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THE SELL-FISH WITCHES

Dreamed 1983/6/29 by Wayan


My sister Miriel and I run away from our parents. Miriel wants to head for Michigan to visit our friend Judy, but... 2000 miles, on foot? We wander through mountains a long time... and then we're walking up the Owens Valley. Jagged peaks hang two miles above us in the Sierra Nevada. We climb to a low pass, and to the right, a vast desert opens up past the White Mtns: The Navahopi Reservation. Springs feed a creek that grows into a desert river. The trail follows it east. Little falls, ringing like bells, and even bell-shaped. Pretty. It's called the Magic River. Has a good feeling to it.

We reach a little town--Tuba City? In the streets, Indian women sell dried fish. OH NO! I'm horrified! The fish will attract BEARS, and we'll be KILLED!

Miriel buys some anyway. "We'll eat it before we enter the wilderness, stupid."

"But Miriel, our parents warned us to avoid people who sellfish!"

Away from our parents, we start developing psychic powers. We can duplicate small items. Slowly we work up to big ones. And we can teleport short distances through space and time. By diving in and out of the present, we can create apparently multiple copies of ourselves--really just little timeloops.

That evening, we teleport inside the Tuba City Museum, and have a candle-lit dinner amid the statues, guarded by a ring of living bronze images of ourselves. That night, we sleep together. I've wanted my sister a long time, and now that we know we're not normal humans, that makes it somehow easier to step outside their rules.

I wake up in my sister's arms, knowing suddenly we're being watched.

We stay in the museum that day, and sleep there again, reluctant to leave, still exploring each other. That night, at dinner, one of the statues looks strange. Shorter and plumper than my sister. She has a little-girl face but an adult presence. Another witch! "I've come to welcome you to the witches," she says. They teleport in, one by one. I'm attracted to them, but they seem sophisticated--intimidating. We're self-taught and clumsy, they're so smooth. And... behind the smoothness, I sense that they're probing for weakness! Want to capture us, exploit us? What are the values of this group they claim we belong to? From their talk, they consider "humans" another race, whose lives don't matter.

But the humans hear the noise of the party in the museum and call the cops. When they come, a warlock hexes them, causes them all to forget the evening. And the man who called the cops? He kills him with a curse! I'm shocked, but hide it out of fear.

Later, I look out the window. The corpse is lying on the courthouse steps opposite the museum. He stirs! I rush out. He's badly injured--by a car accidentl. Injuries serious, but he seems stable. I'm puzzled and ask a witch at last. "Spells wear off with effort and time. This one was heavy, with a big safety margin." She means multiple deaths! But the guard was stubborn, and returned from death through sheer effort, to find himself shot fatally... he healed from that by power of will, to find himself fatally poisoned. He healed from THAT to find himself massively but not mortally injured from a car crash... the spell is getting exhausted. Maybe one more big injury, but it just can't muster any more deaths. Such immense labor and suffering to wear down a curse that took just a second to enact! Yet... he's winning. Humans don't lack magic, they're just slower. This guy really IS returning from the dead!

I notice the witches use spells to transform and teleport. Miriel and I were self-taught; we just do it. Never occurred to us anyone would NEED props or rituals. But all these witches use masks and wigs and rhymes and gestures, as aids in their magic. Miriel and I compare impressions, and agree to keep quiet how we do things... but we're starting to wonder if our native ability is maybe STRONGER than theirs! They're just better organized. And mean. They'll use us if they can.

We leave at last, walk east through farm and ranch country.

Next day is hot. In a field, we find a hose and spray water high in the air to drop on us, cooling. Having fun when a young witch couple drives up in a station wagon. They act friendly, but behind that we can feel the probing. We act innocent.

By the fence at the edge of the field, a Mexican farmworker pushes a baby carriage. A dad with a sick baby. He asks us if we can cure the kid. The witches in the station wagon prick up their ears. We say we don't know how, and walk on, scared. Can't even pracitce using our powers for good, now. The witches watch us, but don't follow.

Meet a middle-class family next, with a wounded dog. We decide to give this one a try, since the witch couple's not watching. Ask if the family has any of that dried Sell-Fish. We squeeze a big gob of honeylike stuff from the side of the fish, as if it's fruit! Put it on the wound... and it promptly heals. Wow, Sell-Fish is powerful!

We return to the man with the baby, confident now... but the witch couple is there, with mocking eyes. If we heal the baby, they'll report we're showing our powers to humans, and the whole witch crowd'll be after us! We can't heal, and we won't leave. Standoff!

But not forever.

Once our power is strong enough to fight, to kill... we can use it to heal.



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