Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Anorme Part 4 – “Populous”

Mufane sat watching her sister for signs of the delta stage, the softening of her breathing, sleep talk, or even apnea. Apnea wasn't tremendously likely, but still, these induced dreamings sometimes had their cost. She studied Rachel's reddish hair and impish nose, and wondered how they could be related, let alone be sisters. She was darker, and heavier, of course she looked pretty good, considering she was more than fifteen years older than Rachel, her youngest sister. It wasn’t that she didn't love her sister, they were just so different. The four of them were all so different she supposed. The only things that bound them together were the disparate genes and common splinters of time they shared.

And perhaps Jason, she smiled to herself, though she wasn't sure about Rachel. That girl was so serious, headstrong and possessive she put the rest to shame. She knew Jason would have tried, but she doubted that Rachel would have conceded. She was still so young.

"Oh well, Rach, no stress. How you run is your business. I'm just hoping you've loosened up a bit." Mufane thought, looking gently at her. She looked a bit worried, and thought, "We're taught so many judgments, stereotypes and blatant untruths, that it's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff sometimes. Examples: Math doctorates are hard to come by; people holding them are purposeful, diligent and serious...No-one who was serious about math and science would ever waste their time with... well magic wasn't exactly the right term... divination?" She shrugged inwardly, "doesn't matter in the end." She was who she was, and while anxious about many things (her PhD mostly), she accepted herself; and she delighted in geomancy.

Geomancy had started out as a bit of a joke for her. A bit of a game, with a dash of a calculation, a hint of abstraction in the interpretation, and…, incredibly it all worked. Somehow it all fell together. It had slipped into her life subtly through the least likely vehicle she could have imagined, her mother.

She remembered how surprised she was when her mother actually seemed interested in Mufane’s leisurely pursuit of geomantic divination. It was funny, mom had always seemed a bit cool to her, considered and almost uneasy when she spoke to Mufane. It was as if she'd allowed part of herself (accidentally?) to be swallowed up by her role as parent. There wasn't much left to connect with by the time Muffy had reached adolescence.

But in that moment, Mufane must have been about 13, when she casually mentioned she'd been playing this game with a binary system for telling the future, geomancy. Her mother came to a complete stop. She sat down with her and turned her undivided attention to Mufane. She asked a bunch of gently probing questions about what she was doing and why. Mufane remembered how warm and thrilled she felt in those moments. The sunlight from the bay window softly reflecting off her mother’s black hair as she looked at her devoid of any appraisal, just genuine curiosity about something she found valuable.

It had also, however, puzzled Mufane; her mother was not interested in math, not at all. To even try to share such a technical thing was preposterous. She now wondered to herself if her revealing that confidence wasn't in some way guided by more than the efforts of a little flower vying for a moment of sun.


Rachael looked at Brown Lizzie, "Allens?” she groped. She looked at her arm. The welts from the gnat bites were gone. Whack, sudden insight leapt up Rachael’s spine like an expertly placed blow of the keisaku, a Zen master’s stick. Kopczik was a woman, her sister, not a man, definitely a dream sign. Rachael nodded cautiously. She looked at her silver watch. 7:24 it read; still cautious, Rachael looked away at Kopczik's low trimmed blouse. "Look at the watch again," she thought. The gold watch read 11:36. "Hah! Still in dream," she thought triumphantly, "focus now on the stone, where is my sister, Elizabeth."

"Lizzie," Rachael yelled, and in her hands the silver charm began to glow.

Brown Lizzie approached; "Right here sweetie, what's up?" she asked. "By the way, I was hoping '20 Allens' would get you back," She giggled. "Ray-ray, it’s great to see you, how're Khepri & Muffy doing?"

"Elizabeth, we all have to return to Caltech," Rachael said hurriedly. She started rubbing her hands together, as if they were cold. "Stoner’s divined that we are all going to be facing considerable danger from, well, something from Mom and Dad. The only hope for us to escape unscathed is for us to resuscitate the circle; soon."

Brown Lizzie looked at her penetratingly, "Jason?" she inquired with an eyebrow raised half-amusedly at the answer she was anticipating.

Rachael sighed, "Yes, Snot Boy's already standing watching with Stoner. I wouldn't be surprised if he weren't already putting the moves on her, while they’re waiting."

"You know she hates it when you call her Stoner, almost as much as when I call her Muffy," Elizabeth smiled. "If you don't wake up soon he may have both of you," she added.

"That...boy lays one hand on me and I will own him for a month," Rachael threatened angrily.

The room briskly started to fade. Rachael took a deep breath; she rubbed her hands more vigorously. The colors crept back in ponderously.

"I'm sorry, try to hold it together; you know, I really missed you," Elizabeth said gently, "I'll make the real-time journey back. 2:30 Friday, airport, pick me up," tilting her head to one side, to make it seem more of a request and less of an order.

Then squinting a bit with concern, she added, "Don't forget me. I don't have anyone’s number."


"Huh! Oh, Jason," Mufane flinched as his warm hands softly working her shoulders yanked her out of her memories.

"What," he asked slyly, "no Snot Boy?"

Mufane chuckled, "Rachael always objected to sharing. Your hypothesis didn't survive its test phase."

"Glad she wasn't my first subject then," he laughed, trying to sit next to her.

"Oh no mister, I don't care who you imagine yourself to be, or what remains of the relationship we shared, there is only room in this chair for one of us. And I am not moving." She tried to sound firm.

He sat at her feet, and rested his head back on her knees. She ran a hand through his long, soft, auburn hair. She sighed quietly.

She really liked him, despite his flakiness, and perhaps because of it. "Damn our situation," she thought, "I could really use a little time to work off some steam." Of course that was probably what he was counting on. She knew math, but he knew people, and he specialized in the feminine gender. He laid his head further back on her lap and smiled as he looked into her eyes.

Rachael’s restlessness on the bed reminded Mufane of what she was supposed to be doing. She looked at Rachel, and seeing her breathing patterns knew it was about time to waken her. She told Jason to turn on all the lights in her room and stroked Rachel's arm gently. "Raych," she said gently, "honey, wake up."

Jason hesitated a bit at the other end of the room, like a dog that had been snapped on the nose one too many times for chewing his master's shoes. He mumbled something about getting tea and went into the kitchen. Mufane smiled with amusement and nodded.

Rachel's breathing began to change and she showed signs of waking. Mufane knew better than to do anything to disturb her. Rachel was doing the hard part now, remaining still long enough to hold the dream and whatever information she was able to gather.

Geomancy was so much more straight-forward Mufane thought, you set the question you rolled the stones and you interpreted the results, which led, of course, to the next set of questions; lather, rinse, repeat. Dream work was much more of an art form with all that that implied. You could never be fully confident it would come out right, even if you did everything correctly.

If you didn't transition smoothly, you might miss the dream signs. If you gained lucidity, you could lose it to emotion, excitement, wakening or any of a number of other accidents. And if you were successful, but slept too long past the dream or moved too quickly upon waking, or had sufficient interruptions while you were still imprinting the experience on your conscious mind, all that work could still go down the tubes. "The whole process is just too delicate to be worth the effort," she thought to herself. Of course, with geomancy, it was a lot more difficult to interact with anyone directly, she admitted to herself.

Rachel's breathing had fully changed. Mufane hesitated; she didn't want to disrupt Rachel's remembering. She visualized counting to sixty-four in Oct, took a deep breath, and asked, "Did you get her? Is she coming?"

Rachael took a momentary breath and then said drowsily, "Yes, the airport, 2:30 on Friday."

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