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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, January 16, 2018

Fever Dreams with Robots and...

The fever dream started like any other dream, a nice normal seeming classroom of ten year olds taking my "Robotic Programming" class. I was working a two hour a day shift at a private elementary school, teaching the very fun class with robots and then supervising the playground in the afterschool hour while waiting for parents to come get their students. All in all a very good gig. It was paying the bills while I used my pension to make board games. It was one of those classes where I had as many parents in the room helping as I had kids.

One afternoon, as the classroom began to empty out, the Principal arrived to tell me that they were cutting the class. I pointed to the parents still straightening up the room and kids still excitedly reviewing what they'd accomplished. I didn't understand the decision. She reassured me it didn't have anything to do with my teaching or my class, it was that the board had decided to purchase a new turnkey curriculum and my course couldn't be fit into the new system. She handed me an envelope with my current pay and two weeks extra. I said thank you, but pointed out that I had a contract for the full school year that would have to be bought out. "Unless we can find you another position, which we're trying to do."

I was still mighty unhappy about the situation, but resolved to deal with it another day. I stuffed my anger down and went back to helping clear out my classroom. One of the moms was a labor attorney, she handed me her business card, "just in case you decide you need me." I thanked her and went out into the playground to fulfill my after school supervision. Kids eventually got picked up. Several of the other teachers had stayed behind and we all went into the school, having to duck between the movers who were packing up everyone's classroom in neatly labeled boxes, even taking apart the school's furniture. We watched in disbelief as box after box with our class names on them went out of the building to be loaded up on big trucks. The Principal arrived to let us know that the board had agreed to let us teachers go through the materials from our classrooms to keep what was ours and any thing else they weren't using before it was all sold at auction. A couple of my colleagues were shouting and upset that the movers were packing up their private stuff, including one who's purse and car keys (thus her way home) had already been packed. We managed to intercept the box from her room before it got put on the truck and rescued her personal belongings. I went to my room and grabbed my hat and coat as well as my computer bag, figuring I had the time to go get anything else later.

Saddened by the state of things, I asked why the Board hadn't retrained their current staff, and she started to tell me that there was no robotics... I cut her off, and asked about all of the basic education teachers, some who'd been at the school for decades, weren't re-trained.

"That doesn't concern you."

I put on my coat and hat and stepped out into the stormy afternoon. The weather had changed to match my mood, dark threatening clouds, hints of thunder in the distance, the thick smell of pent up rain. I walked out into the public park.

A row of Thundermen appeared and gathered in front of me, grey fedoras, beige trench-coats, black shoes with wide white spats, immaculately tied ties over white shirts. They stopped my progress. They lined up behind the leader, and a row of apparently meaningful gestures began to form behind him. While I couldn't make out what they were trying to signal I mimicked the gestures as best I could. My Beige trench-coat and fedora (green instead of grey) seemed to confuse them a bit. Finally, after exchanging some pleasantries, and commenting on the delightful lightning and thunder that had begun in the sky behind the school, the leader of the thundermen told me I could be locked in the bathroom until the storm passed, or I could re-enter the school through J-3. I had no desire to be locked in the public restrooms, so entered the classroom, which was still having its desks assembled, oddly, in the desks that were already put together, there were students, or some sort of simulacra of students already seated and working on their lessons. I had a very uneasy feeling, the teacher looked up from her planner and I apologized for the interruption, moving through the room into the schools central hallway. There I ran across the Principal who was beaming at how efficient and trouble free it was all going to be. I started to worry about what was going to happen to all of our students. Were they being replaced, too?

I made my way through the faculty room, and out onto the little patio that faced the open hillside behind the school. Lightning filled the sky, thunder rolled across the valley and shook the windows of the school, I could hear them rattling all down the length of the building. I looked out to see the fluffy pink bunnies and leaping unicorns lightning struck and suddenly come to life. The plastic cavorting turned into the real thing, accompanied by a tinkling and high pitched whistling music, they danced under the darkening sky until they seemed as one, to notice me watching. They lined up facing me, much in the same way as the lightning men. I started to make the same gestures and then stopped myself, speaking directly to the head unicorn instead.

She blinked. Obviously not expecting me to actually try to interact with them. At first she seemed to think I was a Thunder man, and wanted to run me through, but I somehow managed, by taking my hat off and bowing, I think, to convince her that I was just a former teacher who'd been replaced. This saddened her and she raced away, leaving me to watch her fluffy bunny and unicorn minions cavort to unearthly music. Eventually she returned, accompanied by a large pink and white dragon. The dragon had to be as big as the school she surveyed from end to end with a single sweep of her long neck. She settled over the hill and curled around her bunnies and unicorns, shielding them with one giant wing. She began to shoot the unicorn who'd spoken with me, jolt after jolt of pink lightning.

"Stop" I shouted. "She hasn't done anything wrong!"

"You live, Thunder man, that is not to be tolerated, I will get to you in a moment."

I don't know where the courage to do so came from but I stepped in front of the unicorn, letting my wet trench coat drag the lightning to the ground. I felt the tingle on my feet, but though painful, it wasn't in any way debilitating.

"If you kill her, how will she learn and become an even better leader for you?"

The dragon stopped mid breath. Her great head lowered down to my own, her eyes, as large as myself, took turns looking at me. I felt like I'd been put in a giant MRI or CAT scan machine.

"You are not a Thunder man."

"Thanks, I think."

