I am in a large auditorium, inside a church. The seats are like movie-theatre seats: the bolted to the floor fold-down kind with upholstered seats and seat-backs. The auditorium has a stage in front and holds hundreds of people. This church has seating arrangements and we're all given tickets at the door telling us which seat is ours for the sermon.
I am the only pagan in the church, and everyone knows about me. They watch me, whispering and wondering. They're waiting for me to do something wrong. To take the lord's name in vain or sacrifice a goat.
I ignore their stares and go about the business of finding my seat; in the process I discover that the first row of chairs is bolted to the floor near a pole. The last chair in the row is so close to the pole that the seat won't fold down. The pole is blocking the seat and no one can sit there.
I examine the seat, looking for a way to fix it. Maybe if I could force the seat down, or move that chair somehow. I get down on hands and knees to see if it is indeed bolted to the floor, or maybe see if I can loose it from its moorings...
They watch me, the non-pagans, and they become irritated with my fixation on the seat.
"What're you doing?" one asks me. "Is there something wrong with your seat?"
Not mine, I say. But this one... it's all wonky.
"What's the problem? It looks fine to me." She rolls her eyes at me, and her companion next to her titters a little giggle. "Maybe you're not doing it right."
But the seat doesn't fold down. I demonstrate. It's not a functioning seat. I pull on the seat, showing her how it's not folding down.
"I don't see what trouble is," she repeats.
How can you not see? I demonstrate again. Don't you see how it's broken?
She ignores me, and the two walk away. They cast glances over their shoulders and laugh when they see me staring after them in frustration. How can they ignore empirical evidence like that? Silly bints...
I realise I have to go to the bathroom so I approach a small group of women and ask if any of them can direct me to the nearest restroom. They stare at me blankly.
"Sorry," an older woman speaks up. "I'm not sure where the bathroom is."
I set off in a huff, wondering how a woman -any woman- doesn't know where a bathroom is in a church. I exit the auditorium and find myself in a long hallway. No doors off the hallway, no signs, no clues as to where a bathroom might be. The only thing in the hallway is a long banquet table with chairs around it. The table is set for dinner, food steaming in serving dishes in the centre.
I wander down the hallway and find an elevator. On the closed doors a large "13" is painted in bright yellow. I was certain this building was single-level. Why would a single level building need an elevator?
As I approach, the doors woosh open and I step inside. There are no buttons inside, no panel allowing me to choose where to go. The doors open and I cautiously step out. A woman rushes past me wearing hospital scrubs and a net cap over her hair.
Excuse me! I call to the woman. Can you tell me where I am?
"Floor 13. Hospital level."
Hospital level. Now that's really odd. I go about my search, seriously needing to pee, following a twisted maze of hallways until I find myself in a supermarket. People are shopping inside a church. Just down the hallway from a hospital. In a building that's a single level from the outside but has at least 13 floors inside.
Another hallway and another elevator, this one with "42C" painted on its doors. I skip that one, knowing I don't really want to go up. I find another, marked "4A", and ride it down. I step out into a large corridor with windows showing classrooms. I'm on a school level. A bell rings and doors slam open; children pour into the corridor and bounce and scream past me.
I snag one, sure that a child will know the way to the potty. She points, and I see a stick figure wearing a skirt.
Finally. I'd sure hate to pee in my dress in front of a bunch of third-graders in a school-church-hospital-supermarket.
After I take care of that business, I realise the sermon will start soon and suddenly it is very important that I be there for that. Miraculously I find my way back down to the first floor (1F, Church Level) and enter the auditorium with relief.
I make my way to my seat to find it occupied. Hi there. Excuse me, I think you're in my seat. I show my ticket to the girl in my seat. She sniffs and looks away.
Miss, that's my seat. I show my ticket again, and she glares at me.
"I think you're wrong."
But it says, right here. Why won't you look?
I look around and see that all the seats are full apart from the one with the dysfunctional seat that won't fold down. Everyone has taken their place (and mine) and I have nowhere to sit.
I go back out into the hallway and snag one of the chairs from around the banquet table and drag it, bouncing and clattering, into the auditorium and down to the front of the room.
I sit, waiting for the sermon to start. Waiting for someone to notice the broken chair and the girl in my seat and the rude women who wouldn't direct me to the bathroom. Waiting for them to notice that it's not normal to have a hospital inside a church and a table-full of food that no one is eating.
Waiting for God to strike me dead.