Last night I dreamed I was a graceful bird soaring high on a tropical breeze. As I
neared the coastline, I sensed rather than felt a sudden change in the
atmosphere. Just ahead I saw a tremendous cloud of thick black smoke that
before long had completely blocked out the sun. This had to be one humongous
forest fire, I surmised.
Blindly, for the smoke had effectively rendered me so, I swooped to avoid it, but
inadvertently swept directly into the acrid cloud. Tears cascaded from my swollen
eyes, like rapids over Niagara’s mighty falls. I lost my sense of direction, and
found myself spiralling downward, spinning rapidly out of control and plummeting
towards the earth, at an horrendous rate of speed!
I flapped them in vain, but somehow my once mighty wings had failed to provide
any useful function. Without them, I was hopelessly doomed, destined to perish
on the chalky cliffs directly below or in the flame engulfed forest further inland.
The smoke was getting thicker, yet all at once I was able to see clearly. The wind
wailed in my ears as the ground rushed up towards me. Despite my predicament,
the experience was strangely euphoric. This was it! Seconds from now I would
cease to exist, I was about to die in the smoldering flames. I wondered how it
I felt chilled to the bone and yet perspiration sprung like rivulets from my
furrowed brow, the smoke was getting thicker still, with every passing moment.
My breath was laboured as I choked savagely on the deadly fumes.
I came to with a start. Oh lord, It hadn’t all been just some stupendous dream!
Something about it was very real. At first I couldn’t fathom out quite what. I had to
do something about this racking cough. I looked around me to get my bearings.
My Bedroom was enveloped in thick black clouds of noxious smoke. I rolled out
of bed and on to the floor, to relative safety below the Smog.
I crawled quickly to the door, it was red hot. I grappled my way back to the bed,
grabbed my bathrobe, crawled back and stuffed it under the door. With a
handkerchief clamped over my mouth, and choking like a three pack-a-day
smoker, I waded across to the window.
I was near to collapse, my lungs were almost giving out on me. I desperately
wanted to lie down and let it be over with, but a little voice in my head wouldn’t
hear of it. I grappled with the latch, It was stuck fast. Damn Landlord!
I pulled and tugged, tears were streaming down my cheeks. I must have looked
for the world, like some spoiled brat , one who couldn’t get his own way, in the
midst of an all out tantrum. It’s not fair, why me! I wanted to scream. I would get
my way though, I had to!
With one last adrenaline endused yank, I got the latch to yield. It had moved only
ever so slightly, but it buoyed me on to greater efforts. I was wracked with pain,
every muscle, every sinew in my body yelled out for respite.
Finally I wrenched it the rest of the way and flung open the sash. Choking
profusely, I crawled out to the ledge and sucked in the cool night air. I gasped
deeply, then expelled as much as I could. I listened, but there were no sirens to
be heard; I knew had to get to a phone, and fast! Peoples lives were at stake.
Revived slightly, I edged my way along the ledge, I had no access to the fire
escape from this window, the only way down was the three stories worth of
rickety old drainpipe. I almost didn’t mind the rusty shards that cut deep groves
into the palms of my hands, compared to almost succumbing to smoke
inhalation, this was a welcome relief. I was halfway down, as the rusty old nails
that fastened the pipe straps, started to pull away from the wall.
I was hanging precariously, still a good twenty-five feet up, when the whole thing
gave way, with a resounding screech! I plummeted like a lead weight to the
When I finally came to, I was laying on a stretcher, with an oxygen mask over my
face, and a paramedic kneeling over me, administering to my many injuries.
There were flashing lights, and people in uniform dashing about in a hive of
activity. For the life of me though, I couldn’t remember why.
“Lie still sir, you’ve hurt your back, and sustained injuries to your neck, head
and left arm.”
I reached up and pulled the mask away from my face, and either said something,
or tried to; I’m not sure which, but there was a strange expression on the medic’s
I lost consciousness again, and didn’t regain it until I was being wheeled in to
the Er. The same paramedic stayed with me while I waited for the results of
various scans and x-rays.
I’d gotten extremely lucky, as it turned out, the worst of my damage was a minor
concussion, a few bruises and a fractured arm. The fire department, I later
discovered, had not only saved my apartment building, but by some strange and
wonderful miracle, had seen to it that all the occupants had escaped unharmed.
A concerned neighbour had witnessed my plight, and called 911 in the nick of
The kindly paramedic came to visit me in the recovery ward, later that same day.
He said he was quite frankly amazed at how few injuries I had sustained from
such a fall. I thanked him for his concern, but noticed as he turned to leave, a
strange expression on his face.
“What is it?” I asked suspiciously. Was there something they weren’t telling me?
Was I about to die?
“It’s nothing really, sir.” he said hesitantly, “It’s just that, well… When you first
regained consciousness, you kept asking about your wings.” He regarded my
bemusment, smiled sheepishly then shrugged . “Not to worry though, people can
say the strangest things when they’re in shock.”