Dreamed 1983/8/4 by Chris Wayan
I'm in a parallel England, in a world where magic works. The old king died, and the ministers are pushing their personal schemes on the country. No unifying force or idea has yet emerged, no new potential king to sort among the competing ideas.
The British prime minister, a high church official and skilled magician, usurps royal prerogatives and becomes a Cromwellian dictator. Tries to insert magic everywhere--and fuse Church and State.
I have substantial powers myself, but feel wary about putting magic into everything. For example--I'm on a baseball team. In this parallel world, baseball, not soccer, is the British national sport. The season's just opening. The PM throws the first ball out... but THIS ball game is under new rules. Fireworks go off all the time, and a grid of potted trees studs the playing field. Not that it matters much--we're supposed to levitate, play ball about ten feet up!
I can levitate, but I feel it's wrong. Tell my teammate, a little guy with big wideset eyes, "Baseball's about elegant action, excellence, alertness, judgment, with just a hidden touch of intuition at crucial moments. Pursuing the cutting edge of personal- and team-best. But this... it's a show, not a game. No one will learn or grow from it!" To my surprise, he says "I feel the same way. I joined to play ball, not clown around." He encourages me to speak more freely--lots of people don't like the new regime.
Now they impose a new starting-ritual on us. We must fly out and pair off, facing an opponent, and shake hands formally.
I'm in love with a player on the other side, the first woman in the major leagues. We planned a small protest to the new rules. The PM learned about it through his telepathic spying and forbid it, but we go ahead. Our teammates conspire to have us meet. Instead of the formal shake saying "We're opponents" we embrace and have a long, hot, sloppy kiss. Our teammates and the crowd start cheering! They don't like the cold new rules either.
A radio announcer reporting the uproar asks players' opinions, ignoring the new censorship laws. He even asks the cop assigned to censor him what HE thinks. "Wow," he says. "No one's EVER asked me what I think before."
The PM's in a rage, but his wife's delighted. She's a friend of ours, so I go over to their box despite his hostility. She's a sweet little woman with wide-set eyes and black-hair, in a floppy hat--she could be the twin sister of my team-mate. She hugs me warmly, supports us all the way. He comes over... what'll he say? Will he admit he went too far?
He breaks my nose.
And then he disappears, with a short-range spell. Pops up in the crowd, for he can't go far in one hop. Vanishes again--leaving as fast as he can. And he'd better! My fury grows as I grope my nose. I hunt him by popping on top of columns and boxes, so I can see out over the crowd. He's a tall man in a checkered shirt, so he'll stand out. I make one mistake, see a guy writing something on graph paper, the grid caught my eye, but it's not him. Look on. Not here! I leave the stadium--but not the hunt! I'm going to kill him if he doesn't kill me.
Track him outside a concert hall. Hear an odd mix of baroque and rock inside... A row of ancient statues tell a story about the evolution of Love. "Love for individuals only began around Late Roman times, because only then had the concept of the individual developed enough. Before, people loved or liked qualities that pleased them. They didn't see individuals as such." Well... maybe. But though I recognize the PM as an individual, he's a loathsome individual. And I plan to kill him.
I track him all the way across the USA, from California to the East Coast. But I'm at a disadvantage hunting for Mr. Nosebreaker. Though I can teleport better, he always senses my approach. At last I become a series of squirrels in a forest for a time, slowly closing in on him, but submerging my sense of self in squirrel concerns... and they don't see place the same way, so even if he realizes I'm a cloud of squirrels, my skittery thoughts won't easily reveal that I'm condensing around him, a squirrelly net.
In my scattered way, I'm thinking about how to kill him. He's bigger, meaner, has more fighting-magic. But what if I appear as an unfamiliar person, weaponless, whose aura shows I'm too weak to kill him? Then I can attack him with no warning--not trying to kill him, just stun him or knock him out! Then he can't teleport and I can kill him by some physical means, at my leisure. I could even hire some guy to deliver the preliminary blow, though he'd probably give himself away telepathically.
Maybe I should stick to squirrels.
I could bite him. Rabies is fun.
A crowd gathers in a harbor, to meet a cruise ship. He's in the crowd somewhere, I sense. Does he have a ticket, is he leaving America? I turn human again, and walk out of the woods, down a little creek path toward the ship. As I pass friends jogging along a creek (one of them sexy as a deer), I wonder about this teleportation business. So complex, yet I do it so casually. My unconscious handles encoding and transmitting my wavicle pattern and reassembling me, without hesitation. No wonder souls reincarnate! Really difficult things can be learned only from long practice, not theory; and a new level of decision-making, far simpler than the ones you've mastered, may be next to impossible simply because it's new. Trying to decide and visualize where to go next is really far simpler than the intricate task of teleporting there, yet I find it much harder. Because it's pure choice. Like that hundredth of a per cent of your sensory data that's psychic... filtering that out and constructing a pattern from it is hard. In this life, I'm fated to struggle with decisions.
Do I want to go on pursuing revenge? He did break my nose. But it'll heal, and right now I have the moral edge. If I kill him, I won't. The country needs his program undone. And what will his wife think if I kill her husband?
And do I want to go back to my girlfriend, the ballplayer? Do I want to go on playing games? I felt quite attracted to those joggers and didn't think of her at all... was that a hint? I was a happy as a squirrel in the woods as I was as a baseball player, as a man...
I can realize almost any goal I choose--but what to choose?
Was that punch in the nose needed? To get me moving, questioning?
Was the bastard doing me a bloody favor?
NOTES ON WAKING
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