I park the car, and walk into what looks like an abandoned housing development. Same whitewashed one-story houses, clapboard, but on close inspection weathered and empty. One house has a board snapped in half, hanging there by a single nail.
I come to a stream where there used to be a bridge, but nothing is left of the bridge. The sidewalk and road end at an abrupt jagged edge. There are two kids hanging around, a boy of about 10 and a taller girl. I see them take the sidewalk to where it ends, and navigate over some broken concrete to a sort of ladder. I take the same route, and jump the couple of feet down to the level of the stream. The stream is shallow there, I walk across it - it's wide, maybe 100 feet. The kids indicate the houses on the other side, which are just like the ones by the road only more of them and in more of a grid pattern, are worth wading through the half a foot of water to investigate.
When I am all the way across the stream, I turn to look at where I had come from, and see a gray mud-covered hippo in the water just to the right of where I had climbed down. He is looking in my direction. I know he is male, somehow. It is a little smaller than a normal hippo, but big enough and right-sized for this stream, which I see now is a river with a shallows across where the bridge had been. Another hippo, which I know is female, appears on the precipice above the first, and jumps in. She surfaces and stares at me for a moment, then both hippos ignore me and just act like normal hippos in their bathing spot.
I start to walk toward the houses again, but I don't have my camera, and I tell the boy I'm going back to the car to get my flash. Somehow my camera is with me. I spend a couple of minutes standing in a dry spot in the stream debating to myself whether I can make do with the camera's built-in flash or if I need the speedlight.
I'm at the trunk of the car, getting my speedlight flash out, putting it on the camera, then back at the river where I climb down again, and in addition to the two children, there is a man in a white lab coat, tall thin blonde with gold rimmed glasses and I know him from some previous event, I am thinking Rocky Horror, but I know that's not it. I wade out a little ways into the river, but it is too deep to cross now, and when I try to climb back up to the the road, it is too steep, and I can't get a foot hold on the broken asphalt, it keeps breaking off. The man in the lab coat tells another man, who is out of view, to help us (the girl is also having trouble getting up to the road) but I find a way with better purchase, and get up by myself, and notice it is marked with a metal pail on a thick rope.
The man in the lab coat and the boy both tell me to take my shoes and socks off if I want to explore the houses, and that it is worth it if I don't mind a couple of inches of water on the floors. The river is gone and the houses are now just across a sea of marsh grass. As I start to walk across the marsh barefoot, I wonder if I ought to change the batteries in my flash, and I wake up.