My dream last night was set in Kansas. The sun was out, it was the middle of summer, and it was hot, but frost hung to the edges of plants. Spider-web ice spindled its way up bushes and trees, slowly, slowly, so most people didn’t notice. It was getting colder. And we were all fleeing. Something had happened. Something had happened to force people from their homes, and my family off the highway, which had been overrun and clogged by the amount of people trying to get anywhere else.
My family had joined a small group of people heading to a supposed “safe zone” – some sort of sprawling shopping center/ university campus with a large crowd milling about in an expansive parking lot. There had maybe been a convention of some sort around, because there were quite a few people in superhero costumes. My mother was looking for her tonton, who had just moved to Kansas from France, saying how it wasn’t fair to him that this had just now happened.
Everyone was talking about what had drove us all here – the monsters in the fields. And just about everywhere was near some fields. They had the teeth and mouth and fins of sharks, but their bodies were made up of thousands of writhing maggots. They tunneled deep in the earth, probably lived down underground, that’s how no one had seen them before now, and were coming up in droves to devour people.
In even quieter tones, a few talked about what the things that had driven us here might become. There were rumors of a pupated form – something huge walking around above ground, knocking over buildings and cities. The stream of refugees swore to it, but we hadn’t seen them yet.
People were searching around in discarded, emptied clothes. There wasn’t blood on them, but there should have been because their owners had been eaten. A few people cheered triumphantly, having found car keys in the piles, and began clicking them, looking for flashing headlights, then getting in the cars and driving off. Most of them let other people pile into the cars as well, but others didn’t, fighting off other desperate survivors and driving off by themselves. Some who tried this were stopped, dragged screaming from the cars by a crowd.
I was still busy fishing around in an over-large coat with too many pockets hoping to find a car key and save my family. At last, my fingers closed on cold metal, elusive and slippery as fishes, and I pulled out a car key. It went to a yellow and black sports car, with doors that opened upwards instead of to the sides. I got in, trying to guard three other seats for my family. Two people had already gotten in, and looked at me expectantly. One of them was my cousin.
I couldn’t see my parents or brother any more. I asked my cousin to wait and guard the car while I went and looked for them, but as I walked away, I heard the squeal of wheels, and when I looked back, the car was already gone.
There was a sudden screaming and running about, and in an empty farm field on the edge of the parking lot three mounds of dirt were being pushed up and forwards, a fin poking from each one. They were heading straight for the crowd, who were all running in different directions. We started running and I lost track of my family. Ahead of me, also running, was a girl dressed as Mystique from X-men who was heading for what looked like a store. I followed her in, but she shut the glass doors behind her, holding them shut. I begged her to let me in, but she just kept yelling back that she didn’t know me, she didn’t know who I was. One of the monsters was coming up behind me, concrete exploding around it as it breached. I kept trying to pull the doors open, but they wouldn’t. Mystique was gone, and the monster lept from the earth towards me, maw filled with rows and rows of teeth. It was teeth all the way down, its entire insides just one big unending mouth and jumble of teeth.
I screamed, but the doors opened, and someone pulled me in. The monster smacked against the glass, and I watched the glass, sure it would buckle, and I would be sliced into bit-sized bits seconds before the monster swallowed me up. But the glass held, and the stranger helped me to my feet. She introduced herself, although I didn’t hear her name. I was too embarrassed to ask her to repeat herself.
What looked like a storefront had actually been some sort of science classroom. There was a full coat rack on one side, and on the other wall another rack half full of lab coats. Most of the people hiding inside were wearing shorts and t-shirts; it had been warm just a few days ago. But it looked like it was going to snow outside, so I headed for the coat rack, yanking the coats into my arms, and gathering up the gloves and scarves. No one stopped me, a few people were saying not to worry, it would warm up soon. They were wrong.
I checked all the pockets for car keys again, but was less lucky this time. I went on to trying to organize the coats, glancing at the window every so often. The sky was grey. I gave my new friend some of the coats as well. She seemed most interested in the scarves, so I let her have them.
Carrying my coats, I walked around the room. There was a door at the end that led to a small lab area, and beyond that there was a small office. A group of students were huddled around the desk. Several fossils lay across the desk. I ran my hands over them, longing to take one of the ammonites. The students told me it was okay, no one would be back for them. I wanted to take them, for some reason I was sure that what was happening would mean no one would care about fossils, that we would lose them, but they were heavy, and I did not want to weigh down my pockets. It would make it harder to run, and if I was too heavy, maybe I would just sink down into the earth under my own weight, sparing the shark-maggots the hunt and delivering myself straight to their mouths.
I left the room, and the fossils, and the students. I went outside the building – it seemed safe for now. People were still stampeding around in hysterics, and I clutched my new coats tightly, trying to find my family and deliver the supplies to them. My new friend was gone, and I wanted to find her, but there were too many people, too much noise, and I had to focus on just my family.
I saw my dad’s grey hair among the crowd, pushed up out of its normal neat comb. I called and called to him, but he didn’t hear, and the crowd kept getting in my way. I could not reach them.