This isn’t the first time I dreamt of this house.
I have dreamt of it so many times that I actually named it ‘Wonderland House’.
Since we are in the dream world, it is in fact, no ordinary house. It has many secret doors, going to different places and different time.
Sometimes I find doors open and at other times, they’re sealed, as if they were closed for years. Sometimes, I will walk past a door and faintly recall something I have seen from there. I will try to open it but I always fail.
I have not managed to open a closed door, ever.
There are times when they are just simply not there anymore.
In Wonderland House, you will find doors sealed in many different ways.
Once I saw the lower half of a door was covered in unfinished brick layering work. Then, there was that one time when it was sealed with uneven wooden planks on it. Sometimes, it’s booby-trapped and sometimes, if you try to open it, you will fall down towards the worst thing you can imagine. There are times when I find myself doing a U-turn when I approach the door because a lit gun cannon is waiting for anyone to get closer. I did not want to find a hole through me – even if it is a dream.
As I said, there are many ways the doors are sealed from me although I consider myself very lucky to be an occupant of Wonderland House.
You see, ‘finding the house’ is another story – getting ‘inside’ the house is another feat.
I sometimes watch various people try getting in the house and fail over and over again.
The most entertaining one to watch so far was Poncho.
The first time I noticed him, all I see is his long blue scarf trailing behind him as he was falling from the sky.
‘PONCHOOOOO!!!!’ He screams out as he gets closer to the roof of the house. He suddenly disappears and I automatically check the large fountain outside the house to see if he’s there. Sure enough, he was there, soaked and screaming.
The fountain is where you will find the people who fail to get in.
I watched him for weeks, maybe months. Every time I find myself in this dream, there will be a moment when I see Poncho screaming ‘PONCHOOOOO!!!’ and I will find him back in the fountain, soaked and screaming. He’s tried many methods, just like the others.
They used their ‘skills’, they used planes (even tried to crash it towards the house, perhaps out of frustration), they used air balloons and just plain balloons, dynamites, smashed into it with cars, trucks, oil trucks, tanks, the works. Some even tried digging an underground tunnel – nothing has worked so far.
Sometimes, it feels like I am watching an action movie rather than dreaming.
I still don’t know how I got a room in the house or how I got in – perhaps we forget the methods that we use so we cannot tell anyone its secrets.
One day, I was outside the garden, near the gate. I was smoking a cigarette, watching a bunch of zombies trying to get into the gate. According to one of the residents, a rather ghoulish looking woman who was actually quite friendly, they were lost or perhaps, one of the many desperate methods the outsiders came up with. One by one they disintegrated as they approach the gate. I did not know why I was not worried but watched them like how one would when they are watching fishes in an aquarium. Other zombies were less of a zombie – I’m not sure how to explain it but they were more ‘active’. They were in the gardens surrounding the large fountain. They looked lost and one by one, some unknown force was beating them to the ground. I watched them being squashed to the ground as if it’s a natural everyday occurrence. Before they hit the ground, they disintegrate into nothing.
It did cross my mind whether those zombies were dreaming.
I notice from my peripheral that someone sat not too far from me with a blue scarf. Often, I don’t really pay any mind to the residents but I knew who it was. I turned to look at him and I see that he is just staring at me, then to the gate and then back at me, looking a little terrified.
‘Don’t worry about that,’ I say a little louder so he can hear me as I point at the gate, ‘Nothing can get in from there unless the house wants them to.’
‘Who made the rules?’
‘The God of Dreams, duh.’
‘Does he own the house too?’ he asks, almost whispering, as he looks behind him, taking in the majestic exterior of the house.
‘I don’t know. I never asked.’ I admitted, shrugging.
He got up from where he was sitting and walked towards me. I noticed that he’s got weird eyes. One was larger than the other as if he was put together by someone without much thought. The lower half of his face was covered by the blue scarf. As I wondered whether the rest of his face was put together as carelessly as his eyes, he pulls off his scarf to reveal a rather normal looking face except of course, his eyes.
‘My name is Poncho,’ he said as he sat right next to me.
‘Ena,’ I replied and offered my hand to shake his. This took him by surprise for a moment; he shook my hand and smiled the biggest smile with all his teeth – like the Cheshire Cat. I was a little surprised but I didn’t flinch and just smiled back. We continued watching the fiasco outside the gates and I don’t mention that I already know his name and how I watch him try getting into the house.
