Dreamed 11/22/1996 by Chris Wayan
I'm a student in a school for wizards. It's a tall Victorian house at the end of a road. Behind it, a wooded slope drops away. Beyond the grounds, English farms stretch to the horizon.
One morning, I sleep late, and when I get up, my clothes are gone! I lie on my side, needing desperately to pee, but not wanting to wander the school naked. Grab a large metal basin and piss into it. Feel ashamed. I collect my wits, wrap a blanket around me and go clothes-hunting. Then I come back and empty and clean the basin. But my piss has stained and rusted it!
And it won't come off. Have to ask my mentor for a spell that cleans and sterilizes it. God, how humiliating! I say the spell, but still have to scrub a bit around a hexagonal nut or drain. Still, it mostly comes off like, uh, magic.
I'm still mortified, but my teacher laughs. "A perfectly normal phase in a mage's education!"
I go out and wander the house grounds, hunting for a classmate who's an old enemy--did he steal my clothes? I climb a big dome, like the frame of a geodesic greenhouse, made of thin rickety dowels--a dome perhaps five meters wide atop a low wall or tower, the space filled with climbing tropical plants--but no plastic or glass protecting them. Just a frame! The sticks are too thin to climb on safely, but I try. I'm lighter than most, I rationalize--or is it that I think I can change my weight, weaken gravity's pull? I swarm up the side and it seems to be true: I near the top before it starts sagging. I pause on the high shoulder, nearly twenty feet up. I can see a lot from here, though not quite all the grounds. On my way down, the shock starts to bend the dowels, and I dance from one to the next, no longer climbing, in a controlled fall. Yet nothing snaps--no bones, no wood! A flow state, fun, and I do feel lighter than normal. But after I touch down, several dowels on the shaking structure above me snap or come loose, and fall at my feet me. Pick one up and use it as a cane. Guiltless, self-righteous--this search is more important then greenhouses. Leave the dowel leaning on the gate and enter the next yard... searching on.
This yard has a huge pile of logs--only they can't be, for they're as light as foam rubber. I climb the pile while a friend of mine peers into the cracks. I dance and kick the logs around till a path opens up into the heart of the mound. My friend can squeeze in and search from below while I peer down from the top, till we're sure our enemy's not here.
I decide I need to look from a higher vantage--I jump straight up from the top of the pile. Come down slow--hey, I AM at least weakening gravity! Jump over and over, try to hover--flapping my arms like wings. Slowly it comes back, the way I used to fly--a sweeping motion not flapping. Fall a little slower, hover a little longer. Feel ridiculous, but keep trying...
Until I really do hover--even start to rise. Persistence pays off! I'm flying!
Soar and sweep around the old school building, over the annex. Higher... oh wonderful feeling. Why did I ever let this power go? With a bit more practice, I'm back to being what I was as a kid: an effortless flyer.
Now, our school was founded in this county for a reason: because doors here open easily to other worlds. Reality-walls are thin.
That can be a problem! For generations, swarms of weird winged gargoyles have occasionally swept through, plaguing the county. No truce or treaty's ever been possible, for not even our professors can communicate with them. They have a spoken language, but their thoughts and emotions seem incomprehensible.
But since I can fly now, the school asks me to track some of them down and try.
I start following a small band around. They seem not hostile, just puzzled. What the hell am I? I perch in trees near them and offer fruits and "Apple. Peach." I thump myself and say "Wayan." They start giving me back names and simple nouns...
I find I CAN learn their language--harder than Chinese was, but learnable. I think it's because I fly. I share just enough perspective with these creatures who fly almost from the egg. I can half-grasp their wildly different sense of space and time.
I negotiate a crude treaty--each race will leave the other alone at least. Over time, I teach my most curious classmates the rudiments of Gargoyle. I'm actually becoming friends with a few of these strange winged beings, and they learn a little human speech.
Right at the dream's end, I'm unsure--just a trace of doubt, but... Was I a gargoyle, transformed and raised as human by the wizards, precisely to be a go-between? Or am I just being a shaman again? It's always been my nature to try on others' viewpoints--and shapes. In the end I decide it doesn't matter if I was born or hatched, gargoyle or human.
NOW, I'm between--and I like being between.
A NOTE YEARS LATER
No, this isn't a Rowling ripoff. When I dreamed this, I hadn't yet visited Harry Potter's school. Just the Isle of Roke on Earthsea, and Harper Hall on Pern, and Chrestomanci's house, and all the others built long before Hogwarts opened its doors.
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