September 25, 2005 by Allen George
It was small when I first saw it against the back of the sofa, each strand an ephemeral silver against the light brown suede. I never questioned why the sofa’s back faced the center of the room. It wasn’t important. It simply mattered that I hadn’t killed it then. When I next saw the spider it was impossibly large, an arachnid born of a fevered imagination. Striped yellow and black, its heft obscured the web and its legs – those legs – one, two, three… They merged one with the other and staring at them I couldn’t tell where one started and the other began. Were there only eight legs? I couldn’t tell. But I knew it had to die.
I’m holding a rolled up newspaper; rolled so tight it’s almost a baton in my hand. Raise it. I can hear the swish as I invest it with all the force I can muster.
This – this is a lucid dream.
I can tell because I’m rewinding the sequence of actions to the point at which I decided it had to die. As future undoes itself I articulate the reason for my reversal. The spider is large. I want it to die. I cannot guarantee that my newspaper baton will kill it – what happens if I miss? I don’t want to die. Therefore I must use RAID. Quod erat demonstrandum.
Why am I spraying RAID in someone’s face?
The grin is almost human when you first see it. Lips peel back from plastic-smooth pearly whites. But the lips are a bit too large. And the face changes quickly. Too quickly. Pingu the penguin. This ‘thing’ reminds me of E.T. if E.T. were made of plasticine and filmed in claymation. Its features shift again and skin, muscle and bone ripple upwards as its eyes roll upwards, revealing the whites. E.T. and the Alien have just met and had a bastard child.
We shift focus quickly.
Looking down, there’s a crocodile-like youngster running around its hole. It’s about to start its second circuit when a claw ends its progress for good. There’s a laugh building up, but it doesn’t feel like me.
ClayMonster may look funny, but the headless soldier would disagree. He’d opened a corrugated metal trapdoor in the bottom of the railway carriage and was rewarded with a bloody stump for his efforts. I don’t know why they’re in the railway car – but they’re holding out. A few soldiers, a woman… I feel as if there’s a child, but I can’t remember. I’m not there though. Disembodied, I watch. Not a narrator; more like an observer.
We’d bred these dinosaur-like creatures. Open the cage door. They walk in. Close the cage door. Repeat ad-infinitum. Then one day they didn’t walk in anymore. We’ve been fighting them ever since. When I next see the railway car there’s blood on all the walls and the windows are shattered. I know that the woman knows the she has to jump out of that car. Turns out that it’s hurtling towards the end of a pier and it’s not about to stop. In the arithmetic of my mind: “Water + Monster = Dead Monster”.
I roll awake, eyes wide, wide open. It’s 4:37. Squeeze them shut. Really, really tight.
Swinging open the door of the metal capsule, she motions the child inside. This, she says, is a safe place. They can’t get you here. The child is silent. The metal capsule is shaped like a salami roll, a single column of glowing LEDs the only exterior markings. It feels safe inside. Closed. Dark. Impenetrable. They can’t get us in here.
There’s no fear. No nervous starts. Neither the child nor woman move.
“Get out! There’s nothing out here! It’s safe.”
They’re lying. Of course. Everyone lies.
The robots scan everyone that passes. I pass them and mutter my ID code, once for each robot. They’re large. No – think bigger. With pyramids for heads and cannon barrels for eyes their neck s snake around, bar code scanners identifying every organism that passes. You see, we’d built them to kill the ClayMonsters.
I don’t trust them. I can see how this is going to end. They’re going to turn on us and we’ll have to fight again. Die again. That’s why I’ve chosen NOT – with capital letters – NOT to embed a bar code into my skin. Can’t track me? Can’t kill me. But it’s annoying having to say my ID code every time I pass these future traitors and I start to design an automatic ID system in my head.
I’m amused. The robots are going to kill us and I’m designing a system to support my laziness…
6 – Wait – No – Real Life
I read them in that order. Numbers are a blur without my glasses and I have to concentrate fully on each hazy digit to decide what it represents. Pull myself upright.
Why bother sleeping if all you have are violent dreams?