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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.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Hot Springs Carnival, Hospital Hoedown

I was walking with a couple of friends of mine, off campus. A carnival had been set up on the lot of a former strip mall. Years earlier the owner demolished the mall and graded the property, preparatory to new construction. Funds fell through, so the graded lot was fenced and forgotten, (except by the local LARPers.) As we walked through the carnival, noticing that it was very poorly attended, we came across a sexy woman who we thought was one of the Carnival performers. She was incredibly sour about that, as she was a witch of some great renown, or infamy, at least by her own admission. She was tired, and it seemed to amuse her that we were still treating her politely, even after her revelation. She strolled along with us for a time, finally stopping outside an alleyway between rows of red and white, striped carnival booths.

"This alley is haunted. if you proceed you will be forever changed. Or dead, your decision."

The female member of our trio looked into the alleyway. "Is that what happened to you?"

The witch pondered. "No, this is what happened to me." With that she reached out and took our friend by the hand. They raced together down the alley between the fabric walls and vanished almost faster then the eye could follow into the tent at the end of the row. All right, I could definitely credit that to magic.

My friend and I looked at one another, then nodded as if in accord.

I raced down the alleyway, making it past two tents before I realized the sound of my friend's footsteps were heading in the opposite direction.

I turned to shout at him to stop dicking around, but he was completely out of sight.

"Friends abandoned you, did they."

I turned around to see who was talking to me, but there was only an empty suit of armor hanging from a rack. It creaked. I moved closer, fully willing to believe it was haunted. It reached for where the hilt of its sword would be, then pantomimed swinging it at me.

"I think the city made the carnival surrender or store all of the customer accessible weapons." I had remembered reading that in the local news.

"What! You should still run in terror." it shook a gauntlet at me.

The suit of armor clattered and I took a step back. It didn't seem to be able to get down from the rack.

"If you stop trying to harm me, I could try to get you down from there, then we can try to find your witch and my friend."

"She's not my witch!" the suit of armor seemed to pause, thinking, not sure how I could tell that. "Granted."

I approached, and the armor stopped swinging. I couldn't budge it, though. I looked at the armor, there was a ring welded onto the back of the breast plate, the whole thing hung from a hook on the rack. It was far heavier than it looked. "Perhaps if I could take the armor down a part at a time and then put it together on the ground."

The armor paused, again, seeming to consider. "Granted."

I took a look at the right boot and shin guards, I found how they were tied together and unlaced them. So far so good. I pulled them off, and though there was no sight of it, it felt like there was a person in the suit. Everything was good until the armor cleared the foot.

There was a banshee wail and the armor, except for the piece I held started flailing around. I reached out until I found the spirit's kicking bare foot and slammed the boot back on, then tied it back in place.

"Sorry about that."

"We didn't know." The spirit sounded almost like it might be sobbing.

"I wish I were strong enough put you down whole."

"Granted," the spirit said quickly.

I felt a tingle and tried lifting the armor off of it's hook. It seemed much smaller than the first time I'd tried, and though it was a little bit of a struggle, I was able to rock the armor off the hook and then gently set it down on its feet. It tottered, the leg we'd taken the boot off of seemed to wobble and buckle oddly under it. I reached down and pulled the suit upright from the ring on its back until it could get its feet under it. That was when I noticed that my big floppy flannel shirt was tight around my arms, and the end of the sleeve was just below my elbow. I looked down at myself. My baggy cargo pants were now more like the length of board shorts, and strained at the seams. My flip flops only covered two thirds of my foot, like I was wearing kid's sized sandals.

"What's happening?"

"You have to be very strong to put me down whole." The suit of armor laughed. "Good thing I didn't have my sword, who knows what you would have turned into then."

The armor limped up the alleyway, all the while regaining control of the leg, and every time I noted an improvement in the spirit's strength and mobility, I seemed to grow.

We reached the end of the alleyway and entered the tent, I had to duck down to go through the flap. The witch was gone, nothing but her clothing left in the middle of the floor. My friend was there, her eyes newly shining with power. The armored ghost flew at her. I managed to grab him by the right foot and pull him back.

"Just because I have her powers, doesn't suddenly make me her." She looked at me with a quirky smile, one I'd only seen her give her future conquests. It made me a little uneasy.

"I see you have the strength to dismantle that thing."

"Can't we free the spirit without hurting him, he deserves better."

She looked at both of us. "Mental strength is also part of being strong. Your test isn't finished yet, but I need to go if I am to keep everything under my own control. Meet me at the hot springs. Bring a suit..." she looked me up and down, and I swear she licked her lips, it made me uneasy, that look, again, "or don't."

With that, she vanished. The armor wailed in frustration, then hung limp. The visor turned to glare at me.

"Perhaps I can put you down easy, by releasing you."

"It would be good to rest, I mean really rest. But someone must mind the witch."

"I don't think my friend will need much minding, but I will certainly attend to that task."

