Thursday, July 17, 2003

Writing exercise: An overdose of insomulin

And so, his imagination soaked with it, each night he dreamed a world of his own. A world the size of that we know, but circling a giant planet as a moon; following its orbit but unrotating on its own axis, so that each night and each day lasted one half a month. Each night would have a coldest part, when the moon passed through its parent’s shadow, both hemispheres out of the light of the sun.

He dreamed of its inhabitants, of pallid Candlemen, their heads crowned with anemone tendrils that gleamed with latern-fish light and gathered smaller creatures of the night into a concealed mouth. Such people might look human in part, but would need no lips or mouth upon their face.

Somnambulists, too, might live in such a world – beings with two nervous and organic systems within the one body, so that half of them might sleep while the other half woke and took control. Two intelligences could thus share one person, each moving between waking sleep and sleeping wide-awake. Somnambulists would be large, but not strong, and have two sets of eyes that never opened together. What social order would serve a race like this? How do four people with two bodies chose to breed or marry?

In all of this strangeness, he dreamt a human colony, founded on a shipwreck, abandoned. A city built about the petrified remains of two giants, and the creature they died fighting: a fist, a face, a talon extruding as vast obsidian slabs from the soil. A city that mixed law and lawlessness, five wards with courts where a judgement is as it was in Irish myth – a doom that alters one’s fate. The wards draw their strength from the giant’s relics. Beyond are the lawless grounds, where all is free but fierce. Among the men and women move people built of perpetual clockwork, able to act out a precisely ordained fate, changing only if by some accident they should ever need re-winding – their memories lasting only as long as their gears turn.

He saw a strange, precise society, turning on its old grooves, run more by judges than its governor and wondered what might come to pass if the colony should even meet its founders once again.

Sometimes the memory of it kept him from sleeping, and sometimes the dreaming of it made him slow to wake.

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