I was walking along a rocky beach with some friends and family members. A small white bird was flying over the sea when an enormous, well, dragon-looking thing suddenly lunged up out of the water and swallowed it whole. This was such an obviously symbolic image -- Jonah and the fish, the spirit of God and the primordial Tehom -- that I couldn't quite believe that it had literally happened. And didn't the monster look just a bit off? Didn't it have a faint whiff of CGI about it?
"Look!" I said to my wife, pointing out to the sea. "Look at that" -- I thought I would sound foolish if I said "sea serpent" -- "that creature!"
"That one! Right there! Don't you see it?"
"But it's huge. And it's right in front of us!"
As we were speaking, the monster was rapidly metamorphosing. It changed from a sea serpent to a bipedal Godzilla-type creature, waded out onto the beach, and then rapidly shrank and changed shape until it was an ordinary human being -- a somewhat heavyset middle-aged woman of ambiguous ethnicity who reminded me a bit of the actress Sarita Choudhury. We exchanged some ordinary pleasantries -- my wife could apparently see her now -- and then she walked right past us as if everything were completely normal.
"So reality is like this again," I said. "This is ridiculous. Look, I'll bet if I just say the word UFO" -- and no sooner was the word out of my mouth than a flight of featureless white ellipses zipped past overhead.
"Oh, come on!" I said. "And those are some cheap-ass UFOs, too! You can tell someone just slapped them together in a hurry so they could bring them out at just the right moment."
Later, we were at a coffee shop that had open-air seating in a garden.
"This is like one of those dreams," I said, "where whatever you say or think, it just happens. Only this time it's in real life. Like, hey, do you think we might see a snake in this garden? Bets, anyone?"
Seconds later, I felt something prick me in my right forearm and, looking down, saw two little puncture wounds an inch and a half apart. For some reason, I was not entirely certain what they were and asked my brother, "Is this a snakebite?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Great. And is the snake venomous?"
"Yeah, I think so. Look, there it goes. It's a viper."
A fat green snake with a few scattered white specks was slithering slowly into the bushes. Now I recognize it as being very obviously a non-venomous green tree python -- even the head was almost exaggeratedly pythonid in shape and definitley not that of a viper -- but at the time I agreed with my brother that it was a bamboo viper.
I was kicking myself for "summoning" it. I just thought I would see a snake, not be bitten by one! Well, serves me right. I wanted to say, "Say Cao Cao, and Cao Cao appears," but I was afraid that speaking the idiom out loud might literally cause the ancient Chinese warlord to materialize!
Maybe I knew on some level that the snake wasn't really venomous -- even that it wasn't really real -- because I was in no particular hurry to get medical attention. I wanted to finish my coffee first. From time to time I squeezed my inner elbow a bit, figuring that was probably about as good as a tourniquet for keeping the poison contained.
And then, eventually, I woke up, because of course it was a dream. And almost -- almost -- a lucid one.
In the morning, I opened the app I have been using to listen to the Bible read aloud and pressed play. "For, behold," it intoned, "I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the Lord."