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MOOSE

Dreamed 3/12/84 by Chris Wayan

A small neat universe of even-scattered stars. A Queen rules them all, nominally, though in practice she defers to her Supreme Court. She chooses them, they tell her what to do--and who to choose. And so... we Citizens of the Scattered Worlds are cut off. The Justices rule us. Not even selfishly: it's worse than that.

My five brothers and I live on a world resembling Georgia O'Keeffe's high desert plains. Among all the inhabitants of the universe, all those hundreds of millions, we are singled out by the Nine Justices as rebel ringleaders. And they hound us. They're creating the enemies they fear. Or want! Do they need rebels to justify their policies?

We ask our Ma what to do. She's old and desert-tough. Counterattack? Maybe we should rebel! But she says "Resist, endure, and gather your evidence."

One day, my big brother is riding on a high, green, rain-catching mesa, herding cattle. A small starship winks in at the zenith, and grows. It settles on the mesa near the herd. The cattle don't much like big silver clouds, but they won't budge--the grass up here is too green-sweet to give up. Once the egg of distortion fades, and his horse calms, my brother rides up to greet the travelers. They must be lost, to land out here.

Out of the ship's round hatch tumble black-robed men. Court bailiffs. The goons of Justice. They curse my brother.

The curse hits his shoulder. Coarse ruddy hair grows, and spreads like a rash to his back and stomach. The curse crawls up his neck and swallows his head. Big bony plates sprout... moose antlers. His nose grows immense, and the bone to support the weight crowds out his brain. From the waist up, he is a moose.

Without a brain to support it, his spirit flies away.

Miles away, I sense it, I see it go out of him like the last breath of a cigarette. It disappears into a strange dimension, not the usual place of the dead. He's not exactly dead after all. He lives on, as an idiot--an upright cowboy moose. We find him days later, on the mesa, eating bushes and flowers, wandering among the cattle he was supposed to herd.

Dream: my brother the moose, under the stars.
We now have proof of the Court's high crimes in the name of order. We cultivate access to the Queen--officials who resent the Court. We'll need them.

At last the moment comes. Our allies let us in, and we surprise the Queen alone. She's forced to listen. The Nine Justices burst in, and roar "Get OUT--on pain of death!"

We point to our brother the moose, and sit silently, asking the Queen to compare. Them or us? She must choose. Courtiers and guards come in. The Court doesn't wait for the Queen's choice. "Drag them out of here!" the old men scream. No one moves.

No one. I know then that we've won.

When the political dust has settled, the curse on my brother is lifted. His body normalizes, and when his brain grows, his soul returns.

But he returns... changed.

He's been wandering in a bigger, uneven universe of whirlpools of light and vast dark spaces, eerie and grand. He sees our whole universe as little and tame now. He shows me the hidden lines along which our stars have been laid out--neat as a housing tract, in a prismal grid.

He's bored; he's grown beyond us. Though I grasp his view of our universe intellectually, and try to show him I understand, I can't share his feelings; and I'm the closest to him. The others are just "glad he can resume a normal life". Oblivious! He can't. He's alone here now.

I know he'll have to return to his wild universe. And his viewpoint's rubbing off onto me. Now that I see the walls beyond our box of stars, I'm bored too. It's big, yes, and a beautiful structure, but all known.

I start making plans to go.

NO NOTES TODAY

No need. This dream spells it all out, doesn't it? In the long run, the curse of the Supreme Court starts looking like a sort of favor. The only question is: how big a world do you live in, and is anyone trying to horn you out of it?



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