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I had done something very stupid and now I was in deep, deep trouble1. My mother was there with me, exercising her penchant for stating the obvious:

"That was really stupid of you. Now you've gone and thrown your life away."

"Yeah," I said and nodded. What else was there to do?

"There's only one thing you can do now," she concluded. "I've got something for you." Ever concerned and helpful, she was rummaging in her handbag. "I got this for you from the Black Market," she explained, handing me a gun2.

I must have looked confused. I didn't think it would help me to shoot anyone.

"All you have to do is point it at your head and pull the trigger. You won't have any more problems. Believe me, it's the best for you!"

I hesitated and thought about it for a bit, but realized she was right. I didn't want to, much, but I didn't have a choice. Mom backed up a bit so she wouldn't get blood all over her dress.

"It's quick and painless," she promised. "You won't feel a thing."

"OK then... " I sighed and pulled the trigger. I was shocked by the loudness of the explosion, and then I felt pain in the side of my head. It started out bad and then got worse and worse. Once second, two, five. The pain was unbearable and I looked at my mother with a hurt look on my face. "Why am I not dead? You promised it wouldn't hurt!"


I woke up, but the pain didn't go away. I had gone to sleep with my head on my wristwatch, and it was poking into the side of my head. I had just committed suicide, and observed my own death, or nearly so. That dream had me stunned and confused for a long time.


  1. I can't remember what and why, but I presume it was with the law.
  2. No, I don't live in the USA.

I wake up in the morning, from a dream where I have been running all around, in a good, energetic way, and I am still. Perfectly still, lying on my back and staring at the ceiling.

It is a strange way to wake up. My alarm clock has not yet gone off, and will not for a couple hours - I went to sleep not three hours earlier.

Yet I wake up, wanting to move, yet wanting to remain beneath the covers. I want to continue the patterns I was working with while I was asleep. As I drift in and out of consciousness, I am able to continue the work that I was working on.

I am in a big, stone and concrete opressionalist structure, yet one with graceful curves, an art gallery or museum of some sort. I am in a room that is shaped a lot like my room, only so bare. I am participating in a work of performance art, but no one is watching the performance - it is the product of the performance that matters, like some sort of Richard Long piece.

Lying there in bed, I am moving my arms and legs back and forth, but in an ordered manner. I am moving, along the ground, making this work of art, yet I am not doing any actual work to cause the motion.

The surroundings seem to be Washington, D.C., yet they are distinctly different. I am still trying to physically cover large areas of ground, at first by lying down, in more built up area, and then by running around in the parks and on the monuments, tracing paths as I run along their ridges, the blanket trailing behind me, something like a cape but also keeping me warm.

I run around in the fountain between the East and West Wings of the National Gallery of Art, up and down it, then over to the Supreme Court building, around it, then off into some little park, where I start unrolling green, turf like material, covering the streets, nicely, upon which I fall asleep.

I pass in and out of consciousness again and again. Finally, I wind up back in the city, but it is a different city. It is in Communist Europe, but it takes place at the present. It is in black and white. It could be Berlin, or Warsaw, or Moscow, but it doesn't look like any of them. And there are no obvious signs of communism. And there are too many cars, all speeding around like they have important places to be.

I look there for a patch of grass, something to run across, starting at the top of a hill and running, skipping downhill. There is little, and I go lower and lower, finally finding a small scrap of grass by the edge of a massive river, that I am able to lie down by and sleep on, curled into a fetal position, warm and safe.

My friends and I had made a discovery which had stunned the scientific world: we had proved that there was a huge reservoir of water near the Earth's core, by analyzing its rotational irregularities and variations in temperature. I was giving a lecture to 2000 people on our results, and my lecture was focusing on two things: first of all, much of our knowledge about planets and the geology of our own Earth was simply wrong, and secondly, I was proposing uses for this enormous water supply.

About halfway through the lecture I took a break, and left the stage to go and change my clothes for some unknown reason. I sat down with a friend of mine from school called Cathal, and started to get undressed. Cathal pointed and said "Is that Shane Lee?" I turned and looked to see a very old friend of mine standing in the doorway of the lecture hall. He saw us and approached the table without smiling, and stuck out his hand for Cathal to shake. Cathal didn't move, staring at Shane, and I remembered that when we were in school Shane had been pretty nasty to Cathal, in a subtle, underhanded way.

Eventually Shane withdrew his hand and I stuck mine out, expecting him to shake it, but he totally ignored me and walked away. I was really puzzled. I saw Lindsay sitting at another table close by, so I walked over to her and crouched down. She didn't ask me why I was naked, and I didn't think it was worth explaining. While I was talking to her, another woman who had obviously really liked my lecture kept sticking her head in between us, trying to get my attention with an inane grin, and I had to keep looking around her.

