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PINBALL SHOWDOWN

Dreamed 1995/3/18 by Chris Wayan

A war in space. I'm an officer responsible for a group that must make a beachhead on a planet. Hard fighting, heavy losses. Half my command! I feel guilty. Couldn't I have protected my people better?

But later I hear that the next group in, 250 soldiers, had 220 casualties! And their leader thanks us for making it possible for any of them to survive at all--he expected to be wiped out, but our preparations meant they held the position and the beachhead was established.

I earn some leave. Spend it on Ganymede. It's still just a big rough army post. I hang out in pinball bars a lot, drinking, thinking, and not playing very well. Too bad--pinball's the game here, we play for big money, and a good player's admired. Finally I notice one bar girl's been teasing me quite a while about my game, while I wallowed in regret. Turns out she's the pinball champion here--quite a local celebrity. There are way more men on Ganymede than women, so why's she bothering to tease me? She can have any guy here without playing games!

Curious, I really watch her next game against me. How's she beating me, exactly?

Hey, I think she cheats! She sits right on the edge of the machine, and a flap of her long slit skirt falls on an inch or two of the board. Now, no one's gonna complain about that dress--it's too hot, kicks the hormones in, and she knows it. But I think it hides something. The table's display is electronic not physical, and with her there it dims so I can't see my own ball in play. Dream: my third eye sees through a pinball scam. The bar-girl's confederate under the table flees in panic. She just rolls her eyes. Jupiter looms through the porthole.

Then I try an experiment... I picture mayhem in my mind! You see, I think the way she cheats is, she has a confederate under the table who's a telepath. I've seen the guy in the bar--smart, but a terrible coward. So I broadcast images of ripping him bloodily apart and see what happens.

"EEEEEEEEAAAGH!" He bursts out from under the table and runs out, yelping like a puppy hit with a rolled-up newspaper. I was right! He used his powers to sabotage my flippers and ball-firer and display, while helping hers.

Now she HAS to play fair!

And suddenly I realize she's done me a favor. She got my attention. She HAS been flirting with me--her way--and what I just did is the only way to flirt back. She only respects men who see through her tricks.

She's drawn me out of my grief. I played the war game as well as I could and kept a lot of my friends alive. Now it's time to forgive myself and let go and prepare for a different game.

She says "I think I'll teach you the game as it's really played."

I take a breath and purr: "I hope so."

Now, if Hollywood produced my dreams, it'd end in the big movie kiss. But Hollywood doesn't, and it didn't.

Her idea of how to teach me to play honestly was:

She takes me to my childhood home...
She sits me down on the floor and dumps Scrabble tiles and cards and child's wooden blocks and ma-jiang tiles all over...
She says, "To start we need a wooden triangle with the letter E on it." I look through the heap and can't find a single triangular E. I find other-shaped E's, though. I say "Will a star or a wave-shape do?"

And then realize what these shapes are. Rhine cards, used to test ESP! We're playing psychic games, as I did with my sister Miriel in my childhood.

I thought she'd teach me a lesson in sex, or competition--or courage. Not how to be psychic. I mean, more psychic. Magical.

Yet here we are. The game she really plays is... miracles.

NOTES

My sister and I really did invent games involving Rhine-type ESP tests at an early age. That part is literal.

But who's her psychic confederate, even more covert than she is? I have to bring him out into the open! I guess he's a side of me. But what side? All I know is, macho things scare him--danger, violence, competition! So try doing those, and see what it flushes out from under cover...

The dream hints at something else. I was a very psychic kid--I couldn't bear the hidden emotional violence everywhere around me, even though it wasn't acted out. The input was overwhelming, unreal--insane. So I blocked it, lobotomized myself.

And now my inner psychic, cowardly but loaded with power, just hides under the table and sabotages my games: my flirting, my competititivness... my career.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

I can't draw gowns--or cynicism. So I borrowed clothes, pose, and rolling eyes from a master at those: Chella "Klawz" Reaves, of VCL (see Kindred sites).



LISTS AND LINKS: duty - guilt - cowardice and courage - games - bar dreams - ESP as an issue - telepaths - fear - trust and mistrust - Rhine games with my sister - Miriel - some real psychic dreams - skills and mastery - other worlds - another Jovian moon - dating on Titan - another kind of Tilt!

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