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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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Alien Agitators

              I dreamed I was in a downtown apartment complex with a large warehouse sized common room and several small shops on the bottom level. I was with a group of half a dozen other people who were all from outside the culture that lived and worked in the building. The residents of the building were also aware that we were not local, and were doing their best to prevent the authorities from finding out we were there.
              We split up and were staying with 5 different people. One married couple were pretending to be visiting grandparents.
              In this culture, any meeting of more than 6 adults was subject to scrutiny by the authorities. The only places where more adults could interact was in local pubs and sports bars. The tricky thing there was that those public places were full of potential informants, and video and audio surveillance. The little pizza place (Much like our Killer Pizza from Mars) was different only in that it made no effort to hide the government cameras and microphones, going so far as to paint red and white rings around them making them a focal point of the places design. Even though groups were allowed to be larger in such a supervised place, each table was firmly bolted to the floor, and had only five chairs around it. I think it was a sort of open satire, but easily protested as being in support of the SSET. I told our hosts that the place would likely not be open for much more than a year, as someone would find a way to shut the place down. “Tyrants and tyrannical systems do not always get satire, but when they do they take great umbrage and examples must be made.”
              Public family events that would have more attendees actually required advanced notice, and a permit, with the names of all the attendees, to be on file with the Safety and Security Enforcement Team offices. Servers were prohibited from engaging in any conversation other than to take and deliver orders for food and drinks. It was a strange atmosphere.
              We taught a group of folks in the pizza place a gambling game that used three shot glasses and three dice and a touchstone. The touchstone was a common cultural item, like a single prayer bead. It was the sigal of the presiding government 'religion.' The touchstone of the elite was a polished flattened oval of precious or semi-precious metal or stone, often with a gemstone set flush into it. The lower classes, or non-elite used regular stones, porcelain, glass, or hard plastic resin. There was a sub-cult that used carved wood. Although it wasn't illegal to have a nice touchstone, if your touchstone was much higher quality than your status in the culture, you could end up spending some time under investigation. Also, if you were a 'Treestone', as the wooden touchstone users were sometimes called, you could find yourself under arrest for belonging to a “terrorist” or “subversive” element. It was actually safer to not have a touchstone at all, as having “not yet found the right one” or “it sits in the center of my home and life” were both acceptable parts of the litany. This had been explained to us by a helpful, though nervous, citizen shortly after we arrived. (Our group was over the size of a legal gathering.)
              The three dice were rolled and then covered with shot glasses, one of the shot glasses had the dealer's touchstone on top of the die. The shot glasses were opaque except for a thin band around the limb. Players would earn the points of the die under the shot glass if they could guess where it was. Being able to guess what the point value of the die under the glass was part of the game. The game could also be played with any opaque cups and the dice would then be placed on top of each cup. Dealership passed to each player in turn, with points being totaled after a full circle of deals. Games would typically be played to a given point value, with a final round or several, to find a winner in the case of ties. While any number could play, groups were usually three to five players, for obvious reasons. The game began to take off as a friendly way to wile away some time and a way to show off your touchstone. The elite, of course, would take such a display as being very low class, and as such, tended not to pay attention. There were variations, of course. Three players could each put their touchstone under a cup and those that picked their own would get all the points.
              The real secret was that you could rig the game fairly easily, at which point the game became a way of transmitting short messages. The two dice not under the touchstone would be used to represent a consonant or consonant pair (up to 36 of them, anyway), and the one under the stone would represent a vowel. Not particularly secure, but the game was so ubiquitous after a short time, that it would be difficult to tell who was communicating secretly and who was just gambling.
              We lived with folks for a time, and started gaming in the common area. We found that there was a pretty large underground group who existed to get things done outside of normal channels. They were sort of a Secret Salvation Army. They were, of course, completely illegal. Since our group was six people, and our hosts often were with us, we attracted an informant, who called us in, but then tipped us off by saying, within earshot, that the fire department were on their way. The fire department being on the way was a euphemism, it was explained to us, for the Safety and Security enforcement team. We immediately began erasing computer data, and gave the families quick instructions on how to stay in touch without ever having more than five people in a cell. I then suggested that they head outside, and in groups of four or five, attach themselves to our nosy neighbors, and to local officers. I knew that our group was about to be in serious trouble as we didn't have any “papers” to prove who we were. Four of them had access to a vehicle and so took off, the couple driving a ways and then looping around to pick up the others. One man was able to become invisible and so vanished and walked off. Leaving myself to take the heat, should it develop, by leading the SSET on a long chase, far away from our hosts.

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