The armor sighed, "granted," I set him down, and after another little tingling feeling, saw how the armor and spirit were all connected, and how I could release him.

"Goodbye, rest well." I reached out and gave the armor a strong thump, every piece of it separated from the others and the spirit sighed, formed whole in silvery presence for just a moment, smiled, looked down at its un-gauntleted hands, flexing them then pressing them together as if in prayer, and then vanished with a smile and a wave.

I suddenly felt a very strong desire to don the armor myself, but backed quickly away. Then I turned around and took the plated belt and oversized buckle, picked up a plaid bed cover and pleated it around me, then held it up with the knight's belt. I took off the remains of my plaid shirt/jacket. The muscle tee was stretched to its limit and I reached under and removed the remains of my split pants. I tore off the sections with the wallet pocket and cargo pockets. The phone was in one cargo pocket and I draped it over the belt with the phone pocket on the outside, and the wallet and other pocket tucked on the inside. I looked one last time at the armor, resisting the urge to put on the helmet, and headed out the alleyway.

On my way back to the Hot Springs I couldn't resist stopping at the "ring the bell" carnival attraction. I made it shoot almost to the bell, then handed the hammer to a kid, "you try!"

The kid wobbled under the hammer, I knelt down and helped him steady it, "Aim for the outside edge, you'll get better leverage.Let the tool do the work." The kid lifted the hammer up and just as he let if fall, I gave it a pinky tap, sending the bell all the way to the top.

The crowd applauded and cheered, "Fist bump!" I held down my fist, it was larger than his head. He bumped me, all smiles.

People lined up to try the attraction, "Come back any time!" the operator shouted at me as I headed down the main walk for the exit. Lots of people wanted to stop and pose with me on the way out. I realized this would become tiresome pretty soon, I needed to go find some normal clothing that would fit, though I was quickly coming to the conclusion that there might not be any. My muscle tee had started to rip at the collar and under the arms. The Spirit of the armor was gone, I figured I would shrink back to normal size. If anything I seemed to be getting bigger.

I wondered what my students at Hot Springs Technical were going to think if this form didn't shrink back down. My friends and I were all "Senior Tutors" for the local University.

I decided to take the hillside path to the Hot Springs. The witch was waiting for me. She'd also changed her clothing, more modern than her predecessor, but every bit as revealing. Power seemed to radiate out of her. "I know why she thought she could rule the world."

"Rule the world?"

"Yes, this much power should never go to a megalomaniac."

"Are you sure that much power doesn't make you a megalomaniac?"

She slumped just a little then straightened up, "not as long as I have friends like you to keep me in check."

And that was when I knew, that was exactly what had happened. The powers in the alley had found two new hosts, only, we weren't playing along with the usual rules, and with only the belt from the armor, my powers just kept making me larger.

That was why there was a group of folks waiting for both of us at the changing house.

They wanted a sit down meeting with the witch, and made me wait in the lobby, which was way too small, I barely fit through the door, and the light fixtures were at eye level, so I had to stoop to move around. I noticed that there was an open space enclosed next to the lobby, completely unused. That was neat, being able to see the spaces in the building just by touching a wall. I tapped the concrete block wall, and it fell down. Revealing a trapezoidal area where I could actually stand upright. I used the rubble of the wall to build myself a chair. If the witch couldn't do something about my size, I was going to have trouble with my house. I was glad I had ten foot ceilings in most of the house. I'd still be ducking to get into my bedroom and the bathrooms.

My friend came storming out of the meeting room.

"All the local powers will be arriving soon, you need to be prepared..." a voice shouted at her from the conference room.

She cut of any further conversation by slamming the door shut on them.

"Nice chair. Get up, we have to go, there's people to save."

From behind the door I heard someone say "That's not your job! that's his, you'll upset the balance."

We left them behind and looked out over the field of hot springs, people were swimming in the well lit largest pool, and others were sitting in the smaller pools. No one, of course was anywhere near the boiling pools about half mile away. I noticed that the water was getting warmer, and that there was someone coming up from the depths.

"We have to get them out of the pool before it reaches the surface."

I shrugged and stood up to my full height, which was now somewhere near eight feet, I think. It was odd how much that two plus feet made everything look so much smaller. I shouted "Geothermal anomaly incoming, everybody out of the pool!"

That worked. I was surprised how loud I was, then noticed my friend had placed her hand on my back, I could feel the tendrils of her power pulling away from me. This could be trouble long term, I could feel it, she enjoyed playing the puppet master a little too much, and it made me sad. We made our way down the hill hand in hand, and her affection for me was palpable, I was very confused. I could see the creature below swimming for the surface, even though the water was too dark for normal vision. I leaned on the retaining wall, and without meaning to, caused it to collapse into the large pool.

I leaned over and waved both arms over my head at the creature to get it's attention, I waved it over away from the falling debris. It moved, and then watched the debris go by, hesitating.

