The Ancient Modern
Dream Tornadoes Make Deadly Company / Joshua Alan Sturgill
Ever since I moved away from the Prairie, I have had a recurring dream that Tornadoes are searching for me.
In the dream, I live in a huge city—Los Angeles or Mumbai, somewhere unfamiliar—and I am alone there among the tall buildings and narrow streets.
The Tornadoes wander slowly and carefully through the streets and peer into the upper floors of the skyscrapers.
They are very old, a slightly transparent muddy grey. They make no noise, but if I get close to them, the wind is fierce. The wind around them seems to be their sense of touch.
They bend, but with difficulty, as if they were made of soft wood. They are sinister, sinewy, and silent.
In contrast to the Tornadoes, I walk around the city quite leisurely. I find curious furniture and piles of old newspapers. I find things that I lost years ago and had forgotten. Childhood clothes. Dishes. These things are all lying around the city in out-of-the-way alleys and doorways.
In the dream, I am not worried about the Tornadoes. But I know I have to be cautious. I have to be aware of the danger. They will kill me if they find me. But it is easy to keep out of their way.
I read by candlelight in basement boiler rooms. I have a collection of books that I have found on park benches. Someone leaves them there, but I never see anyone, so I don’t know who. Sometimes I leave books there as well, and new books appear in their place.
I wonder who built the city, and I wonder if the people are still here, but invisible. Or, if I am out-of-sync with them somehow? Out of phase? Vaguely scientific explanations for the silent city, the invisible people and the Tornadoes occur to me, but I can’t quite articulate what I discover.
I have a strange affection for the Tornadoes, for their slow, meaningless search. They are a kind of deadly company. I think they can’t help themselves. They want something they don’t understand.
Sometimes the Tornadoes stop searching and gather together awhile at the center of the city, drifting toward and away from each other uneasily. They’re a towering crowd of trees without branches.
They must have mouths, because they seem to speak to each other. And they must have eyes to search for me.
But their eyes are too large and too old to see into the smaller spaces—the alleys and underpasses and urban caves, where I cleverly evade them.