"I just saw Shane Lee, and he totally ignored me."
"I know, I saw. It's because our families are related."
"Yours and mine?"
"Yeah - we have the same grandmother. It's something to do with recombinant DNA. People are a bit scandalized because when a DNAunt and a DNUncle get together, there's a chance that their children will have birth defects. It's like one in several hundred thousand."
I'm very puzzled at this point.
"So you're telling me that the reason Shane Lee won't talk to me is because you and I are getting married even though we're related?"
"It's the talk of the town. A lot of people are very angry with us."
"That's very weird."

I get up and walk back to my table to finish getting dressed, trying to get my mind away from strange friends and recombinant DNA and back to the Earth's core, but at some point during the process I wake up.

The group I am with have just moved into the new house. My husband and I take the master bedroom and we have the TV and phone in with us because we're the main owners of the place. Our bedroom is at the top of the stairs and at the front of the house.

Another couple that we don't really like have taken the next bedroom, across the hall from ours. When I wake up, the tv and phone have been taken to the other bedroom. I'm upset, but they try to explain it away.

I let it go, trying to remember something about the night before, something about a predator prowling on the balcony that runs along the front of the house and is accessable from the doors from the landing at the top of the stairs.

I wake in the middle of the night again. This time I know there is someone or something outside, but on the ground. I go out of the room and then out onto the balcony. I watch in fascination as a man shapeshifts into a large feline beast and moves up onto the balcony. When I don't scream or run, he shifts back to a man and we talk.

Time passes, perhaps a month.
I wake in the middle of the night. Something is wrong and I can hear howling from many voices across the city. For some reason I raise my head and howl too.

I move outside, upset, and shout out "Zazu" which was the name of the shapeshifter, but I know he will not answer because he is dead.

I turn at a sound behind me and see an older woman also on the balcony. She confirms that I have howled for Zazu, already knowing the answer. I howl again, pained at Zazu's death, and am joined by the voices across the city, including the woman's. She smiles as she pushes me off the end of the balcony.

I twist as I fall, knowing that I must land on my feet. I scream up at the woman who pushed me and she leaps down in the form of some great wolf-like beast. It is when I smell her that I realize that I've shapeshifted and am now in the form of a large cheetah-like beast. I fall back against the wall, shifting back, frightened.

She explains that I must go with her, that I cannot stay here any more now that I am known to have shifty ways. I follow her, knowing that she is speaking truth.

We get to a place of rituals. There is an older man there, too. I can tell that he is a shifter too, even though there is no physical sign of it to look at him. He asks her if I am up to the challenge and she says that I am and that if I go it is up to me. I don't know what the challenge is, but I agree to run the course.

I enter and am moving easily through the dangerous landscape. I am about halfway when I feel what is waiting at the end of the course and my excitement nearly gets me killed. Only my speed and reflexes and then letting my intellect rule over my instinct keeps me from harm.

I keep myself from becoming too excited as I finish the course, taking less than an hour to do so. At the end, I know somehow that to cross the line I see means that I will not be coming back, so I sit on the near side and wait.

Zazu is sitting in man form on the other side of the line looking unkempt and sullen. He asks who I am, not knowing my shifted form. I change back and say "Don't you recognize me?" in a slightly teasing voice.

"You!" he cries out. His expression changes from sullen to joyous and leaps across the line, pouncing on me, cat-like, knocking me flat on my back. He stutters a few half questions and then kisses me. I kiss him back.

The landscape around us fades and we are back at the ritual place with the woman and man. They are discussing the fact that it only took me half an hour to run the gauntlet and get to the end and that it was a very short time, especially for someone who had only first shifted less than a day before.

Time passes, perhaps a year.
Zazu and I are in an alley. We are both in beast form, but need to shift in order to deal with a contact. Zazu changes, but I refuse, sitting very still in the middle of the alley. Slowly, my fur turns stone grey and seems to harden and eventually I seem to be a statue.

Zazu consults with the woman and man, who are in the shadows. They are surprised and amazed at my transformation and tell Zazu he must make the arrangements on his own.

The man we are to deal with enters the alley. He marvels at me, thinking me just a statue. He touches my face, tracing a detail and gets a shock, which he thinks was a sharp piece. The business is successfully concluded and he leaves.

I shift back to my beast form and inform them that the shock he got was because he had an evil heart. They are amazed that I can shift to speak while in beast form.

Later, I explain that all shifters should be able to do small things like that, but due to what they have been taught, they don't believe they can and so do not try. I tell them they need to learn to think 'outside the box.'

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