13 minutes

(Found on Alene’s old iPad)

Sirens sounded throughout the city center and businesses locked their doors.

“It will be precisely thirteen minutes,” my guide informed me. “These wildcat general strikes happen several times a month — always without warning — and last for thirteen minutes. A minute for each person who died. Everyone stops work, and front doors are locked as a precaution.”

We climbed up onto a balcony for a better view. A demonstration had already assembled at street level and the traffic had stopped. It was a peaceful — almost joyous — protest, and not one driver expressed frustration by honking a horn. The police stood by with a relaxed attitude. I did not recognize the city. It looked rather typical — shops, restaurants and espresso bars at street level — office blocks above. The signs were written in a Gaelic script, but this was certainly not Ireland or the eest of Scotland. The vegetation was tropical and the dazzling sun was almost overhead. The people were dark-skinned and wore colorful robes.

After exactly thirteen minutes, sirens again sounded, doors were unlocked, the crowd dispersed, traffic began to move, and normal business resumed.

“I should probably see you home now,” said my guide.

He helped me down to street level and we walked to the waterfront where a line of taxis waited for fares by the ferry dock. A ghostly moon hung low in the sky over the harbor. It was massive — measuring five spans of my hand held at arm’s length — and a curious shade of pinkish green that almost seemed to sparkle in the sunlight. Then I noticed a much smaller moon a little higher in the sky. It was faint in the daytime sun, but clearly visible.

My guide put me into a taxi. I lowered the window to thank him and say goodbye. He took both my hands in his and made an emphatic plea:

“I want you to promise to acknowledge that you were here with me — and that everything you saw was really happening — somewhere.”

I did not have time to answer — for I woke up.

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