I had a dream tonight.

I dreamt she was still here, but part of me knew she was already gone. It was the sort of "gone" that became a physical distance. If she was out of town I had to drive to that town. If she was in the tower I had to climb the tower. And I'd get there and then, as dreams do, things would move on and she'd be gone again. I had no choice but to continue to chase after her, and she could be nothing besides remote, distant, unattainable, gone.

I dreamt we were on a roller coaster in some hellish theme park, and I wanted her to be there, next to me, but there was this metal barrier between us, cold and uncomfortable. She smiled at me as if she knew that this was the way it would always have to be. The roller coaster went into a dark tunnel and I started awake.

I dreamt I was driving on the freeway, and I kept trying to take her exit but there was traffic in the way or the exit would be closed, there would be nothing but a big orange "detour" sign. And I'd just keep driving around, looking for a way. I got lost and the streets turned into a labyrinth.

The dream shifted, as dreams do, and I was walking in the labyrinth of streets and impossibly tall buildings. It was familiar. It was home. But she was here somewhere and I didn't know where. I was looking for her. I called her name--a name I won't repeat here, have sworn not to repeat again--and the sound of my voice echoed in the twisting streets, and made it into some terrible howl. When I found her at last, she fled from me. What could I do but follow?

She fled right into the arms of a man I don't remember, finishing a tape arrow, a spool of fishing line trailing behind him. "Help me," she said. "Help me." He was carrying a rifle and opened fire at me. The first shot missed, so I charged. The second shot hit my shoulder, but I kept coming. I was stronger than that, I realized then. I was stronger than anything. I ripped the rifle from his hands and jumped on him and punched him in the head over and over, effortlessly, like he was a doll, like he wasn't even that. I beat him until he was senseless and bleeding, and then I got up and started kicking him in the skull and in the stomach, just howling with incoherent rage.

Then I heard the rifle again, a split-second before there was agonizing pain all over, and everything turned red, and I was on the ground, and there she was, quivering, still aiming at me. She fired again, and the ensuing dark became the dim red numerals of my alarm clock, flashing midnight over and over.

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