Dreamed 1972/10/13 by Chris Wayan--one of my earliest recorded dreams
All cats disappear. Nothing unusual in that--cats lead other lives, away from us. They could cover up the disappearances, or try to--act doggily ashamed, convince us they were up to something animal and stupid. But instead, cats make a point of not hiding their disappearance. Doesn't that suggest they want us to notice?
Our black cat Purr disappears blatantly, going under the table and not coming out, marching tail high into dead-end rooms, returning two days later. I've begun to feel she's talking to me--as she does when she walks insulted out of a room, or hovers to demand a share of the human food. I want to understand what she's saying, but being a cat, as soon as she realizes I'm paying attention, she teases me with it: only disappears behind things, never in front of me.
So I trap her in the shower stall of my parents' bathroom, to force her to show me where she goes.
She does. She orbits the glass stall's perimeter, like a fish in a tank, paws testing the occasional colored tiles among the white as if they might be tricky spots, then sits in the middle.
"Purr, c'mon." A long wait. I get bored, and start to think, instead of peeking over the top of the door with a clear mind. So I miss the start. She freezes completely and starts to fog with translucency until she looks like sandblasted glass--like the milky walls. A sort of whirlpool of drained color troubles the tile pattern and reaches out--
I jerk open the door and make a grab at her and feel the dizzy spiral drain me in.
I am sitting on top of a banquet table. Purr, now cougar-sized, hops off into a waiting chair and licks her feet clean as her friends say "Welcome back, Persephone! How was it?"
And she answers.
I blush and crawl off the table. They welcome me too. "We've been waiting for you to join us."
"You've read Sturgeon and Zenna Henderson. They're leaks. We're what they sensed."
They read my mind? Or has Purr told them about me. Sturgeon, Henderson... group minds, shared feelings!
Irma levitates the gravy.
I know all their names by looking at them! This amazes me more than their exotic table manners or telepathy. How, when did I change?
"I don't think I'm one of you..." I trail off. The feeling of love and inclusion is hard to argue with, especially since I'm feeling it, not seeing it. Our emotions are shared, already. I am, de facto, part of their group. As I focus on each of them I realize gradually that I'm happy. My body's stopped hurting! I can see, think, all the things we want to do and stumble, trying, on earth.
"It's a property of this space," Lydia says sensing my surprise. "Anyone here has the talents, can share minds--the problem is getting 'em here."
"But it's getting easier," says Johannan. "Each breakthrough leaks more Other into the Mundane world."
"That's a pompous way to phrase it," I tease.
"Aren't those science fiction terms? Thought you'd like 'em, being a fan. Purr said you were doing a fantasy booklist for a class. We mostly just say Old and New."
We live in Lydia's father's house. He was one of the first to come through. It's a rambling musem, in the Victorian frilly style (easy to go rococo when you can carve fancy shapes with a psychic finger). Flat jade carvings. Wild cheery Picasso designs fresco the walls. Lots of Greek vases with centaurs dancing, old silver and gold railroad watches the size of my fist, a pillared courtyard right in the middle of the place with a little fountain, lines leading over to a dais on which lies a quiet black stone Sphinx. The resemblance to Persephone, as she appears on this side, is suspiciously close. Was she the model?
I like it here where your body doesn't hurt, but I know I'll have to go back on visits at least--we all try. Each trip through the wall speeds the change from Old World to New. Leaks are even starting to happen without us now. The New just pops out.
I can see why; like a higher cleaner lake pouring into a lower dirty one, all the pressure is one way. It's easy to return. I just relax something I don't quite know I have, and POP, there I am... in the San Mateo Highlands, living with my parents, unable to do a damn thing, tied up in neurotic knots. Oh, I can readjust to the Hurting State; why not? I grew up in it. But now I know what it isn't.
All day, like a pop song in your head you can't clear out, I hear myself chanting silently "I'm just visiting. This isn't home. Just visiting. Visiting. Visiting."
Waiting for Purr.
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