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Fermius Firefly

A Dream Log, whenever I remember the dreams I've had.

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Location: San Marcos, United States

Fermius is a pen name drawn from a series of short fiction I wrote when I published the small press magazine Stellanova (on paper.) I play RPG games to escape from my daily grind as a technology wage slave for the state of California. I eat out a lot in order to do my part in supporting our increasingly service level economy. I am butler to 2 feline masters. If you ask them they will tell you I'm not very good at it, late with dinner, don't have enough hands with brushes in them, and sometimes I even lock them out of their office.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Time Door, Sirocco

Time Door

       I dreamed of a duel direction sliding glass door. The dream was interrupted and then continued when I returned to sleep. The early portions of the dream are sketchy now.

       The door was in the back wall of a house like my parent's house. Plain, single level, four bedroom (rather than 3) and a couple of baths. It was on a low rise surrounded by trees and fields (long fallow) when the dream began.

       For several of the jumps, Red Paw was with me. Short jumps into the future, the “Where have you been gone?” sort of jumps. Coming back and finding the furniture dusty and not much else has changed. Finding a child of about eight, who'd been missing for years wandering in the back yard, crying because this was his house, not ours.

       A ferret, but much larger than a modern ferret, and calico. His collar was also a camera and highly futuristic. Red Paw found him wandering on the patio I build outside the door. They became friends in a very short couple of days.

       Jumping to the past, delivering the missing child, changed the future. Pure blind luck we arrived anywhere close to the right time. The kid's parents had abandoned the house, thinking it was haunted, and because of the slight recession and people moving to the big city, the house was empty when we landed. Their contact information was on the front door, though, and we were able to call and leave the kid for them. We were within about a year of when he vanished. Red Paw and I didn't stay around to answer questions.

