My hands were so cold, and I sat before the fire, rubbing them together. Outside, it was snowing, and one of the boys kept shouting about the zombies, that the zombies were back again. Someone explained to me, very patiently, that the zombies were not zombies at all, but merely people who'd suffered severe brain damage during a long ago, brief fad of attempting to have one's mind uploaded to the internet or mainframe computers. I thought this very oddly funny, and when I laughed I had the unpleasant sensation that my dentures were loose.
There was Radiohead coming from an antique Victrola.
No one I now know was there, not even Spooky, and there was a terrible aloneness, despite the crowd in the flat. "This is what happens," I kept telling anyone who would listen. "You live this long, and this is what happens. It's just you."
At one point, I looked up, looked back over my shoulder, and Nar'eth was sitting on a chaise in one shadowy corner of the room, talking with one of the insect-headed women. She glanced at me, smiled, then went back to talking with the woman. This is the first time I've ever dreamt of Nar'eth when I was not actually Nar'eth. She'd not aged at all. I recall (it's in my notes) feeling two things upon seeing her: first, jealousy that she'd not aged and, secondly, relief that I was not entirely alone after all.
I was wearing velvet, and I think it was red velvet, but I'm not sure of any more than that, as regards my own clothing.
And then I was approached by one the cyberEdwardians, a man who looked just like a young Aleister Crowley, and he was carrying two hardback books. Both were quite old, and I asked him who read books anymore. There was a joke I can't recall, only that it was very funny, and the two of us laughed so loudly that other people stopped their conversations and stared at us. "Sign this one to Tesla," he said and handed me a copy of the black leather-bound edition of Frog Toes and Tentacles. So I signed it to Tesla. I didn't use a pen. Somehow, I wrote with my fingertip. My index finger. "Now," the man said, "sign this one to me," though I did not know his name. The book had a paper dust-jacket which was in bad shape and held together only with yellowed Scotch tape.
"Where did you find this old thing?" I asked (or I asked something very similar). I could hardly recall having written the book. The title on the cover was Post-Industrial Paganism (Spooky and I discussed just such a book a few nights ago). The man told me that he'd had it since it was published, and he told me how important it had been to him, that he was so glad I'd taken the time to write it. I opened the book and the copyright date was 2015, but it was copyrighted to Nar'eth ni'glecti Mericale, not to Caitlín R. Kiernan. I told him that she was here, at the party, and it would really be more appropriate if she signed it.
No, he insisted. You sign it. I want you to sign it, but I kept stalling and flipping through the pages while he talked.
I noticed a large green parrot sitting on the hearth, nibbling at a muffin.
"Isn't there the sense that American history has ended?" someone said. "What else could possibly happen?" I muttered something to myself about that being bullshit.
There was thunder and lightning and more talk of zombies, and the man who looked like Crowley told more jokes, and at some point someone brought me a neon-blue martini.
"The war can't go on forever," one of the insect-headed women said. "People won't stand for it." And I closed Post-Industrial Paganism and gave it back to the man, unsigned. And sometime right about here I woke up. My mouth was so dry I couldn't speak and had trouble swallowing. I found my notebook on the floor (Spooky had moved it from my side to a stack of books on her side, fearing I'd stumble over it in the night) and wrote down everything I could remember. This is only slightly more vivid and coherent than my dreams usually are. This evening, I've forgotten most of it, thanks to the Ambien (otherwise, I'd probably still be hazy and "dreamsick") and only have the notes to remind me. Make of it what you will. It's had me baffled all damned day.
Maybe my prayer stalker needs to pray a little harder...