You remember scheduling the appointment to have your wisdom teeth removed. You remember the mask being lowered over your nose and mouth. You remember the world slowly turning black.
You’ve just regained consciousness. You’re on a train. There’s a briefcase handcuffed to your wrist. Searching your pockets, you find a note.
On this small, white, crisply folded piece of paper, a large “L” written in elegant, loopy cursive fills the page. You look up from the odd note and realize you are in a deserted train car. Without any lights, the train car is dark, barely lit by the outside natural light. The faint blue light comes from outside. It is early dawn, and the sky,covered in a never-ending blanket of wispy white clouds, is an icy blue gray. Apart from the soft rumble of the train tracks below, it is completely silent. Confused by both the quietness and the mysterious note, you stand up. The briefcase jerks up as you stand and hangs off your wrist like a paper weight. You grab the brown, structured briefcase by its handle and walk down the aisle, wobbling unsteadily.
You reach the door at the end of the train car. Opening it, you walk into the next train car and are greeted with a surprising scene. Unlike the first train car, this one is packed with people. The men are dressed in tuxes and the women in sparkly dresses. The atmosphere is energized with excitement as people mingle around, sipping at their cocktails. In the middle of the room stands a table. On top of this table sits a briefcase with a brass key spinning atop it, defying everything you thought you knew about physics and gravity. Despite all the people, no one takes notice to you or the briefcase and spinning key. You are invisible to them. You push past a group of people and approach the other briefcase. Tentatively, you grab the key. You use it to try to unlock your briefcase, but it doesn’t work. Next you use it to open the briefcase it was originally spinning on top of. As the lock clicks open, your breath catches. You lift the lid of the briefcase, and inside you find another note….This note looks identical to the first one. You open the small, white, crisply folded note. The letter “O” is printed inside with the same elegant handwriting. Confused you stuff the note in your pocket and venture to the next train car.
You enter the third train car and are surprised to find yourself in a glass box. The whole train car is made of glass. You can see the train tracks whooshing past below your feet and the countryside flying by beside you. Fields of tall yellow sunflowers whiz past. on the glass floor is another brown briefcase. A key suspended by a thread hangs above it, swinging in a perfect circle like a pendulum. You pick up the briefcase and use the key to open it. You find inside another note, same as the last two, but with a large cursive “U” printed on it. Even more puzzled by your situation and the notes, you continue into the next train car, almost scared as to what you are going to find next.
You enter and find yourself in another deserted train car. This one has no windows but is still brightly illuminated. The walls are lined with row after row of lightbulbs. LIke the last rooms, you find another briefcase. A key is perched on top of it, the end of the curved handle balancing perfectly still atop the briefcase despite the swaying movement of the train. You pick up the key and open the briefcase. You become surprised to find two notes in here. You open the top note and find an “V” written across it, and then you open the second note to find a “R” written across it.
Excitedly, you walk into the next train car. This train car is dark. It is freezing cold inside. There are many tables and chairs inside. The glasses on the tables are frosted because of the extreme cold. It looks like a restaurant. It is empty aside from one waiter standing near the kitchen window. On one of the tables is another brown briefcase with a key spinning on top of it. The briefcase on your wrist is becoming heavy, and you’re getting tired of holding it. The cold bites at your face and hands. You continue on, and approach the briefcase sitting on the table. Before picking up the key, you dig out all of the other white notes from your pocket. You arrange them on the table in the order that you found them.
L O U V R
You open the briefcase in front of you, and find an “E” printed on a white note. As you begin to place the last note alongside the others, the cold becomes unbearable. A snowy storm begins to whirl around your feet, getting larger and larger until it engulfs your entire body. You shut your eyes to block out the icy particles from your eyes. Suddenly it all stops and you become warm. You slowly open your eyes and find yourself in a deserted wing of an art museum. You are in the Louvre. You are standing in front of a painting depicting a golden key. You reach out to touch the painting and the key becomes real. You feel the cool hardness of the metal in your hand. You look down at the briefacase handcuffed to your wrist. You push the key inside the lock. It fits. You open the briefcase and find a magnifying glass. Picking it up with your free hand, you hold it up to your eye. You begin to see a kaleidoscope of colors. Shapes and colors overwhelm your eyes, and you can no longer see.
You shut your eyes and then reopen them. Your eyes refocus and you can begin to see. Blurry at first, your vision gradually becomes clearer. You look up at a bright white light shining close to your face, focused on your mouth. You realize you are in a dentist chair. You see dentists and people crowded around you, their mouths covered with paper face masks. You look over and see a tooth, half wrapped in gauze, on a surgical tray next to you. As you slowly regain consciousness, you realize that everything had been a dream….