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They Don't Believe Me

Dreamed 10/4/1989 by Chris Wayan

Dedicated to all the abuse victims accused of 'false memory syndrome'

"Don't trust people on the Internet. A 40-year-old man can pose as a 15-year-old girl."
--Newsweek

This true story happened to me last year, and I drew half the pictures this year.

It also happened twelve years ago, and I drew half the pictures then. Two different timelines, two different sets of memories.

Confused? Think how I feel!

Me, Wayan, in the park with my dog X, before my kidnapping.
I got kidnapped. I don't know who they were. I saw their faces, but... they didn't have any. They were scaly purple squid things with cold gold eyes, and their bodies oozed into whatever shape was handy for the job they were doing. It was hypnotic. I've never heard of any shapeshifting aliens, and I keep up, they're my field, I like them.

Now I have to like them. Being one.

I was with my dog X in the park when the squid gang jumped me. I was walking through a grove, on the main path. They dripped out of the trees onto my hands, my shoulders, my face.

Magenta squids kidnap Wayan in the woods
They dragged me into the bushes, to a little clearing. There was a Gate there, obviously set up just to pop their prey through. They pushed me in. My dog jumped through after me. To my surprise, we fell out the other side onto soft dirt--still in the park! The Gate hadn't sent us anywhere! Or so I thought at first.
Squidlike aliens abduct me, pulling me through a spacetime gate
But everything looked wrong, felt wrong. Well, not bad, but huge and strange. It smelled strong. I was so disoriented it took me a minute to feel my own body, to understand why I was crawling around on my hands--so FAST.

The Gate had changed me into a large cat.

Wayan and her dog X, turned into cats.
I'll never know why for sure. Maybe they just wanted to study me. My guess is they did it so they could keep me in town, produce me fast if a ransom note paid off. Less need to guard me--could I really escape? I wouldn't be recognized. I couldn't talk or write.

But I could claw.

I ran--trapped in the body of a cat. Me and X, who was also a cat.

I was a cat with a pet cat.

WAYAN as a feral cat on the Stanford campus
For a while, we lived among the feral cats on the Stanford campus. It was near the park, and much larger, with semi-wild grounds around the main buildings.

Wayan the cat has to eat bugs and worms.

Besides my dog, I had one friend, a gray kitten who's a genius, smart as a human. Gray taught me cat talk. He always asked me about human ways, because he wanted to go to college someday, if the laws liberalized.

Wayan the cat begs for help from physics students

I had trouble speaking Cat, till the oldest cat on campus helped. Just added a few words, yet communication suddenly was so easy! Not many human mentors can do that. Yet this cat but doesn't think it's anything special. You wouldn't think cats were afflicted with modesty, but he was...

Wayan the cat gets shy with Gray--sex? Wayan's forgetting she was human!

X was the one who saved me. I'd pretty well given up. I was losing myself, content to snuggle with Gray... But X, bless his dear irrational heart, kept sniffing around campus at random...

X the dog in cat form barks at Wayan and Gray...
The alien gate


PART 2: BACK


X had found a portable Gate, hidden in the woods. The one that changed us? Or another, leading to some unknown world?

All we could be sure of was that it was nothing human. The lettering on it was unrecognizable. I know it wasn't just my being a cat--I could still spell out the inscriptions on the college buildings. Not well--a cat's eyes are built to detect motion, not shapes--but I remembered my ABC. This thing was alien. An old maroon door, shiny, spiky, strange.

And humming. The ancient thing was up and running!

I was reluctant to go through. I was happy, as a cat. And I didn't want to abandon my gray friend. But I also felt I ought to go, to expose the kidnappers.

X decided for me. He leapt through, and boom! he got much bigger. He was a dog again! X the dog in his new form

Well... sort of.


X had become a giant Chihuahua-like dog thingie, wearing a spacesuit with an air-helmet like a fishbowl.

The aliens' equivalent of a dog?

Well... it's a step.

I couldn't leave X alone.

I took a breath... and leapt through. With my sharp cat senses, I could feel the shift this time.

And I walked out upright!


Upright... but not human.

I had become an alien. I was about five feet tall, had a lizardy head with insect eyes, silvery-red chitin skin, like their Gate... and pincer-claws for hands.

