Friday, July 27, 2018

Dream Theater: The Forest, and the Mountains Beyond

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I was on vacation, at a large resort, with several other people. Some were friends, and some were people from high school I remembered not liking very well. But we were all vacation together now, and we were going to have a great time. 

The resort had everything—restaurants and bars, shops, a spa and casino, plus lots of outdoor spaces for swimming, golf, tennis and hiking.

It was an improbable paradise, tucked away somewhere far from everything else. There was a vast forest off in the distance, and mountains even further beyond. 

We split up, each of us heading off to do whatever we wanted. But first we traded phone numbers and put ourselves on message groups so we could stay in touch and meet up later.

A few minutes later, after everyone had gone, the problems started.

First, it turned out I had more than one phone with me, and I couldn’t figure out which one had everyone’s numbers on it. Some of the phones had just a few, others only had one, several had none at all.

Second, some of the phones were old. There was a Palm Pilot and a Motorola Razr mixed in with them, and some others that were more like children’s toys, made of cheap, light plastic that was cracked. A lot of the batteries were dead.

Third, even when I found a phone that was working, with at least a few numbers that I needed, I discovered there was other information mixed up with them. MP3s, old ringtones files, photos from trips and vacations I’d taken long ago, haphazardly stored where they shouldn’t have been.

Fourth, the resort turned out to be a lot bigger than it looked at first, and soon I was hopelessly lost. I wandered around, looking for something I recognized and could return to. But all I could see was that vast forest in the distance, and those mountains even further beyond.

I finally found a little building, not much more than a gazebo, and sat down in it. I was tired and hungry and not sure what to do. That’s when a kind-looking older woman appeared, and sat next to me.

She had a phone with her, too, and showed it to me. She said it was giving her problems and she was having trouble using it. By any chance, could I help her?

She handed it to me, and I saw that she had the same problem as me. There were photos where they shouldn’t be, web pages mixed up with emails, random phrases and icons where there should have been phone numbers. 

I returned the phone to her and apologized for not being able to help. She thanked me for trying and walked away. Toward the vast forest, and the mountains even further beyond.

Maybe, I thought, everyone in my group was having the same problems as me. Maybe we were all separated, lost somewhere in this enormous resort, unable to contact each other or find our way back.

That’s when a few people from my group appeared. The people from high school. The bullies and burnouts who I’d never been friends with and didn't really want to see again.

“There you are,” one of them said. The others laughed maliciously. “We finally found you.”

I got up, and ran. Into that vast forest, and the mountains further beyond.

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