For the past twenty odd years, since I left the security of high school and ventured out into the maddening world, I have dreamed the same dream at least once a month. But I never recognized the dream. Because each time I dreamt it, the setting and roles I played would change, making it appear as something new with every iteration.
Even once I started keeping a dream diary, first in paper form, and now in digital, I still did not see I was dreaming the same thing over and over again. I was caught up in the settings and the drama of the roles. The soap operas were so cheesy, they should have been government rationed in large blocks.
There was the dream where I was part of the first true Homo Sapiens tribe, and we were having to defend ourselves from our non-evolved cousins as they sought to destroy the “Cursed Tribe”. Then there were the Conquistadors making their way inland, and the gods had tapped me to find a way to preserve the knowledge from the devouring missionaries. The fantasy medieval version had me either the long-lost daughter of the king, living out her life as a mere peasant, or as the offering a rash and quick-spoken king had to make to a dragon in exchange for the dragon’s assistance in war. Not even the empty space between stars were safe from my meanderings, as an alien species somehow managed to have to deal with a pernicious human in their midst.
And still, they were all the same dream, as they all had the same key events happen.
- Because of events before my “birth” in the dream, I am considered an outsider, even by blood-kin. The king’s concubine gave birth before the queen did. I was conceived as a result of rape.
- I am given a “low-born” life. The king’s daughter is forced into hiding. The tribute to the alien conquerors is made a slave.
- I rise through the social ranks of the adoptive peoples, and are soon considered “one of them”. The Emperor adopts me as his daughter. The warrior (and/or priest) caste takes me in as Little Sister.
- Among the adoptive people’s general population, I am just another of their kind, despite any racial or species differences. Where I lag behind, measures are taken to place me on equal footing. The aliens construct an exoskeleton to increase my strength. The gargoyles give me a talisman that enables me to fly.
- Among the adoptive people’s elite, I am taken in and given special education in some esoteric knowledge. This is not revealed to the adoptive people’s general population until some point of no return is passed. The priest caste teaches me the mysteries. The aliens teach me psionic abilities.
- Something attacks the adoptive people, usually internal betrayal. But they didn’t count on the rotten human kid always underfoot. The one that learned the hidden knowledge far better than was expected. The one that stands in the gap, ready to defend her adoptive people, even to the death. “I’m sorry, today is the day I get to kick your ass. I take that back, I’m not sorry. I will enjoy watching you fail.”
- I die. The attack is successfully repelled, but I pay a very high price. Sometimes, I’m joined by other defenders as the charge begins. But usually, I’m alone. I have the choice of fleeing, trying to warn others, but leaving the newly discovered weak point undefended. Or standing firm, knowing I’m about to die, but giving my benefactor time to escape or to call more arms to his side. In every iteration of this dream, I choose death. After all, when I lived among “my people”, I was always thrown to the side or underfoot. I have lived a good life with my adoptive people, and the best way I can show this, is to fight for them, even to the death. The death could be as simple as a gunshot to the head, or as traumatic as burning to death in a rain of napalm, or as gory as being ripped to pieces while alive by the war wolves.
- I’m revived. By sorcery, technology, or plain ole CPR, I’m revived. Usually by the first defenders to reach me. The betrayers, aren’t always so lucky. Sometimes they survive, sometimes not. But somehow, I am brought back from death. I gasp (or gurgle) for air, I make some furtive movement, then pass out again. But, hey, I’m alive! Which leads to the next problem.
- I’m hideously wounded. In every iteration, no matter what the setting, nor the technology (or magic) used. I suffer the same minimum wounds. I lose at least the fingers of my right hand, including thumb. And what remains of the metacarpals is fractured and useless. Usually, the entire right hand is lost. And I lose my right eyeball in its entirety. Those two parts of my body, my right eye and my right hand no longer exist. Depending on the Great Battle, I may have other wounds and scars from fire, plasma discharge, various magical beasts nibbling on my flesh, and plain bacterial infection. But no amount of sorcery, technology, or fairy dust is able to restore my right hand or my right eye.
- Except for the right eye and right hand, I make a full recovery. Usually, because I’m beyond pissed at the loss, and I decide to will (Will?) my way to full health. This often surprises my adoptive people. Except for a choice few that knew “she would recover, she’s too stubborn to remain bed-ridden. That, or the physician will kill her because she’s that annoying.”.
- I’m physically marked by the experience. Usually, it is a series of full body tattoos that, when combined with the scars, give me an other-worldly look. I’m marked as different, as set apart, as chosen by fate (Fate?). Instead of hiding the marks, I let them be viewable by all. At the very least, it is a set of tattoos from right wrist, up arm, over shoulder, up neck, and encompassing the right side of my head. One shoulder tops are back in fashion again!
- I receive a new eye and a new hand. The adoptive people are so impressed with my will to live, they decide to restore the function of the missing pieces with prostheses. A new eye and a new hand is created with sorcery, technology, or a combination of the two. Often, I don’t get a choice in accepting them. Or if I do have a choice, they are presented as a “mere replacement in function” of what I lost. But, of course, it’s never that simple, because…
- The new eye and the new hand bestows on me abilities a normal human should not have. Infrared vision. Crushing hand strength. Soul-sight. Fire-manipulation. Often times, the new abilities are also beyond the ken of the adoptive peoples as well. By this point in the dream, I’m no longer “just one of the guys”, I’m considered an agent of the gods, of Fate, of Chaos, or just a human BAMF. Somehow I manage to get my reputation back down to a manageable level. But then…
- I have to return to my “native people” and live among them for a while. So, when I left, it was under “leave or die” circumstances, and they probably held a party for chasing the “cursed one” away. And now, I’m back. With an eye that appears to be solid white, but can see in pitch black, and a hand that can crush a person’s face like a paper bag. For some reason, no one wants to believe me when I say I have no grudge against anyone “back home”, but it’s not enough because I’m soon forced to make a choice.
- Either I handicap myself to fit in and remain with my “home world”, or I accept that I no longer belong with my native peoples and leave never to return. If I handicap myself, (removing the eye, or allowing the hand to be crippled), at first I am an equal, but the old patterns emerge and again I am the cursed one. The misbegotten one. The borne of evil one. Except I can’t defend myself because I’m crippled. My new body parts are mocked and traded by my abusers as a trophy. Eventually, I die, often in trying to defend my old world, and even that is not marked. If I leave, my old world makes it clear I am never to return. I mourn a bit, then continue on with my adoptive peoples. Over time, it is forgotten that I’m not of the same species as them, and am considered equal to them forever.
This pattern has continued for about twenty years. And I never noticed, until a friend asked me about my dreams, and I said “Nothing new. Only that I lost an eye, again.” As he teased the dream out of me, I realized the dream truly was “nothing new”. I had ignored it because the settings and drama kept changing. But the same plot remained.
I have been inspecting myself, my dreams, and my esoterica. And I find, that yes, I have changed. Since sitting down and inspecting this recurring dream, I have not dreamt it anymore. Instead, I find my dream-self is exhibiting the marked eye and marked hand. It is now as much my “magical self” as is the coat, cane, and bow.
Yes, there is more. No, I’m not telling.
Make of that, what you may.