Dreamed 1986/2/18 by Chris Wayan
Working in the library, I stumble across an essay on Lafcadio Hearn, that strange reteller of Japanese folktales and legends. Paul More says Hearn's stories have power precisely because they fuse ideas from three cultures: the Hindu sense of horror at being trapped in endless reincarnation... and the Japanese esthetic, seeing life and rebirth as evanescent... and a Western sense of evolution, too. Mixed, these form tales of the supernatural with deep universal resonance, for they play on not our psychological fears but our deepest biological memories. For example, if we WERE all reincarnated, then we were all animals once, indeed far longer than we were human; and we all got devoured alive, over and over.
As I bike home, a storm hits. The rains get so fierce I can't see. I start laughing and splashing--I'm soaked anyway.
A car parked near me sounds its alarm--beeping at the burglar rain. False alarm, car, false alarm.
I'm at work, up on a ridge riddled with library-caves. Academics crawl among the rocks. Slowly I find I have strange powers I can't control. A lot of our recent power failures were really me. I can sense such powers in others, too: it looks like veins or pockets of color in their auras. And they're opaque--most people are pretty transparent to me. For years, opaque people were just a rare oddity; only now have I connected this aura-type with paranormal ability.
I try to explain my discovery to a couple of friends. Human auras look like stratified eggs to me--hard-boiled eggs several days old, when the surface of the yolk has oxidized to gray, though the core is yellow. My friends can recognize the yellow, on the rare occasions it's revealed, but to me the light gray is just as distinctive, and it's much commoner--it's the best sign of a vein of power in a person. But the light gray is too close to the commonest surface color, a darker gray. Just not enough contrast...
Oh, well. I tried. Time and practice.
I go back to work. I'm given a power-switch the size of a paperback book. I flick it with my mind, involuntarily. Wow, telekinesis! That's a new one for me.
I try do it consciously, but find it quite hard to control. Time and practice...
A friend of mine says "I think I've found an explanation for the spread of these new abilities. Have you checked out the Hearn Zone?" Leads me through a stadium full of robed professors arguing on the bleachers. As I squeeze by, their debates are getting nasty. I'm one of the few who's talked openly about my new power, and I just hope they don't blame it all on ME.
At the back of the amphitheater, I follow my friend through a river of bearded professors in full regalia, walking down a long hall. We go against the academic flow. Through the windows forming one wall, we can see the sea. We skirt the summit and come out in my parents' yard.
It's all gone to ruin. My friend explains "This region is forbidden now. An alien monster roams this land. It has terrible power, and can swat us like bugs. No one can live here anymore. But I believe the Beast is the source of the power." And my friend backs away, into the tunnel, leaving me here alone, in the Hearn Zone.
Huge mounds of earth and fallen trees choke the old garden. It's devastated land, where once I dug and planted a vegetable garden for my parents. I find what's left of it: one box, overgrown.
I weed it till I can see ginger roots strongly anchored and spreading. Amazing. Nearly all the rest is dead; just one tiny bulb may be alive: a single tulip.
My family's home, dark gray and crumbling, like an egg of power. Dare I go inside?
The track of power leads in.
So I slide the garden door open and slip inside. Empty, sad. Yet I feel the Power...
I turn right, around the corner... and bam! I bump into a gigantic lion. Gray and gold fur... no, not a lion, no mane, not a lioness, her head's too big. The alien! A huge cat.
We both back up, startled, and without thinking I say "Oh, sorry!" to the monster that's devastated half the county.
And at the same moment she says: "Oh, sorry!"
And we go our separate ways!
I feel a rush of fear after my moment of instinctive courtesy, but then I accept my own senses. For me those stories were a false alarm. If she didn't swat me when I stepped on her tail, I have nothing to fear from Hearn's Beast.
And, possibly, something to learn. About gossip, if nothing else.
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