THE FORESTS OF THE MOON
Copyright 2001, S Hartwell

This is an attempt to make sense of a disorienting dream I had 25th November 2001. I seemed to have slipped from one reality into another and at the same time I seemed to have been around forever. At the same time I was having disturbing episodes of time disjoint; seeing things as they used to be or, confusingly, as they will become. It is most eerie to be talking to someone and to briefly see how they looked as a child or to see a flash of their future; the person they will become and perhaps a hazy image of a child they've not yet had or a spouse they've not yet met. I tried to tie up the threads of these flashes into the dream images and the dream emotions.

It's the problem with being a transient being - one mis-step and you've crossed from one reality into another. Transient immortal sounds a contradiction in terms and it's a damn confusing way to live till you get used it. Imagine it - a lifespan measured in centuries rather than years. Not truly immortal I grant you, but in human terms we might as well be. That's the easy bit explained. Transient? In terms of how long we stay in any one reality we are transient beings. If we're careful and concentrate, we might stay around for a few years and start to get the hang of a place and time. Lose focus and we side-step into somewhere else - something just slightly different from where we were before.

And you want to know the really odd thing about it? When we arrive, it's like we had always been there. It's as though only our minds slipped from place to place, sliding into a pre-existing body like shucking off one set of clothes and slipping into another. I say we because I'm sure I can't be alone. I just haven't met another one like me yet.

So what's it like slipping and stepping from one life into another? It's like existing everywhere at once in a million splinters scattered through the infiniverse. And I step from splinter to splinter. Everywhere I go, I am still "me" - it's just that I'm "there" instead of "here". If you understand what I'm getting at.

Damn, this isn't making sense. I doesn't make sense to me and I'm the one toing and froing between universes or realities or however you like to view the time-space continuum or quantum universes or alternate realities or infiniverse or happentracks or however you like to describe existence. Let me give you an example.

Sometimes I'll be in the middle of a meeting with people and my attention wanders. I see everyone about me as they looked aged six. Or seven. There they sit with their school-kids' faces superimposed on the here and now. I call it time disjoint; I've slipped anchor in the here-now and come slightly drift in time. That tiny warning of time disjoint is mostly enough to snap me back into the here-now - wherever the here-now happens to be at the time. Sometimes though, sometimes I lose it for just long enough that the time disjoint became a real disjoint. I try to anchor myself again and I see the same faces, same meeting, but it's a different reality. And it's rarely back to somewhere I'd been before. In fact never. I just keep moving forwards and a little bit sideways, but never back.

So I'm in this new reality and the moon is green and looks four times bigger than it was in any other of the realities I've lived in. That's because it's closer to the earth. Consequently there is much less dry land and much more ocean. On the wall outside of the meeting where the time disjoint happened (never mind imagining your audience naked, imagine seeing every one of them as a pre-schooler and wondering whether you've come adrift of time long enough to move from universe to universe - that's really weird) there is a map.

So the earth where this splinter of myself exists is mostly ocean. The Scandinavian countries are recognisable on the map but you can forget about the western edge of Europe. The Netherlands never happened. The Low Countries never poked their landscape up above sea level. Great Britain? What was Scotland in the last place I dropped anchor is a collection of islands in this place. The Pennines form a long island and a few dabs of land can be seen, but that's about it for England especially East Anglia which has never been anything other than sea-bed this time round. Parts of Asia haven't fared much better this time round either, but it's what's in the sky that's really interesting.

While I may have slipped unobtrusively into another splinter of my own pan-dimensional existence, I don't always know the quirks of the new place. Like - why is the moon green? Why is it 4 times bigger than it is everywhere else I've been?

Turns out it's bigger because the comet which nearly wiped out African proto-humans a few million years ago knocked the moon into a closer orbit. The practical upshot of this near miss included a planet mostly covered with water, no polar icecaps and a planetary population only a fraction of most other realities' earthly population. And earth is still overcrowded! The chronic overpopulation is largely due to having very little dry land on which to live.

The moon is green not because I've found myself in a place where the moon really is made of cheese, but because it is covered in trees. The moon is a big tropical forest with an oxygen-rich atmosphere capable of sustaining animal life. And I've just walked out of a meeting where scientists are trying to work out how to colonise the forests of the moon.

It's an eerie sensation looking up at that moon. It's so close I want to duck my head because it seems like it's falling towards me. So green, with varied shades of green. Of all the realities I've seen, this one is the most different.

I wonder what the moon will be like in the next place I pass through?

DRAGONQUEEN'S LAIR

You are visitor number: