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HARPY

Dreamed 2000/6/2 by Chris Wayan

THAT DAY

No news of my car, which was stolen last week. Not a disaster--it's summer, I can bike for now. The financial loss hurts, but what I really dread is shopping for a replacement. Wait and see. They find most stolen cars--eventually.

In the meantime, make a list of tasks I can do without a car. Plow through my mom's updates on my father's condition, and send my very first email, telling her the reports got through. My dad sounds slightly stronger, but then he could hardly be worse and survive. Paralyzed! It doesn't look good. In any case, I can't visit him til I get the car back. Or another.

Rewrite my call for an organization to build alternative, ergonomic musical instruments--add sections with three new chromatic designs. Send my friend Mark the revised proposal and my first (successful) attachment--a photo of the Coil, my mock-up of a helical keyboard.

My housemate Alder asks me to try putting little locks on our windows, but I try one and they don't work well on our sills.

Alder has bad car news too: her transmission's dying. At least $1500 she doesn't have.

Amazing how much misery a hunk of metal can cause, just sitting there!

THAT NIGHT

I'm trapped in a Disney film. I'm in my parents' house. The four people living here are packing to leave. The main room's all heaps of sleeping bags and gear. They're going to another world! They show me the secret door. It leads to a beach on a large bay. Pretty country, but they say it's inhabited--by monsters. They ask my help with one. A harpy slipped through the gate into our world, stalked the neighborhood, and kidnapped at least three young women. Holding them for ransom! And if we don't pay... for food.

A friend and I go through the gate to face the harpy. Scared, but remind myself this is a Disney production. There'll be some way out, I just have to find it.

First view of the harpy is not encouraging. She's a modernist interpretation--Disney figured an abstract version would save them animation costs, for one thing. A moving, living steel-pipe assemblage like a giant Calder mobile, rising from the waist-deep water of the cove. I expected her head at least to be quasi-human, so we can talk, but it's all abstract steel: disks for eyes, a metal megaphone for a beak. Yet she speaks in a human voice. A cold, amused, ironic voice.

Three girls tied to metal racks in a cove. A huge assemblage of living girders, safety yellow and international orange, looms over them, jagged jaws wide.
She says cheerfully to my friend "Well? You came to challenge me? Are you sure this is a good time for you right now? That husband of yours..." He freezes in shock. His husband disappeared a couple of days ago. Assumed he just needed time alone to sort things out. How does the harpy, not even native to our our world, know about this? She observes his shock with satisfaction and explains happily, "Oh, I ate your husband." He wilts--his worst fear was that the guy had run off with someone else. Never thought he could be dead. I'm not sure he is, the harpy could be lying--but how DID she know about him?

And now the harpy turns her blank metal eyes to me. I steel myself. I don't know what she'll hit ME with, just that it'll be personal and painful, to get me to collapse without a fight. Remind myself "This is Disney, so there's a solution. Find it." Because around us, tied to steel frames a yard or two above the tide, are the kidnapped girls.

Beautiful girls. All three of them are hot. I have to be honest with myself--I didn't come out of altruism. I'm here to impress them--win their hearts.

But I can't let the harpy know; she'll use it against me. All of us. So again I steel myself to think: "Deny your feelings. Be cold as her. For now."

NOTES IN THE MORNING

Mom or not, what's this harpy doing in my life? I think it's keeping me single! I'm afraid to get attached to anyone, because this cold steely creature inside plays on my worst fears--loving someone and then losing her, just as I'm losing my dad. Better to steel yourself not to care.

A NOTE FROM 2006

They found my car a couple of days later, beat-up but drivable. Now I could go see my dad in the hospital. Or so I thought. I couldn't even talk to him--broke down in tears. And he couldn't talk--conscious but totally paralyzed. A couple of months later he died in the hospital.

It's been six years now, and I'm still single. Never solved the harpy problem.

It's not a Disney world.



LISTS AND LINKS: doors into... - other worlds - dream beings - monsters - robots and artificial intelligences - nightmares - threats - nagging - rescues - romantic advice in dreams - happier times at the beach - Marcy, my mom

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