01 January 2006

Anthrax IV

I was up last night late--late for me anyway, on my current schedule--to try to see the new year in. The new year, 2006. I didn't make it, of course, but the explosions and shouting outside woke me up, as did my dog. I don't think she liked the sounds; they worried her somehow. We staggered off homeward, she hiding under parked cars and making random bolts for obscure alcoves, and I pitching a little as the sidewalk tilted abruptly under my feet. It wasn't actually raining at the moment, so we made it back relatively unscathed, and I collapsed safe and sound in my own bed.

The trouble is, when I awoke this morning and sprang to my computer to throw a few words at the word mangler here, the rest of the world had vanished. There was no blogger.com, no yahoo, no google. There was only one explanation, of course--during the night, while I was sleeping, a mysterious display of red meteors had turned most of the population into dust and reduced the rest to brain-eating zombies. I didn't really feel prepared for that, so going back to bed began to seem more and more attractive.

I suddenly recalled the message I had received in my sleep a night or two ago. It had seemed vitally important, and I had made a point of trying to remember it until I could wake up. I had been standing in an ocean of water that came up to my ankles, a shallow ocean with no shores at all as far as I could tell. The water teemed with arthropods of all sorts, none more than ten inches long or so, and most much smaller. Brine shrimp size--sea monkeys, for those of you who may have wondered just what sea monkeys are. At that moment I heard a doom-laden voice make an announcement of such surpassing importance that I knew I needed to remember it until I woke up. I felt quite certain that when I woke up I could do something about it, but not till then. I fixed the words in my memory and dreamed on.

Well, of course that ocean and its clawed inhabitants dissolved into the dream-stuff of which it had been made, and new images surfaced. A sort of informal conference assembled in an outdoor campus-like setting to discuss the matter, and I told my story. There was a subdued discussion, and a man with an oversized top-hat assured me that the message indeed sounded important, and that my plan of remembering it until I woke up was a sound one. A girl suggested that I should make a point of repeating it to the people I encountered in subsequent dream-sequences so that I would not forget it. I was somewhat concerned about it becoming garbled in transmission, because the dream environment was not a good one for ensuring accuracy of the text. Keep repeating it, was the advice I received, and hope for the best.

And so I did. Later on I repeated it to members of my family as we stood in a dark-paneled room with an absurdly high ceiling. A brother--not a real brother, a dream-person who was labeled as my brother for the purpose of the sequence--a brother laughed, and said that it didn't sound all that important to him. I agreed that it seemed sort of humorous now, but suggested that might be an effect of the dream-environment that we were in. My dream-brother said it wouldn't do any harm to remember it, but it didn't matter if I forgot it either.

And I repeated it again at some sort of party to a group of guests who were strangers to me, and they merely looked puzzled, and wished me good luck in my quest.

And I repeated it to myself while riding on a public-transportation device that resembled a raft on rails. I wasn't sure now if it made any sense or not, but I figured that I had got the message this far, so I could get it all the way to awakening-time. I didn't think it would be much longer now.

And it wasn't. Not long after that (as far as I can tell) I woke up, my small dog barking at some imagined menace. I found my glasses and started to get out of bed, when abruptly the message came back to me. No, it was rather that I remembered there was a message. It took me a moment longer to remember the actual text.

The doom-laden voice was that of President Bush. The president had said, "Our forces have defeated the crustaceans of Anthrax IV. Our surviving army has surrendered."

High time, I said to myself, to go out and face those brain-eating zombies. Or maybe fix a triffid salad.

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