Dreamed 1993/7/10 by Chris Wayan
I'm driving on a freeway. Making good time--the speedometer reads sixty mph. But the traffic seems faster than that, and much scarier. At first I'm so absorbed in not hitting anyone, I don't realize what's wrong. I'm driving backwards! Use the rear view mirror to see. ALL the traffic is driving backwards! I'm going the right way down the road physically, but my mind is going the wrong way down the time-path! I'm sure the traffic flow is perfectly normal, all forward--it's my personal time-sense that's reversed.
The terrible sensation of speed isn't from velocity, but unfamiliarity--all my reactions are geared to driving forward. This panic is what the first race-car drivers to hit a mile a minute must have felt--fear and fierce alertness as they entered a new, deadly world we weren't built for. I bet some crashes weren't failures of skill, but panic and paralysis, as curves loomed at impossible speed...
And now I'm paralyzed... by chronophobia.
I try to calm down, but my attention's split between looking ahead and back. I'm unclear what driving in reverse-time means! If I gun my engine, will others see this as slowing down? After all, MY future, in which the car accelerates, is THEIR past, so for them my car WAS going fast and should LOSE speed in the present. Yet, if I'm about to hit a car in MY time, surely brakes are still the thing to apply, not the gas! My subjective time-frame is all I have... if Einstein's right, the frames are relative, and mine is as real as theirs. If Einstein is right, I should hit the brakes. If...
God, the paradoxes scare me! If I could sit and think the situation through... but I can't. So I cruise with the traffic flow, keeping away from other cars, and never shifting lanes. It seems like the only safe, unambiguous course to take. But I grow uneasier; the traffic's just too fast for me to handle with all my instincts backwards. Should I slow down?
The light turns red. No yellow light to warn me! "Oh, of course, the cycle's backward" I think belatedly, as I lumber backwards past the line into danger. "To them, I'm jumping the light, not running it at the end of the green." I swerve through the intersection, red light glaring, panic flaring, then realize it's done, can't be helped. At least I didn't hit anyone.
But the fog of chronophobia keeps me from noticing that a slow truck far behind me isn't moving with the traffic flow. Slow things behind you aren't dangerous, right?
I'm heading right for it, at freeway speeds. Looms up so fast--I slam on the brakes desperately, having no idea if that's that right thing to do, just sure that if I do nothing, I'll crash for sure. Rear-ended by a truck that's hardly even MOVING! Impossible.
I wake as I hit.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
I have been feeling scared and disoriented about time. I just found out that a mysterious, powerful dream I had, Five Heart Unicorn, was precognitive--it referred to something that happened last week... four years after I dreamed it. How the hell do I live, how do I make decisions, if the future's fated and my unconscious sees what's coming? The possibility makes me nervous, unwilling to take risks... or even brake when I spot trouble. Chronophobic paralysis!
Jeez, this dreamwork. Maybe I should switch to skydiving, or gator wrestling. Something safe.
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