Souls in the Mud
Dreamed 1981/1/14 by Chris Wayan
A highway cuts straight over a mudflat, horizon to horizon. It's the Road of Reincarnation.
I'm walking that road. But someone's out to kill me. I figure I'm too visible up here, so I jump off into a channel of a muddy creek roughly paralleling the road, and follow that, floating where I can, flopping through mud like a seal when I can't. When my channel meanders back near the road, I watch for a distinctive care, I mean car (oops! Freud would laugh). My hunter will come for me in a brand of armored car as heavy as a small tank, driven by all the very best killers.
The computer running the whole reincarnation set-up, keeping track of who goes where next, generously breaks in, whispering to me "You couldn't see them, but they could have seen you, sticking your head up like that. If you want to get out of the mudflats alive, you have to keep your head down and quit trying to get a long view!" Hmm. It means well, but isn't that what reincarnation monitors always say? Forget the long view, forget your past and future lives, just do the right thing today... Be Here Now.
But I won't. I just can't stop looking for them, looking beyond this bend of the creek--this life--even if it puts me at risk.
People are so numerous now, and souls are so desperately needed to fill those extra human slots, that the entrance requirements have dropped abysmally low. Any animal spirit can become human--for the first time in history, a majority may have no prior experience at the job. Inept souls barely ready for the responsibility of big brains and busy hands...
Conversely, animals like elephants and cetaceans were once common. Intelligent, but with toolless societies, they made a fine practice-pool for souls readying to try human responsibility--the godlike power of hands! But now, to be a rare, big-brained animal is such a choice privilege, it's only granted advanced souls. Sort of a luxury vacation...
I wonder--has this policy backfired? Is it one reason so many creatures are not doing well? Maybe it's not all poaching and habitat problems. What if these "advanced" souls, with a long history of refinement, aren't so well suited to be animals any more? Refined souls with habits like living in their heads not their bodies, like... squeamishness? Like not wanting to kill and eat their neighbors raw?
And then I realize I'm doing it now. Hunted, squirming through a swamp, muck-covered, and yet... I STILL can't turn off my brain--my speculation program.
For murder. For matter. For mud.
A NOTE TWENTY YEARS LATER
If reincarnation's possible, this makes dangerously good sense. Wild animals WOULD be prime real estate for souls now--much rarer than humans. Scarcity creates value, right?
And humans are common--hence dirt cheap. Remember the last human lunkhead you met. Now really, wouldn't they make a perfectly good dog? What if they did, and got promoted, but there's such a shortage of intermediate species to practice in, now, that they had to leap all the way from dog to... your neighbor?
Or your boss. Bad dog! Well, may not intentionally--remember the Wizard of Oz? "Oh, no, my dear, I'm a good man. I'm just a very bad wizard."
It's the Peter Principle--"Souls rise to their level of incompetence." But now, with animals dying and humans booming, simple souls are getting promoted way beyond incompetence--to lost. So we'd better protect rare, big-brained species like elephants, apes, wolves, whales, ravens, parrots... we need them more than any of us suspected.
Or your pets will be voting for George Bush the THIRD.
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