Dreamed 1985/1/31 by Chris Wayan
I work at the Stanford library. Well, not quite work, today. We're having a potluck--Helen's retiring today. She's well-liked so there's a huge spread... of smelly, sickening things. Did I mention I have severe allergies? I look and look, but a genius has carefully selected all the foods I'm allergic to. I struggle to fend off cooks eager to show off their creations. "Come on, I made this. Have one. A bite won't hurt you." It always does--later, when they don't see, when I'm at home sick for two days.
I run into Arlene, who's trying everything. "I appoint you my Official Taster."
"As Your Majesty commands," she grins. A few mixed items look edible, but my Taster digs in and reports raw garlic, commercial mayonnaise, cayenne, hideous stinky cheese dressings...
A perfect record--I can't eat or drink ANY of it. I feel like the universe has laid down a challenge. Learn this. Learn this now. Once and for all.
And you know what? I fast. Talk, walk around, and as they each push their personal pot-luck poison at me, I say no, no, no, no, no.
And that evening, for the first time in weeks, I feel okay...
I still work in a university library, but it's on an alien planet Earth has colonized. The card catalog is outdoors; it covers a whole soccer field! Being expanded too. A patron asks where the end of the alphabet is, and I point to the end zone--it's being relocated.
After filing a lot of cards, I clean up all the shoes scattered around the catalog, then stretch and run around the field for a break.
As I pass a high grassy bank, out of a hole pops my friend Ar-Liin. She's a native--in fact, she's my Native Guide. She's furry, four-footed, quick and nervous as an otter, raccoon-sized, and... wait, did I mention I'm a native too? So no "pop goes the weasel jokes," OK? Sure, steal our land (though the University jobs are appreciated), but no ethnic slurs--not if you want to keep those stupid bald toes of yours. You won't miss one. A bite won't hurt you.
Ar-Liin hisses "Wai-An! Danger! You're being hunted! Come on!" Well, she's my guide, so I trust her. We scurry over the hill, low in the grass.
I'll skip all the details of the hunt, I know hide-and-seek means more to us than you. But at last our stalkers hear us, and toss our local equivalent of a grenade: cat shit! Not an Earth cat, but close enough. Their shit has a curious property: it's unstable as well as rank. It can explode, scent-marking you for days, so the Hound People can track you...
But the turd is a dud. It won't explode. Ar-Liin says "Toss it back like you don't even know what it's for." That works--it fools them! They follow the scent and miss our track... Ha!
For the first time, I elude the Hounds.
And wake, startled that I had a smell-dream. Many sleep-and-dream researchers, especially the lab kind, think REM stimulates only audio, visual, emotion and motor sites in the brain. So smell and taste should be rare or nonexistent. Well, I not only smelled, I knew the smell of that shit grenade. That was the whole point. I smelled it at the party.
The putrid scent of academic cheese, as you humans lobbed it at me, and I lobbed it right back.
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