Fascinating courtly intrigue and bloody power games set on a generation ship full of secrets―Medusa Uploaded is an imaginative, intense mystery about family dramas and ancient technologies whose influence reverberates across the stars. Disturbing, exciting, and frankly kind of mind-blowing.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Michael's Chronicles: Chicago

Michael Thiele is a woodsmith who makes musical instruments and playable furniture. He spends most of his life either in the shop or out on the road buying wood and selling his work at craft shows. In recent years, his travels have begun to inspire his own writing, so he sends me his thoughts.

Jan 8

Strange dreams are, well, strange. I am traveling around to shows again, this sequence being Cincinnati, the Chicago area and Salina, Kansas. Last night my mind went on its own little road trip, and I was but a passenger - an observer. This time it was largely unsettling.

To be sure, I dream. A lot. Occasionally they are frightening, but rarely. Just as rare are the times I wake up laughing hysterically. Most of the time the dreams trip the light fantastic or are simply absurd. It is common for characters I don’t know to engage me in conversations from which I cannot wait to extract myself - stupid conversations in which they proceed to argue with me or about pure nonsense. One of those was the opener last night.

I was standing around on the concourse of some amorphous place when I heard a little whirring sound. I looked down to see an eight inch long mason jar chugging by on wheels. Just a jar and wheels. No motor or other source of propulsion. I watched. A voice off to my left asked me, “What do you make of that?” I responded, “I don’t know. Ask someone else,” sensing that I was about to get sucked into one of those conversational abysses I mentioned earlier. But, as always, he wouldn’t go away. I sighed. “Why me?” came to mind.

“How is that possible?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I quipped. “Ask someone else.”

“Yeah, but there’s no motor. Who’s doing that?”

“I don’t care. Go away.” 

“No need to get testy, man. Let’s figure it out.”

“No, I’m busy” (which I obviously was not). “It’s probably not even happening.”

That did the trick. The jar and the guy both disappeared. Thank Dog! They say entire dreams happen in seconds, no matter how detailed. This was probably a micro-second. Now I could get back to sleep.

Not so fast. The second dream showed up. Strange, but not particularly annoying or disturbing. I found myself at a mini mart on the west end of Flagstaff, where I live. It was nighttime. I followed a farmer-looking guy out of the store to his mid-eighties forest green Chevy pickup. He got in and started the engine. I opened the passenger door and climbed in next to him. He seemed unaware of my presence, put it in gear, and headed down Milton. He made the bend at the tracks just before Humphreys and continued east. Nothing was said between us. Down around Switzer Canyon, near the Smiths supermarket, he let me out. I was hoping he would take me all the way to my destination but realized I didn’t know where that was.

“What do you do?” he asked as I got out. I told him I was an artist who traveled the country doing art shows. He said, “Where’re you coming from now?” I said, “Phoenix. I was helping a friend roof his house.” Asphalt shingles were protruding out of a backpack I was carrying but had never noticed before this moment. He waved and drove off. That was it.

I found myself standing, inexplicably, next to a pickup I haven’t driven for years because the motor is blown. It sits in front of my workshop out in Doney Park. But there it is, transported out of thin air, next to me near the Smiths. I am nonplussed.
I go back to sleep. Later on, dream three shows up.

I am now standing on the gravel lot at a Truckstop somewhere I don’t recognize when what drives up is a well-used work van that has been sawed in half right down the middle, front to back. Obviously it rolls around on only two wheels, both on the same side. The driver, who for reasons that mystify me, is a person I actually once met. His girlfriend (or perhaps lover) is perched on a plywood bump out halfway back behind the guy. There has been installed a bubble window next to her out of which she has a view.

The steering wheel is at the right front, European style, in line with the two wheels. Logic would dictate that the mason jar, which didn’t show up in this dream even as a referent, was a more stable ride though less occupant friendly. To be fair, the mason jar car could have not hauled all the used and salvaged plumbing pipes perched upon racks behind the van driver. Some were coated here and there with carelessly splashed house paint.

The driver jumped out of the van followed by the woman, he dressed like an air conditioning repairman in a dirty monkey suit and she looking like she was headed to a dance. Odd scene. He said “Hi, Michael.” I returned the greeting. We chatted for a while about nothing and I eventually determined that I had met him in some past time at a party at daughter Sarah’s home. Really. The woman never talked but stroked his forearm idly as he spoke. He never offered to give me a ride to wherever I was going. The two of them ultimately piled back into that peculiar vehicle, she returning to her beltless plywood bench and he to the driver’s seat. They waved as they drove off in a cloud of dust.

When I arose this morning to remembrances of these dreams I found them in some way unsettling. Writing of them has cleared that cloud. Dream analysts are said to be able to explain these things to us. Personally, I don’t see it and as I told the guy who harassed me in the mason jar with wheels dream, I don’t care. Thought I’d just share them.



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