Dreamed 1994/8/15 by Chris Wayan
That day, before it happened, I heard a George Sand quote on the radio about the 1848 Revolution in France. "I knew the leaders of '48. With one exception, who's still my friend, they were empty men, bags of ambition. But that's not why we failed. The people must be ready, hungry for democracy, or there's no hope. I believe they will be ready one day; France will be a democracy. But they didn't want it, then. They wanted Napoleon back. And... they got one."
That evening, I read Dream Scene Magazine, which treats dreams as news, with headlines like "Trouble Bruin" or "Baby Birds Boiled, Bad for Breathing" or "Translucency as an Evolutionary Adaptation Among Arboreal Crustaceans of the South Sea Islands." I come to "Return from Exile" a long dream of a man returning to his homeland to find a dictatorship. They beg him not to start rebellion--so many will die. He says "I must. We can't live like this." I scorned the appeasers in his dream! The rebel was so obviously right.
Until, that night, I had to walk in their shoes.
It was a long walk.
I dream I live on a world with humanoid people. The technology's like the early 1800s, though some fields are more advanced. They're slowly settling two continents only reachable by sea, never settled prehistorically--mostly treeless plains with a harsh continental climate, but good soil, ideal for grain farming. Technology's advancing more peaceably than Earth's industrial revolution.
Part of the reason is that Earth people are here too, and have been for several generations, passing as native--indeed raised mostly native, only hiding their starfaring past and their inability to crossbreed with the majority. Farmers mostly--just unable to work up any enthusiasm for war, dog-eat-dog economics, dictatorship, any of Earth's historical mistakes. Not playing guardian angels exactly, but a calming influence.
LADY GEORGE SAND
I'm the wife of a local lord, a sweet old man with no practicality whatsoever. Everyone knows I've managed the region for years. I worried that during this boom-time of capitalism all the smallholders will be forced into factory labor, so I gradually donated large strips of our private lands to parks and farm co-ops, and invested in technology I know from Earth history is socially useful, until we own only the castle and grounds outright.
I'm eager to go to a special session of the planetwide parliament. It's my husband's seat, and normally I'm there writing and lobbying with him. But this is a constitutional convention on making things (reapportionment?) more equitable in light of the new continents. A closed convention. Will they let a woman in?
In hopes they'll be sensible, I'm looking for my traveling sandals. Have to dress up in the capital, though it's been so hot I've been going barefoot for days here at home, where no one here minds if I bare my sole.
QUESTION BILLIONAIRES, NOT AUTHORITY
I'm in the capital now. Odd, I'm male now, too. Guess I'll do anything to be in the Constitutional Convention! To my surprise I get asked to mediate between two rival financiers--billionaires. After the meeting, I ask "Satisfy my curiosity--I've never worked with men as rich as you. What's it like? Are you friends off the job, or do your trade rivalries become personal too? How do you see the development issues the Convention will wrestle with, what's your vision of the planet your grandkids will see?" They're simply amused; man or woman, my Insatiable Curiosity is notorious. I can put on sandals and take off my breasts, if that's the fashion, but I just can't take off that bump of curiosity.
THE DARII AND THE NATIVES
One of the financiers uses a new term--"natives." I say, confused, "But we ALL are." He tells me they use it on the New Continents to mean the capitalists, the realists, as opposed to the pacifists and social welfarists, who have been dubbed the Aliens.
The other financier pulls me aside and tells me privately: "An entrepreneur in the prairies heard a verbal slip in an Alien's speech that convinced him the man was from another world! He had one of his hired goons kill the fellow. They cut him open. They found teeth and skeleton loaded with calcium, they found red blood, they found one heart! He really was an alien--just like us on the surface, wildly different inside. Well, the man was an entrepreneur, so he started blackmailing the alien's friends and family, threatening to expose them all as monsters. So far it's being kept pretty quiet, though the Council knows. There's already a scientific name assigned to this alien species, the Darii or Davii" (I wasn't sure when I woke, but I knew it was from a root word meaning "chalk", for the calcium Earth people are built around.) "How many aliens there are, and what's to be done about it, no one knows yet--you have to cut someone deep or examine their back teeth to tell the difference."
I'm scared--if the general population here in the Old World learns aliens are "invading" (never mind that we've been farming here for generations) it'll cause a panic, even a civil war between the Old Lands and the New.
STIFLE THE WITNESS
I go to kill the blackmailer. Feel no guilt--it's plain justice, he murdered a man for profit. I'm stopping a pogrom, a war.
His house looks just like my parents' house. I get past his goons, into his bedroom, and kill him. But I find there was a witness, a fragile blonde girl with straight hair. She looks like a mistreated butterfly. I fall in love. I want to protect her. And she sees... a monster. "You're an alien! We're being invaded! I have to warn people." I say "No. You'll start a race war! Parliament knows already." She doesn't believe me. I put my hand over her mouth. "Please." I whisper. "Don't give me away." She shakes her head. I cover both her mouth and her nose with one hand, and cover her pussy with the other (natives can breathe through any of the three). I keep whispering "Please, please... thousands will die. I want you to live, but I can't let the war happen..."
She just looks at me--daring me to do it, sure that she's doing what she must. I want to kiss her, so brave and idealistic, and instead my hand's covering her lips forever. I beg her to show me any sign she'll promise not to talk... and she won't respond, never even struggles, just lets me stifle her until her eyes close and she goes limp and her two hearts stop and she goes to sleep forever. And I start crying, holding this heroic girl I've just murdered. "Forgive me, forgive me..." I keep whispering to her. No escape now, I'll pay for it. I delayed so long his goons will be searching already. Agents everywhere. I'll face torture--and I don't know if I can, without talking. I'll have to get myself shot while escaping.
Wake crying, in a cold sweat... grieving over the murder. Wasn't there any way I could have spared her?
I'm worried. What is this secret that I think'll cause a civil war inside, if other parts of me find out? I suppress the part that knows, even though I don't want to--just can't think of another solution. Who is she? Is she memories of how I let down women I loved but ran from, or memories of being abused myself, or what? Her judgment of me hurt: "You look human but you're an alien monster." When I AM different--but not evil. Or am I? I was to her.
Well, the dream has some practical advice too. I'm a one of the Dariis, as different from the general population as another species; my odd metabolism needs more dairy products I guess, more calcium, and probably protein.
THE END, OR SO I THOUGHT TILL NEXT SUMMER
That summer a new housemate moved in. She looked just like this fragile girl in my dream. She was from a Kansas farm. She seemed amazingly normal, unnaturally natural. I didn't know for months that she suffered from depression and feared madness: she stoically stifled her fear and pain. I was attracted to her, and felt protective, at the same time. But I kept my distance; I feared I'd hurt her somehow, make her suppress it all more.
But none of that's why I'm mentioning her. It's because her name was one I'd never heard before. In the waking world. Yet I knew it.
It was Dari. The dream had named her months before we ever met.
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