They Don't Believe Me
Dreamed 10/4/1989 by Chris Wayan
Dedicated to all the abuse victims accused of 'false memory syndrome'
"Don't trust people on the Internet. A 40-year-old man can pose as a 15-year-old girl."
Now I have to like them. Being one.
I was with my dog X in the park when the squid gang jumped me. I was walking through a grove, on the main path. They dripped out of the trees onto my hands, my shoulders, my face.
The Gate had changed me into a large cat.
But I could claw.
I ran--trapped in the body of a cat. Me and X, who was also a cat.
I was a cat with a pet cat.
Besides my dog, I had one friend, a gray kitten who's a genius, smart as a human. Gray taught me cat talk. He always asked me about human ways, because he wanted to go to college someday, if the laws liberalized.
I had trouble speaking Cat, till the oldest cat on campus helped. Just added a few words, yet communication suddenly was so easy! Not many human mentors can do that. Yet this cat but doesn't think it's anything special. You wouldn't think cats were afflicted with modesty, but he was...
X was the one who saved me. I'd pretty well given up. I was losing myself, content to snuggle with Gray... But X, bless his dear irrational heart, kept sniffing around campus at random...
PART 2: BACK
X had found a portable Gate, hidden in the woods. The one that changed us? Or another, leading to some unknown world?
All we could be sure of was that it was nothing human. The lettering on it was unrecognizable. I know it wasn't just my being a cat--I could still spell out the inscriptions on the college buildings. Not well--a cat's eyes are built to detect motion, not shapes--but I remembered my ABC. This thing was alien. An old maroon door, shiny, spiky, strange.
And humming. The ancient thing was up and running!
I was reluctant to go through. I was happy, as a cat. And I didn't want to abandon my gray friend. But I also felt I ought to go, to expose the kidnappers.
X decided for me. He leapt through, and boom! he got much bigger. He was a dog again!
Well... sort of.
X had become a giant Chihuahua-like dog thingie, wearing a spacesuit with an air-helmet like a fishbowl.
The aliens' equivalent of a dog?
Well... it's a step.
I couldn't leave X alone.
I took a breath... and leapt through. With my sharp cat senses, I could feel the shift this time.
And I walked out upright!
Upright... but not human.
I had become an alien. I was about five feet tall, had a lizardy head with insect eyes, silvery-red chitin skin, like their Gate... and pincer-claws for hands.
I wondered if I'd been turned into one of the race who originally built this gate.
One relief--at least I could talk human talk, in this strange body. My voice was a narrow-band squawk, like a cheap radio, and it came from up around my ears (not that I have ears any more, as far as I can feel)... but at least I could speak understandably again.
Still, even with language back, it wasn't easy crossing campus. I was naked, and I was a scary-looking alien creature no one had ever seen before. I mean, I even scared me. Once, when I saw myself reflected in a window, I jumped and squawked and buzzed, my foreclaws up...
I felt even more vulnerable in some ways than when I was a cat. I hid behind hedges, and in dark hallways, and stayed out of people's sight.
At last, I stole someone's damp blue dress, drying on the stone windowsill of an empty dorm room.
Then I decided on the brazen approach. I stepped out into the light, acted like I belonged, as if I were an alien exchange student of a new species, fresh from the Gate--the first of my people to get a scholarship to Earth...
No one scary, just some farm-world freshman with her space dog, lost on campus.
I headed across campus toward the Student Counseling Office...
Gradually, the school counselor verified my memories, and accepted I'm Wayan, not an alien, but she believes my ordeal has confused me: I couldn't have been a cat!
She says "I don't think your kidnappers brainwashed you; this sounds more like what we call "spontaneous confabulation"--your brain's attempt to fill the memory gap, where you blanked out the trauma of the kidnapping." She even has a persuasive, convincing explanation for the whole cat fantasy--it symbolizes sensuality and sex versus giftedness: mind versus body. And my friend Gray was part of me--my longing to express myself creatively. The kitten who wants to go to college!
While X curls up on the floor beside me--my pet space-Chihuahua, who used to be a cat who used to be a dog. If I'd stayed a cat much longer, I'd have gone into heat, and gotten pregnant with my own dog's kittens, for all I know. Now I'd be a pregnant bug! If I'm even female. I can't make any sense out of this body I'm in. No one can tell me who those aliens were who built that gate. And they don't believe in shapeshifters at all. My kidnappers had to be human, or bug people. They transplanted my brain, or my personality, or... or something. I couldn't have been a cat. I remember it wrong.
And as long as this shrink is convinced I wasn't what I was, how the hell can she help me?
PART 3: WAKE UP!
Suddenly I woke, and found myself human again. Whew! It was all a dream...
Then I noticed... I still wasn't me. It wasn't my room. I was lying on foam rubber, in the past--the late 20th century. October 4th, 1989 to be exact. A notebook, not a smart one, but made of wood-pulp paper, lay by my sleeping-pad. I wrote my dream down, by hand... though it seemed futile, since I still wasn't me, and the dream wasn't over, and when it ended, all my notes would evaporate, and I'd have to write it all out again.
But this dream persisted. I walked around convinced I really was--and am--under all the other transformations in my life--a 22nd Century Southeast Asian girl trapped in a dream of the barbaric past. That feeling lasted all day. And the next. I kept marveling at its persistence, as I lived my waking life--in a different body, older, taller, male--and lived other night-dreams, in many bodies: human, animal, alien, big, little, old, young, female, male, both, neither.
But the feeling I'm not me never went away.
I still feel it--that that fifteen-year-old future Wayan is the real me. That all this is just part of my training--my dream.
I dreamed this in 1989 and painfully drew the first half on into 1990 with a mouse and 16 flat colors before I faced that my tools, skills and stamina just weren't up to finishing. I let the half-story sit, nagging me, for a decade. But I couldn't forget it, and in 2000 I finally drew the second half. By then, though, the FIRST half had become technologically obsolete--Amiga picture files had nonsquare pixels, making them translate on Macs or PCs as squat, distorted images. Stretching to fix the proportions created jags. Much experimenting & hand-tweaking later, they were viewable at least. In 2019 I went back to the Amiga files and tried undistorting again, getting better (and larger) pictures. Probably the best a bug like me can do, in my borrowed dress.
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