       I appeared outside the house after dropping the kid off. I had to break into the house to jump again, there was no longer any contact information on the door. The former owners didn't answer their old phone number. Red Paw and I jumped slightly into the future again. The house was completely boarded up and I had to break in to allow us access to the door mechanism. We oversleep and the jump landed us far into our future. The current owners of the house don't even know there is a door there, as it has been covered.        Red Paw and I tiptoed out of the back yard and greet the woman of the house, she was gardening in the front yard. I explain that we were taking a walk and “We've gotten ourselves so lost, we don't know what year it is.”
       The woman tells us the year, enjoying the “joke”. I should've been 99 years old, and Red long dead. We talk a while. The woman invites us in, we meet her father and husband. The husband comes back from the study with a framed photo. It is of Red. “He looks just like this cat!”
       “He is that cat. We used to live here.”
       Everyone laughed.
       “There were more photos upstairs. Just a second. The husband ran up into the attic with a jaunty bounce. He returned with several photos and paintings. Frowning.
       “Just what is going on here!” he demanded, putting the photos and paintings on their table. There was a photo showing me and Red with N and several other cats. I emptied my wallet, credit cards, money everything was from the past.
       “There's a bored time machine under the house. I know it would be more convincing if I was from your future, but it is what it is.”
       He turned over the photograph. “It is what it is” was written on the back in my handwriting.
       We all sat looking at one another in stunned silence.
       We took out the pony wall to reveal the old sliding door frame behind the wall's footer. It was marked in increments about half a centimeter apart all along its length. Numbers on the one side, and numbers with plus and minus on the other. I had trouble figuring out what they might mean. “These weren't here when I jumped. I get the feeling I will eventually figure out how to operate it, and when I do, I'll try to leave instructions. I can't imagine we would sell the house without the instructions, unless that's why this is closed off. I hope I figure it out.
       We became friends, in large part thanks to Red Paw, who was a little charmer. It took a couple of days, but we were able to clear the wall. I set the thing for what seemed like would be a relative jump to my home time, and stepped through after suggesting they wall the thing up when I was gone. I think that is the only time in the dream there were witnesses to us walking out of the door and just vanishing.
       Jumped to a future where there was no house, and we were on the remains of a landfill. The house and its doors were buried beneath a layer of composted trash. And the junkyard dogs were robotic and fortunately a little bit intelligent. I managed to convince them that I needed one of the digging cranes to come and uncover “my property.” They were bored and so arranged to dig me a trench. There were no more glass doors, just the frame with its evenly spaced scratches barely visible below the scratches from being the floor of a dump. I took a bit to reveal the whole thing. I was tempted to have the crane pull the foundation up, but really didn't want to risk being stuck here. I found some strips of metal to drop into the tracks and set them to the reverse of what had brought me to the future. I made note of the company names and logos on the junkyard crane and robotic dogs. I knew I'd be investing if they existed.
       I didn't think it odd that the dogs were so helpful until after a cold night with Red Paw curled unhappily against my chest. He'd not had any dinner and only a little water. The robot dogs had taken turns watching over us during the night. In the morning, I stepped across the threshold and felt a little tug as I crossed over. The yard was still green but browning a bit.
       “N left again, I was gone too long last time.” I heard in my own voice.
       “I think I can figure this out...” and the world shifted radically. Memories of two time lines merged in my head. The two universes collapsed into a common one like soap bubbles. None of the missing alternatives were any the wiser. Only I retained the memories of both worlds. Red Paw was gone. No not gone, he was with N. I called her to make sure he was all right. She was testy about it, not even realizing that he hadn't been with her the whole time. She accused me of running off with the ferret girl. I had no idea what she was talking about.
       I decide to run an organized test. What I discover is that time jumps are determined by how far the door is open and which side governs forward or back, as well as how close and how long a person is in the vicinity of the door when it is open. (Partially why there were so few disappearances, the room had almost always been a study, and when it was a bedroom the door was either never open, or only open a little bit. The real time device was buried beneath the door frame. The controls were missing so the AI used the sliding doors as a sort of “control substitute.” Or at least that was my guess. During the test I borrowed a meter stick from a neighbor and marked the track in either direction every half centimeter. In so doing I found that I seemed to connect to something deep under the slab. I put a door stop on the thing to keep it closed. Oddly, that seemed to work pretty much like an off switch. There were no jumps if the clip was anywhere on the track, inside or out. No matter how long the door was open or how long I was exposed.
       During my testing, the ferret returned. I put a note on his collar about how the door worked and in so doing discovered that he already had a note with the settings that were used to send him through. I reversed those settings, to the best of my understanding, and jumped forward with the ferret.
       There was a ferret girl. She was a very bright teen, and very methodical in testing the door. She had uncovered the slider frame and convinced her parents to put the sliding door back in place. It had motors to control the opening and she'd managed to convince her parents to keep the original track with the markings on it. The numbers were still in my handwriting. She showed me the pictures of Red Paw, N and myself. “I knew you would be there sometime. Tell me how it works.”
       “You caught the wrong one, I'm only just working it out.”
       We spent some time fiddling with the settings and that was when we discovered that exposure to the settings was part of the equation. She'd done a ton or research on missing kids and other anomalies, she'd collected a couple of volumes of my photographs (Flat Memory media that she slipped into a reader on her wall and, well, I recognized many of the photos, but not all of them.) “You should have been a professional, full time.”
       “I was sort of busy...”
       “I suppose so.”
       On a more serious note. She said she found a sort of maximum back end, sometime in 1953. She didn't ever try it, as she was afraid to run into the folks who'd originally installed the time machine and would be just another one of the four vanished kids.
       Her story made me feel a little bit queasy about the possibilities of how the thing might be used by the wrong sort of person. I decided that I would have to go, but to do so would require me to stay in the room near the device with the door on the left all the way open for about a week. Her parents weren't too keen on the idea, but because they knew their parent's story about meeting me, had my photographs, and there I was again, unchanged, over twenty years later, they found the time travel story rather believable..
       The parents were also a little concerned that other kids had gone missing in the past, and that there I was in their house, with their daughter. I explained to them what I wanted to do, how, when I met myself earlier the time lines had collapsed together like a soap bubble. I wanted to fix the missing children and I thought I knew where they all went. To the beginning. They had all vanished before the house had central air, and all from the hottest part of summer. They didn't go all the way to the beginning of the time machine, just close, about a weeks worth of hot days close. Ferret girl lent me her ferret, Chester, and taught me how to operate his GPS, though I reminded her there wasn't any GPS system in 1953.
       I jumped to 1953 and found the local sanitarium was home to three missing children, and two adults who knew enough details of their time to convince me that they were from the actual future. I don't know how I managed to break them all out, but I did, and we made our way onto what was a farm at that time. The house that covered the time machine hadn't been built and the time machine itself was difficult to find. I rolled out a tape measure where the door frame would eventually be, and set metal rods on it in the position to take the first missing child back home. We jumped early the next morning, and reunited the kid with his family. They had completely boarded up the room, so we had to get the family to open the room up for us. The family promised to shutter the thing when we had jumped. I felt several things shift in the multi-verse and once they did I only had two missing folks to return home. One was a child of about 11 or 12 and the other was an old woman who only admitted to being above retirement age. They barely remembered our other travelers.
       Each of the missing one returned also caused a shift in the universe, as we knew it. For good or ill, I couldn't really say. Chester vanished on one of the remaining trips. That made me sad. I was surprised that I remembered him, in fact it seemed I could recall a lot of things that were changed. I wondered what would happen if I never bought the house, how would I have fixed all this, then. Then I was alone, in the boarded up house and I planned my jump home, hoping to make it before N left. I really didn't want that to be over.
       I arrived, and the Ferret Girl and Chester were there. FG was explaining that they were just looking for me, and there wasn't anything going on. That wasn't exactly true. As I stepped into the house the universe shifted, and I suddenly remembered FG from 1978 and changed my personal history by becoming one of my early girlfriends. A girlfriend who introduced me to time travel by sneaking into an abandoned farm house a couple of hours away from home.
       I could feel that the time machine needed my continuity as I was most connected to it, having traveled in time both as an adult and as a teen with FG. Talk about complex. I had memories of both of them in my head. FG was still a teen, though, and I was still old. The universe shifted and N vanished from the picture, as did the cats. FG was also gone. My new continuity was settling in without either of them, but I still owned the house. I jumped back hoping to merge with myself at 25, just before meeting N. Only, the memories didn't go away, I still had three or four time lines worth of memories. I realized it was going to be tough to live through it all again without trying to fix the mistakes and to take advantage of missed opportunities. Turns out I needn't have worried, at least about that. We didn't merge, our time and existence were separate enough not to even meet. I jumped back home and put the slide lock in the door. N didn't know who I was. I had lost FG somewhere in time, a jump where we both ended up in different places, and I hadn't been able to find her, either going forward or back.


