Hunt of the Unicorn
Dreamed 1989/5/18 by Chris Wayan
I'm in the far future: an Andre Norton sort of galaxy, full of intelligent species and a rather loose, corrupt trading empire. A chaotic high-tech jungle...
My friends and I are visiting a planet with a strict Islamish religion. The cities are full of color and friendly enough, for this world relies on tourism. But these robed, very private people guard their own traditions behind the decorations; they subtly discourage tourists from venturing beyond the cities.
We came here hunting a goldenfurred primate, like a lemur but bigger and possibly sentient. It's always been spotted riding a unicornlike creature--are they master and pet, or symbiotes? The unicorn may be sentient too...
My friends Maelen and Krip and I own a traveling circus, more a cooperative theater troupe really, since many of the "beasts" who perform in our shows are sentient, or semi. We're hoping to sign on a unicorn/lemur team. And... we're a bit concerned. Are they being exploited? Maelen in particular has a long passionate history of animal rescue, and if they're people (or even borderline) it becomes even more urgent to find out just what's going on with these creatures.
But they're incredibly elusive. We've followed hints and traces all over galaxy. This looks like their home--it's the only world to openly advertise a few on display in circuses. We've seen eyewitnesses and photos--all tourists, though. Their Beast Shows are a huge draw. But the humanoid natives won't talk about them, and we can't document a single wild sighting--they must be extremely rare, even here.
Desperate to get the natives to open up, I go native myself. Wear the robe of secrecy, profess their faith, ask initiation. They test me--by MARRYING ME OFF! I do not choose my wife, my new family does. Still, I like her, she's attractive... but the marriage turns out a terrible disappointment. Even in bed, my new bride remains a stranger! Local women have strictly ritual relations with men; they live in purdah, and the heart of their emotional and social lives is with each other. I know no more than when I was single--not about her, not about the culture, not about the unicorns. Except that the locals may be just as bad off--strangers to each other! Only man to man, woman to woman, are secrets shared. I may feel left out, but so will anyone who wants to speak freely. Not on this world!
At last we give up on fraternization--it's time for espionage. I slip out on my wife--we aren't cross-fertile anyway, she'll be all right. Or so I rationalize, as I abandon her to hunt a unicorn...
My shipmates and I hike high into the hills above the capital to see for ourselves. Stony chaparral, with grand views. Strange--the plants we know unicorns and lemurs eat are densest right around the city. We expected the opposite. But the further we climb the rarer they get! And that suggests they were introduced here. Exotics!
But then... Unicorns and golden lemurs must be exotics too. The whole thing is a trick--for tourist income! People come from all over galaxy to see them here. The secret of their true homeworld, wherever it is, is worth teracredits.
Deep in the hills, we meet a single unicorn-lemur pair. We talk a bit--they're fully sapient, but not treated as such. They escaped a circus where they were mistreated, and are on the run up here.
"This isn't our home. They're hunting us. We're worth a lot to them, but they'd rather we died than talk to people like you. They'll be after you too, now that you know the secret."
True. Far down the slope, see the glint of knife blades. A posse trailing us with murder in mind!
The dream becomes a nightmare chase as we all scramble down the slope toward the starfield and our ship, as the hunters follow, knives gleaming. Not enough of us to fight them. We need to get OFF this world, and go where the unicorns are, and free them from what looks more and more like colonial exploitation, even slavery...
We're committed now. I know Maelen; she'll stand for no less than freedom.
NOTES THAT MORNING
THE NEXT EVENING
Watching TV, I stumble on a movie called Protocol: Goldie Hawn, in big golden hair the size of a lemur, gets suckered into marriage to a rich Muslim guy who uh, forgot to mention he has other wives... Soon she's stuck in a reactionary country... The circus/celebration in the palace, right down to the clothes and architecture, was right out of my dream! The stream scene where Goldie just wants to wade, but men gather, threateningly, staring, scary, echoed the hills and knife scene in my dream. Also parallel: Goldie finds the marriage wasn't for love, but a ploy by a local politician to score a lot of money. So she tries to flee, just as the lemur and unicorn find the circus was a scam and they're exploited--a fortune depends on their recapture and silencing!
The dream was so blatantly predictive, at the time I overlooked one discrepancy. OK, big-hair Goldie, golden lemurs... but why UNICORNS in trouble? I still don't get that...
A WEEK LATER
A book arrives at the library where I work: Michael Bishop's Unicorn Mountain. I've heard he's a good writer so I try it. Starts as realist fiction about a woman on a ranch in the Rockies. Till unicorns stray onto the mountain from the spirit world... or is it the land of the dead? They're in trouble, need help... The references are unmistakable, though not as blatant as to Protocol. At least... you'd think so. But...
The night before I read Unicorn Mountain, I had a short psychic dream using other images from it (like TV shows from the afterlife). Despite this dream-prompt warning that earlier dreams might also have psychic references to the book, I'd had just too many dreams since Hunt of the Unicorn--dozens! A week back was already below my horizon, the ancient past. I simply didn't remember.
For twelve years that dream lay unread in my journal. And then, typing up this week for my website, something nagged at me so I asked my computer to do a keyword search for unicorns.... a high-tech Hunt of the Unicorn! And found it--not one day ahead, but seven.
Is there a lesson here? I think so. Debunkers of ESP say "predictive dreams are just wishful thinking, naive people connecting dots." But our high-tech media jungle is so busy and distracting that even solid psychic hits can get lost in the sheer noise, and faint or days-ahead ones like this... well, good luck! For each time we mistake a coincidence for ESP, there may be a dozen small but genuine predictions we overlook because we've just plain forgotten. Skeptics make much of the power of wishful thinking and the human habit of seeing patterns in chaos, but don't we have an equally remarkable talent for overlooking the obvious? Especially when constantly distracted... and admit it. You are.
And those of us with high dream-recall have a second distraction, an internal one, no matter how carefully we avoid media screaming for our attention. The sheer number of dreams can overwhelm! Was it Freud or Jung who said "The stuff buried me like sand enveloping the Sphinx"? True for me too. Even a few days is too long, if you have a dozen more compelling dreams in the interim. You can't keep track.
For centuries, dreamworkers had (at best!) hand-written diaries, and dreams, being bizarre, are hard to skim. Really, it's amazing any correlations emerged at all!
So if you're serious about dreamwork, entering them on computer in a searchable form can really pay off long-term.
Long-term as in... a week.
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