Dreamed 1999/1/2 by Chris Wayan
I've been on a time-travel tour. I don't go physically--just temporarily inhabit bodies in various eras. Not possess exactly, that wouldn't be fair, but ride along with ordinary people, and pay for the ride with information. In each era, my host acquires a reputation as a prophet--understandable, since I recall their future in a general way from my history. Plus my spirit has fuzzy boundaries, so I can dart out and find facts in ways that seem clairvoyant to them.
On this trip, I'm sitting in a VW bus that's been converted to a camper. Foam rubber pads on a plywood base. Several of us in here. Feels like a Hong Kong gangster movie. Or maybe Japanese yakuza.
A guy comes up and questions us, politely enough. But he doesn't trust me--recognizes I'm that strange man with psychic powers. Seems to fear I'll know his crimes and turn him in (like it's my job to play cop). It's true I disapprove of him, but I feel that way about most people whose thoughts spill over into me--none of my business changing them, and unless someone asks for help I don't feel I have the right. But here, I worry for the others in the car, and for my host body, since this nervous guy is packing a compact semi-automatic gun under his newspaper. He seems calm and just fishing for information from me... but his thoughts are paranoid and growing more tense. I try to answer reassuringly but it's useless--he's determined to kill, no matter what, I can feel it. It's not about logic; killing's the only thing that'll give him back his sense of power, of control.
He fires from beneath the paper and sprays the inside of the car. We're trapped, helpless. Feel a bullet in my heart and suddenly I'm back in my own body feeling my heart flutter sympathetically. Try to calm it, say over and over "I don't have to die in sympathy, that does no good." But I feel guilty--I may have contributed to that murder. He came armed, and those people were gangsters too--maybe he would have shot them even if I hadn't been there. But what if I tipped him over the edge?
NOTES IN THE MORNING
Like America. Like half the world, especially past eras.
If I trigger others' violent hysteria, am I responsible?
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