Nothing Like Rudolph

A Cylon centurion, c. 1978, from the original Battlestar Galactica series

When I was a kid, I had recurring dreams that the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica were after me. We’d see them approaching down the street, and my mom would wrap me in an afghan and hide me behind the couch. She’d politely let them in when they knocked at the door (yes, they knocked), and I’d hear them clunking through the house, searching for me. I was sure they’d capture me and kill me or make me into a human slave. No matter what their plans might have been, the worst part was he thought of them taking me away from my house.

After a few minutes of coming dangerously close (but not close enough!), they’d always give up and leave, promising that they would come back again some other time. I’d pop up from behind the couch, pull the blanket off myself, breathe a heavy sigh, wipe my sweaty forehead, and give my mom a big hug.

Last night, in a bizarre throwback to my childhood, I had a dream that a reindeer was trying to get me. I was my present age. It was winter. I was at my grandma’s house in suburban Detroit, where reindeer usually glow with electric persistence, are made of plastic and stand in people’s front yards from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

Looking out the kitchen window, I saw a reindeer trudging across the lawn to the front door. I couldn’t tell if he was friendly or not, but he was sort of mangey and dirty, and it looked like his antlers had been sawed off.

A far friendlier-looking reindeer than the one in my dream.

As he approached the door, I opened it to meet him. He looked menacingly at me and demanded, “Let me in.”

“No,” I said, startled not so much by the reindeer’s ability to speak as by his foul mood. “What do you want?”

“Let me in!”

I slammed the door and snapped it locked. He scratched half-heartedly at the storm door and loped away.

It occurred to me that he might try the side door and come in through the kitchen. My heart was racing. What could he want? What would he do if he got inside? I ran to the garage and got to the door just as the reindeer was charging toward me. I locked the door and leaned against it for reinforcement. He stoped short of ramming the door and put his eye up to the window. He was clearly very angry. I wondered if he had some sort of disease. And what did he want with me anyway?

“Open the door!” he demanded. “Let me in!” His breath fogged over the glass.

“No!” I shouted and ran back into the house, hoping he’d get bored and just leave me alone.


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the untallied hours

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