FAST Fiction: Fall Classic Dream State #8

Look at these eyes
They’ve never seen what mattered
Look at these dreams
So beaten and so battered
— “Don’t Know Much” (sung by Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt)

To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream…
— Hamlet (via Shakespeare)

Am I only dreaming?
Or is this burning an eternal flame?
— “Eternal Flame” (sung by The Bangles)

• Fall Classic Dream State: Part 1234567

Once upon a couch, I was home watching the pregame show before Game 5 of the 2000 World Series — the Mets-Yankees Subway Series. But I fell asleep just before the first pitch, and soon I started to dream…

… Here I am, airborne, soaring like Superman above New Jersey with the one and only Miracle Max (yes, the guy from “The Princess Bride”). Except he’s the true superhero, and I’m the sidekick benefiting from his mysterious ability to fly and catch air currents like a hawk.

“There’s the Delaware River,” Max says, pointing below as if he’s a tour guide. We fly over the dark ribbon and cross into Pennsylvania airspace.

Until now, nighttime reigned — but suddenly, it seems, the day is here. Dawn must have staged a sneak attack … like the planes I saw smash into the Twin Towers on the huge video screen in New York City’s Canyon of Heroes. Moments ago, Max said another plane en route over Pennsylvania needs help, and that’s where we’re heading — to Flight 93.

“Max, how do you know that’s the Delaware River down there?” I ask, incredulous. “You’re from the country of — it’s called Florin in ‘Princess Bride,’ right? And it’s a fictional country, to boot. Have you ever been to the United States before? It’s a massive nation, you know. So how on earth could you know that’s the Delaware?”

Perhaps I doth protest too much … in embarrassment. Because I didn’t realize it was the Delaware River until he said so — and I grew up in Jersey.

Max glares at me: “Fictional! Florin is a fictional country, you say? Look who thinks he knows so much. I’ll have you know that Florin is as real as the good ol’ US of A.” He winks as he says this — or something got caught in his eye as we fly.

“Anyway,” Max continues, “I’ve been to your country before. You have no idea how many times I’ve been here, making miracles happen left and right, pal. I’ll tell you — American history wouldn’t be the same without me. That crossing of the Delaware, by that George Washington character? All me. You think he could’ve made it across in that nasty weather without a major assist from someone who knows how to pull a miracle or two out of his pocket?”

“Wait,” I say with far more incredulity, “are you really saying you were there with George Washington when he led his troops across the Delaware River — in, what was it, 1776?”

Just then, something (or someone) buzzes by us in a blur. At first I wonder whether the Wicked Witch of the West has caught up with us. Her nefarious skullduggery nearly killed me when she used her wicked breath to sweep me up into the sky above a New York City street — and then I dropped like an anvil … or like a person without a parachute. But Miracle Max saved the day. More accurately, he saved me.

But when the blur whizzes by us again, it’s clear it is not the Wicked Witch — not even close. Then it settles in next to us on the airstream. As we soar together, Max is in the middle, I’m on his left, and the newcomer is on Max’s right. I glance over and see a metallic-looking, robotic something. Bearing a human-like form, its torso and forearms and lower legs are red, but its thighs and upper arms and head appear to be gold.

This thing seems familiar, but I can’t quite place it — until Max says nonchalantly, “Iron Man, my main man! Glad you got my call. Thanks for coming, kid!”

Iron Man nods. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world, Miracle Max — and you’re my main man. You know that, don’t you, old man?”

For a moment, Max’s face beams like a high-powered beacon, but then he catches himself — and his pseudo-friendly scowl clouds his visage again.

“Are you telling me,” I say to Max, “that Robert Downey Jr. is in that full-body armor?”

“Robert Downey who?” Max retorts. “That, my friend, is the real Iron Man — no Marvel Comics, no movie special effects. He’s the real deal.”

“How did you meet the real Iron Man?” I ask.

“At the superhero convention in Toledo last year,” Max replies with a tone that oozes how-could-you-not-know-that (you knucklehead).

Iron Man interjects: “Wasn’t it at that high-powered business meeting in Florin City?”

“Could be, kid,” Max says. “I guess I don’t quite remember. But we really hit it off — we have so much in common!”

I look at Miracle Max, with his white hair and lines like crevices on his face, and then at Iron Man, with his shiny high-tech suit. So much in common?

“I can see your wheels spinning,” Max observes, anticipating my comment. “It might not seem that Iron Man and I have much in common, but we do — especially, we both try to help people in need, and there are some people in need on Flight 93 just west of here.”

Glancing down as we continue our hard-to-conceive flight, I see the rolling farms and fields of Pennsylvania, featuring graph-paper green and tan and gold of varying degree. Wait a minute: What’s going on with Flight 93, I wonder? This airborne adventure has been so mind-boggling that it’s swept away any further consideration of the airplane Max has mentioned.

Then it hits me: The video I saw on Broadway in New York City, after the parade stopped, showed jetliners incomprehensibly crashing into the Twin Towers — and the headline from the future that I saw at the same parade referred to a terrorist attack.

This Flight 93 must be connected to that horrific event.

Peering below, I notice that we’ve been following a straight-shooting highway via the air.

“Max, is that I-78 below us?”

“You got it, kid — it’s a great way to go west across this great state, whether you’re driving or flying.” Nodding toward Iron Man, Miracle Max adds, “And that Iron Man, he’s a great guy to have on your side at a time like this.”

To be continued …

© Bruce William Deckert 2015

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