- The Dream -

Delightful Fantasy or Monsters from The Id
("The Id: Ancient psychological term referring to the subconscious mind")
By Howard L. McHenry 

          Drinking my coffee on a late summer Sunday morning, my wife came around and suggested we take a drive to the central Pennsylvania Mountains.  I had several little projects I was going to attend to, some I like to do and others I had been procrastinating about for weeks.  Procrastination won out and I agreed.  Kimmy’s beloved Great Uncle recently passed away and I figured it was kind of a memorial ride for her back to where he had lived.  The country is beautiful there.  To save on the number of Road Rage Deaths, Kimmy always drives and I usually sleep.  Several hours later the car traveling over rough country roads woke me up.  “Where the hell are we and where are we going?”  She said “It’s a surprise; you’ll really like it there.”  The car bottomed out several times and I exclaimed, “You’re beating the hell out of the car you know.”  She said, “We’re almost there.”  We started up a mountain, several miles up a steep incline then switched back.  Up and up back and forth, I didn’t think there was a mountain this high in Pennsylvania.  Finally we came around a curve and out of the wilderness a beautiful chateau built into the side of the mountain.  The parking lot for hundreds of cars by itself was like a big city park.  Flowers, topiaries and sculptures separated the rows of cars.  The chateau was an Art Deco architectural marvel of all the things I liked in structures, everything I looked at pleased my eye.  One thing immediately caught my attention.  I used to hunt grouse many years ago and came across numerous coal mines in the woods that had been closed for decades.  The mine opening was usually on the side of a hill with a large plateau in front of it made from the mine waste.  The chateau used to be a mine?  I will have to investigate!  It wrapped around and clung to side of the mountain like a hand holding on for dear life, very unusual.  Up the stairs from the parking lot to the first floor outside balcony we looked down on the grounds.  More flowers, topiaries, hedges, sculptures, fish ponds, fountains and benches.  What a piece of eye candy!  The view to afar was something also, mountains in the distance, clouds wafting through trees, not sign of civilization.  The balcony was full of people milling about and as usual in my way and obscuring my view.  I peeked through the leaded and stained glass windows into the mezzanine much as voyeur would gaze at a beautiful woman in her boudoir.  I had to get in there and check it out!  We entered the mezzanine and found refreshment stands, tables and a bench that followed around the entire inside wall.  We both got a drink and sat down at the bench and marveled and discussed the furnishings and items hanging on the walls.  A large man walked up and stopped in front of  me, he said “Howard, how are you doing?”  I looked up and my bottom plate almost fell out.  “John …. John? John I thought … John am I glad to see you!”  We talked for a while and finally I said, “John, I thought you were dead, I could have swore I read your obituary a couple of years ago.”  Just then a youngster came up and pulled on John’s shirt sleeve, “John we’re up next.”  John said he had to go but he would be back in an hour or so and walked away.  I then noticed John was dressed in a hockey uniform, he must be a coach for a youngster team.  That’s John, always helping someone, a good man.  Watching him walk away the 32 years we worked together in the Steel Mill was rolling through my mind.  I turned to talk to Kimmy about it and she was gone?  I surveyed the crowd, concession stands and walked around to stand outside the woman’s restroom.  I heard her call me “Howard!”, I scanned the crowd but couldn’t find her.  An hour transpired with me walking from where we were sitting and the restrooms, no Kimmy.  I walked down to where the car was parked and it was gone!  What the hell did I do to piss her off?  No she wouldn’t do anything like this, it’s not her style.  As I walked back to the mezzanine I checked my wallet, two dollars.  If  I couldn’t find her I was going to need money for a car, room and chow.  The ATM rejected every piece of plastic in my wallet, this is not good.  Again I heard Kimmy calling me, my spirits went from despair to glee, but I couldn’t find her.  She likes jokes like this but this is beyond what she has ever done before, way beyond.  Milling around the mezzanine I came across large double oak doors.  I pushed a door open, took a look and mumbled to myself, “It was a mine!”  Inside was a view almost impossible for me realize.  As far as I could see the cavern went, for miles.  To the right and left the same, no posts, pillars or walls.  The ceiling was at least fifty feet above like a prostitute, no visible means of support.  The entire industrial complex was on a five percent grade down into the mountain.  Hugh machines spaced approximately a thousand feet apart.  I could see several different streams of water charging down into the mountain.  If it was a mine it was a long wall type mine machined out of the mountain.  The floor and ceiling were perfectly finished concrete, the finest finish concrete can have.  Next to each stream of water was a set of stairs that like the water went as far as you could see.  I started down the stair to look at the nearest machine.  As I approached I realized it was nothing of a type that I ever worked on and I didn’t have a clue as to the function.  Thirty two years as a maintenance man in heavy industry failed me.  I expected to recognize the manufacture and relative age of the machine by the technology of construction.  The housing castings looked very old by the rounded corners but sand castings of the era had sand holes and coarse grinding marks you could see through the paint.  These housings were machined, perfectly machined.  Every radius and corner was as smooth as a new car fender.  The paint job looked new also, I love that machinery green but this looked like a lacquer job you would find on a fine car or furniture.  It was also spotlessly clean.  In the mill machines had pools of various oils under them, not a drop of oil to be seen here? The sounds coming from were not loud but I knew from experience the machine was laboring, large amounts of horsepower were being used here!  Kimmy calling again, this time there was a frantic tone in her voice.  I called back, ”Are you alright Kimmy?”, no answer.  Kimmy this is a good joke!  Suddenly I noticed there were no shadows, anywhere!  Under the machine, under pipes or, after looking around, anywhere in here.  There were places in the steel mill that you needed your flash light at noon.  Five or so years I was in charge of lighting the mill.  Replacing lights and fixtures and requests for new installations for safety or so someone could do their job.  Here was lighting of the quality for a library.  I looked up at the ceiling to see if I could determine the type of fixtures and to my amazement there were none.  There were none anywhere!  The light had to be coming out of the floor and ceiling but that was impossible as far as the technology I have was concerned.  Suddenly a fear came over me, anxiety tightness in my chest.  What is this place, where am I?  This kind of tech couldn’t have gotten past me in the few years I have been retired from the mill.  I started to run up the stairs, I had to get back to the people.  I came to the double doors and paused, opened the door and it was all there.  The people, benches and things.  What a minor relief.  I walked around with more things going through my head than I could digest and spotted John outside looking over the balcony.  “John, what is this place, where are we?”  John said. “Isn’t it beautiful? It’s like it was made for us isn’t it?”  I stopped him and said, “John, I know I read your obituary a couple of years ago, what gives?”  John got a long sad look on his face, put his hand on my arm and replied, “Yes Howard I am dead and I hate to be the one to tell you but You Are Too!”