HOT TO TROT, or
BRAIN TRAUMA, or
HUMPIN' THE HOG, or...
SAD-EYED SWAN OF LOVE
Dreamed 1993/8/4 by Chris Wayan
I'm on horseback, riding through hills, out of Silicon Valley toward San Francisco. I need to find a direct route, like the Bayshore Freeway. Run into another rider, a farmer whose spread is 30 or 40 miles northeast of here, near Diablo. He guides me over a curving dirt track up a small hill. Slow going, and I start doubting him: think "Oh God, forty miles of bad road--I wanted the City and I'm headed for the FARM."
But he says "Guess we ain't got time fer me to show you m' farm..." And he leads me down to the freeway and along a frontage road. Our horses shrink to bicycles. We run into construction. My bike suddenly leaps over a ditch to the right... still a horse under the paint job, I guess. The path curves east, toward the guy's farm. Just can't seem to escape it...
Oh, yes I can! Find a branch back to the freeway. This path heads straight for the towers of the City! Hope rises in me. Fun ahead--bright city lights! Rolling along at a pretty good clip now. Our bikes quiver and turn back to horses and start trotting happily along.
We still can't go on the freeway: the sign says you must have 15 horsepower and we only have two. "Elitists" I think. But the frontage road is okay. I don't know much about riding and I worry about the fast pace--is it OK for horses? They seem to be having fun, but is this easy or exhausting, a sprint or an all-day pace? No idea.
An overpass looms. Out of its shadow glides a hooded figure, gigantic, at least six feet taller than me and I'm on horseback. Death! No, the face is human, and small: an actor on stilts or a friend's shoulders...
Still, I fear my horse will bolt. It's a creepy sight.
No problem--I can smell a human fake. I warily waltz round Death, and on. I? Yes. Now I AM the horse. We're horses. So I can feel for myself what gait is right. OR CAN I? I'm new at this!
I try different paces and gaits, but they're my human habits, or reasoned-out variations. I have no idea what a horse's natural gaits are EVEN WHEN I AM ONE. It takes time. Trial and error... to eliminate the ones that hurt the next day. There's just no fast way to learn to be what I am.
And I'm so eager to reach the City! You see, I'm a mare, and I'm going into heat, and I want... a real selection, like you can only get in a big city. I'm going to cruise the bars and clubs, flirting and dancing my ass off, till I have my pick of studs.
I'm hot to trot!
Oops! Now I'm human again, and the farmer's gone. I'm riding with the officers of the starship Enterprise. Among them is my friend Stanley, who's still slowly recovering from a serious head trauma.
BANG! Stanley rides into a light pole! Hits his head hard. Falls... a bit stunned. I examine him, find to my surprise not even a bump or sign of serious bruising or bleeding. It was soft, edgeless aluminum sheeting that left just a small scrape. Or so it seems--but he's understandably terrified of concussion, further brain damage.
I ask if we have anyone has an antiseptic cream, maybe zinc. "Only these pills" says Geordi the engineer. They're low-potency zinc supplements.
"Can't you synthesize some higher potency zinc supplements? We need them to fight infection."
"Afraid not. One other ship converted a lab to do it and they've been selling the pills they make to other ships..."
"No selenium either?"
"Sorry." It smells fishy to me. Star Trek has transporters but no vitamins? Come on!
The victim lies in my arms and nibbles the end off the green algae-derived low-potency pill. Hands it back to me, with only the end 1/4 bitten off, when even the whole pill would be a small dose.
Wait--that's not Stanley. It's... who is she? A Starfleet officer, a cute, tallish brunette who used to be brash, witty, even sarcastic. But after the blow, her personality's changed. More likable on the surface, more willing to please, but it seems like she's trying to get us to like her and believe she's normal, while she hides some loss--of drives, feelings, or memories?
She used to be fascinated by new technology. Now she only cares about interpersonal stuff.
She was always up on our latest mission, one of the most ambitious young officers on board. Now she just wants to be liked.
She takes up sewing--she's NEVER liked sewing! Absurd.
For years she and Geordi have had a sparring game: he comes on to her one more time, and she teases him: "Why you such a glutton for punishment? You know I only like girls!" Now she says "I know I've been sexually very uptight, but let's all get together at the farm next Saturday..." None of us ever found her inhibited. Confident, in fact, and clear she liked girls, not boys. Now she seems unsure!
All I and Dr Crusher can figure is that she's lost her memories and is trying to guess from people's cues what she's supposed to be like! And blowing it. Can't even interpret her own body's messages.
Wasn't I like that recently? I can't remember...
Our situation's not good: the rest of the crew disappeared, just four or five of us adrift here on the Enterprise. The warp drives are dead, but are we just drifting? Over a few days we're able to record subtle changes in star positions: though sub-light, we're traveling fast. Bev and I begin to suspect some kind of aliens have done all this intentionally. Where's the crew, and where are we headed?
We also begin to wonder if our friend has amnesia from brain trauma at all. Could it be she's not herself? Possessed by an alien? Perhaps she's now our observer. Our... keeper. She goes to such lengths to be normal... and has such weird ideas of normal!
On the day of the barn dance down on the holodeck, she shows up in a checkered dress and pigtails and ribbons, saying "I plan to prove I'm not hung up like I used to be."
"How?" I ask, somehow uneasy.
"We're all going to fuck the pigs!" she says happily, and pulls out a pink cartoon pig and lies down in the mud on her back and tries to get it to fuck her. It hasn't got a clue, she's not even behaving right for a pig. She doesn't seem to realize we're appalled, much less want to join her. I'm sure now she's an alien mind, clumsily mimicking human behavior from movies or cartoons, ready to do anything to be accepted. I think "she's lucky this holographic farmyard has pink little cartoon-style pigs, if that were a real 400-kilo BOAR she'd get trampled or bitten..." She actually fucks her pig, awkwardly, and says "Now that I've shown how much I've loosened up, will you fuck me?" to Geordi... who she's teased affectionately all these years.
We all stare at each other, paralyzed.
At last, a sad-eyed swan, a world-weary and melancholy swan, smoking a French cigarette, waddles up to her. Dropping his smoke, he twines his neck around her, lays his head on her left breast, and curls a wing over her back. She quiets down and nestles into his feathery protection. She looks sad, confused--and hauntingly fragile. Feeling something. Not trying to fit in. The first time since her head trauma!
The Swan croons a poem to her, a rhymed quatrain in an Allen Ginsberg style. So gentle, so witty, so apt...
As I wake, find I'm telling someone this whole story. Grope to remember the exact words the Swan sang at the end... No use. The Swan Song's gone.
I'm left, as I wake, with just the emotional scent of his kind, smoky sadness...
And her first little reconnection with her real self.
"Cast a cold eye|
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!"
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