The middle towers of the ancient temple stood erect against the sky, their true height disguised by the gradual nature of their ascent. Around them the world seemed to bubble at the fringes like boiling soup, and the pale nimbus clouds decorating the vista were free of all constraints of perspective, seeming simultaneously so close I could bite them and so far that they may as well have been stars. Next came the rumble like a clap of thunder but muffled as if there were a great distance or mass between the source and I. It was in this drawn out instant I became aware of the dream being such and in response awoke with a start. My hands were clutched into fists tucked against my chest in response, done with a force of will I knew not that I could conjure. It was such that my fingernails had dug crescent shaped divots into my palms, though at the time I was unaware of this. I would have sat bolt upright but the design of a hammock prevented such. Instead my body shot out straight a plank of wood, fighting gravity a moment before I realised myself awake and relaxed.
As it is when first waking up in a place yet to become familiar one is disorientated. My locale seemed alien and it took a moment for me to recall where I was and why. This recollection was hastened by the unmistakable Oriental heat. Almost as stifling as the heat was the noise, the chirping of insect species uncatalogued by man. If I had pursued biology instead of archaeology I could have discovered many an exotic species here and returned to England with much esteem. As it happened I was there as a representative of The Royal Archaeological Institute. At the time I was excited, almost giddy with opportunity as the very next day I was to make the trek to a newly discovered temple and catalogue it on behalf of the Institute. The temple had been discovered by a Frenchman just the past month but the details were anything but, all we knew was that it was a temple of the Khmer, the people who inhabited these floodplains. My general knowledge of the history permitted me the judgement to say it would be at least seven hundred years old if it were as grand as it were described. If I had forecast the true nature of the events about to unfold I would have turned tail and ran, then spent the rest of my life warning all away from that place. The dream should have been warning enough, but at the time I was a man of stoic rationalism who scoffed in the face of ghost stories and the like, so comprehending that the dream may have been an omen was impossible for me.
Despite my rationalism there was still fear, a deep disgust and horror for what I had seen though even mere minutes after my awakening what I had seen became wholly unclear to me. The feeling lingered the whole night and I was unable to sleep. Disturbed but not perturbed that next morning I carried myself with vigour, attending to the preparations for our trek with haste and efficiency. In retrospect I suspect I was merely trying to distract my conscious from the unease and looming uncertainty I felt deep within. I conversed briefly with my fellow archaeologist over the breakfast table that morning. I told him of the bizarre dream I had had where I saw some subconscious rendering of a temple I had never actually set my eyes upon. He concluded as I had that the description of the temple had prompted my dreaming of it, though this explanation neglected the strange warping of reality that I witnessed it was satisfactory enough that I ceased questioning it.
The trek through the jungle was more troublesome than expected and the insects were as loud as ever. We had been assured many a time on our journey that predatory animals were rare beyond belief in these jungles, and that our main concern was to be bamboo snakes. Indeed we encountered not one mammal the entire morning save for a hog which ran past us with haste. Unlike the normal loud mannerisms of a hog this one was silent but for the rustle of leaves it left behind it. At the time this detail was not apparent to me, I was far too focused on staying standing. If this had been a walk on my family estate in England I would barely have been tired, but the unrelenting sunlight heated you even in the shadows of a leafy canopy. Our guides began discussing something between themselves at just past noon. They spoke in hushed voices despite our inability to understand them, indicating to me that whatever it was they were talking of we were not meant to know.
At around three past noon it became apparent we were nearing the temple, around the roots of the giant banyan trees several ancient blocks were visible, these fragments alone were worthy of study. At first I could scarcely identify what I was seeing ahead through the thick trunks and coiled roots of the jungle, but with rising excitement it became clear the profile and colour were that of the temple we had been searching for. Sure enough as we pushed past the obscuring trees the temple in its full grandeur was revealed to us. My colleague Wilson was far more enchanted than I. I, in fact, was in a state of shock. The temple from my dream and the temple that stood before me then were identical, even the angle from which I viewed it in the dream was identical. This sudden and shocking reveal left me stunned and staggering, for a moment I had feared I would fall. The final straw for me was the clouds in the sky, they too were identical in geometry and scale as they had been in my fevered mind the previous night.