It happened last night.
My wife and I are travelling by train, returning from a vacation that included a Disney Cruise. The trip is hours long and the car is hopelessly overcrowded. All the seats are taken and there are people standing in the aisles and vestibules. My wife and I are separated, unable to find a seat or even stand together. Because of the long time standing, many of us have squeezed onto seats occupied by others -- I am pratically sitting in someone else's lap.
The train trundles into the night and I lose track of the hours. I am tired and hungry and have to go to the bathroom. Suddenly, there is a commotion and several masked men begin forcing their way through the aisle. They are carrying guns and are ordering people to get out of the way and remain quiet. They pass through the car and everyone huddles down in shocked silence. I look over to where my wife is several rows back -- she is frozen in panic.
Moments later, sounds of yelling, gunfire and anguished screaming comes from the car ahead. The gunmen now rush back through the car the way they came, knocking people over and waving there guns to get people to get out of the way. I'm still squeezed into half a seat and do everything I can to try to pull arms and legs out of the way, but one of the masked men knocks into me splattering blood all over me.
And then the train comes to a sudden stop. We all look around at each other not knowing what to do or say. After many minutes, the train starts again slowly. We continue on in the dark for was seems like hours, not knowing what has happened or what to do. It seems that we can just sit there until the train arrives at its destination.
Uniformed security/police/soldiers eventually emerge into the car, carrying weapons and leading several dogs. Some of the passengers ask what is going on. They are searching for something, but say nothing. One of the dogs seems particularly interested in me. The grunt holding the dog calls over his shoulder, "Over Here!!" and a suit and sunglasses secret-service-looking man comes over and starts looking intently at me.
"Did you see anything?"
Of couse I did -- my voice is shaking, but I try to relate what happened in as few words and as quickly as possible. There has obviously been some kind of terrorist attack or something. They pretty much left us in this car alone and just passed through on their way to and from the next car. The agent makes a few quick notes, holds his hand to his ear and then mumbles into his sleve. He asks me for my name and then moves on.
The grunts and agent make their way through the car, stopping and talking to a few others, and then disappear. The train comes to a stop once again, this time for only a few minutes before it starts again. Out the window we can see a huge fireball forming from what appears to be a pile of abandoned vehicles and other rubbish down a slope some distance from the tracks. As we move forward, the fireball connects and we feel the train lurch -- feel the heat and noise of the blast.
Continuing on, we now see things burning -- cars, piles of crates, trees, bushes and bales of hay, as well as other indistinguishable objects ablaze. Some of these things appear to be up on the tracks, and the train shudders as it runs into these objects and pushes them aside.
Eventually the train moves past the fires and a fast-moving waterway comes into view. We can see water spilling down what appears to be rocky steps. Cars are moving though a toll gate and proceeding to drive down though the rushing water down the steep rocky steps.
After this the train stops in total darkness at strange station. Uniformed agents appear and help most of the passengers to get off the train. Those of us questioned by the suit and sunglasses guy are left on board. We can see luggage being taken off and the people being ushered across the platform and into the station. I'm feeling in a surrealistic daze -- I look around and realize that my wife is no longer here.
The train starts up again. Now plainclothes officers appear and start calling out names. When I hear my name, I instinctively stand up and gather my carry-ons -- my work bag, a small lunch bag with a strap, and what appears to be a pelletgun with a scope. We all line up towards the open doors. The train is still moving and we can see that there is now snow on the ground (wait, it's July but this looks more like late November).
The train now reaches a switch and pulls off onto a siding and begins to slow down. A couple of people step off through the open door and tumble down into the snow and are soon out of sight of the still moving train. We see agents running back in the direction of the fallen people into the darkness.
The train comes to a stop. We are at the end of the siding and there is a small building. We step off the train, walk through the snow and into the building. There are agents here interviewing people. There is one man standing near the entrance who seems to have been there for some time. The agent questioning him is having his hop on one foot. Another agent is working behind a black curtain and has a couple of people laying on their backs on the floor.
I suddenly feel someone grab me by the ankles and the agent behind the curtain is pulling me towards him. I'm pulled down onto the floor, laying on my back like the others. The agent reaches into my pocket and pulls out my company id/security badge. He reads my name and title and looks at me for a moment with a slight smile on his face. He is older and heavy set with graying temples and a gray moustache -- he is not wearing sunglasses like the others.
After a moment, he dips a q-tip into some liquid and begins to apply it to my badge. As I watch, I can see faces being revealed under the white plastic on the back. The agent begins to name the faces, some of which are apparently middle-eastern, some with beards and head scarves. The agent looks at me as if he has asked a question. He continues to rub the q-tip on the faces, and now the beards and head scarves begin to dissapear, as if the q-tip is removing layers of paint.
"Do you know these men?"
Of course not -- I have no idea why there are images of Arab terrorists on my company badge. Up until now I have not seemed particularly worried about any of this -- I seem to have assumed that we were all going to be questioned as witnesses to whatever has happened, that I would be held up for a couple hours and then sent on my way, and that I had nothing to worry about. Now I start to feel panic that I am being set up to become involved in some conspiracy that will affect my life forever.
I want to yell out that I don't anything about this and isn't it about time they told me what's going on and can I call my lawyer -- but I know that this is what they are expecting and I know what the answer will be. This has been a terrorist attack, I am a suspect, and in accordance with the Patriot Act, I can be held indefinitely without being charged or given access to legal representation. I say nothing.
Next I am sent to sit on a bench with several other people. We can hear a TV or radio broadcast -- "This is a ABC News Bulletin!!! Reports have just come in that President-elect Kerry and John Edwards have been shot. Stay tuned for details as they become available!!" -- what the hell is going on?
After a while I am usered to a door at the end of the long room. The door opens and I find myself walking down steps into a dark room. The door behind me closes and I am plunged into total darkness. I feel my way down the last few steps and start to grope around in the darkness. Taking a few small steps, I can hear others milling around.
Next thing, I hear the high-pitched whine of what must be night-vision goggles, and I feel a warmth on my face as if bathed in sunlight, but all is still total darkness. There is a sharp pressure in my right groin, where my femoral artery runs. Hands clasp around my outstretched arms and I feel myself being pulled backwards onto a table. I do not struggle -- I feel strangely detached from the situation.
"We're sorry to have to do this to you, Jeff" -- I hear a distant, echoing voice.
"I understand," -- I hear another voice say. I realize this is me talking, but it seems far away and hazy.
"Thank you for your cooperation"
The next thing I know, I'm waking up in my bed, sweating and having to pee badly. I am totally disoriented, not knowing if it was a dream or if it was real. I feel stiff and groggy. I turn my head and see the clock radio is 4:00 -- out the window I can see the very beginning of pre-dawn light and I can hear birds starting to chirp. I have been laying flat on my back with the covers fully pulled up -- very unusual for me. I usually turn over on my side and throw the covers off my upper body, leaving my hips and legs covered.
I'm starting to come to myself, remembering what day it is and what has happened the previous day. Yesterday was Wednesday and I remembered that I've been having trouble sleeping the last few nights. I had taken a couple Advil and eather a bowl of cereal right before turning in early to try to catch up on lost sleep. I lay in bed, now realizing it was a dream and trying to remember as much as possible. I had read somewhere that if you sit up right away and move around after awaying from a dream, you were less likely to remember it all than if you lay still and try to recount the dream.
This is the first time I've tried to write down a dream in detail. I'm not exactly sure what it all means.
What would happen (constitutionally) if a President-elect and his Vice-President were assasinated after the election but before the Electoral College officially voted and he was inaugurated?