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THE ISLAND FURIES

Dreamed summer 1975 by Chris Wayan

PART 1: THE PACIFIST

A warm, pleasant archipelago. But two groups of islands are at war. Rockets and shells arch over the sea-straits.

One one shore is a girls' camp--like the Girl Scouts or a summercamp, but far more serious--these girl live here without adults. Are they followers of Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt?

A girl grows up here and becomes a leader here at an early age. They all know she can't stay, though; she's a genius destined for a wider world.

One day she walks out of camp alone, and never comes back. She's out to stop the war! Sneaks from island to island, and using nothing but superb rhetoric (wish I could record the one speech I heard, but when I woke, the words were gone), she rouses the civilians who produce the armaments, starts a sort of Gandhian resistance.

And it's working. The war dwindles, trails off...

Then she's assassinated. A group effort, carefully planned. They cover their trail well; they're never caught.

The other girls of her camp feel embittered. So much for pacifism! And so, they turn to a different goddess: Hecate. Spells and curses on all these killers! One of the murdered girl's best friends becomes the leader of the most powerful triad of witches. But even they are unable to finger their friend's murderers. In a hatred of all political groups, they curse the whole system.

And cursing works as well as pacifism. Tempers snap, minds crack, bridges fall, armories explode... The island empires fracture back into bickering little states. The wars don't end, but they do scale down. But at what a cost! Depression, petty tyrannies, a ruined travel and trade system. Not total breakdown, not the death of civilization, but... a cultural coma. A furious witch curses the island-empire that killed her best friend.

By more luck than skill, one day, I catch the three at magical ebb-tide, when their power's lowest. I feel I have to kill them. I'm reluctant, even horrified, but I risk it for the sake of the islands their friend loved. If the Three were thinking clearly, they'd realize they're wrecking her dream.

I lash out with a curse exactly like their own, that brought island-empires low.

It kills them instantly. I collapse, in grief and shame and doubt.

The shock of committing murder is so severe, it wakes me. Even awake, I feel appalled, and can't dismiss it as "only a dream." I still don't think it was right. She wouldn't have wanted me to kill her best friends--she didn't kill the warmongers. Just stripped their power. Couldn't I have persuaded them, as she did the warring people?

But I feared their magic, and their fury, too much to even try.

PART 2: ISOLATE THE WITCH REBORN

Go back to sleep. The same dream returns--almost. The same islands, a few years later. I meet a girl growing up with strange powers about her, and a familiar aura. The leader of the angry three, reborn! The other two were no doubt around, though I didn't find them.

I imprison the reborn leader in a stateroom of my motorboat and sail out from Manhattan through the ship-channels to the open sea, then south fifty miles to the isle of Crete. Here we land. I tell her "There's no way off the island for you, since few ships land and they're all being warned about you." Offshore, an American warship from the 19th century patrols. Its pipe-smoking patriarch of a captain, and its all-male, god-fearing, anti-witch crew, will inspect any ships leaving the isle for her and her sendings. Being a pagan myself, I'm uncomfortable working with such people, but feel it has to be done if the isles are to rebuild.

A pirate clippership does land here secretly now and then, but its crew is meaner than she ever was. I don't think the pirates will let her on board.

But as I take my leave of her, she's not too upset; she can afford to wait. She has many lifetimes. And by now there's tacit knowledge between us all that this material world is a stage, the board for an intricate endless game--with no losers in the long run. We're here to learn. She, to learn compassion. And me, to learn... well... compassion.

I wish her friend the genius would be reborn. We both need to see her again, know that she's okay. But maybe she grew beyond us--beyond our little games--and won't be coming back.

I mean, would you? Look how we treated her! And her legacy.

Angry Greek witch; crayon sketch of dream by Wayan. Click to enlarge

AFTERNOTES



LISTS AND LINKS: dream beings - witches and wizards - geniuses - violence - pacifism - guilt and failure - prayers and wishes - nightmares - reincarnation - paganism - gender - politics - shamanic dreams - repression - war and peace - time travel - same dreamer, very different Medean nightmare: Nightmare Transubstantiation (Caution: grisly)

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