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The Bee Queen's Gift

Dreamed 1997/6/26 by Chris Wayan

An antique era. The 1940s? Men wear baggy suits and fedora hats. I meet a couple who are both scholars, though of different sorts--he's a dino-bone hunter, specializing in urban sites, rescuing the past from under the shovels of bulldozers. She's an academic philosopher--a formidable brain that scared off most men. But they're a love match, inseparable off the job.

One day they meet someone who looks human, but is part of a hive intelligence. They're two of the few scholars on Earth who'd even recognize bee people, as they're called. I think this couple can spot bees because they form their own tight little hive of two, indeed, they're rather bee-ish themselves: busy, clever and sweet, but with a wit that can sting.

Time travel is one of the Bee Queen's specialties--her mind, the shared mind of all her people, not only spans quite a lot of distance (they don't have to live together) but time as well. Hive members live in many eras, and for them, time's a multidimensional present. But then, Bone Hunter, whose mind must span complex topographies of geological time, is not so different... and his wife the philosopher specializes in exotic states of consciousness. They're probably the only people of their pragmatic era who could even frame the bee hypothesis, spot the pattern that implies the hive.

So this couple befriends a worker bee, and say nice things about the Bee Queen. I don't know what the equivalent of the bee-dance is, how the worker lets the Queen know--maybe she just phones her up. Anyway, the Queen's so intrigued, she visits in person, across time. She never manifests to humans of this era! It's a bit unnerving. Like entertaining the Fairy Queen. In fact, she's where the myth began.

The Bee Queen bears a gift--an allosaurus, the live owner of the bones Hunter's been digging up under the Central Freeway... Well, fairly alive, sort of a time-ghost, but solid enough to bite. Like her--there's a bite to her humor too. Dream: the Bee Queen summons a ghost allosaurus.

So the allosaur chases this couple around their yard, as the Bee Queen says "Observe his predation behavior, how he'll eat anything that moves. What? But you WANTED to learn about dinosaurs! Who am I to interfere? I have to be impartial, or THINK of all the interventions people would be demanding of me!"

Bone Hunter, scrambling behind concrete posts as four-inch teeth snap at his coat, yells "But I'm an individual, if I get eaten, all my knowledge of dinosaurs will be lost! I'll never be able to draw an allosaur in its true colors!" His dinosaur renderings are famous, even art museums bid for them--one reason the Bee Queen chose this gift for him is so he can paint an allosaur in its full, accurate splendor--even if he can't tell his colleagues just HOW he chose those colors, those patterns.

See how cool he is under fire? Even in his terror, he's clever enough to plead for his life in bee-terms, not human ones. The hive values collected knowledge, not members' bodies. So he shapes his mind in the Queen's pattern, very like a true bee. A rare talent to get inside the viewpoint of another species!

And despite herself, the Bee Queen's impressed.

So she reins in her time-ghost, and lets the lovers live.

UNROMANTIC EPILOG

Much later, one rainy California winter, I see the two of them. He's under a bridge, supervising a muddy dig--she's in a university, pondering abstractions, shut in by the rain. A depressing season, endless chill drizzle.

And they've drifted apart! Their great love slowly cooled over this long winter. In the end, their differences won.

I feel sad, but wonder if I'm blowing love out of proportion. They're both brilliant, and doing their life-work, and... well... they're ALIVE.

When they could have been dino lunch.

NOTES IN THE MORNING

JULY 4 (OVER A WEEK LATER)

The TV show SLIDERS echoes my dream, in considerable detail...

  1. a cute but very tough-minded woman who winks in and out of this spacetime
  2. a modern world with allosaurs and rexes, for they never went extinct...
  3. at the end we slide into a second time-branch, where paleontologists are digging up the bones of the dinos who were hunting our heroes moments before. Well, at least their cross-time cousins!
Oh, well. No surprise, really. The dream did say the Bee Queen--dreaming--crosses time as well as space. Why not the future as well as the past?

UNROMANTIC EPILOG #2

I want to call Blue and ask her out, but I haven't. Maybe because I'm still too ill to take the stress of dating her, maybe because I sense she'll say no (I didn't know then, but she had a lover). But yes or no, I'll survive. Because I have work to do. The dream made that clear. Love matters, but survival comes first--and my lifework comes second. Love comes after.

Uh, got that, soul?

  1. Survival.
  2. Lifework.
  3. Love.
Oops. Now where in all that gray, rainy-day, sober practicality did Gertrude Stein go? Following your bliss... even if your bliss makes Alice sore. Is bliss number four? Number one? Zero?



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