I was running with my parents, through a demolished city not unlike a post nuclear reactor failure ruin. We all like to run, so it wasn’t odd. We were on a long run, and they wanted to go into the scary part of town. Somehow I understood that this place was forbidden not only by legality, but also common sense. The landscape was deceptively beautiful, white ash a thick, snowy layer encasing abandoned Gaudi-like architecture with no glass left to break. It was beautiful and overwhelming, the fractal white ash reflecting the sun’s light at a lunar frequency, making any vantage alienating. My parents descended a cliff face away from me, all white with ash and walked out onto a ash field. They would stop as they canvassed the area, finding footholds and athletically helping each other down. Alone, looking down, I followed them onto the apocalyptic plain.
People had used the plain as a dumpsite. There was medical waste everywhere and it scared me that my parents were walking on it, biohazard bags were everywhere. I was afraid to go out there, but I wanted to protect them, and be with them, and not be alone. Still crouched on the cliff face, I slid down an icy embankment, the texture under me both rigid and yielding, as the icy outcroppings broke in my wake.
Sliding down the angled part of the cliff face, I ended up under an overhang, where I saw a stretcher outcropping from a nearby point on the plain It still had an IV unit hooked to it and biohazard symbol half obscured by the ash. I was afraid to be near the dead body for its biological threat to, but also because I detested being in proximity to such disregard for a human. I wanted to run away from it, but I looked harder and it shook, making the ash cascade in tiny and telling avalanches down the contours of the figure beneath it, exposing a female body. Looking closely at the body, I understood that local hospitals used this area as a dumping ground. There were probably more bodies around. I looked at the body, it was a woman, skeletal, with her hands shackled behind her back and an IV running right into her chest. Maybe an IV drug user, I thought, their blood vessels could collapse until that was all that worked.
I looked at her for a moment, not saying anything as I looked up at my parents exploring the moon-like geography, and the body breathed. At first the breath was so faint that it only disrupted the ash in tiny faults along the sternum, and I wasn’t sure, but it quickened, like a drum inflating and became a person again.
“SHE’S BREATHING!” I screamed to my parents, who were far away. My father is a doctor; surely he can help her, or know someone who can.
She wrenched up off her stretcher, IV still intact, and looked at me, with her arms still behind her back. Her teeth were exposed, and her hair was ratty with knots and ash, and I screamed, “SHE’S ALIVE,” but she wasn’t listening. Somebody had ditched her there, the way they dump patients on skid row when they can’t pay. She was dangerous and lost and abandoned, but nobody was there anymore.
I was all alone in the cave and she ran off, and I was afraid she would come back.
Then the dream ended.