A series of thoughts upon opening my eyes:
Thought number one was that I had drifted towards sleep. Without Benadryl. Without wine. Without Benadryl and wine. I had not reached sleep, true, but I had drifted. Drifted. Edged downstream far enough to see the lights of its fabled cities. Ha! This was unprecedented for me. Historic, even.
This changed things. No Benadryl and no wine changed everything. The world was going to be different after tonight.
Thought number two was Doctor Belloq. Doctor Belloq, lying next to me. I knew she was there, right next to me. I knew she was asleep. She’d gone on ahead without me. She’d left me here. Had she waited, well, we might have been flying through dream palaces together mere moments from now. Was that how it worked? Maybe?
At any rate, she’d gone on ahead without me, into sleep.
Thought number three was the sound. That noise. It was like… Like… The noise was like the purring of a giant mechanical tiger, maybe crossed with a car that had a bad starter, maybe crossed with the Bionic Man when he leaps over a fence.
That was the noise but where was that noise coming from?
Thought number four was that I could not turn to find out where that noise was coming from. Thought number four was that I could not move at all.
I could not move at all because of… Roots? The roots from that big old grumpy tree from Meyer Park. That is what it seemed like. Its roots were here. In bed with me here and wrapped around me here and squeezing me here until I could hardly even breathe.
I wondered, “How is this possible?”
Thought number five was I was awake.
Thought number six was I was definitely not asleep.
Thought number seven was that something in the corner of my room was watching me. Something in the corner of my room that was the big old grumpy tree but was not the big old grumpy tree was watching me.
This something was bad. This something was evil. This something was pure and unadulterated, sinister and foul and it was sucking all the good, all the love – hell, it was sucking all the like – right out of my bedroom.
Thought number eight was utter certainty that this was not a dream.
I tried to kick. I tried to scream. I tried to kick and to scream and now the something in the corner was moving towards my bed.
“Recite!” the something hissed in a voice that sounded more than a little bit like the vocals of a black metal band. Mostly like Xasthur, but a little like Wolves in the Throne Room, or maybe – just maybe – like Agalloch at certain moments in their later discography.
Thought number nine was that I should not get caught up in subtle distinctions between black metal vocalists when I had something that looked like the Silence from “Doctor Who” approaching my bed and hissing orders at me.
I tried some more to kick and to scream and I did everything I could to move and this time, a sound came out of me. It was not much of a sound. It was just little sound. A wheeze, at best, really. But it was a sound just the same.
I could see the something swooping down on me, but then I managed that wheeze and suddenly, Doctor Belloq was up and in between me and the something.
Doctor Belloq was grinning. She looked really excited. She could not see that the something was swooping down on her now, and I still could not move, so I could not warn her.
Doctor Belloq held her right hand up to my face and started counting down from five on her fingers.
The something was mere inches from the back of her head.
She lifted my right hand with her left.
She moved one of my fingers.
-the something popped out of existence and the giant mechanical tiger noise stopped and it was at this very moment when I started to kick and scream.
I screamed and I screamed some more. I cried a lot.
Doctor Belloq flapped her hands around and she said, “How fucking cool was that?”
Doctor Belloq said, “How many fingers did I hold up?”
I screamed a little bit more and I said, “You counted down from five and then you moved my finger.” Then I went back to the screaming and the crying.
Doctor Belloq began pacing around my room. She said, “I knew it! I knew it!”
She said, “You are the coolest person I have ever met ever, Katy!”
Thought number ten in my series of thoughts that night was that Doctor Belloq had somehow caused all of this to happen.
I reached over, off the bed, and I got my Benadryl and wine.