Too Much Media Input, Too Little Processing Time


I'm on a bus, crossing over some incredibly pretty winter countryside. The general geography reminds me of the Bay Area, but the two feet of snow and occasional - incongruous - conifer rather throws things off. Some of the trees have been decorated in holiday style, and I congratulate the groundskeeper (who happens to be on the bus) for his efforts.

I'm on my way to some sort of seminar/training session/school thing. Everything's a bit disjointed. Having to shinny up what resembles an air-conditioning shaft to get to the locker room was definitely unexpected. Once I get to the locker room, I recognize a few faces there, but not all of them, and claim locker 919 for myself. My choice is primarily motivated by the fact that it doesn't have the previous user's name on it. For some reason, this is important. I suspect previous attendees/students have met unpleasant ends.

With some difficulty, I find the room I need for my first class/conference. The building is at least four storeys high, and has that rambling/unexpected layout of a building that has been in existance for some time, with every generation adding a wing here, another floor there as it occurs to them. This leads to a fair bit of inefficient running around, but that's accepted as the status quo. Also, the building has a run down, underfunded air to it. Nothing has been painted in a long time, the floors are well worn, and the fixtures haven't been in style for quite some time. It strikes me as a typical state-run operation, really.

I meet up with another dozen people, and we start talking about how to deal with the vampires hereabouts. The ambiance shifts a bit and I'm relaxing as, hey, this is just another Vampire LARP. We kick some ideas around about how to counteract the vampires' influence on mortal society, and then I'm told to go downstairs and join in the school dance. Ooookay...

The dance is under-attended, to say the least. About a dozen people are rattling around in a large hall, generally ignoring the cut-rate DJ and the rather sad attempts to impart a party atmosphere. I talk to a few people, and realize that this isn't a dance so much as a bizarre training exercise, as most of the attendees are vampires, too. A brief flurry of 'cinematic' (ie, totally implausible) combat ensues, and I decide to go explore the upper storeys of the building and get away from these spazmo vampires who are being total wankers.

Upstairs is a warren of smaller rooms, as run-down as the rest of the building. I run into a friend - DT - which reinforces the notion that maybe this is all just some larp. The friend is/is playing a vampire and, having decided that I'm a good sport, has wrapped his arms around my waist and is threatening something. Me, I'm distracted, as I think the friend is kinda hot and this is the closest contact I'm probably ever going to have with the guy. I get confused for a moment when he calls me Johanna and I insist that isn't my name. It just doesn't sound right. I try to wriggle free, but he mutters something about Potence 3 (non gamers: it's a gaming thing) and I concede that I've got nothing to beat that, or even try to. DT then makes some shocking innuendo that so startles me that I actually wake up for a second (thoroughly bamboozled, the cat on my head didn't help) before returning to sleep and finding my way back into the dream.

I'm outside again, in the 'garden'. Like the rest of the building, it's neglected. The concrete patio is cracked throughout, and weeds spring out of every crevice. Dead potted plants are arranged here and there and lichen has made some serious inroads all over the place. I'm in this cheerful spot because I want to get a cat, and I've been told that there are lots of strays in the neighborhood. The trick lies in attracting the cats and not the rats and racoons. I've got a bag of dry kibble and I scatter it around like chickenfeed, believing that as it's daytime, I'm more likely to attract felines rather than rodents.

Sure enough, a dozen cats - and a rat or two - show up and start eating the kibble. That's a good start for today, and I head upstairs, planning to put out several bowls of dry food on the morrow. The cats are skittish and making their acquaintance is going to take time.

I head up to the third or fourth storey of the building, to an apartment that I'm now sharing with my sister, Selina. Selina is younger, prettier, blonde and has a neat-streak. As might be guessed, we don't always get along so fabulously. I potter around the main living area for a few minutes, then decide that I want to back to 'class' rather than being bored at home. I try to navigate down the narrow hairpin-turn stairwell that leads back the way I came, but it's stuffed solid with old blankets, clothes and stuffed toys - mostly mine, I think. I take the mess out on my sister, yelling at her for not having cleared up probably, and stomp upstairs into the attic to sulk.

The attic is very much an unfinished space. It had been subdivided for another apartment - a private place for myself, I think - but the fixtures that were brought in were never installed, the walls haven't been painted, etc. I meet a rather nice cat up there - a shorthair with thick, light-brown fur - and we talk for a few minutes about the state of life in general. After a few minutes, we notice large globs of what looks like industrial adhesive all over the place and, as neither of us want to tangle with that sort of stuff, we both head back downstairs.

My sister is apparently expecting august company for dinner, as our moderately-sized dining table has been laid out with several plates, glasses and a dozen pieces of flatware at each setting. I make some snarky remark about state banquets, and notice that the next stairway down has been cleared out. Selina retorts with the news that she took the most expeditious route for cleaning things up and simply threw the stuff blocking the stairwell into the trash.

I'm not happy to hear this, as I had sentimental attachments to a lot of that which has now been trashed, and I engage in quite the temper tantrum. I smash up the carefully prepared table, a few vases, whatever else comes in reach, asking sister-dearest how she likes losing the things that are important to her. I've a sense that I'm resentful because she's always had the nicer things - the pretty breakables - whereas I focused on clothes and toys, but good sense has long since left the building.

Finally, I'm menacing Sabrina with the jagged end of a broken bottle and whilst she looks worried, neither of us really believe that I'm going to take things that far. However, at that moment I think "Yes! Yes I should shove this glass in her face! That would be totally unexpected, and a really great twist for the story!" I lunge forward and I'm so shocked at what I'm doing, I wake up - again.

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