A NIGHT ON MOUNT DIABLO
With apologies to Moussorgsky, Disney, and Satan
Dreamed 1984/6/8 by Chris Wayan
I'm riding the roller coaster at the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz. The ride feels normal, but as our train brakes to a halt, safety officials shoo us out and shut the ride down! I demand to know if it was dangerous, and one explains "No, it's sound enough, but the structure is acting like a big antenna. We're picking up vibes of fear and stress from a powerful source atop Mt Diablo."
Fifty miles away, Diablo was holy to the local tribes, so naturally the Spanish friars called it Devil Mountain! Their usual libel. But now something bad really is up there, and I'm afraid I know what: my own psychic antenna is on the summit!
If you're going to broadcast your feelings, you might as well put your antenna up high, I figured.
But lately I've been broadcasting frustration. I've had a terrible crush on a girl named Kara. Probably unrequited, and even illegal--she's still under 18, and I'm over. Been feeling so hopeless and frustrated that I've tried to stop loving her, looked for flaws I couldn't find... And it's spilling over to other attractive women now--I'm snappish and critical with anyone and anything reminding me of sex!
Broadcasting my troubles, till everyone around me is riding an emotional roller coaster. I have to stop this!
So I climb Mount Devil. At the peak, a parking lot, a small garden, brushy cliffs all around, and a pylon or squat obelisk of pale yellowy stone--someone else's antenna. It isn't grounded right, and it's misaligned; I twist it 45 degrees. That helps! It blooms into a small D-shaped tree. It can still turn, and I twist the tree till its D-bulge blocks a steep, shortcut path up the mountain that's been eroding the slope dangerously--it clearly needs to be closed. I'm not banning anyone from the heights--there's a switchback trail with proper drainage.
As the sun sinks, I go round the peak, fixing erosion-damage. Till the sun sets--and the monsters come out.
First is a Firebird, like a huge red-orange peacock, vainly spreading its spectacular tail, shrieking angrily NOTICE ME! NOTICE ME! But he's too angry to lure anyone near. I note the lesson, and shoo the bird off. But one hand brushes a fiery feather, and I scorch the back of one finger. Owwwww!
A California Chimera is next. It's like a huge raccoon, but its paws are rat-heads! It snarls at me rabidly with its five jaws and ten eyes. No, twelve: its tail is a rattler, too! Except the tail's own tail, being rooted in a psychotic raccoon, has no rattles to buzz and warn... The snake rears its head and slashes at me. I can't just shoo off this demon!
Reluctantly, I call up the power inside me. A lightning-bolt should drive it off. That'll draw worse monsters than this mixed-up mess of poisonous feelings, but it can't be helped. Touch this furball anywhere and you get bit. Plus raccoons and rats could be carrying rabies--or bubonic plague. Just not safe to fight. So I draw down a lightning bolt--easy enough, up on this peak, it's a natural lightning-rod. A searing flash and crash! I blink, night-blind from my own summoning... but it worked. The raccoon scrambles off, the rat-heads screaming a panic-chorus...
But just as I feared, my thunder just lures a bigger beast--a hulking bear-man, with opposable thumbs but bear-claws as long as my finger--a fistful of knives. He could gut me in one swipe.
I look around for a weapon, but see only the shovel I've been fixing the paths with. I raise the blunt blade and whack the bear savagely on the head.
It blinks absently at me, then grins and points at the shovel... and mimes another whack! He liked it? His fur and muscle must be so thick, he's starved for sensation--any sensation. Wait... I've heard of this species--a Semi-Masochist Bear! Shit, they're rare!
The bear-man stoops to all fours, sniffs around, then lifts a head-sized rock in its forepaws, and I chill with terror. He's about to smash my skull as a thank-you!
Oh. Nope. He happily slams his face with the rock, over and over. Bear-blood smears on the stone.
A quick learner, the Bear! Well, uh, glad to be of service.
I just hope the commotion won't attract any more demons. Fat chance. Only European fairytales have things coming in threes. Despite the Spanish propaganda, this is a Native Californian holy peak. Things will come in fours, not three. I'm stuck, that's all.
So I heft my shovel, and watch for the inevitable: demon number four.
A luminous ghost-girl, skeletally thin, glides up. A hungry succubus! Her mouth is huge and rubbery. She smacks her wide lips, eager to devour me. I slash at her face with the shovel, and she grabs it in her elastic, ectoplasmic mouth and starts gnawing the blade with pleasure! She horrifies me more than the others--a lonely, hungry face on a body mocking a model's slenderness. I shiver and pull out a knife and stab her in the neck. It's like cutting mud--the slash closes behind the blade. She's invulnerable! Yet she's material enough to chew steel...
I try twisting the shovel-blade to free it, and kick her hard in the crotch (naked and oddly sexless). Her body twists like a washcloth and she starts moaning and trembling with creepy pleasure. She's TURNED ON by my kicking her crotch! She's so repulsive, no one must touch her there, I guess. So I put my foot back on her crotch, and she moans more... Yes, she likes that. Hmmm...
I say "Look--I need this shovel as a weapon, but you can eat the blade if you'll leave me the handle. And I'll kick you some more, if you'll help me fix up the mountain."
She purrs "I'd do anything for kicks. Deal!"
Now that she's swallowed all that nice, solid steel, she doesn't look quite as skeletal. Almost pretty now. Maybe I can fatten her up. With enough shovels.
She adds slowly, "And... thanks." The succubus pats my hand shyly... and doesn't bite!
It seems I've made a friend...
NOTES, LOOKING BACK
Ironically, I later learned that Kara was attracted to me, too. But I was blind to it then--a violently abusive relationship several years earlier had left me convinced I was ugly, selfish, worthless, so I didn't speak up, and lost the chance I didn't know I had.
"With enough shovels" = a briefly notorious phrase from the Cold War, uttered by an American general who insisted we could survive and win a nuclear war, with enough shovels. Just bury the dead and move upwind of the fallout. Wherever THAT is--Fantasy Land, I guess...
Speaking of which, I'd recently seen Disney's FANTASIA, and my dream's a pagan parody of its climactic scene, NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN. Only I'm the devil myself, broadcasting trouble, summoning demons... just as the Spanish brought their devil with them to the holy place!
But with each monster there's more and better contact, till I start to befriend my own hungers instead of defeating them. Befriending your monsters is a longer path full of switchbacks (mood swings?), compared to the heroic shortcut of slaying them. But that steep, drastic path of heroism can erode you, can erode your peak experiences. Better the long jagged road of gradual healing, even with its switchbacks.
I think. As I wait for the next monster on the trail.
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