It was the perfect Sunday. I had studied the McKinney Falls State Park for months, and I had prepared my body and my mountain bike for that day as well. At that point, I knew everything you can know about the park without ever stepping on it. Every review, every story, everything everybody had every said about the park – I knew it. I got up way earlier than necessary today. I was a very strange representation of a kid waking up at dawn on Christmas day. The sun woke me up showering my room in golden tints, and if I concentrated enough, I swear I was able to smell the woods as if my dreams were still clinging to my skin.
That’s how one fateful night I came upon the information that I needed – a myth. One single review, in a website that made me confirm I was older than eighteen years old twice and not a robot three times. It was legendary, I thought I would never find the source, but there it was. The title was “Alternate Dimensions of McKinney Falls State Park,” and it was an unnerving piece that described the mild trails of the park disturbingly. According to the writer, if you knew the right spots, the right day, the right speed, things like that, you come across unexplainable visions along the trail. Supernatural things, hallucinations, extraterrestrial activity – the writer struggled to explain, and the comments section had an equally as creative reaction, including critics, who turned the story into a joke.
The writer was a man that used to be a known cyclist; he seemed to have been a pretty decent man and a well-known athlete on his time. I say “was” because after that polemical article he swore he would come back to the place to gather proof of his affirmations. No one found out if he tried, but it was true that he disappeared, a short time after.
It was around two in the morning, I’m sure, the first time I read that article. I was half asleep, and I would have to reread the information at least three times the next morning to make sure it wasn’t all a dream. Although I did have some freakish nightmares that night and many others while planning this adventure. They were some of the strangest things my mind could have possibly thought of, and I will never forget either of them.
As I move towards the park, I remember the first dream. It was like being inside a video game, I could see my bike, and I could feel myself riding the thing, but I was invisible. It was a peaceful dream, just staring as my seemingly haunted bike moved through the park, slowly but surely, with no one visible on top of it. I woke up questioning the entirety of my existence on this Earth.
I finally make it to the McKinney Falls State Park, and it’s just as everyone described it – it looks beautiful and welcoming. The smell of nature greets me, and as I close my eyes, imagining or not, the falls reach my ears, and it sounds precious. I’m lucky to be there. But as I cross the entrance, my mind is visited by the memory of the second dream I had.
That one was, without a doubt, the most extenuating nightmare I’ve ever had. During the entire time, I was riding my bike at full speed, faster than ever before, dangerously fast. The trick was that every time I blinked the parked looked different. It was a lovely summer morning, then the middle of a lightning storm, followed by a quiet foggy night, and a bright Fourth of July that became a snowstorm in Texas, transformed into nothing but fire everywhere… and a thousand more scenarios that I can’t begin to understand how my mind conjured them so fast.
I remember waking up by falling to the floor from my bed – I had been trashing and turning around. I woke up sweating and tired as if the dream had been real. That sensation terrifies me as I start riding through the trail. It is beautiful and tranquil and everything a biker wants to see on a relaxed Sunday morning. But I had to admit I was feeling a little bored. After all, one of the dreams had involved a deadly race against a million identical copies of my self.
The clear sky is pretty blue, but it’s not full of colorful shooting stars like in one of my dreams. I catch sight of the waterfalls, and I’m in awe of Mother Nature. But, not to brag, my mind by itself came up with waters infested with mermaids that could also levitate towards the sky. I’m aware that the dreams were unusual; I get stressed out just thinking about them. So I resolve in trying to ride faster, trying to be adventurous. But the trail is genuinely a mild one. I can feel my bike, as if it were an extra limb, asking for risks, for speed, danger, and adrenaline.
My surprise comes when one of my dreams comes true. Was it a dream or a nightmare? Was it a premonition or an illusion? I have no way of knowing. But the truth is that, exactly in the way it occurred in my mind one night as I slept, I came across a sign. One old and dusty sign along the side of the trail, it pointed in a direction that wasn’t highlighted in the hundreds of maps I had memorized. And it simply read “Alternate Dimensions of McKinney Falls State Park.” How could I not have followed my dreams?