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THE ARTIFACT WAS HOT

dreamed 1983/1/16 by Chris Wayan

"The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves."

I was a lizard archeologist living on the western shore of a warm continent. My mate and I wandered up and down the coast, digging up clues to a million-year old civilization.

Inside the dream, I didn't recognize that the most recent artifact we'd found was part of a broken phone. The civilization we were excavating, so old the relics had fossilized, was human; the world we lived on was Earth, a million years from now. And the cause of extinction...

Drawing of two saurian archeologists running a Geiger counter over a broken bit of phone. Words: 'The artifact was hot. No more room for the fierce delighted argument that had bonded us almost from the egg. The Catastrophe had been artificial. No asteroid had struck. I was right and he was wrong. Accident? Suicide? Murder? Were they like us? I am ashamed to say I wasn't thinking of these issues as the needle hit the end of the arc. I was wondering if our pairing could stand the shock of certainty--wondering if I could throw it back in the sea.
I hope this isn't our future. If we have to go like the dinos, let it be an honorable comet. Not this.



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