       I was in a desert environment, investigating a ruin tucked into a small rocky semicircle of former reef along a desert coastal inlet. The site was a three color high contrast scar in an otherwise vast expanse of sand and sea. As I climbed out over the dunes to get a good vantage point to take some photos of the entire site for an over view, I heard a roaring behind me, like thunder, only it never stopped. I looked back to see a wall of billowing sandy brown clouds bearing down on us. I packed up my camera gear and ran back to the camp, “Dust storm!”
       The lead archaeologist looked up from an old Samsung monitor he was measuring and detailing to ask “How much of the horizon?”
       I ran out of the tent and climbed on top, the tent was apparently some sort of modern electrically stiffened material. The cloud wall was slightly more than half the horizon and closing in. I could feel the heat and wind speed picking up. “We have to get to cover and fast.”
       We ran around, finally deciding to take the pallets of monitors and cover them with our tent material, and then to use the same material to stretch out a roof over us. I undid several battery powered pieces of equipment and rigged them to supply current to the tent fabric surrounding our “artifacts” but the storm got to us before the six of us could rig up a roof and get power applied. We all dove into the lee of the rocks between the ancient black coral and the pallets of equally ancient monitors. (Which I had visions of stacking in a previous life time.) The world became all roaring and dark and gritty and brown. We all had respirators, and we stretched the remaining tent material out over us trying to maintain some breathable space.
       If we don't report in, someone will come for us, we just have to keep enough air around us to survive until the storm passes.
       I was working to try to get to the electrical contacts with the batteries from one of our food processors to stiffen our cover, as I could tell there was going to be more sand on the tent than we could hold up by hand for any length of time.

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