It took a long time to fall back asleep after that but more strange visions were waiting for me in the darkened corners of my mind. In that fuzzy area between awake and asleep was a repository of images that streamed by endlessly as long as I didn’t try to focus on them. The shaman from earlier is now walking around a group of four monks who are kneeling over an elaborate mandala on the floor. They are building the image with colored sand and the shaman is nodding his head in approval as he circles them and inspects their work. He places his hands in front of his chest in a position of prayer with his eyes closed and then after a period of time he claps his hands together sharply. An explosion of colored lights fills the scene as waves of electric joy start racing through me.
I see myself now like an observer from the outside. I’m holding one of those giant cardboard checks over my head, like you always see on television, and I’m smiling broadly. It is not a memory I recognize, but it’s clearly me, and I look so happy. The surroundings feel familiar somehow but there is no time to study the images as I’m distracted by a crackling electric pop behind me. I turn around to find the shaman there again with his wide smile and twinkling eyes. He reaches out and takes my hands in his and we sit down to meditate. We remain like this for some time as he seems to be giving me something. Communication without words broadcast into my mind. Powerful messages placed deep inside well beyond the realm of normal vocabulary or expression. A sea of stars emerges around us and for a time we float through space with our minds intertwined.
I am awakened suddenly by the feeling of someone next to the bed. There is a man standing right next to me. He looks like a scientist in his light blue sweater vest and he is clearly surprised that I can see him. In the shock of waking, I must have grabbed a fork to defend myself, although I don’t remember having any forks in here, and I’m brandishing it as a weapon. This also appears to alarm him and I let out a panicked shout which causes me to wake up yet again only this time nobody is standing next to the bed. Shadow is also awake and looking around the room for someone. He was right there. I can still see the shocked look on his face. He looked like someones kindly uncle and there was no feeling of ill will coming from him. Just surprise that I had seen him somehow. What in the hell is happening?
Before I can process what has happened I’m distracted by the sound of Zap-Zap’s exclamations on the availability of hot coffee. After acquiring another cup of the greatest coffee I’ve ever had, this time floating towards me in a large mug labeled “Kanofanofonopop Intermural Squishball Get Ready to Score!”, I ask him if he’s seen anyone outside the building.
“Only you and the magic panther cat! I am your catsitter! Drink your medicine because Ensign Cole is waiting for you by the elevator!” exclaimed Zap-Zap with his usual fervor. “Kleptak43 here we come!”
The warmth of the coffee is still spreading through me as I grab a quick shower. As the hot water runs over me I’m surprised to find the images are in there still playing. As long as I don’t focus on them directly they continue to run along in their curious fashion. It’s like watching a silent movie with no context. The image of the man standing next to the bed intrudes long enough to disrupt the flow. Shadow is waiting for me outside the shower and gives me another one of his squawks. I give him a scratch behind his ears and throw on some clothes. I’m pleased to find the rocket bike that Cole promised is parked outside the door and it makes for a short trip to the elevator. As I come in for a landing I can see Cole with a cup of coffee in his hand waiting for me near the big red wooden gate.
“Did you finally get some sleep?” asked Cole with a bit of a smirk.
“It was the best sleep ever. The shaman came back, there was a magic sand ritual, a giant cardboard check, outer space meditations, and then I almost attacked someone next to my bed with a summoned fork.”
“Hold on, what?” replied Cole who had suddenly stopped sipping his coffee.
“I don’t know man, but someone was standing next to my bed for a moment and that person probably shops at the Leisurewear for Scientists Warehouse. Shadow was looking for him too. He must have been able to project his consciousness outside of his body somehow. It was weird. I woke up and then woke up again.”
“Like an astral invader? Maybe you picked him up psychically somehow. Maybe he was astral projecting or remote viewing you. Do you remember anything else?” asked Cole while pushing the button on the elevator.
“He seemed curious about me. It almost felt like a doctor checking on a patient or research subject. The fork that appeared in my hand surprised him. It felt like he wasn’t expecting any sort of danger or for me to wake up,” I replied rolling the whole thing around in my mind. The elevator was performing its trick again, movement without movement, and then it hit me. “Do you think there might be a way for me to find him by doing the same thing?”
“Let me do a little tweaking on the headset frequencies when we get back. You might be on to something. Right now we are just reacting. Maybe we need to be more proactive,” he replied now clearly working through some strategies in his mind. “We are almost to Kleptak 43 and I think a little leisure time would do us both some good.”
The deep thoughts were short-lived because the elevator door opened and a litany of profanity again drifted our way. Jerry was shouting again about dragons while punching the air. Outside the enormous window is a bright flashing light that looks remarkably like world’s largest neon disco ball. An endless array of blinking colors strobing rapidly as the object slowly grew in size. It was starting to look a lot like a giant scrap pile with too many indicator lights when Jerry snapped me out of my reverie.
“Can you guys grab me some comfy socks while you’re out?” asked Jerry who had momentarily stopped punching the air but still had the giant goggles on his head.
Jerry hadn’t even turned to look at us. Cole was subtly shaking his head no at me and then nodded his head back towards the elevator. That must be our cue to get out of here.