I woke in a fever, breathing hard. Terror in my heart, an eternity of horrors burning so bright in my mind that it took a full minute before I realized I was safe.
In bed. Alive.
Eventually, the shaking and the sweating stopped, and I went about my day. But — even as I went through the motions — I could not take my mind off this dream. For, unlike most dreams that are remembered only vaguely and recede even in the first telling, this dream remained at the forefront of my thoughts.
And to begin thinking about it was to begin — once again — reliving the torment.
It was too much.
So now, in an effort to control the wild terror in my heart by describing it, I take pen to paper and recount (in plain prose, so that I can be plainly understood):
The Dream Begins
The dream begins at the junction of seven roads in a deep and dark valley. Is it dusk or overcast? I cannot tell. I can only see that the roads are all paved and go in different directions. There are signs labeling each road, but I cannot read them; it is too dark, and what characters I can see are not in any alphabet that I recognize.
I stand alone, wobbling slightly on my feet. I look down and see why I am unable to stand steadily: I am wearing bike shoes, with Speedplay cleats mounted.
What is this place? Why am I here? Why is my jersey so uncomfortable? Why can’t I find something to clean my glasses with? I have so many questions.
And then a Man — a man I had not seen before but I am now quite sure was there all along — speaks.
“Your bike is laying drivetrain-side down.”
I gasp, now seeing my beloved road bike in the dirt. It is, as the Man said, resting on its rear derailleur, the frame, and the bar tape. I grimace, wondering how it came to rest like this, knowing that I would never knowingly do such a thing myself.
“In this place,” the Man said, “All bikes lay on their drivetrain sides.”
Rolling my eyes, I pick up my bike and show the man what nonsense he speaks by laying the bike down correctly.
“Behold,” the man says, pointing.
Not wanting to but unable to stop myself, I look down.
My bike is laying on its derailleur again.
“Who are you?” I wonder aloud?
“I am The Cyclist,” he says, and I notice now that he is wearing full kit, all black, with a black helmet and black shoes and black glasses. His bike is similarly black. And in short, The Cyclist seems to have a thing for black.
“And what is this place?” I groan, as I attempt, unsuccessfully, trying repeatedly to put my bike down in such a way that it doesn’t scratch, bend, or otherwise screw up my drivetrain.
The Cyclist looks at me — through his sunglasses I see eyes of pure fire — and says what I know he will say.
“You are in hell.”
[To be continued in Fatty's Inferno, Part II]