With that she picked me up and flung me high in the air over the hill and above the clouds. I don't know how every bone in my body wasn't broken by ahd acceleration. I found myself cresting the top of my arc in the clear sky overlooking a vast ocean and a road, suspended in the air. There were small figures, moving, single file along the road as I flashed overhead. A rope was tossed to me and I managed to grab it as I dipped below the road. I crammed my hat on my head, and held on with both hands as the rope curved my fall into a pendulum swing just below the roadway. I pumped and at the crest of the next swing back, managed to grab the hands that were being offered down below the road edge. The large scaled arm pulled be up past the road and let me down on my feet.

It was an assortment of characters, I think from my own gaming past. The large spear toting Lizard Man, a pair of spindly hobbits in all black kit, and an elf of surprising beauty with two longswords on his (her?) hips. The only one I didn't recognize was a nearly topless scaled woman with short curled horns and long nails. Like the Lizard Man, she had a long tail, whip-like rather than trunk-like. They greeted me and one of the hobbits asked if I was a Thunder Man. The Lizard and Demon Girl looked like they were ready to throw me back off the skyway.

"No" was all I could manage to croak. I checked my bag, somehow it hadn't dumped anything. I took off my hat and bowed, that seemed to convince them. I surmised at that point that the hat was part of a thunder man, so they couldn't do that.

"Where are we going?"

"To the other end of the road!" chimed in the hobbit twins, getting disgruntled looks from their companions.

The elf spoke, explaining that they were on a quest and had traveled on the skyway for the better part of two days. They believed they were much closer to their destination than their beginning, which was, though civilization, nothing the matched what I knew. Plus I only had a muffin and a half bottle of water in my back, so didn't fancy going that way until I could replenish my supplies. The Hobbits were the only two in favor of letting me travel with them, but somehow they managed to convince the demon girl after the two women had a hurried conversation out of earshot of the rest of the group. They resumed travelling, single file, except for the hobbits who trotted ahead of the group hand in hand.

"They are a cute couple," I volunteered, trying to make conversation.

"They're twins." The Lizard man grunted, shouldered his spear and leaned forward to pull away from me. The elf had dropped back far behind us and only the demon girl stayed close enough to converse with until we met the end of the road.

I had to explain that I wasn't flying but falling, as I'd been thrown by the pink and white dragon. The hobbits looked at the elf and said "your prayer must have worked!"

"I doubt that." The Elf had barely spoken to me the whole trip, he seemed to have something against me from the very start, but never revealed what he was thinking or feeling.

It had been much easier to befriend the Lizard man, I taught him tic-tac-toe, and despite there not actually being toes in the game, he was quite taken by it.

The Hobbits seemed to love everyone equally, and the Demon Girl, seemed to be practicing sultry on the Elf, and not succeeding, ignoring the Lizard Man, who seemed all too interested. I had the impression that there was some history there best left lie. She would at least converse with me, explaining her own world and listening intently to tales of my own "crushingly boring" world, which the hobbits seemed to enjoy.

We sat at the end of the road, obviously not what any of us were expecting. I noticed that there was a large blue square with writing in it, but I couldn't make it out from where we were.

Soon I found myself being lowered on the end of the rope. "Press to Call" was what the writing said. I asked them to pull me up and we looked around, but didn't find a button like it in the covered bridge area, at least, not on the side we were on. One of the hobbits took the rope and tied it around her waist. The Lizard man tossed her over to the other side. She landed with a giggle, and found the button, but it had been smashed in and wasn't working. They hauled her back over, and I thought of an idea.

The rope wasn't long enough for me to swing over to the skyway support column, though. I then thought of another idea. We filled up my water bottle and unraveled the knitted border of my sweater to lower it towards the button, again not long enough, until they lowered me on the rope. The bottle landed on the four foot square button, and the elevator shot towards me. the team started pulling me up, but I still slammed into the platform. The bottle rolled off the button and the elevator slowed to a stop and began to fall. I managed to recover enough to pull the bottle back up and roll over to the button. Whoosh, the elevator slowed and then accelerated skyward.

It took a few tests to figure out how to raise and lower the platform smoothly enough not to launch me into the ceiling, or more importantly to land at less than terminal velocity. Apparently whatever controls were supposed to be in operation were no longer working. I drove the platform up to the team and they let me fly them back to the ground. The elf looked greener than usual after the trip down, but the hobbits wanted to stay and see how fast they could make the elevator go back up. As we left One of the hobbits had put a rock on the button I turned in time to see the elevator platform crash through the roof of the bridge structure at the top of the skyway, and then come fluttering, obviously no longer under control back to the ground. We all ran out of the range of the falling debris. When the Elf started to chastise the hobbits they just pointed at each other.

Somehow they convinced me to come with them rather than build a hundred foot ladder to climb back to the roadway. (Even though I was pretty sure the roadway didn't lead back to where I needed to go, I felt it was at least closer to home.) There was a short barrage of other travel stuff. Something to do with a big blue glowy thing, and a pretty wild celebration party that ended with an acrobatic naked tangled celebration between the Demon Girl, Hobbit Girl and myself. The team asked the pink dragon to send me home. Good thing I hadn't tried going back by the skyway.

There was a knock on the door. The police were looking for me, as I had gone missing. I explained that I had been playing a video game the whole time, and was right here. They looked dubious. I noticed the figures on the screen were the Lizard Man, Demon Girl, Elf and Hobbit Twins with a Long Coated stranger in a Green flat brimmed hat. They were waving good-bye as the stranger headed into a pink and white portal and the rest of the team, escorting a wagon with a strange blue glow coming from under a tarp, headed into town, they turned and waved, not at the portal, but at the screen. I was at my computer, but dressed in the clothing I'd been wearing since my "disappearance" including an adventure's worth of wear and tear. Not to mention a bag of gold coins and semi-precious stones that I might have some difficulty explaining.

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