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By Chiman Salih
All of a sudden I found myself inside a taxicab different from those in my country. It screeched to a stop. Confused, I stepped out of the car and found myself in a completely different city from my own. It was a very strange place and I wondered how I got there. I asked myself, “Where am I? What is going on?”
I continued on foot through the overcrowded city. All around me buildings stretched toward the sky, their peaks almost kissing each other. Only a narrow split of cloudy blue sky was visible as I stood, straining to figure out whether I was in heaven or hell.
I remembered a line from Mosan Coley’s speech, “A skyscraper is a boast of glass and steel.” And instantly, I knew exactly where I was in the world.
I was shaken from my thoughts by a shrill voice that came from above. The sound ended with a thud and drew my eyes to the sky. A mythical, giant bird, one that had visited me in my nightmares and pried me from a peaceful sleep, flew overhead. Its wings cut through the space between the skyscrapers.
“It’s Order,” it said to me.
“Gangway,” shouted the crowd of people around me before they fell in dismay. As they fell away, they paved the way for me, and I crossed to the other side of the street. I continued walking until I reached the first blue building.
I had to continue the path. It was Order.
Bearing the anger from the heavens provoked me, and I wished the earth would split and devour me.
I stifled my fear, shouted back at the winged creature. “My best painting is of a duck that my first school teacher taught me! I painted it from a template! And the other is from many years later when my nephew showed me how to draw two birds sitting on a power line. How can I present to be the most famous painter in the world?”
“It is Order,” the voice repeated.
“How could I be DaVinci’s descendant?” I cried. “It’s impossible!”
“It is Order.”
“How can I fool all of those supposedly intelligent people into believing this false identity. Would they unmask me and expose me as a fraud as soon as I opened my mouth?”
“They wouldn’t do that, it’s Order,” to my further astonishment the voice said.
I knew I had no choice beyond accomplishing the order.
Then I had to take the elevator to the thirty-sixth floor, where I had to hold a press conference for more than one hundred senior professionals and iconic media personalities with their crews.
I had to give statements as a very important painter, a descendant of Leonardo DaVinci. From him, I had inherited a superpower that allowed me to solve natural phenomenon’s problems through my sketches for NASA. My grandfather from many generations before mine had moved to this city centuries ago. During the early years of the last century, my grandfather had lost his way during the war and found himself in another world which eventually was where I was now living.
I stepped out of the elevator into the middle of a press conference. As I stepped onto the stage, cameras flashed and reporters competed for the privilege of asking the first question. I barely remembered a few of the dozens of questions they asked.
“What is the biggest problem in your country?” asked a woman. I was intimidated by her because I knew she had twenty years of experience as a reporter and was a well-known columnist for six newspapers.
“Power shortage,” I replied.
“Ah, insufficient tomato products,” she repeated.
“Who is the most famous celebrity in your country?” a famous TV show presenter and chief editor of three magazines asked.
“Angelina Jolie,” I replied.
“Oh, amazing, Selena Gomez,” he said.
“How long have you explored your talent?” inquired an Oprah wannabe.
“Ah…eh, ahh…” I trembled.
“Practically since birth. Fantastic,” she said.
The interview went on for two hours. If I said onion, they pretended that they heard garlic, yet we pretended that the misunderstanding and discord in our conversation was agreement.
It was Order.
I thought the end of the press conference meant the end of my life, so I fainted and fell to the earth.
I woke up partially from the nightmare dream and was drenched in hot water. I screeched, “Waterboarded, waterboarded.”
I woke up. I found myself due to sink into the small water pool in the cellar floor’s bathroom of a two-floor house. The color of the pool was as yellow as the taxicab that I rode in the city of my dream. I remembered that I hurled myself into it a while ago, because it was summer and I had tried to evade the sizzling heat that is almost inescapable due to a power shortage.
I knew exactly where I was in the world in real life.
It was a folded dream…!
A dream inside another dream, inside…
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