Sunday Stories

cylinder

This is one of the longest posts I’ve written in the past 3 years.  I suppose I should do the © joelle LeGendre thing.  You can tell me if it’s worth the effort.

I think I’ll call this one in a series of Sunday Stories I’ll never write.  I have no idea when the next one is coming.  It’s not like I can pick and choose.

When my dreams play out like movies, they seem to be just as long.  This one was frighteningly real.

It started out 12, 000 years ago.  I’m standing in a semicircle of a cylinder home the shape of a water tank but the size of a 2 bedroom apartment.  The front looked like the kind of shop you might see in the western US around the 1800’s, interior rough-hewn wood furniture.  But the walls are a slick, smooth whiteness. 

On occasion, a hoard of savages tries to invade, but I touch the wall and it allows me to inter into the other half of the house.  Anyone who tries to intrude is electrocuted.  I don’t know how the bodies were disposed of.

The savages didn’t try to find a way into the other side of the cylinder.  They weren’t that smart.  If curiosity became a problem, the cylinder sank into the ground and a covering formed over it that looked like the dirt, rocks, sand and vegetation in the area.

That lasted until a time I believe was the Civil War era in the USA.  The man in command of an army wasn’t easily fooled.  He used his men to try to break into the other side of the cylinder. 

It’s at this point that, for the first time in the entire dream, I’m frightened.  I’m part of a team sent to study the planet, but never before have I encountered someone as driven to find the secrets of a home 12,000 years old.

During the first part of the dream, all that I saw was half the cylinder. 

During this part, as I’m forced to electrocute man after man sent to investigate, this dreamer gets to see the other half of the cylinder.   It has a containment unit that suspends life.  And that’s when I remember.  I’ve spent most of the past 12 millennia in this containment unit. 

But this is the first time I fear I’ll never wake up from it again.

It’s one thing to watch the occasional violent man writhe from a fatal electric shock.  It’s another thing to have them on top of your cylinder and have to watch a dozen men die in this way.  It disgusts me to see their commander order one after another to his death, while the coward sits on his horse.

During a moonless night, when the men are asleep and the guards are unable to see, the cylinder quietly sinks into the ground.  One of the men sent to guard it is sleeping on top. He’s crushed to death when the ground forms a tight cocoon over him, and disintegrated when the force field forms that protects it.  

But the commander isn’t fooled.  He orders men to dig into the ground. 

It’s years before the cylinder rises again, but that’s short lived.  The commander, obsessed with finding out what happened to it, has built a home nearby.  And he has scientists studying the area.  I’m forced to flee into the containment side of the cylinder as they tear apart the other half, wearing gloves and suits impervious to electric shock.

At this point, all I’ve seen is the 2 halves of the cylinder.  But now, I’m forced to go further underground.  The cylinder is like a shed on top of a building.  It’s presently doing it’s job keeping the natives occupied.  The real work goes on under the cylinder.

Hundreds of people live below, scurrying around to their posts.  I see my fear mirrored in their face.  During the entire dream I never once consider that help is on the way.

We are, as we have been, on our own.

For centuries, the savages considered the area sacred.  But nothing is sacred to the new, and smarter, incarnation of humanity. They’ve found a way into the cylinder. They’ve found my empty suspension container.  And they’re close to finding out how to get into the main area underground.

This is the part of the dream where I find out how the study of humans is conducted. Though a few of us mingle with the humans each century, and many are studied through a catch-and-release program, we arrived on the surface not as ourselves, but in the bodies of others. This is the reason we’ve never feared experiencing what it is to be human in their environment.  The human bodies die and we go back into a containment unit. 

I’m sent to walk among the humans, but these people aren’t the savages that couldn’t tell there was another half to a cylinder.  In less than 200 years, they’ve advanced to the point where they’re able to spot me, drag me into a laboratory, and throw me into a prison where others who ventured out before me are being held.  They can’t tell me why they haven’t returned to their containment unit and warn me that the walls have eyes and ears.

I’m not the first one sent to examine the population close up, but I am among the first to fear for my life.  Brutality augmented by spears is one thing.  Brutality augmented with technology is a threat to the universe. 

This cannot happen at any cost.

Our people only kill in self-defense. But these people, in this place, kill for information.  They want immortality.  They want the advancements inside our underground facility, and the power that goes along with possessing it.

This is the part of the dream where I find out why I was given cylinder duty. We’re peaceful beings in an untenable situation. We’re forced to create an explosion that’s going to take out half the city surrounding the observation facility. We understand that killing in self-defense is sometimes necessary, but I’m one of the few who can do it and remain sane. 

Yes, I am the only one who can, and will, do what is necessary to keep technology out of the hands of these people.  For once they possess it, billions will die on the planets they invade. 

I haven’t left my suspension containment unit.  The body I’m inhabiting is being tortured for information in the laboratory constructed by humans for the sole purpose of studying the underground base.   And they’re very, very close to finding a way in.

I can’t jump back into my body.  It requires someone to run the machine and they’re all in their containment units.  In desperation, I jump into a low level employee at the facility, with little time to escape the facility before detection.  No, I don’t know how I knew I could do this.  It’s a dream thing.

The body I need is presently inside the cylinder, examining my empty containment unit, and successfully make the jump.  I awaken my real body to begin the process of destruction necessary to keep technology that’s thousands of years ahead out of human hands.  I’m terrified at the thought that I’ll have to stay around in another human to be sure that the explosion has removed every scrap and nothing is left behind.   

But now there’s a new problem.  The Earth people know that consciousness can be transferred from one body to another.  Where can I go that I’m not going to be detected? 

I’m walking among the humans again; fear my constant companion.  A couple with a child is walking on the street in front of me.  Now, I become that child, whose consciousness inhabits a body very close to incineration.

An explosion rocks the city.  We live on the side farthest from the blast.  They’re unusually calm about it. 

At the end of the dream, I hear my new parents talking in whispers.  They were co-workers on assignment to study humans. They’ve been on the surface for years, and their ability to blend in has left them undetected.  They’ve been sending data back to the underground facility every second of their lives but now their link to our past has been cut off.  There’s no other choice but to live out their lives in bodies grown to be used as part of their research. 

At the very end of the dream, I find out that this is the real reason for the facility.  As low-level employees go, I was just about the lowest. 

Soldiers break into homes, scavenging the area for any of my people who may have escaped.  My new parents pass as human, I look like a shy little boy hiding behind my mother. 

We move to a home, far away from the city…and I’m awake.