The old gothic building at the end of a cobblestone street had been empty for as long as I could remember. So when I read that it was newly occupied by the Institute of Metaphysical Dissemination, I was interested to learn more.
The Institute opened its doors to the public the other evening to introduce a new and innovative program: RENT-A-DREAM™. Out of curiosity, for its name begged further investigation, I went to see what all the fuss was about.
After a few minutes of fanfare, balloons and lots of free giveaways, the Institute’s director announced the grand opening of the RENT-A-DREAM™ service, where dreams can be chosen from a catalogue and rented for a week.
Wait! What? Had I heard that correctly? A collective gasp rang out from the crowd, so I wasn’t the only one whose jaw hit the floor. The director allowed several seconds to pass before he continued.
“That’s right, you heard me correctly,” he said. “We have all sorts of curated dreams, taken from real life dreamers, and now YOU can dream them yourself, in your sleep and in the comfort of your own home, as often as you like for an entire week!”
A local garage band started playing the song Mr. Sandman while slick looking catalogues were handed out by young people dressed in Sleeping Beauty costumes. I took a catalogue and read a sampling of the categories of dreams.
not landing safely
Being naked in public…
wearing only your underwear
for exacting revenge against your enemies
Being chased, but your feet are stuck in the mud
Spending time with a friend…
friend is happy
you are happy
both are happy
both are inconsolably miserable and can’t stand each other’s company
Erotica and Sex (over 18 only, proof of age required)…
Laundering Money from Rubles to BitCoins…
substitute Botswana Pulags
substitute Mongolian Tögrögs
Being swallowed by a car
Painting an elephant
Attending a Broadway musical called…
“Me And My Cactus”
“Lunch With Gwyneth”
“The Tang Dynasty Chronicles”
The Radio City Rockettes
PERSONALIZED THEMES: (additional charges apply)
Featuring your mother
Featuring your boss
Featuring your Ex
Featuring you, wearing a size 5 black cocktail dress and pearls…
friends tell you how great you look
friends talk smack about you behind your back
your ex tells you that you’ve lost a ton
I decided to give this a try. Why not?… it’s only a dream. What harm can there be? Scrolling further down the list of Non-Traditional Themes I came across this one:
Befriending a Giant: “Meet Viśala the Giant and his three Winged Lions: Tacitus, Tiberius and Titus. Have fun flying on the backs of lions and getting into all kinds of mischief. And don’t forget the Bottle of Magic Elixir. Enjoy!”
It sounded interesting to me, so I paid the introductory offer of 40% off the regular price, presented my drivers license, signed the waiver of responsibility and agreed to the arbitration clause. I accepted the terms of service, signed an NDA, left a deposit and logged onto the app. A Sleeping Beauty presented me with a pill bottle that contained the dream essence and said, “This is one of my favorite dreams. Just take a deep sniff before bedtime whenever you want to experience it.” I thanked they/them but I left somewhat apprehensive about using another person’s dream. Like when I’m wearing someone else’s pants. You know what that’s like.
On my way home, I stopped off at my friend Bill’s house to tell him what I had done. “Hey Bill, take a look at this.” I showed him the pill bottle with the dream essence and told him about Rent-A-Dream™.
Bill was skeptical, and I don’t blame him. It all sounded as bizarre to me as it did to him. “You need a drink,” he said as he poured us a couple of martinis - gin, easy on the vermouth, no ice, an olive.
Well, one martini led to two. Then three. As I stumbled home, I thought of the dream. “Gonna do it,” I said to myself. “Yup, gonna do it.” And I did.
But here’s where it all went terribly wrong. I neglected to heed the warning that made it very clear that alcohol and Rent-A-Dream™ don’t mix, and doing so could lead to some very dire consequences.
Soon I nodded off on my couch. In my alcohol induced sleep I hallucinated more than I dreamt. It started out well enough: My Rent-A-Dream™ had me celebrating my birthday with Viśala the Giant and Tacitus, Tiberius and Titus. We picnicked together on the Jonri Cliffs by Ocoman Bay, dining on hundreds of pounds of roasted meats, sixty pounds of Hyst potatoes, baskets of nuts, raisins, figs and grimly-kagas. And of course five barrels of semi-sweet Evalite wine.
I never ate a grimly-kaga before, as they exist only in the Rent-A-Dream™. They smell sweet with a hint of turpentine, and maybe a bit of nutmeg. Not bad with a glass of Evalite, but not my favorite.
After dinner, Viśala and the lions proudly presented me with a birthday gift: a pill bottle that had once belonged to the Dauphin de France. I was touched.
After our meal, as Viśala, Tacitus and Titus slept soundly on the cliff, Tiberius flew me back home. It had been a lovely day, and my Rent-A-Dream™ was going pretty darn well. As I settled in for the evening, I took a swig from the bottle of magic elixir, just to calm myself. (Follow along here: this is still happening within the Rent-A-Dream™)
But then things went very wrong very quickly, as the martinis reacted badly with the magic elixir. All of a sudden the dream went into reverse. I was thrown back onto the lion, who then flew backwards over Ocoman Bay and landed tail first on the Jonri Cliffs. Viśala took back the pill bottle, and then the picnic looked absolutely disgusting in reverse, as you can well imagine. Hundreds of previously eaten grimly-kagas were strewn everywhere. Then…
What the hell was that? Oh no!… my Rent-A-Dream™ suddenly changed from “Befriending a Giant” to “Being Naked in Public” with a crossover to “Feet Stuck in the Mud”.
I know it’s only a dream but this isn’t good.
Now what? Ernest Borgnine! Naked and stuck in the mud. Geeze!
“Wake up!” I shouted to myself, either in the dream or for real - I don’t know. “Wake up and get off the couch. Now!”
Have you ever experienced a dream within a dream? Like you were dreaming about a dream. You never know exactly which dream you’re in. That’s obviously what was happening to me. I woke myself up by shouting, only to find myself still dreaming about Rent-A-Dream™ and the Institute of Metaphysical Dissemination. I tried to figure this out, but with the gin still flowing through my veins, and magic elixir, it was a hard thing to unravel. Then I realized that the martinis were part of the first dream. So I wasn’t drunk? I didn’t know. My mind was messed up.
When I was sure that I was no longer dreaming, I called Bill - for real, not in a dream. “Was I at your place earlier, and were we drinking martinis?”
“No,” he said. “Not yet. So come on over…”
Oh boy, was I relieved! I had thought I was going insane.
“Good. I’ll bring the olives,” I said.
“And don’t forget the grimly-kagas,” he replied.