My family and I had walked into town rather than taking the car--an idea of my father's, which I didn't especially agree with but had no choice about. We did our sightseeing and then started walking home. Along the way, my little brother began to lag. I glanced at him and he looked sick; his forehead was giving off steam. I alerted my mother, and she felt his head and said it was cold. We stopped on the sidewalk and anxiously tried to figure out what to do. We were still far from home, where our car was, but we obviously needed to get him to a doctor.
We stood on the side of a road busy with traffic, trying to flag down a passing car. My mother waved her arm, and I got panicky and jumped and down, waving my own, but the cars and trucks kept zooming by. No one stopped. Eventually traffic started to back up and snarl, until the road was packed with vehicles, all at a standstill. People started to gather in idle, buzzing groups. This was all taking place close to the end of an old-fashioned iron bridge, with the nearest cars coming off the bridge.
A huge, tall, muscled guy wandered by and somehow he and I got into each other's faces. We squared off and circled each other, not quite fighting, trading jeers, and then he gave me a knife, so that we'd be more evenly balanced. After he did this, he went to my brother and I said, don't go near him! Get away! And then I stabbed him, and he turned, annoyed. He picked me up by my neck and dangled me a bit. I fended him off, swiping the knife at him, though he could have done me in easily. As I hung there I chattered away and eventually asked if he read suspense and mystery novels, because my favorite series was about a guy who'd been in the military and was now a lone wolf--and then the big guy said, face lighting up in recognition, "Jack Reacher!"
He put me down, his attitude completely changing because we liked the same series and character, and then he and I wandered off in separate directions. I was still anxious about my brother, so I approached the end of the bridge where police and civil officials had clustered. A woman let met onto the bridge to plead my case for getting my brother help. I entered the bridge, which became an underground tunnel, supported with struts and posts, like a parking garage. It extended cavernously across the water, but also into the shoreline, and bore no real relation to the bridge above it.
Inside was a confusion of people, headquartered in a kind of bunker or fallout shelter that resembled a basement of many vast interconnecting rooms. They'd actually taken over a defunct mortuary with adjoining crypts. People sat around on benches waiting their turn for assistance from the authorities. I waited too, while others got help. After a while I got to explain my problem, but no one could offer help because no one knew what was going on--the radio stations were silent, filled only with static, and we were physically cut off from the other side of the city, across the bridge on the opposite bank. It wasn't clear what had happened. A woman offered to let me bunk in a crypt, but I declined.
I left, heading up towards the exit and back to my family, but on the way I veered off. It was becoming clear that we--a largish section of the population--had been cordoned off, and I was determined to get out into the surrounding city and see if I could find help. So as I neared the surface, I slipped off to the side, sliding down the rocky bank and working my way around the shoreline. I could see the people above me, the crowds now patrolled by policemen who were keeping them from heading back into the city. The city in this area was actually more of a town: a semi-decrepit waterfront with twisty cobblestone streets and old wooden buildings jutting out over the rocks, their pilings sunk into the water. It was critical the police didn't spot me. Strangely, they were mostly standing with their backs to the shore, looking inward at the town. At one point a girl spotted me and I gestured to her to keep silent; she provided a distraction as I crab-crawled along the rocks under a series of wooden buildings, their planks above my head.
When I made it ashore, away from the police, I entered a marketplace of multiple levels and Byzantine corridors, somewhat like the underground of Pike Place Market, for those who've been there. There were food vendors and stalls and store cubbies--it was a warren and I kept looping back on myself and hitting dead ends. People wandered around in a haphazard sort of way--people who'd been lucky enough to be outside the cordoned-off area. They seemed to have a sense that something was taking place, though; everyone had a confused apprehension of some huge news that hadn't yet broken--as if in the wake of 9/11 we hadn't actually heard about the disaster, but had experienced repercussions in the form of a suddenly materialized police state. When, hungry, I stopped at a food stall and stood in line, everyone was talking to each other, with the uneasy conversations of people in shared limbo.
After a time I left the market warren and headed into town via the cobblestone streets, navigating the shoreline again to enter an industrial district of sloping pits and abandoned earth-moving machinery. I crouched behind some rocks--I could see others doing so around me. We were aware that some official force was approaching, and momentarily a military air vehicle landed. Its arrival scared us off, and people fled in all directions like rats into whatever nearby tunnels were available.
I found myself in a set of makeshift underground shelters, peopled by the homeless. There I saw David Hyde Pierce, who wasn't so much his actual self as a friend of mine. He had a dazed look. He'd been in the city and had been released. He'd been released because he'd been subjected to a Jasmine-like mind-conversion process that left people more or less complacently zoned. That was the big, awful thing going on. He, however, hadn't converted successfully, and had been left with the vacant affect of a lobotomy patient. We hung out in the shelter of a mutual friend, who was holding a dinner party--a form of whistling in the dark. A party on the edge of the apocalypse. This other friend convinced me that I should sneak into the city, passing as one of the converted, to find out news, or possibly to help my brother. He lent me clothes, some elaborate costume of a dress, and a flowered hat, and a big flashy scarf. I looked in the mirror, readying myself and vaguely marveling at my middle-aged reflection, the face of a woman who wasn't really me, and then...the dream ended.