Good morning, everybody.
I walked along a concrete path that went around a lake in a small natural area. I was coming from the right end of the lake, and I was walking clockwise around the lake. It seemed to be late afternoon. The sun seemed to have gone down, and the atmosphere was a silvery, pale blue. The lake was bordered by a small slope that came down to the sidewalk and was covered in dry, tan grass, so that I couldn't quite see the lake.
I may have been singing or whistling a little tune to myself when I saw three coyotes or wolves walking in a row near the edge of the lake. The coyotes didn't seem very mean, but I was afraid of them. I had just come from an area of the natural area where humans had been attacked, maybe by a big feline or canine. I worried that making the wrong move could set these three coyotes off in the same way the other animals had been set off, so that they'd attack me.
A shrill, loud whistle, like a steam whistle or an alarm whistle, sounded off in the distance, possibly to my left, away from the lake. The whistle shocked me, but it terrified the coyotes, who jumped into the lake to defend themselves. The coyotes swam in fear toward the center of the lake.
The noise had stopped. But now whole droves of different kinds of animals were flushing out of the lands of the natural area and jumping into the lake, swimming into the lake in reaction to their fear of the loud whistle.. Soon the lake was filled with different kinds of animals.
I continued walking around the lake. As I did, semi-trucks began driving alongside me, as if the path, and probably the thin strip of grassy slope between me and the lake, were road. There seemed to be a whole line of semi-trucks driving alongside me.
I now realized I was at work, and that the semis were somehow a part of my job. I now looked closely at all the semis as they passed, feeling like I needed to make sure something in particular about them was in good condition. It wasn't like my job was to inspect the trucks. I was something more like a driver or a passenger. But everybody kind of had the responsibility to make sure each truck in the fleet was in good shape.
I had worked my way about halfway around the lake. Some of the trucks appeared to be driving into the lake. I focused intensely on some of these trucks driving into the lake. I now found myself walking or riding in a truck (while a young man drove) under some bridge near the back end of the lake.
As I came out from under the bridge, I noticed a barge-like vehicle floating on the lake. The front of the vehicle was the red cab of a semi-truck. Behind the cab was something like the deck of a barge or a flatbed trailer for a semi-truck. Fixed into the center of the flat area was a stout, wide chimney that blew out smoke. I realized that this vehicle, whatever it was, ran on steam power.
My view may have shifted onto the barge-like vehicle, or I may have continued driving along in the semi-truck. But I now came back basically to the same point at which I'd started walking along the lake. Now this point was like a headquarters for my job.
I stood inside a small building like a trailer that had been transformed into a small office. It seemed at first that my shift was over for the day. The other drivers, young men, but kind of big and grizzly looking, so that they looked a lot older than they were, and wearing overall outfits, were filing into and out of the office, like they were taking care of some final paperwork before they headed home.
But some leader-like man, kind of thin and tall, much more prim-looking than everybody else, and standing at a tall but thin counter jutting out from the wall, asked me and my partner (whom I didn't see) if we knew about the whereabouts of some vehicle. My partner knew. He told the leader that the vehicle was in a town about a 90-minute drive away from here. The leader asked if we could go get the vehicle. My partner said we could. We would take my partner's car to get down there.
My partner walked away to get something in preparation for our trip to go get the vehicle. The leader told me that I probably had a few minutes until my partner and I left. He said I could probably go take my lunch break. He asked me if I'd eaten lunch or brought a lunch.
I kind of stumbled with my answer. I don't like eating lunch, and I seldom bring lunches to work. But I told the leader yes, not really knowing what question I was saying yes to. I only hoped the leader wouldn't make me prove I had a lunch now that I'd said yes. I was afraid that if the leader found out I didn't actually have a lunch he'd force me to eat a lunch that he'd get for me.
I decided that, in order at least to look like I was eating lunch, I'd better walk out of the leader's sight. I walked off to my left and down a hallway that hadn't been there before (before, off to my left was the doorway exiting the small, narrow makeshift office).
My grandmother was now walking beside me. She seemed to be about a head shorter than I, maybe even shorter. She was bouncing up and down around me and speaking excitedly about a whole bunch of things. It was kind of annoying. She seemed to feel an urgent need to have all of my attention. It was stifling.
I tried to escape from my grandma. I needed to go to the bathroom, so I walked down the hallway to a restroom. The restroom was for men, but my grandma followed me in. I tried to explain that the restroom was for men. But my grandma wouldn't listen to me. She charged past me and locked herself in a stall at the end of the room.
I hoped I could get rid of my grandma while she was in the stall. I quickly left the restroom and ran down a couple long hallways to another men's restroom. But my grandma somehow followed me there, too. As I was about to unzip my pants and use a urinal, I discovered my grandma standing right there beside me.
I decided that if my grandma was going to keep running into all the men's restrooms after me, I might as well try running into a women's restroom to get away. I ran down a couple hallways and found a women's restroom.
The restroom was huge and full of women, mostly women with children. At first I was shy about walking into the restroom. But after a moment I didn't care. I did seem to have gotten away from my grandma. I started looking for an empty stall I could use.
I walked past one stall in front of which a mother knelt on the floor, putting a little girl in diapers. The girl was maybe five or six years old, too old for diapers. She was blonde, with kind of tan skin. She wore no pants, only a long-sleeved, black sweater with horizontal white stripes down the front.
The little girl seemed to be embarrassed that she was seen by a boy as she was being put into diapers. She stood up, grabbed the diaper off the floor, and ran into the stall behind her mother. The little girl's sister (who may have been younger than the little girl) was in the stall, apparently using the toilet. The little girl somehow proclaimed that she wasn't going to wear diapers like a baby, but that she was going to use the toilet, as if she always used the toilet.
I walked to another stall that seemed empty. A mother sat in front of it with two daughters. The daughters were maybe nine or ten years old, but they acted less than half that age. Nobody was using the stall behind the mother, so I opened the door to walk in.
One of the daughters, a pale girl with very, very long red hair, stood up and tried to follow me into the stall. The mother may have stopped her. I closed the door behind me. But the little girl was standing close to the door, like she was still trying to find a way to get into the stall with me.
The stall was kind of gross, like people had peed all over the walls, floor, and toilet. The toilet now also seemed huge: there was no way I could stand and urinate over the top. But nothing seemed out of proportion. It was like I had somehow become a little child, not more than two or three years old, and I was facing a regular-sized toilet.
There was some weird kind of children's ride, like a plastic cartoon animal model attached to a standing metal frame by springs, so that it would bounce up and down as the child rode it. But it was tipped on its side and covered in urine. I climbed up onto that urine soaked object, trying to find the driest parts for my feet.
I now stood over the toilet seat. At the front of the seat was some object like a child's potty-training seat that attached to an adult toilet. I knew I had to pee into that object. The potty-training seat was plastic and made to look like Santa Claus, with Santa's body as the seat and Santa's face as the seat-back.
As I prepared to aim my pee into the potty-training seat, the girl with the long, red hair spoke to me again. She may even have found a way into the stall, so that she was staring at me. She told me, "If I can't be with you, at least tell me and my sister a story so that we can hear you and not feel as lonely."
I said, "Okay. Do you want me to make up a story?" I was having a hard time concentrating on both making myself urinate and coming up with an impromptu story. But I had a feeling I could do it.
But the girl said, "Tell us a story... about Christmas. About Santa Claus!"
I thought, Oh, I hate telling Christmas stories! They're so conventional. I also knew I didn't want to tell a story about Santa Claus, since I was trying to pee into a urine-soaked model of him at the moment. But I said, "Oh, okay. Once upon a time, there was a man named Santa Claus..."