Dreamed 1989/9/19 by Chris Wayan
My friends bought me a new drug to solve my shyness problem. It's an animal tranquilizer! Designed to calm terrified apes, it turned out to stimulate clear, calm thinking in humans, too. The box has pictures of gorillas and baboons, and says "people are the same size as baboons, and get the same dosage." The stuff is a liquid suspension of a hormone from pituitary dwarfs. It's not recommended for growing kids but supposedly safe for adults. Supposedly. It scares me! My body bristles just holding the damn box...
When I research the medical literature on shyness and dwarfism, I keep finding mentions of a syndrome called "beast births" that afflicts less than one person in 1000. The victims look animalistic--tough, shaggy, tailed, leonine, but with a rather hawklike head and wings. Functional wings. In fact, adult Beast Births are the biggest flying creatures since the pterodactyls! The fact they can fly at all, with their human weight, shows just how strong they are. This is no mere illness, but a functional mutation--dangerously functional.
Doctors never use the word, but it seems clear from the description that these "beast births" are gryphons. They weren't a myth, nor another species--just a rare human mutation!
But even now, in our supposedly enlightened time when they're known to be genetically and mentally human, many Beast Births still get hushed up--and locked away. Which was better, to be abandoned as a monster, as in ancient times, or to be locked up for life as a family shame?
And that's not a theoretical question. There's a rumor that we had a beast birth in our family. I may have a single copy of the gene--be a carrier.
At last, I go ask my parents to lay the rumors to rest--or confirm them.
I find them living in an abandoned building, as usual. My mom seems changed--more openly depressed and fearful. My dad watches football on TV, silent and sullen. Mad at her? Mad at me? Mad at his genes?
"B-Beast Births?" My mom turns pale at the question. Silently makes tea. Finally, she sits and closes her eyes and says: "It was me. I had a Beast Birth. Before you. He... he grew and grew, and haunted the neighborhood, and... and years later, he broke in and raped me, and I got pregnant with my beast-son's child, and his genes were bad--I gave birth to another Beast." I've never heard of two--even in families with the gene, beast births are so rare. "Now they're out there, and by now, THEIR cubs will be big enough to get at me..." What? No wonder she's so shy and scared! Thinks griffins are stalking her, trying to rape her... Is it true, or some delusion? Which should I believe--her horror story, or that she's crazy?
My father comes in during the commercials, and sees her crying. He ambles over, unzips his fly, and climbs on her, and fucks her in front of me, as she goes on crying. He climbs off, nods at me, and goes back to his TV. He did his job, comforted his crying wife... Right.
I wonder if his angry withdrawal has to do with the Beast Births somehow. Does he blame her?
She talks on, not crying now, just deeply afraid. She pulls me into her fear--though the monsters haunting her are my own brother and sister. My own heritage.
My dad returns and snaps "You STILL upset?" He fucks her again, harder, shorter. This time he looks at me as he humps and comes, as if to tell me something, and I realize he's not just a lout who thinks he's comforting her: he LOATHES her fear and guilt and tears--he's saying sex is all she's good for.
He climbs off my mom and says pointedly "I'm going to watch TELEVISION." But TV's just a code by now: he walks right past the TV and clumps angrily out, leaving us alone in the abandoned building.
My mom fainted. I try to revive her, feel panicky, sense someone stalking us. The Beasts, or their cubs? Or is it my mom's madness, waking in me? She herself won't wake, and for a moment I fear she's dead. Then she says groggily "we have to get OUT of here!"
Stumbling with her through the girders and bricks and trash, I keep waiting for the attack... but nothing happens.
Does it ever? Do I carry a gene for Beast Births, or for madness?
Later, I meet my sister Miriel and talk about it. Could our genetic predisposition come out in adulthood? I've never heard of this, but despite my fears, I seem obsessed with the idea. Why? As we walk on the terraces of the Peninsula Dept of Motor Vehicles, past the little waterfalls, I finally get it. "Miriel... I ENVY the Beast Births! I want to fly." Sure, they're isolated by their strangeness, but so am I already--without getting to fly.
Maybe a single copy of the gene could be expressed--with encouragement. I start flapping my arms and run. Leap off stair, turn into the wind... nothing. Feel like an idiot. Hop, flap, hop... and then, as I reach the street, I catch the wind suddenly, and rise! Feel confused, but imitate the big slow flaps of owls; Beast Births are often mistaken for them at a distance. It works--I keep climbing! And Miriel follows me into the air. I keep to a sober pace, but I picture Peter Pan and Wendy and her siblings ghosting around me, and I hear the youngest singing "We can fly, we can fly, we can FLY!" laughing for joy.
I'm older and weigh much more, near the weight limit for flight on Earth; so I must focus to stay airborne. But it gets slowly easier. Now I have a coat on, hands in the pockets, turning my arms into stubby delta wings. Better grip on the air. If I keep it up will I grow griffin-wings?
Suddenly I recall a recent dream that felt precognitive, about a plane crash or forced landing. No one died but it was serious, made the news in the dream. Feels so urgent I swoop down and land by a news-stand and check the headlines. Yes! Flight 538 had trouble... but... it wasn't the SAME trouble as in my dream, and my dad's spyplane wasn't involved. When did I have that dream anyway? Have to check my journal. I wonder--is ESP another Beast trait waking up, like flying?
And suddenly notice I'm taking my wings for granted now. I won't go back to mere humanity. "The gryphon wakes" I think, and picture a small gene yawning, stretching in bed, and unfolding its valence wings... and wake.
The dream was predictive, all right. A family mutation that's part good, part bad, but all weird? Literally true! It's Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Lots of physical oddities, like contortionist joints and rubbery skin, but also, like a high percentage of EDS mutants, Aspergers--thinly insulated neurons give me acute senses easy to overload, freaky high IQ, and powerful intuition/second sight. My siblings have similar freaky symptoms--and abilities. But the cluster of symptoms was so rare (one in many thousands) and bizarre, it took 50 years to diagnose.
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