Dreamed 1995/4/9 by Chris Wayan
In our steamy future,So here I am in the far future. I don't like it; it's a future by Gene Wolfe, so it's sad and rich and tragically decadent. That's always bad for my allergies. Headaches from all the weeds and animal hair and dust. Sorry, I know I shouldn't complain. At least there's still life.
once our cities drown,
I hiked through Rainbow Tunnel,
where I met a Holy Man...
Even human life. I'm in Marin, walking on the winding shelf of the old freeway bed. It's a good path, obviously well-used. I reach what was once called Rainbow Tunnel, heading for Golden Gate Bridge and the City. It looks quite passable still--the old Americans built for keeps! When it was for their cars, at least.
I hear chanting, no, preaching ahead, in the echoing, churchlike tunnel. It's an Emaciated Prophet carrying a tall staff with wooden placards on it. Almost an ancient roadsign, but it has that holy-relic look. The True Cross? No, too light, and it lacks the main crossbar, and besides, it's been eons--even the radwaste has faded. The little signs don't say INRI, etc., but cryptic little phrases I can't read--in some ancient tongue. Of course, I'm ancient here. Maybe too ancient? Could be a tongue from way after my time.
Ragged people crowd around the prophet, curious. Understandable--he does have a glow to him.
A tall bearded fat guy comes up. Says "I am a professor of ancient languages. May I see the staff?" The prophet lets him examine it and he translates the messages for us. I feel oddly grateful, though the whole thing is none of my business. Sorry, I can't recall just what the professor said. Except that it was theologically provocative to these Marinites. Well, no, even to me. We all started arguing out the implications...
Funny--a minute later, no one can find the professor. Or the stick.
Slick bastard. He stole the god-staff!
I'm furious, even though I don't follow this prophet or his doctrine, and won't. I run down the tunnel to the far end. It opens, arched, on San Francisco Bay--not above the bay, ON the bay! It's much higher and wider. The Golden Gate Bridge is down--the towers still stand but the water's above the old roadway level. Rusty cables dangle loose from the towers. The tides must have torn the span off.
So the sea has risen what, about a hundred meters? Total polar meltdown, then. I should have guessed. That kind of a future.
A ferryboat is leaving. Small, oar-powered, crude as a raft. This is it? The Sausalito Ferry? Shit, this future IS decadent! Damn that Gene Wolfe! Always dysfunctional... well, I can fix ONE thing here before I go!
I spot Mr. Smart-Talking Professor on the raft and yell "THIEF!" and jump in. Others follow. The ferrymen try to pull away from us, but some of us swimmers reach it. We threaten to kill them if they don't return the hermit's staff... and they do.
Fine. I've done my bit. I may loathe globally, but I acted locally. For a faith I don't feel, too. Do I get extra karmic credit for that? Not that I care. Because I'm waking up. I'm leaving this shabby, scabby, stupid future.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
From a hilltop today I saw the Golden Gate Bridge and Rainbow Tunnel, and I wondered what they'd look like if greenhousing does its worst. Well, my wish was granted--up close and personal. Ugh. So the poles melted, and civilization fell, and the Marin ferry is now just a rowboat... but people still have the time to steal and lie and follow poor, sincere religious wackos.
So drive to church in your gas-hog cars
all certain that you're saved.
But I met your great-grandkids,
and they'd spit on your grave--
if it weren't under the wave.
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