Dreamed 10/4/1989 by Chris Wayan
Dedicated to all the abuse victims accused of 'false memory syndrome'
"Don't trust people on the Internet. A 40-year-old man can pose as a 15-year-old girl."
--Newsweek (and every other magazine in America)
This true story happened to me last year, and I drew half the pictures this year.
It also happened twelve years ago, and I drew half the pictures then. Two different timelines, two different sets of memories.
Confused? Think how I feel.
I got kidnapped. I don't know who they were. I saw their faces, but... they didn't have any. They were scaly purple squid things with cold gold eyes, and their bodies oozed into whatever shape was handy for the job they were doing. It was hypnotic. I've never heard of any shapeshifting aliens, and I keep up, they're my field, I like them.
Now I have to like them. Being one.
I was with my dog X in the park when the squid gang jumped me. I was walking through a grove, on the main path. They dripped out of the trees onto my hands, my shoulder, my face.
They dragged me into the bushes, to a little clearing. There was a Gate there, obviously set up just to pop their prey through. They pushed me in. My dog jumped through after me. To my surprise, we fell out the other side onto soft dirt--still in the park! The Gate hadn't sent us anywhere! Or so I thought at first.
But everything looked wrong, felt wrong. Well, not bad, but huge and strange. It smelled strong. I was so disoriented it took me a minute to feel my own body, to understand why I was crawling around on my hands--so FAST.
The Gate had changed me into a large cat.
I'll never know why for sure. Maybe they just wanted to study me. My guess is they did it so they could keep me in town, produce me fast if a ransom note paid off. Less need to guard me--could I really escape? I wouldn't be recognized. I couldn't talk or write.
But I could claw.
I ran--trapped in the body of a cat. Me and X, who was also a cat.
I was a cat with a pet cat.
For a while, we lived among the feral cats on the Stanford campus. It was near the park, and much larger, with semi-wild grounds around the main buildings.
Besides my dog, I had one friend, a gray kitten who's a genius, smart as a human. Gray taught me cat talk. He always asked me about human ways, because he wanted to go to college someday, if the laws liberalized.
I had trouble speaking Cat, till the oldest cat on campus helped. Just added a few words, yet communication suddenly was so easy! Not many human mentors can do that. Yet this cat but doesn't think it's anything special. You wouldn't think cats were afflicted with modesty, but...
X was the one who saved me. I'd pretty well given up. I was losing myself, content to snuggle with Gray... But X, bless his dear irrational heart, kept sniffing around campus at random...
Hidden in the woods, X had found a portable Gate--the one that changed us? Or another, leading to some unknown world? We were only sure it wasn't human. It was up and running, but had unrecognizable lettering. I know it wasn't just my being a cat--I could still spell out the inscriptions on the college buildings. Not well--a cat's eyes are built to detect motion, not shapes--but I remembered my ABC. This thing was alien. An old door, silvery, spiky, strange.
I was reluctant to go through. I was happy, as a cat. And I didn't want to abandon my gray friend. But I also felt I ought to go, to expose the kidnappers.
X decided for me. He leapt through, and boom! he got much bigger. He was a dog again!
A giant Chihuahua-like dog thing, wearing a spacesuit with an air-helmet like a fishbowl. The aliens' equivalent of a dog? Well... it's a step.
I couldn't leave X alone. I took a breath and leapt through. With my cat senses I could feel the shift this time. And I walked out upright!
But not human.
I had become an alien. I was about five feet tall, had a lizardy head with insect eyes, silvery chitin skin, and pincer hands.
I wondered if I'd been turned into one of the race who originally built this gate.
One relief--at least I could talk human talk in this strange body. A narrow-band squawk, like a cheap speaker, and it seemed to come from around my ears (not that I have ears any more, as far as I can feel)... but my speech was understandable again.
Even with language, it wasn't easy crossing campus. I was naked, and I was some alien creature. I hid behind hedges and in dark hallways. I felt more vulnerable in some ways than when I was a cat. I stole someone's blue dress from a dorm room. Then I could brazen it out--act like an alien exchange student, the first of my species... at last, I made it to the Counseling Office. I told them who I was and how I was changed.
Gradually, the school counselor verified my memories, and accepted I'm Wayan, not an alien, but she believes my ordeal has confused me: I couldn't have been a CAT.
She says "I don't think your kidnappers brainwashed you; this sounds more like a spontaneous confabulation, to fill the memory gap where you blanked out traumatic events." She has a persuasive, convincing explanation for the whole cat fantasy, it symbolizes sensuality and sex versus giftedness: mind versus body. And my longing to express myself creatively... The kitten who wants to go to college.
The only problem is, I REALLY WAS A CAT. I sit there, a giant bug in a dress (I suppose that's a spontaneous confabulation to cover the trauma of my midterm on Kafka, huh?), and listen to her explain how my being an animal was a fantasy! With X curled up on the floor--my pet space-Chihuahua who was a cat who was a dog.
If I'd stayed a cat much longer, I'd have gone into heat, and gotten pregnant with my own dog's kittens, for all I know. Now I'd be a pregnant bug! If I'm even female. I can't make any sense out of this body I'm in. No one can tell me who those aliens were who built that gate. And they don't believe in shapeshifters at all. My kidnappers had to be human, or bug people. They transplanted my brain, or my personality, or... or something. I couldn't have been a cat. I remember it wrong.
And as long as this shrink is convinced I wasn't what I was, how the hell can she help me?
Suddenly I woke up, and found myself human again. Whew! Then I noticed I still wasn't me. It wasn't my room. I was lying on foam rubber, in the past--the late 20th century. October 4th, 1989 to be exact. I wrote my memory down as a dream...
But this dream persisted. I walked around convinced I really was--and am--under all the other transformations in my life--a 15 year old girl in the future. That feeling lasted all day. And the next. I kept marveling at its persistence, as I lived my waking life--in a different body, older, taller, not Southeast Asian, no blonde perm--and lived my dreams in many bodies: human, animal, alien, big, little, old, young, female, male, both, neither. The feeling never went away.
I still believe it--that fifteen year old Wayan is the real me. That all this is just part of my training--my dream--my exile.
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