrels clutching knives.

I stared at the ceiling, trying to clear my mind of whatever anxieties brought on the dream, then rolled over and drifted back to sleep. There were more details, but I have since forgotten them.

In the morning, or rather afternoon, I showered, emptied my backpack, and headed for the Con. I was late, and was irritated by the delay from the bus, but I eventually reached the convention, stopped for something to eat next door, and went in, my ticket clutched proudly in my hand.

It was pretty much like any comic book (et cetera) convention. There were tables, and people at tables, colorful books in both single issue and collection varieties, posters of impossibly built people, small televisions showing cartoons and interviews with creators and how-to demonstrations for a variety of skills and tasks, and artists and would-be artists drawing and sketching and trying to convince people to buy it all and show appreciation for their effort. There were over-priced drinks and unnecessarily fancy snacks, and large signs declaring that this person, this-one-person, was famous and important for a performance they gave of some character, decades ago, even when their more memorable performances since then had been forgotten. To the side were aligned tables and chairs, inviting people to come play games with dice and tiny figurines and cards with brightly colored monsters on them. There were people in costumes of all sorts of fictional aliens and robots and the people who fight against and fight alongside fictional aliens and robots. Throughout it all, people were smiling that they were not alone in being awed by brightly colored fiction worlds where their problems were just not important.
So, I dreamed, as I walked up rows and through crowds. I listened without hearing that this program was starting in this room at this time. I stuffed my backpack with posters and buttons and little postcards and bookmarks and anything else that had a �free � take one� sign directing my attention. I smiled, smirked actually, at writers and artists who worked to create worlds that weren�t this one. At no point could I tell you the time.

Someone was talking of a furry he knew. �She usually dresses like a zebra,� he said, and went on to describe some behaviors I couldn�t understand, although they sounded as if they made sense to the participants of them. There was something about a muskrat boyfriend, but I could not envision the outfit, for I have never seen a muskrat, nor do I know the song that was supposed to be popular before I was born. Someone mentioned the cute guys who populated alien cultures in their fantasies, and I wondered if their alien homes would be nice to visit, although the thought of being rejected on multiple worlds did not appeal to me.

It was big, and exciting, and loud, and, ultimately, not important in any way, like a film opening or political rally. Mesmerized, I walked in a daze, and the back of my head buzzed with thoughts of blade-wielding squirrels and what bizarre chain of events would lead to them, but none appeared. It was as good a day as could be hoped.

I left before the night programs got underway, hungry and hoping to wake up before noon for the second day. I had too much energy to burn, so I ate fast food and chose to walk back to my apartment.

I believe I have become lost. I cannot seem to remember what went on afterward. The convention became the walk became home? I got lost somewhere.

An arrogant and blustering man drew me on the street, insisting I pay for his art. I remember I had no interest in the whole exchange. I had no money to exchange.

I had fast food and chose to walk.

I was late and was irritated by the delay from the bus. No, that was earlier.

I lost something and couldn�t remember when it was.

There was fur, like a squirrel�s tail, twitching in the evening air.

I dreamed, and it is never a good sign for me to dream.

I walked back to my apartment and don�t remember getting there. I remember waking up, and I think it was the second day.

I walked back to my apartment and think I was in pain. I think there was a knife, and a body smeared with blood, and more knives, and fur like a squirrel�s tail.

I wrote down the day for an art showing at the Cartoon Art Museum� no, that was the middle of the day.

I walked back after the convention, wanting to get something to eat and wake up early for the second day. I knew I was too tired to get up in time. I needed to sleep early if there was going to be any chance of waking up, and coffee has always been too harsh on my digestion. I had posters and buttons and free ashcans (black-and-white previews of what an artist/writer wants to do for a comic book idea).

My head pounded and my mouth tasted of blood. My clothes were ruffled, as they always are, but undamaged. My posters were crumpled. Someone had gone over my shoulder, face bloodied on the ground in front of me. There were knives, but they did nothing but lay in the street.

I walked back to my apartment but I couldn�t keep the time straight. I dreamt of tables and brightly colored things and walking in a daze. I tried to clear my mind, and remember what frightened me so badly I couldn�t sleep. An arrogant and blustering man insisted on drawing a sketch of me that I never wanted. There was fur like a squirrel�s tail and knives clutched and waved.

I woke up and couldn�t remember if I dreamed. I thought to my self that it was the second day, and I couldn�t remember what day it was going to be. I went downtown to the comic book convention and hoped I would remember.

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