I’m not sure when I first became aware of them.  That has to do with how I wake up most mornings. At some point I realize I’m awake, but I’m never quite sure just how long that’s been so.  Once I noticed them, it seemed they had been there forever.  But the thing is, they weren’t there yesterday.  Not even last night.  Now they were just there, and I wasn’t sure what to do about that.  Early on, I wasn’t convinced they were really there at all.
On some mornings the ceiling fan above my bed is the propeller of a huge plane, about to land on top of me.  Other mornings it’s an avenging angel ready to smite me for my heathenish ways.  Most mornings it’s just the fan, hanging above the bed.
So… when I first became aware of them, just sort of “there”, staring at me, I simply rolled over and thought to myself “no more Taco Bell that late!”.  The trouble was, when I rolled back over a few minutes later, they hadn’t vanished into the dream world.  This was a bit confusing, since it usually only takes a moment for the real world to assert itself, and banish the imagined back into the fog of sleep.
I did the eye blink thing.
Still there.
I did the eye rub thing.
Still there.
We stared at each other for a few beats, then…

then I tried the multiple eye blink thing. I often have to resort to the multiple blink when I first wake, because my eyes seem to lag behind the rest of me at first stirring.  It wasn’t helping, as it usually does. At this point, I notice the closest one has just a hint of a grin on it’s face. (his? hers? I don’t really know. Hence, “it”)  So now I’m thinking, “ok, still asleep, this is a dream”.  The almost-grinning one says “nope”.  Before I could catch myself, I replied “nope… what?”.
“Nope, you’re not still asleep, and you’re not still dreaming”.
Wonderful.  Now my dreams are disagreeing with me.  I hope this is not a harbinger of the day to come.
“Oh, it is,” I hear.  The others in the room nod in agreement.
I’m looking around now, seeing that there’s really quite the crowd…  not sitting, not standing, and not quite floating…  in the room.  I’m not sure how they’re pulling that off, but what the heck, it’s a dream, right?
“No, it’s not”.
Almost-grinning is looking at me quite intently, waiting for me to say more.  I just stare at it for a bit.
“I’ve got an eternity. Just so you know,” it said. “Take your time. Just not too much. *You* don’t have.”
At some point, again I’m not sure just when, I become aware that I’m not in fear of… well, whatever they are.  I’m a bit surprised by that, since about half the time when I see something other than the ceiling fan hanging over me I have a moment of irrational fear before I come to my senses. That’s not happening this time, and since these… things… aren’t supposed to be here, it’s an odd calm.  A thought intrudes about why that might be so, but before I can complete it, almost-grinning says, “No, we’re not doing anything to keep you calm.  You’re doing that all by yourself”.
“OK, so who or what are you, and why are you here?” I ask.
“Do you really want to know?” almost-grinning asks. (although it’s not almost-grinning anymore. It’s now suddenly become somewhat grim-faced)
“You should know the answer to that one,” I said, feeling brave.
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, then?”
And so it told me.  I don’t care for the story it wove.  It’s not a good one.  A complete explanation might involve Nostradamus, 2012, the Mayan calendar, President Palin, and some Revelations thrown in for good measure.
I told now-grim-faced that I didn’t believe that rot, and it just nodded and said “I know.”
I’m going to return to my original suspicion that I was dreaming and leave it at that.
I’m not quite sure what will happen if they’re back when I wake up tomorrow morning.