A young man approached the other side of the pool and ran towards the cliff to dive in. Everyone around shouted "No!" at the same time. But he was already committed. He hit the water with a hiss and I could see him turning red even before his feet went under. My friend vanished and I knew she was trying to save the kid, I don't know that she'd have time. I turned my attention to the water boiling at me feet and stepped back from the heat. A large creature with a human face and segmented crayfish looking back and belly pulled itself out of the water.

"I am ready to defeat your champion!" As it stood up from my crouch he looked up at me and gulped. He held out a tube of gaming dice. "Do you have any dice?"

Now, I'm a long time game master with a dice addiction, so the answer was a resounding yes, only, they weren't on me. I asked if anyone had any dice to donate to the cause. After a few minutes I had a respectable pile of dice. He drew up a board on a broken cinder block and explained the rules, a combination of button men and some other dice territory games. Once I was fairly sure I understood the rules we chose our dice "teams."

I started talking to the Guardian of the Hot Springs, he liked that name. I asked him if he was the cause of the boiling, and he said no, it's a natural occurrence every decade or so. He could come up any time in some of the hotter pools, he just didn't like to, there weren't anyone who wanted to game with him. I could tell that wasn't entirely true, I was sure he spent a lot of time in the pools. I knew, somehow, that he could 'be' the water where it was above a certain temperature. The ritual of the Guardian of the Pool always ended up with people being injured, so he delayed as much as possible. I asked if he'd be able to surface before the event to warn people away. He stopped and looked at me.

"It would fit the name, you know." I said.

"I could, but the ritual..."

"Isn't this contest going to be the ritual this time?"

"Yes..."

"So why not every time?"

"Oh." He sat looking at me, thinking about it. "But what if I lose, er, don't lose?" I could tell he wasn't even close to losing our contest, so he was worried about it at the moment. That struck me as odd, until I realized that he liked being the Guardian of the Springs. I looked at the tiny number of mismatched dice I had in my dusty grey reserve field, two of them were little pink pigs, we decided that the number of feet they had on the ground would be the number they expressed, and then looked at large shiny matched dice he still had in his home row. No, this context was all but over, only a truly miraculous set of bad throws on his part and great throws on my part could turn it around.

"Shouldn't the winner decide if they want to be the Guardian of the Pools?" I suggested.

He thought for a moment, then brightened, "Well, duh. Yes." I felt the magic plonk of rules and links being re-arranged and wondered if this was part of my ability to see how things were connected, and then discombobulate them.

"How many of these folks do you think would want your position, even if they could beat you in a game you've had decades to perfect your play? Plus, you're going to take the dice I lost as sacrifice, aren't you?"

"Hadn't actually thought of that, but sure, except, I want to get my dice back from you."

"Happy to swap prisoners at the end of the match."

The monster laughed. I asked if he like role playing games. I wasn't sure why, but something told me it was the right thing to ask.

"It's the only thing I miss from up here."

"Maybe we can figure out something to do about that. We'll have to play close to here, so you can do your job if needed, but I think there's a place big enough if we can get permission to use it." I was thinking of the recently renovated changing house lobby.

He made his last plays and I conceded the game. We traded prisoners so he had his original set complete, and several new dice. He didn't have any pockets for them, so I tore my pockets apart, and gave him one of the cargo pockets from the remains of my pants. "I don't know how that will hold up in the long run, but I'll toss you something better when I get a chance."

"Hey, thanks, man."

"Anything you can do about the kid?"

I pointed into the pool. He leaned over and stuck his hand in the water. "He's not there."

"He was pretty red..."

"Nope, no bones, nothing. I think your girlfriend got him."

I found myself hoping so. I decided not to correct him on the girlfriend thing, since she liked to use some of the hotter pools from time to time.

"Well, this hot bubble should be mixed in enough in a few hours, let people know that when I'm gone it should be safe again." And with that, he did a flip backwards into the large pool, and started zooming around underneath. I watched him with a little bit of envy, I would have liked to swim like that.

I noticed the elder magic types standing around with sour expressions and pursed lips.

I was expecting the little old lady of the group to bust out with "That's not how this works, that's not how any of this works," but she didn't, she just looked at me, shook her head and sighed. I smiled and waved.

I couldn't find my friend anywhere, and it was getting late, so I decided to stop ogling the coeds in the hot springs and go home. I was amazed at how fast everyone seemed to forget there was just a giant human crayfish swimming around, and that no one seemed to find it odd to see an old giant in a kilt and torn under shirt hanging out at the pools.

When I got to my car I realized that I was bigger than it, I typically drove it with the seat nearly all the way back, so an extra three inches wasn't going to cut it. I picked up the front end and began to pull it along the road home.

-----

It took so long to document the first dream, even in low detail mode, that I don't remember anything about the second dream other than it took place in a hospital, and there was English Country Dancing, rolling intravenous stands, and wheelchairs involved.



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