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Time-Cat

Dreamed 2013/11/23 by Chris Wayan

THAT DAY

I'm reading Rags And Bones, an anthology of tweaked versions of classic tales. Uncaged by Gene Wolfe bothers me. It's a horror tale, inspired by "The Caged White Werewolf of the Saraban" (classic? Never heard of it.) In Uncaged, African farmers believe a woman's a were-leopard. Her character as portrayed makes no sense; in human form she acts appalled by the nocturnal murders. Is she lying, insane, or amnesic after her cat-fits? None of these convince me. Purely aside from the ethics of killing other sentient beings for mere FOOD... why would a smart cat go after humans? Of all the prey to avoid!

Wolfe's tale really leaves her a cipher; he focuses on our white-man narrator's guilt for protecting her despite her apparent crimes. He's helpless, poor man! The sex must be downright killer. Woman=siren=animal=sex=death. Men project their fears on all us weirdos with fur, third eyes, tits... Thanks for explaining, Gene, but I already know; I grew up bashed.

The only character who intrigued me was the werecat. I wanted to compare notes--since I too am a soul who barely manages to pass for human.

THAT NIGHT

I'm a cat person in a high-tech world dominated by humanoids--not humans, but they can almost pass. I think they're the people humans called the Fair Folk or Elves, mistaking fey technology for magic. Recent human progress has shrunk that gap, but one sharp difference remains: the Fair Folk can time-travel! Though you do need a permit, and they're rarely granted. The Time Bureau fears someone will saw off our own branch...

Our status as cat people is ambiguous; neither citizens nor quite pets. We're content with it, since we're welcome and yet exempt from fey laws. Most importantly: they time-travel by machine, but once we cats went along on a trip or two, we learned how to do it. Not with time machines--we just step through time! And the humanoid travelers haven't tried to criminalize that. They couldn't stop us anyway, after all. So we roam free, changing history, where they dare not.

And why not? No problems ever arise from our journeys. Slight changes, yes, but no disasters. We instinctively bury our tracks, follow the timestream's flow. I'm a cat person combing snarls out a whitish, woolly mass of time-lines, atop a bookshelf full of James Branch Cabell fantasy novels. Dream sketch by Wayan.

Naturally, as a cat person, I groom a lot. But not always my own coat--right now, I'm grooming the fur of my world as a whole. To my eyes and paws, we all seem a messy white frizz to be combed smooth. Each fine thread is an individual lifeline--the crooks in the thread being our bends in time, whether natural or machine-assisted. At this scale, feline and humanoid paths look the same. I smooth down the snarls and try to get everyone going where they want more directly...

Strangely, the whole frizz sits like a barrister's white wig atop a low bookshelf. It's all science fiction and fantasy paperbacks. As if our society grew out of fantasy! Specifically, out of a row of James Branch Cabell fantasies, like Figures of Earth.

As I comb Earth's timelines, I discuss Figures of Earth with my sister--comparing its literary description of world-gates with the our real knowledge that There Are Doors to other worlds and times. Though I also recall reading him as a kid and missing the point of many scenes; I didn't have enough life experience to recognize what he was writing about. Not sure I do now.

At least, not enough human life experience.

NOTES IN THE MORNING

THAT DAY

I drive down to my cousin Barbara's birthday party. I walk in to find... she's a cat-person! Someone bought her electronic cat-ears that read your electrical fields and move as if they're alive.

My cousin walks over and sticks her cat-ears on my head. But on me they refuse to wiggle. It seems my head is empty.

Or at least... unreadable.

POSTSCRIPT

I'll watch for more of these self-flagging dreams, and start a page for them:

Have you had a self-flagging dream? Email me.

You hear me, O Reader's Unconscious? If you want to flag a dream so that stupid Day Brain will get it... mention what sort of dream it is in the dream! Why not? But be patient. It's amazing what that Conscious Mind manages to miss.
Head of a cat person. Detail of dream sketch by Wayan.


LISTS AND LINKS: I'm Just Not Myself Today! - species-bent dreams - animal people - cat people - elves and fairies - time travel, time-sheaves & Heisenbergian uncertainties, life-paths & a second dream of life-paths as frizzy noodles: Who Shatters? - alternate worlds & other worlds in general - ethics - willpower and wishes - predictive dreams - ESP in general - dreams about dreams - dreamwork in general - self-flagging dreams

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