This morning I woke from a very vivid dream. Normally when I remember such dreams I try and find the hidden meanings behind the images and metaphors. I haven’t really come to a conclusion about last night’s episode. I can only imagine that I was inspired by things I’d seen on the television recently: episodes of Freaks and Geeks and footage of the rescue effort in Taiwan trying to find survivors in the collapsed buildings from last week’s earthquake. My dream played out like a short film in my head, so this morning I tried to write it down as I experienced it – thankfully in my sleep and not real life.
Drury pointed up at the Manor House rooftop.
“Hey man, look at those goofs up on the roof!”
Three teenagers were walking about the rampart balcony of the three story building. A thigh-high wall prevented them from falling to serious injury of death. Oblivious to the risk, they were pointing at areas of the grey slate tiling with paintbrushes. The trio nodded in agreement and made their way over to one of the steep grey inclines. The last of the three boys wheezed as he lifted a 10 gallon bucket of paint along the roof edge.
Manor House was an old Edwardian building that sat in the middle of the college campus between the library and the cafeteria hall. It had belonged to an old rector of the faculty who donated the premises to the school board for student use when he died. The college couldn’t find money in the budget to restore the building so it was left virtually untouched for over half a century. The floorboards creaked, several windows were cracked and the entire structure felt damp, but the students loved it and claimed it as theirs for art projects, concerts and general hi-jinx.
“It’s the jocks,” Peter said. “The Alpha Phi guys are painting their frat name on the roof for the concert tonight.”
“Uh-huh. You going?” Drury asked.
“Hell no! It’s gonna suck. But there will be a load of sorority chicks getting drunk so you know how it goes…” Peter laughed shrugging his shoulders.
Drury turned away. “Yeah, I know. Maybe I’ll pass by later I’ve got to hit the library up. Mr. Dean is going to flunk me if I don’t hand in this book report tomorrow morning.”
“You still haven’t read the book yet?”
“I skim read it. It’s something about a family heading West in search of gold or something. Somewhere along the line they end up in a flood and the grandma dies, I think.” Peter resumed. “Millie can help you. She always reads the books.”
“Yeah,” Drury nodded. “ Maybe I’ll find her at the library and she can write my report for me…”
Drury and Peter slapped palms and hugged before heading off their separate ways, Drury to the library and Peter to the cafeteria.
Drury settles down behind a desk on the balcony. A boy and girl are already sitting at a desk behind him chatting about the concert that evening.
Girl: So Kelly and Sofia are going. Kelly’s boyfriend is DJing from 9 to 10.
Boy: What kinda music does his mix?
Girl: Hip Hop mainly. You know Future, ASAP, Young Thug… Kelly’s so lucky! She had Drake’s last mixtape before everyone else!
Boy: *Sighs* So no classic rap then?
Girl: Like what?
Boy: I dunno, BDP, Big Daddy Kane, Eric B and Rakim. Some dope Boom Bap shit! None of that molly marble mouth garbage.
Girl: Yeah well, I don’t know who half those rappers are you just mentioned but I know you feeling Kendrick and Pusha T. Don’t deny it!
Boy: Yeah, they good but they’re different too.
Drury tries not to listed to the couple argue and takes out his black marker pen and starts scribbling tags on the desk. The smell of indelible ink invades the small alcove and the girl notices.
Girl: *Raising nostrils and wincing* Hey! What are you doing there? It stinks!
Drury ignores the girl.
Girl: *Leaning in to talk over Drury’s shoulder* You know that’s against the rules. You’re damaging school property!
Drury spots the librarian staring up from her desk below and turns to look directly at the girl. His face a stony expression of passive aggression. The girl stares back and slowly sits back in her seat.
Drury: What’s your name?
Girl: *Hesitating* Kate.
Drury: And him? *Nodding towards the boy*
Drury turns and writes in capital letters on the desk KATE + MIKE 4EVA then cirles it with a heart.
Girl: *Huffing* Jerk! Come on Mike! Let’s get outta here. This dork’s giving me a head ache.
The couple stand to leave. The girl glares at Drury who slouches back in his chair and smiles. The boy doesn’t say a word and doesn’t even look in Drury’s direction. As they reach the bottom of the stairs Peter shoves past them and spots Drury on the balcony.
Peter: Hey man! Studying hard?
Drury: *Sarcastically* Yeah! I just finished a 5000 word essay for Mr. Dean on why you’re such a dumbass!
Peter: Shut up! *Punching Drury in the arm*
Drury: Fuck you! *Blocking the punch and throwing back one of his own*
Librarian: Excuse me! If you’re done studying, you can leave! Thank you.
Peter and Drury stop they’re wrestling and stare down at the librarian then break into laughter.
Peter: Come on man! The concert’s about to start!
Drury: A’ight! *Grabbing his book bag and heading down the stairs behind his friend*
A thumping bass sound accompanied by stamping feet, whistling and whooping pours out of every orifice of the Manor House. The Alpha Phi graffiti on the roof is splashed by flashes of colour from a haphazard rig of lights. Everything is swaying or shaking including the excited students pressing to enter the building. Drury stands back and watches Peter sink into the swamp of sweaty bodies as the DJ boils the beat into a frenzy before dropping the unforgiving bass. Drury doesn’t like crowds. Especially crowds full of jocks and drum ‘n’ bass heads. Half the kids at the concert only discovered D’n’B in the first week of their freshman year and two weeks later they swore allegiance to Skrillex.
As Drury judged from afar, the bass line grew stronger and a strange mist began to spread from the Manor House walls. It wasn’t heat escaping from the windows because it drifted downwards onto the crowd below instead up upwards towards the night sky. A couple of loud cracks snapped off beat and the mist grew visibly thicker. Then another and a handful of crumbling brick fell from the rampart. A couple standing beneath let out a shriek but their alarm was quickly swallowed up by the groans of the human mass as a reverse wave pushed everyone away from the entrance. The building visibly shook and the scaffolding on the roof lurched to the side dropping the word Alpha into darkness. Another loud crack and then a rumbling sound; screams suddenly erupted from within the packed venue and clouds of dust, smoke and steam burst from the first and second floor windows.
Drury rubbed his eyes in slight disbelief as the bass line suddenly stopped, the screams grew louder and the building cracked and shook again. The light rig swung and started to fall off the edge of the ramparts. The grey slopes of tiles covered in fraternity graffiti were sucked inwards and a dark blend of rumbling, splitting and crashing sound accompanied the walls as they fell outwards and inwards burying everything in a thick blanket of rubble and asphyxiating fog. The Manor House had collapsed.
It felt like time had stopped as Drury stood and stared with his mouth and eyes widening, cold sweat broke out across his body, his knees shook and his feet felt as heavy as lead. He jerked himself out of his silent stupor shouting “Holy shit!” as he dropped his book bag and ran towards the apocalypse of screams and moans. Joining other shocked bystanders, he climbed onto the rubble and began frantically pulling at bricks and bits of jagged timber. He clambered up the broken slope of pain and death in search of life but his senses were overwhelmed with the sight and smell of total devastation. Two students stumbled past him almost knocking him over. Normally he would have replicated with an insult but he had no voice. The students carried the limp body of a girl streaked in blood. Drury recognized her as the girl who had confronted him in the library. One of the students gripping her raggedy arms was Mike. The boy didn’t say a word and didn’t even look in Drury’s direction.