THE PARABLE OF THE CAVE
Dreamed 1993/9/18 by Chris Wayan
Politics is turning nasty in the Bay Area. I have a bad feeling about it, and walk out through the suburbs, heading for the coast. People can tell I'm fleeing, and they scold me as I pass: "You should stay and help us resolve the problem." As they nag, I do feel guilty--but keep walking.
See, I don't think this WILL resolve. I think it's going to mean riots and civil war.
Reach a corporate research park with a square in the middle, covered with strange grassy tufts. Native bunch-grass? Two more refugees, a couple I know slightly, are harvesting some of the tufts. I join them. The seeds and leaves are nutritious; we can store them in the sea-caves, and wait till the storm passes.
Hike on with them to the coast and up onto a rocky point below a lighthouse. It's a rare spot, this ridge by the sea with only flats inland; not that high, yet with a clear view of much of the Bay Area. And the caves here are good shelter.
Looking back, I see smoke. It's begun. I hear faint sirens. The fires spread. Can they contain it?
Then, monstrous gouts of flame rise near the harbor. I wait, with a sense of uneasy expectation that even this is not the worst. The feeling builds inside... as a civilization unbuilds, outside.
And then it breaks.
Fireballs bloom on the horizon, coming nearer in a line, a hundred times the size of the buildings burning near the harbor. Miles away, and I'm not blinded perhaps due to the intervening smoke, but they're big enough to be tactical a-bombs. I hope they're chemical; the flashes are ruddy and boiling like fire, not sun-white and instant, so it could just be the Richmond oil refineries exploding.
The shock waves nearly knock me down, even miles off. Bad as a quake. Nuclear or not, that had to be kilotons.
I was right to hide in a cave. I shiver, thinking of the people out there in the fifty-mile sea of fires, who wanted me to help solve the problem, not turn away.
I shiver, and turn away.
To see my wavering shadow, on the back wall of the cave. My shadow, in a dream--my Jungian shadow!
My shadow, cast by the light of a civilization burning.
Society is functioning again, if not back to what passes for normal. People are tough, though: I'm surprised how quickly the basics got working, given how few people survived the Break. No hard figures are available, since, really, no one wants to think about it. But my best guess is, perhaps ten per cent survived.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
Some civilizations can't be saved.
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