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Dreamed 1993/2/13 by Wayan

I listen to the Wise Chick.

When I was little, we went to picnics in Stern Grove, in San Francisco. They had concerts and beauty pageants there, in the meadow at the bottom of the sheltered ravine.

But now Stern Grove has gone insane. Something bizarre happened here, and reality just... melted down.

A grotesque tree guards the ramp down. I GUESS it's a tree.... A local explains "the pine was full of turpentine, and that's a solvent, so it softened and fused during the meltdown."

Cleaning the valley up will take special measures. They're planting explosives, planning to trigger landslides, and fill the whole valley? Elf-woman studies mutant flowers.

But a Giant Egg hatches first. A flamingo-red chick pokes its head out: the Wise Bird!

Well, the Wise Chick, anyway. But she's precocious--can talk right out of the shell! She tells me "What happened here is part of a larger picture. Space here is still unstable, but logic protects you! If you react emotionally, or even get into one side of the debate manifesting physically here, you'll join the madness and transform. You can become your feelings, your thoughts. Many of the wildest forms in the valley are people who came to gawk, and caught the madness." Portrait of the elf-woman who guards Meltdown Valley. Click to enlarge.

Warned by the Wise Bird, I walk warily down the path into the valley, staying calm no matter how disturbing these distorted creatures get. And some of them are pretty stomach-turning. But the bird is right--as long as I don't get sucked into their drama, I can walk through the heart of the Meltdown without melting myself!

Presiding over this valley is an elf-woman, tall, gentle, tough, beautiful--though her eyes and hair vary from day to day, changing subtly whenever she patrols the mad zone. She acquired the responsibility of guardian simply by being the only creature left who's fully sane. She's not magically immune by nature, or by training, or indeed in any way: as the Red Bird said, she has to keep a balanced, rational view at all times, and avoid identifying too much with any one of her own moods, let alone with the passions of the melted... or she may melt down herself. For the cost of imbalance here is mutation, fusion. If she relaxes, she'll join them all, become another flower in the magic garden. And lose herself.

When I dared to walk deep into the valley to visit her, she seemed terribly lonely, and bone-tired from caring for the mad. That rarely shows in elves; the fact I could sense it at all shows how hard her task is.

I was deeply impressed. I swore quietly to myself "I'll learn to stay balanced enough to visit her more."

Because as I watch that grace and dedication and loneliness, I see... I just might fall in love with her.

Evening. An elf-woman walks through the luminous gardens of Meltdown Valley, bearing her guardian-wand. Click to enlarge.
In a calm, balanced way, of course! (blush)

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