The Occasions – Jiewei Li

Of all the dreams of me being chased, there are two that stand out among the dozens of the rest.

The first one is about a rescue and run. I rescued a girl from a powerful gang who was about to rape her. And since then, I had to run from their retaliation. The whole escape was like a hamster running in a kaleidoscope. I first reached a sandy scene where there were dunes and efflorescent and hollowed-out fortresses. Surprisingly, despite the dilapidated condition of the architecture, inside the building, there was a cyclonic quicksand. I had to lean closely to the wall and drag my legs very carefully to make a safe pass and it made me feel like Lara Croft.

I climbed out of the sandy building and there were Arabic men waiting like NPC in a game. They told me to go up the hill and there at the peak, I saw a grassland beneath. I ran with oddly shaped horses and oxen and they led me to a big forested slope, from which I slid down and passed a house without a roof, a regular scene in my other lucid dreams. I used to shower there with moon as the bathroom light. At the foot of the hill, a seaside scene was waiting for me. I thought it would be very smart to hide under the water where they couldn’t possibly find me. But a sauna room distracted me. It was in the middle of the sea with no doors on either side so it was more like a corridor with steam. The end of the corridor showed a great sight of reef and tropical fish. The sound of the waves and a genteel sun shower soothed me for a moment. But suddenly everything got silent. I looked back. They found me.

The second is about surviving in an apocalyptic world of zombies. It started like a trailer of The Walking Dead: a group of people were moving uphill in a golden maize field taller than most of the adults. I was standing at the foot of the hill because I was afraid to be consumed by the maze and possible zombies that lay within. Then I knew an ocean of zombies were coming down from the top but they were indiscernible because of the tall plants. I could only see the rustled facade formed by the ears of the corns. People started to scream. I turned around and started to run.

I ran past a village that had already been pillaged and abandoned. Then I reached a road that was built on the side of a highway, which was almost empty with only occasional sight of several vehicles abandoned in a moment of desperation. While I marched forward, I came across a group of acquaintances that I hadn’t met for at least two decades, respectively turning their heads to smile at me.

At the end of the road there appeared dozens of sparsely located houses. I hid in one because it was getting dark. There were four cats in the house and it was the only moment in this dream that I felt relatively relaxed but not any less puzzled. I somehow knew that one of the cats was mine but they were all striped while mine in reality wasn’t. Then the house was surrounded by torches and light and I hid in the patio. It turned out to be people who wanted to get in. Though with the knowledge that they were not brain-eaters, a voice in my head told me that they might be brain-shooters, so I climbed over the patio, hopped onto a familiar grassland and started to run.

I thought dreams were only supposed to be perverted projections of the traumas, the past progressions that seeped into a rather problematic present. Then a week after the dreams, a small group of police officers came to my apartment. There was no foreplay and the leader just grabbed a chair and sat in front of me. The smoke from his cigarette mingled with the steam coming from the hot cup of tea I made for him. And he just sat there without even looking at me and nobody said anything. But the next day, even with my firewall-climbing plug-ins, I couldn’t connect to Facebook and YouTube anymore.

This is one of the occasional moments that I have trouble telling if it was conjured up or really happened.

Name’s Jiewei Li. Chinese since 1991. Lancaster University MA Creative Writing in 2019. Single and broke in 2020. Writing and hoping for the better in 2021.