Fly Away Home
Dreamed 1996/12/26 by Chris Wayan
I'm an alien here on Earth, but I'm used to it; our ship crashed years ago. I can pass for human, especially in rainy weather, when my wings look just like a rain-poncho. Most of the other survivors live together, still trying to fix the ship; I went off and explored human society.
At last, I go flying home, with my daughter. No, it's not safe to unfurl our own wings around humans, but I was inspired by that kids' movie FLY AWAY HOME, where Anna Paquin flies a tiny ultralight plane to lead tame geese along a flyway south. So we fly solar-powered ultralights. The next best thing to stretching our wings!
The two of us are doing fine till we get in fog and dare not land, for we hear the noise of a big city below; we could be snared in powerlines. So we stay high. But towers loom through the mist! We've strayed right into the downtown highrises. Winds whip up, tricky and strong. We follow a street just downwind of the tallest buildings; on this side, strong downdrafts. I warn my daughter to keep going straight even if she loses a lot of altitude. Just too dangerous to go round the towers to the upwind side--turbulent wind-funnels between them. People call in to radio stations, and soon folks have turned on all the lights in the towers ahead, to help charge our light-powered electric motors. Tears come to my eyes that people who never met us would care so much.
Now we've made it out, and land safely. That evening we go to a ceremonial hall to hear a lecture. But first the Secret Service or its local equivalent must make the building secure for a visiting politician. I hang out by the doors--in fact I hang by the doors, idly swing from the hinges. Hard for me to forget my aerial habits, I still tend to climb and perch. The speaker was a client, but became a friend. I'm a doctor or medical researcher, that's been my work among humankind, and the speaker benefited from some radical treatment I promoted. Had to have it a couple of times--he was insane before. Now he's just... eccentric.
The guards worry he's still crazy, may try to kill the politician! It's true he still comes across as weird to humans ignorant of the physical causes of his condition. But that's a long jump from weird to homicidal maniac! Very unfair. The guards tell me that there are two signs that always mean trouble: when people's bodies start smelling like citrus or some Mediterranean herb, they're dangerous! Well... but what if they like falafel or Greek salads?
I leave early. It's getting harder to pass as human, especially indoors. Walk then run down a narrow hall. Put my arms out, spread my wings, grab air with pleasure, and start skimming down the hall. So cramped my wings can't fully extend; can barely skim with great effort, rowing the air. Try to remember how--it's been so long--twisting my alulas and primary feathers for maximum lift near stalling speed. It comes back to me slowly... then the corridor ends, and I'm out in the open. Soar! Circle a green hill, soar, roll with joy to be flying free again.
Years of slogging through gluey air in dreams! Slow-mo frustration, till I learned that thick resistance could be climbed! Treading air. Slowly I learned to skim and flap, barely staying up, till at last it became easy and I could soar like this. My heritage regained. My wings no longer look like a cape, but that camouflage I adopted as a child has taken years to develop and then to drop. So gradual, such trial and error--in ten thousand dreams. Like Tolkien's mythology, stewing and recombining, slowly evolving his themes from snippets and chance words. I clearly remember all those dream-flights, practicing for this day, this day when I could drop all pretense, spread my wings, and soar.
But as I open my mouth to speak... a ring of men stands up. Armed men. Surrounded! Guns on us. They announce "You've been captured by the Klu Klux Klan!" But... they have no hoods. Naked faces. No fear of being identified, none at all. That's chilling. We won't live long.
In fact their leader invites them one by one to step forward and introduce themselves. Each one does a little dance step, so pleased to have caught the alien monsters. They plan to shoot us and pickle us as soon as we've all been properly introduced. Roswell is doomed as a tourist site, this'll be the new ufology mecca. Oh, they have big plans for us. Us pickled, at least.
At the last moment the old county sheriff pulls up with a fleet of deputies. Suddenly the armed circle's circled itself. The Sheriff calls "Let 'em go, and you can walk out of here free--as long as I never see your faces in this county again. But fire one shot, or show your faces around here again, and you're dead men." The Klansmen hesitate. He adds "You boys reeeeally wanna shoot it out right now?" The men begin to disperse... Looks like my crewmates will get home after all.
Me? My daughter? I just don't know. Such a beautiful world, and for her, it's home. And the people--so brutal, so kind. Gunmen in the ring, and those lights in the towers, to aid two strangers flying.
NOTES ON WAKING
A FEW DAYS LATER
My friends drag me to see Lone Star, a film on a Texas sheriff who blocks racist killings of aliens (Mexican not Roswellian, but still...) Some scenes felt so much like the dream that I wonder if it was psychic. I'm still not sure.
But then, do all psychic dreams have to be knock-down obvious?
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