How did he get into the house?
I want, no, I had to ask.
My curiosity grew by the second.
Just as I was going to ask, a shadow loomed over us.
It was one of the guardians of the house. He was grey all over, from his hair to his dress shoes. He was floating above us, looking at us suspiciously.
He told us to gather in the main hall of the house.
We have work to do.
We quickly got up and went back to the direction of the house.
I took my usual way to get to the hallway. I used the small door that no one else notices at the right side of the main door. I am going through various sizes of windows through the corridors and finally, I exit the last window and I am walking on the ceiling.
I find Poncho climbing a table, trying to get up from where I am.
‘You need to go to the smaller door but that will take you some time to find since you just got here,’ I inform him as he jumps up and down the table. ‘If you behave, maybe I’ll show you how.’ He stops almost immediately and jumps down the table.
‘Where to?’ he asks, walking back to the main door.
‘I didn’t say ‘right now’, I tell him and walk away. I know he’s got a smug look on but he follows me anyway.
When we get to the main hall, we were greeted with a room full of rabbits. Rabbits everywhere, even the ceiling. There were baby rabbits, adult rabbits, all in various sizes and colours, hopping about the room.
‘Extract them and put them together immediately,’ the guardian says as he floats past us. ‘Failure to do so may result in sharing a room with the fellow resident who is responsible for this fiasco.’
He disappears before we could protest and I found myself picking up the nearest, largest and slowest rabbit by its ears.
‘Better hurry up, Poncho. I don’t want to get kicked out of the house and I don’t think you want that either.’ Poncho was already picking up as many rabbits as he can before I could finish my sentence.
I watch him drop the larger rabbits clumsily and I could hear him swearing under his breath.
‘Dude, you have to put them on top of each other so they will stack like Russian dolls. Stack them by size.’ He shoots me a flustered look but doesn’t say anything. He picks up the smallest rabbit next to him and tries to stack the rabbit he just picked up and a middle sized rabbit together.
‘Hold up. You should start with the biggest rabbit so you can stack them more easily.’
He does as he was told and soon, he was collecting the smaller rabbits as if he was simply tossing them in a plastic bag.
‘By size, remember.’ I remind him as I look around for more rabbits on the ceiling and around the walls.
I’m not sure how long it took us to finish it but it felt like we were collecting rabbits for days. I recall seeing the sun come up and down several times. We don’t need to stop for food nor rest. We were quite the team, working day in, day out.
As I pick up the smallest and probably the cutest black rabbit, I look around the room one last time to check if I missed any rabbits. Quite confident with my work, I stacked it together with the gigantic but slow rabbit. I put it down on the floor and it looks up at me lazily.
‘C’mon, let’s head on down,’ I tell the rabbit and it nods at me. We walk down to the adjacent floor by walking down the wall. Poncho was stacking three smaller rabbits together when I reached him.
‘Is that all?’ I ask, looking around.
‘Positive,’ he says, smiling.
‘You can set it down so it will merge with this rabbit,’ I tell him, pointing at the rabbit next to me.
As soon as he puts the rabbit down, the rabbit I had hops towards it and merges into a gigantic red hare.
‘Good,’ a voice purrs, not far from us. ‘I will be taking over from here,’ the guardian drops a small cloth that grew in size as it fell above the hare. We watch the cover fall over the hare - it continued to drop on the floor and disappeared and just like that, the hare is gone too.
I am not surprised by this but Poncho was clearly impressed, not being able to say anything but stare at the empty space.
‘I will give you a phone call, Ena,’ the guardian says, his voice echoing in the halls. The phone rings from the other side of the room. I walk towards it slowly and stared at the ringing phone for some time. Do I really want to take this?
‘It is for you, Ena. It is a reward of truth,’ the guardian says, cooing.
I listen to the murmur at the other side of the phone and it felt as if the voice was poisoning me. I struggled to stand upright and when the conversation stopped, I notice that we are in a set of different clothes and we both have earphones.
We went on a reset and soon, I was going to wake up.
Yes, I keep dreaming of that house. Often, I welcome the dream but there are times that I fear of finding small truths....