I was at my former job, but it was at the Sears Tower. All of it — the building, the office, the people — was unfamiliar, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I went outside.
It was perhaps late fall or early winter, and it seemed like evening although it must have been afternoon. I looked into the windows of an English-style pub and saw an odd assortment of people. Two working-class men were fighting, with one trying to kill the other. I sensed there was something deeper, more far-ranging, and more terrifying behind this.
Shaken, I walked around the block. Behind the Sears Tower, I discovered a rural road with a freshly painted, new red barn at the end of it. To me, it should have been a beautiful sight, but its unreality frightened me, and I hurried back.
The elevator I took wouldn’t stop. It had been hijacked because I and the others on it were a threat to someone. It went up forever, beyond the limits of possibility. When it stopped, somehow it compressed and so did we, so that we were only feet from the top of the shaft. The maneuver was meant to terrify us. It worked.
Someone spoke to us, but I think we saw only toys. One of them may have been a headless doll the size of a toddler. It, or something, pulled the fingers of my right hand and made them longer. I knew this could be reversed by whoever had done it and wished them back to normal. But whenever I looked, they remained abnormally long.
I found a means of escape — a way to slide downward through what looked like tilted fun house tunnels. Only after we had started down did I realize that they were not only painted bizarrely — green, black, and white, in a 1960s hounds-tooth or checked pattern — but they were curving and twisting in impossible ways, like in an Escher painting. They, and the idea of escape, were an illusion. For all we knew, we were in a colorless, straight chute to our deaths. My fingers may not have been stretched, either.
I remembered the peaceful country road with the barn, implausibly appearing on a dark afternoon in the city behind one of the world’s tallest buildings.
I called for the one person in the group who could shatter the illusion confounding us, and I called to her. I felt doomed.
I resolved to visit the country road again. It was convenient and so peaceful.