I wondered if I'd been turned into one of the race who originally built this gate.

One relief--at least I could talk human talk, in this strange body. My voice was a narrow-band squawk, like a cheap radio, and it came from up around my ears (not that I have ears any more, as far as I can feel)... but at least I could speak understandably again.

Still, even with language back, it wasn't easy crossing campus. I was naked, and I was a scary-looking alien creature no one had ever seen before. I mean, I even scared me. Once, when I saw myself reflected in a window, I jumped and squawked and buzzed, my foreclaws up...

I felt even more vulnerable in some ways than when I was a cat. I hid behind hedges, and in dark hallways, and stayed out of people's sight.

At last, I stole someone's damp blue dress, drying on the stone windowsill of an empty dorm room.

Then I decided on the brazen approach. I stepped out into the light, acted like I belonged, as if I were an alien exchange student of a new species, fresh from the Gate--the first of my people to get a scholarship to Earth...

No one scary, just some farm-world freshman with her space dog, lost on campus.

I headed across campus toward the Student Counseling Office...

Me as a bug, stealing a blue dress
I told them who I was, and how I'd been kidnapped... and changed.

Gradually, the school counselor verified my memories, and accepted I'm Wayan, not an alien, but she believes my ordeal has confused me: I couldn't have been a cat!

She says "I don't think your kidnappers brainwashed you; this sounds more like what we call "spontaneous confabulation"--your brain's attempt to fill the memory gap, where you blanked out the trauma of the kidnapping." She even has a persuasive, convincing explanation for the whole cat fantasy--it symbolizes sensuality and sex versus giftedness: mind versus body. And my friend Gray was part of me--my longing to express myself creatively. The kitten who wants to go to college!

psychoanalyzing Wayan the alien bug
The only problem is, I really was a cat. I sit there, a giant bug in a dress (I suppose that's a spontaneous confabulation to cover the trauma of my midterm on Kafka, huh?), and listen to her explain how my being a cat had to be a fantasy!

While X curls up on the floor beside me--my pet space-Chihuahua, who used to be a cat who used to be a dog. Wayan as a pregnant bug If I'd stayed a cat much longer, I'd have gone into heat, and gotten pregnant with my own dog's kittens, for all I know. Now I'd be a pregnant bug! If I'm even female. I can't make any sense out of this body I'm in. No one can tell me who those aliens were who built that gate. And they don't believe in shapeshifters at all. My kidnappers had to be human, or bug people. They transplanted my brain, or my personality, or... or something. I couldn't have been a cat. I remember it wrong.

And as long as this shrink is convinced I wasn't what I was, how the hell can she help me?


PART 3: WAKE UP!


Suddenly I woke, and found myself human again. Whew! It was all a dream...

Then I noticed... I still wasn't me. It wasn't my room. I was lying on foam rubber, in the past--the late 20th century. October 4th, 1989 to be exact. A notebook, not a smart one, but made of wood-pulp paper, lay by my sleeping-pad. I wrote my dream down, by hand... though it seemed futile, since I still wasn't me, and the dream wasn't over, and when it ended, all my notes would evaporate, and I'd have to write it all out again.

But this dream persisted. I walked around convinced I really was--and am--under all the other transformations in my life--a 15-year-old girl, trapped in a dream of the barbaric past. That feeling lasted all day. And the next. I kept marveling at its persistence, as I lived my waking life--in a different body, older, taller, not Southeast Asian, no blonde perm--and lived other night-dreams in many bodies: human, animal, alien, big, little, old, young, female, male, both, neither.

But the feeling I'm not me never went away.

I still feel it--that that fifteen-year-old future Wayan is the real me. That all this is just part of my training--my dream.

My exile.



LISTS AND LINKS: school dreams - manners and rudeness - I'm Just Not Myself Today - cross-gender dreams - cross-age dreams - aliens - squid dreams - the pink squid explain, in The Tao of Dennis the Menace - shapeshifters - cats - quests - dreams of taste and smell - transformation - bug people - false waking and nested dreams - therapy in dreams - trust and mistrust - mistakes - buried memories and false memory syndrome - the truth about uncle Hugh - gender dysphoria - lifepaths - portraits - comix - pure digital art - picture-stories

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