I had a large number of live white mice to use for some construction purpose: digging or chewing away something. There were also rats mixed in with the mice, and the rats were useless and destructive and I had to take them out and do something with them, but I didn’t want to kill them.
I was in some kind of police department, fighting a well-organized gang. Two officers had been captured during a pitched gunfight, and I had infiltrated the gang in order to find them.
The complex they had taken over seemed to get larger the more I explored it, and I couldn’t quite retrace my steps back to the scene of the gunfight.
I turned a corner and almost ran smack into a guy in sophisticated combat armor. I ducked back and watched as he tested the high-speed dart launchers built into the forearms.
Moving on as quietly as I could, I found I had to walk through a large room of gang members settling in and milling around. Many were shirtless, and they all had tattoos and some kind of southern accent. I pulled my shirt off before walking in and strolled through as non-chalantly as I could, making my own tats visible.
I must have blended in sufficiently, because no one spared me a second glance. Feeling more confident, I passed a gang lieutenant and gave him a low, “What’s up?”, at which he nodded, then suddenly turned back to me.
“Hey, come with me, there’s someone I want you to meet.”
Having no choice, I followed, and he led me to a stocky, sandy-haired guy; late twenties, short beard, and surprisingly friendly-looking. I knew this was one of the gang leaders.
My escort looked at me and said, “Say something.”
In a neutral tone, I replied, “Something.”
The guys chuckled. Feigning bewilderment and trying to match his accent, I asked, “What’s going on, man?”
Still smiling, the leader said, “You should try sticking to one.”
Shit. It finally hit me why security wasn’t tighter: the accent. Everyone who had been brought in as reinforcements had the same, specific accent, which I had just failed to imitate. Game over, man. Game over.
“So who are you with?”
Since I was blown, there was no point in lying.
“And what are you doing here?”
“You captured two of our officers. I’m here to find them and get them out.”
I paused. “By the way, I have to say it: that combat armor is amazing.”
He broke into a broad grin. “Isn’t it awesome? I love it!”
I laughed. “I had a nerdgasm when I saw that thing! Sorry, I digress. What’s going to happen now?”
“We’re going to have to put you somewhere quiet and out of the way for awhile, and since we can’t have you fighting us about it…” He pulled a canister off his belt and sprayed a yellowish gas in my face.
Everything went dark.
I’ve been getting a flood of new user registrations to this site lately, more than usual. Almost all of them have what appear to be random or nearly random Gmail accounts. They never leave any comments, according to Akismet, so I wonder: are any of you real, or just automated scripts?
Please leave a comment if you’re actually a carbon-based life form currently sucking air past your teeth.
I was with Connor in a discount stereo equipment store, where I was looking for a new receiver. All of the walls were painted a shade of institutional dark pink, like you might find in a nursing home. The entire selection was concentrated in a small area of floor space, overseen by a bored young man who looked like a thin, butch lesbian. None of the speakers had their covers on, and the one receiver I picked up was a small Kenwood unit that looked to be as old as the one I already have.
I decided on a pair of speakers instead, but suddenly the owner was nowhere to be seen. I set off in search of him, with Connor in tow. Turning left outside the showroom I saw a long hallway with doors and side rooms along its length, painted the same color of pink. We wandered down it for a long time, and eventually heard the guy’s voice ahead. We finally arrived at some kind of office, where the owner was on the phone with someone talking about some personal matter. I remember thinking, “Is this any way to run a business?”
While I waited for him to finish, I looked to the right and saw a bedroom; apparently this end of the building was his home. He paused his conversation long enough to ask what I wanted, and I told him I wanted the speakers. In a tone of complete disinterest, he said, “Okay”, and resumed his conversation.
I turned to go, and had only traveled a few yards, when Jorie stepped out of a side room on the left, wearing gym clothes and looking bewildered. To our right was a chest high wall that sectioned off what might have once been an open dining area. Jorie asked something about the store owner, and I told her where he was. We exchanged a few more sentences, then continued on our separate ways.
I’d traveled with a group of nameless coworkers to a training class in an old hotel that had been renovated into a small convention and training center. After lunch and drinks in the hotel restaurant we checked in and went to our rooms. On seeing my room I knew I’d been in the exact same one before, though I’d never been to Oregon until now.
While the parts of the hotel I started out in were very new and modern, over time it seemed like everywhere I went it became older, less occupied, and more unkempt. I never saw my coworkers after checking in, and the actual reason for being there was forgotten.
While wandering, I attracted the attention of an older man, with silvering hair, whom I knew was some kind of Soviet KGB agent planning to kill me, though I had no idea why. I didn’t even question why, it was just a given . He started following me, and I ducked into an elevator to escape him. I hopped out at a random floor high up in the hotel, stepping into a small room with a type of square brick chimney running up the center. I moved into the room and discovered a set of stairs in the floor leading down. Some of the steps were missing, and all were rotted. I debated going down them, until the elevator opened again behind me and the man came out, now wielding a fire axe.
We stalked each other around the chimney, and I managed to keep the chimney between us so he couldn’t see me. I also moved in complete silence so he wasn’t sure if I was there or not, despite a brief scare where my shadow was cast ahead of me. I eventually lapped him around the chimney, snuck up from behind, and…? I don’t recall if I pushed him down the stairs or just took the elevator, but I escaped.
I found myself in disused servants’ quarters full of dust, webs, and bizarre-looking spiders, including a tarantula. I killed them all with a pillow. It then occurred to me that I could have done away with the KGB guy at any time, because I was dreaming. I tried to remain in the dream, but I’d already drifted too far out of it, and woke up.
