I had this weird dream last night. Actually, it was probably early this morning, as most of my dreaming seems to take place in the hours before dawn. It was a long dream, composed of several completely unrelated episodes, and I don’t remember any of them but the last (although I do remember that the penultimate episode had something to do with Wolverine and jumping out of a plane).
There was a guy. I don’t know who he was—he was one of those dream characters whom you’re certain you’ve never seen before, and when you wake up you don’t even remember what they looked like. Anyway, he was going to collect some treasure that he had locked up in a chest. So he set out on a journey to the seashore, where this chest was located. As he went along, the people he passed asked him where he was going.
“I’m going to get my treasure,” he would say, as if it were completely natural. As he walked along, people began to follow him. Soon, a small crowd had formed, and people no longer asked the man directly where he was going, they just asked his followers. And his followers would tell these people of the great treasure that awaited them at the end of the journey. The closer the man drew to the seashore, the larger the crowd grew.
Finally, the throng arrived at a rocky shore. The waves came in unabated and crashed on the rocks, and the water and foam hissed as it seeped through the holes between the rocks and found its way back to the sea. Everyone milled about, waiting for the man to produce his treasure. I did not see where it came from, but the next thing I knew there was a chest on the ground in front of the man. It was the type of chest you would expect to be filled with Spanish doubloons or gems and fine jewelry. He lifted the chest, and I could tell by the way he held it that it was incredibly heavy. His followers saw this as well, and a murmur rippled through the crowd. Then, without saying a word, the man heaved the chest into the air. It described a short arc and then landed on the rocks with a splintering crash.
The man’s followers gathered around the chest. A gaping hole had been punched in one side by a particularly sharp rock, and inside could be seen the glint of something metallic. But when the nearest follower reached his hand in and pulled it back out again, it was plain to see that he was holding nothing more than a piece of mundane metal coated with sparkling paint. Some pieces were gold-colored, some were silver-colored, while others were red- and blue-colored. But they were all worth about the same: nothing.
The man’s followers were surprised at first, then disappointed, and finally they began to grow angry. They shouted at him, but he just looked out over the water and said nothing. I could see the crowd growing angrier, and I began to fear for the man’s safety, so I stepped forward from wherever I had been and raised my voice.
“What gives you the right to be angry with him?” I said. “Did he promise you anything? No! You followed him because you chose to; he owes you nothing.”
The man did not move or in any way indicate that he had heard what I had said, but those who had once been his followers all turned to look at me. The one who had first taken the “treasure” from the chest looked down at the lump of metal in his hands, then up at me, then back at his hands. He relaxed his fingers and the metal fell to the rocks with a dull clunk.
And then I woke up, furrowed my brow, and thought, “What was that all about?”