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COLLAPSE THEM IN THE ZONE

Dreamed 1995/4/7 by Chris Wayan

I'm walking the halls of an abandoned school--the one at the heart of the Zone. Time and space are scrambled here. Small dinosaurs roam. They drink from the toilets in the school bathrooms. After all these years, the plumbing still works--must be well built, to stand up to dinosaurs and million-year timeshears in the walls.

By Zone custom, if you enter a bathroom stall, you're left alone. A shadow of the original rules of privacy? When I come out and walk down a dark hall, though, I must beware. Behind this open door, for example, lurks something--it springs! A woman clamps onto my arm. Pale curly blonde with wide vague face, child's voice. Skinny, tall, younger than me. Very strong but spacy.

She says "I know you! You're a friend of X___!" Huh? X___ is a guy I met for five minutes once. He was crazy, some kind of religious fanatic; I couldn't make sense of a word he said. Less dangerous than most Zone monsters, but certainly no friend. So--she has no social smarts.

I pry her fingers loose at last and act nice, more because she might be dangerous (so strong yet so skinny! Bionic enhancement?) than because I like her or feel attracted to her, though I am a little. Her body's fine, so's her face... it's that vague haunted expression that puts me off.

I go outside, into the parking lot, at the edge of the Zone. She follows me, talking constantly. I warn her "I have to re-enter." I'm on a dangerous mission to find the source or cause of a whole order of beings, looking human enough, but for a sort of caste mark on the forehead. And they multiply at a tremendous rate--seven generations already, in just a few weeks! Hundreds, maybe a few thousand by now! And we're unsure of their nature or powers.

Haunted house; dream sketch by Wayan.
Skinny girl says "I have a mission too. I have to collect strawberries and tomatoes from the heart of the Zone. As long as you're going that way, we might as well go together." I reluctantly agree. Since I'm not strong enough to stop her...

We re-enter the Zone. A dark corridor. Must make sure the hall is safe behind us. One open door--when I step up to it warily, a voice chirps "Hi! We're not here right now, but leave a message for Traci or Deanna after the beep." Even if they're there, they don't sound like zombies or predators...

So I turn around and enter the heart of the Zone--my parents' house. Search their bedroom. No strawberries or tomatoes growing in it... I get flashbacks to when I was a kid, snooping in their room for Playboy magazines. Embarrassing. Well, now it's strawberries. None of those either... where are they? I seem to have gotten roped into the blonde's quest. Wait a minute! I have my own job to do!

In the hall, my sisters come out of their rooms. They're kids again, twelvish. Time is so weird here! I briefly introduce them to the strange woman and say "We're just hunting for mutant strawberries and tomatoes in the living room. Go back to bed." And they do.

The family room and living room have grown into a vast steamy greenhouse. The haggard blonde hunts for fruit, hopeful now. I leave her to it. Have to look for more dangerous items: the Seventh Generation.

And I find them! Just a few, but they somehow alert all the others silently. A crowd of them gathers, by the window. I prepare the undoing-sequence for the spell or the timeloop or the knot.. Unsure what'll happen to them, worried that I'm killing them. But... they beam at me! They're glad!

Notice how different they are from each other. A cross section of humanity except that they all have that 3rd-eye spot...

I do what I'm supposed to do. The change happens and... I don't know what becomes of them!

Did they emerge from the Zone to re-fuse into one person?

Whatever it was, I shouldn't feel guilty. I recall their eager faces. They wanted the change!

Preferred it to life in the Zone.

NEXT MORNING



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