This morning, while getting dressed, I suddenly came to a more succinct conclusion about this subject:
This is like trying to set standards for what color the Easter Bunny should be, or how tall the Tooth Fairy is.
I was standing in a deep fjord, presumably in Puget Sound, explaining to someone how much I loved the Pacific NW and wanted to return there. I looked behind me, and towering above was a huge, snow-covered mountain in a blazing blue sky. I had the feeling I’d dreamed this before, which involved driving up that mountain along a narrow road with dozens of switchbacks.
A craze had swept the nation, involving a circuit-wiring kit or game made of cheap-looking orange plastic pieces like Lego bricks. They could be wired together to make different things, similar to building on a circuit breadboard or Arduino, but the most popular configuration was a flexible grid. Contained in each cell of the grid was a flat jewel, usually red or green, and also cheap-looking. People would make large sheets of these, which rippled like a flag in the wind.
I wasn’t sure what purpose they served, but I was very leery of them. They felt slightly sinister for some reason. People were obsessed with them, despite lacking any apparent function or real decorative value. I had a very powerful sense of having dreamed of these before.
One day, after the craze had been in full swing for awhile, ships appeared in the sky. They looked like typical sci-fi space freighters: long, angular, and roughly needle-shaped. At first I thought they were starships, but then knew they were sub-light transports, launched from a larger ship.
One of them landed nearby, and I joined a group of people greeting a passenger from it: a young bearded man, in a neat uniform, whom we all knew but hadn’t seen in a long time. I kissed and hugged him, and as I stepped back he smiled and said, “What, no tongue?”
I was startled, because this was very out-of-character for the man I remembered, although I sure wouldn’t have objected. I stammered, “Well, I can certainly do that if you like…”, but the moment passed. The young man told us that the connection between the circuit kits and the spaceships’ arrival was…
…I woke up.
Reposted from Shivian’s blog, because I was happy with how I phrased my response.
“Until we set standards in neopaganism, we’ll continue to breed tons of ignorant neopagans that cause damage both in-and-out of the community” – Shivian
“I’m going to repost my response to this from Twitter for the sake of completeness, but first some background: I am a former garden-variety Wiccan, who honored the complementary opposites represented by the Sun/God and Moon/Goddess, and occasionally a number of their masks in the form of named deities, as the situation called for. I was a member of a loose coven of friends, and had (and still have) a lot of great times with them, both spiritual and not.
About ten years ago, after a lot of reading and difficult soul-searching, I came to the realization, in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, that there are almost certainly no such things as gods, existing as discrete, self-willed entities; that they are all human constructs with no external validity.
I am a confirmed atheist, and feel that religion in general (but specifically the ‘Big Three’ Abrahamic religions) has been, and continues to be, the source of most of the world’s ills. I long for the day religion is completely replaced by science and reason.
HOWEVER, that said, I still have a soft spot for paganism (and I use ‘paganism’ as an umbrella term). Pagans are some of the most tolerant, accepting, diverse, non-dogmatic, non-judgmental folks I have ever met, and if religious belief is going to persist (which it is), we could do far worse than having more pagans in the world.
One of the most distinctive traits of paganism is its intense individuality. As a strength, it means that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to practice, only the way that works for the individual or group involved. As a weakness, it means that pagans, as a group, can’t present a unified front to stand up to outside persecution. It also means that trying to get a group of pagans of different practices and belief systems to agree on anything is major cat-herding.
I think the good of that individuality outweighs the bad, so when you talk about setting standards I feel this potentially sets the stage for the kind of dogmatic hierarchy and sectarianism that plagues the Big Three.
Who would set these standards? Who would enforce them? Will non-adherents be punished for deviating from those standards? If you replace ‘non-adherents’ with ‘heretics’, you might see why I felt the need to respond about a subject I usually stay far away from. We’ve been down that road before, and the end result was the Inquisition and the Burning Times.
I know this was an offhand comment by you, and maybe I’m going on about it too much already, but calls like that can take on a life of their own, *especially* when it comes to religion, and you seem to have a fair amount of influence in pagan circles. It’s a slippery slope, so tread carefully, and think hard about possible unintended consequences down the road, if this is something you really want to organize and pursue.
On the other hand, I think the most likely result is that the cats will scatter. 🙂
As for the fear that ‘neopaganism will fade away’, that’s only possible if neopaganism were a single thing or system. Maybe you and I just define the term differently, but I see it as an umbrella term encompassing many belief systems and practices. There’s little chance that all of them will fade away, although constituent members may come and go, merge or split. As long as there are people whose spiritual needs are not fulfilled by the current dominant religions, alternative practices such as neopaganism will continue to exist.”
Just found out that Richard Dawkins is giving a lecture and doing a book signing at the Michigan Theater today, from 4-6pm!
Up to that point, I can’t remember ever hearing or reading something so openly, intelligently, and forcefully critical of religion and religious belief. I was actually shocked by it, and I think my unspoken reaction was something like, “People can actually do that?!”
I spent the next couple of weeks reading and digesting everything available online from the FFRF, before coming to that realization and acceptance. Then I spent a week horribly depressed, because I could also no longer believe that there is any kind of afterlife, and everyone I care about who dies is lost to me forever.
After that passed, there was this huge sense of relief, like the proverbial weight off the shoulders. There really were no invisible, unknowable entities watching me and judging me, and the only things I answer to are the laws of the society I live in, and my own conscience and moral sense. It was such a liberating thing.
I can’t wait for the chance to shake Professor Dawkins’s hand and say, “Thank you”.
I wish I’d worn something nicer today.