"It's surreal, don't you think?" I said to Sonja while staring up into the clear sky, where an enormous dragon was leisurely slithering its way through thin air. She laughed but didn't answer, her Digital Camera was as glued to the spectacle between scarce white clouds as her eyes were.
It had no wings, but levitated anyway, as if gravity was nonexistent. It's many arms were pulled up to its body as the massive creature easily maneuvered its way around tall buildings. Despite the distance I could make out the colors of its body, mainly red and yellow. Somehow it seemed so cliche.
Every one on the busy street had stopped and begun to stare into the sky just as we had, some pointed, others merely stared, but most pulled out a device or another to film the appearance.
“It must be some kind of hologram”, Sonja stated after a while, “you know, to attract tourists, or maybe it's some kind of holiday today.”
The look on my face was a clear display of what I thought of her explanatory idea, but she wasn't looking.
“There is nothing about this in any of the brochures,” I knew that for sure, I had read dozens of tourist information booklets on the area before we had arrived “… and this place already has way too many tourists.”
“You can be such a drag sometimes”, she said, still filming the dragon above our heads, “why can't you just enjoy the magical moment for once?”
“I'm trying to”, with a smile I continued to follow the elegant movements of the wingless reptile.
Sonja was right, I really needed to learn to let go of my critical nature sometimes and just enjoy.
“It looks so real.” Sonja added after a few moments of silence between us.
“Yes”, I said and shot her a glance, “it really looks like it has weight and real form – it's very well animated.”
My gaze rested on Sonja for a moment, then focused on some locals that seemed just as surprised about the dragon as we did. There was lots of oo' and aah'ing going on around us. That was when I first noticed it, out of the corner of my eye, no one that I wasn't looking at directly was moving or talking. Like they had been paused – but the instant I turned my head, even just the slightest, they started up again – somehow it didn't seem wrong, but it didn't feel quite right either. It was a fleeing thought that was forgotten in the same moment that it popped into my head. I turned back to the dragon that was slowly heading towards the horizon.
Then I woke up.
My senses were overwhelmed by the abruptness of my awakening for second. The smell, the blinding light, the pain in my back, the stiffness in the rest of my body and last but not least the feeling of something heavy on my legs. It would have been hard not to notice that I was lying on the floor, surrounded by other people, that seemed to be asleep and were sprawled across the floor. With a groan, due to the aches in my body, I pulled myself up into a sitting position and freed the bottom half of my legs from the heavy man that had been on top of them. He didn't even budge, even after my harsh leg freeing kicks, of which one hit him right in the side. I recognized him as Mr. Hoheneck, one of the people from our traveling group. Confused and disoriented I studied the room we were in. It was warm enough that I felt cozy in my T-Shirt and Jeans, but it had the stale smell of a room that hadn't been aired out for a long time.
As I looked around and noted that the large room, that had a high ceiling only had one door and one tall window, I was blinded by a ray of sunlight that hit my eye.
With a quick movement that I regretted almost immediately, thanks to the pain that shot through my back, I saved myself from the blinding sun that was shining directly into the room.
Slowly I stood up and began to count the amount of people that were laying on the floor like someone had just started a game of Mikado with them.
I counted twenty two, so twenty three including myself.
Everyone from the traveling party I noticed at the same time as I counted them, I couldn't see all of their faces, as some were facing away from me, or were on their stomachs, but I recognized enough of them to figure out the whole group was here, fast asleep, on someones floor.
Contemplating whether I should try to wake them or not it hit me. Realization slammed into me like a car skidding on an icy road might slam into a tree – and I was in the car – or I was the tree.
There was no traveling group.
It had just been me and Sonja on the plane on our way to China for a six week language course. That was the last thing I remembered. Yes our trip to China and the dragon in the sky were still in my head, but it was a senseless blur, a quickly disappearing memory of a dream.
“Sonja?” I asked out loud, I didn't care about waking anyone up – heck I wanted them to wake up and to explain this situation to me. Without me even noticing my breathing had started to quicken as a wave of confusion and panic rolled over me.
“SONJA!” I yelled this time, trying to find her body among the sea of sleeping silhouettes that paid no attention to me. I stumbled over Vincents' arm and then accidentally stepped on his other hand, but he didn't even twitch. At the far end of the room I spotted Sonjas long blond hair, I didn't recognize it at first because Sonja never wore her hair open, it was always in a tight bun, and now it was hanging open on her shoulders and down her back to the floor. In the five years I had known her, I had seen her hair open less than a handful of times.
Kneeling down beside her, I gave her a rough shake, I wasn't in the right frame of mind to tiptoe around. She needed to wake up and calm me down. Now.
“Suya”, I said loudly, my voice trembling and using her beloved nickname, shaking her harder when she didn't budge, but I was not rewarded with any kind of reaction. Without actually wasting a thought on what I was doing I reached for her lower arm and felt for her pulse. It was definitely there, luckily even someone like me who had no clue of first aid could find a pulse. I could see the rhythmic movements of her chest when she breathed, it seemed hard to believe that she was alive. Usually I could wake her with a cough. Two years sharing a dorm room taught you a lot about your roommates sleeping habits. Tears started to gather in my eyes.
“Suya.” I tried again, as my hand wandered in front of my mouth and let myself fall out of the kneel, so my aching back was resting against the cold wall. I closed my eyes and took a row of deep breath to prevent myself from falling even more into panic.
I was the only one that was awake, so it was my duty to figure out how to wake the others and to make sure nothing happened to them in the meantime. To accomplish that I needed my head working, not in a hyperventilating mess.
After another deep breath I opened my eyes and slowly stood up again.
Sitting around moping and waiting had never helped anyone.
Careful not to step on any more extremities I moved over to the window. A gasp escaped my lips.