Several days gone now, but still holding well in my memory, is this dream:
I found myself laying in a hospital bed, in an institutional room, austere, hinting at a government or corporate facility. I was morbidly obese, trapped by my own mass. Harsh looking nurses would wander in occasionally with food and medication. This was my routine.
Then I got a visitor... a young child, blond hair, wearing what might have been a hospital gown, or a night shirt. They approached me, and whispered in my ear 'You don't belong here, you have to leave.' Then they seemed to be gone.
I struggled to free myself from the bed, but knew the door was locked. The windowless chamber offered only one other possible escape: a ventilation panel. The panel was no more than 2 feet to a side, if that. In spite of my girth, I struggled to the panel, and managed to open it. I began to try to force my way into the duct beyond. As I struggled, I began to catch glimpses of myself as a thin man, struggling. Then, the child was there, pushing my obese body as I struggled. Once again, I was thin. Suddenly, I realized I wasn't really obese at all. I had been tricked into thinking I was, by whoever had placed me in the cell, as if believing I was incapable of escape would prevent my from trying.
I crawled through the ducts, and came out in another room of the facility. The walls were lined with shelves, stacked with peculiar items, the floor was littered with odd items as well. I understood that the items, at least some of them, had belonged to me, and it seemed that must be why I was a prisoner here. The child again appeared, and told me I must hurry. They made me realize I had to decipher a book in this collection.
I quickly found the small leather clad book in the room I was in, but it was filled with strange glyphs, demonic texts. I had to make my way to another room, via the ducts.
I was searching for a medical kit bag. I dropped into another room similar to the last, at the far end of a hall I could not access for some reason. In this room, I found the kit, and in it there were antique, baroque surgeon's tools. Silver scalpels ornamented with vine and flower motifs, syringes, saws, and finally, what I sought, a stethoscope.
This stethoscope was not ordinary by any means. It was crafted from human skin instead of flexible tubing, and the armatures and ear pieces were not made of metal tube, but instead were carved human rib bones. Most disturbing of all, was the actual scope... it was a leathery human ear affixed to the tube. This too had been in my collection, but why I hadn't understood its importance before fails me. I knew it had belonged to a plague doctor, who had made dark pacts and been researching things best left alone.
The child again appeared, urging me onward. In the yet another chamber was a coin I must acquire, but I could not touch it with bare flesh, lest I lose my mind. Back into the ducts I crawled, passing over another long hall, and finally dropping into this last room, which formed, with the medical chamber and the other cluttered rooms of mysterious treasure, a square, connected by long halls.
The coin was found quickly, and in a flash of inspiration, or perhaps at the child's guidance, I lifted the coin carefully with my sleeve, and placed the stethoscope to it. I could hear the beating of a heart, from within the coin. Only this stethoscope was capable of hearing the coin's heart beat. I knew then that I must meditate on the beating of the demonic heart trapped in this coin, no doubt payment for some dark dead in days long gone, and perhaps forged by some madman who sought to imprison a demon with it, so as to command its power.
I got the book out, and began to copy the glyphs into a notebook. The child appeared, this time a young girl, but otherwise very similar... she picked up the coin, and I tried to stop her, but then I knew that she was immune to whatever power it held. So she held the coin, and the ear of the stethoscope to it, while I listened and drifted into a trance. Mesmerized, I began to scrawl equally cryptic glyphs next to each of the glyphs I copied from the book... but somehow, it all made sense to me.
After a great deal of time, the book was decoded to my satisfaction. I found a large painting in the room I was in, and when I looked at it while entranced by the beating of the heart, it was a map, and with the information I decoded, I knew where on the map I had to go... more notes were made, then my escape.
How exactly, I escaped, is a blur, but I was next on the ground in front of the facility I was imprisoned in, a guard post in front of it. Here, I have teamed with a group of Afghan men, who have agreed to take me into the desert, to whatever it is that is hidden there, the thing I was imprisoned and my collection stolen in order to acquire.
I knew time was essential, and as we trekked into the wastelands, the sky grew dark with ominous clouds that roiled across the sky, and the harsh winds blew. My guides warned that since the land had been flattened, the storms tore across it without mercy, and we must find shelter and wait, but I knew it was dark forces mounting against me in this final leg of my journey.
And then, I woke.