Imagine you are having a dream. Imagine you dream  you are somehow transported to the distant past. You are a SF/F/TF fan so you know and like these kinds of scenarios. Modern-type person ends up stranded in a primitive world, like a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Martin Padway in Lest Darkness Fall, H. Beam Piper’s Lord Kalvan works. You know the tropes: natives are hostile but you establish communication and wow them with your technical knowledge which sometimes eventually creates a reactionary backlash against you from religious or superstitious types.

So in your dream you find yourself transported to a plain spotted with trees, you are given the dream knowledge that you are in the distant past, and while you are very scared you also feel a bit excited. You get to live out a scenario you have read about many times. You almost feel like a tourist making your first trip to a famous site you’ve long collected postcards for.

Your dream is a bit confused the way dreams can be. At one point you seem to be living with hominids. At another point you introduce monogamy. But the main thrust of the dream you are imagining is this.

(Sisters, you will have to imagine more than most. The dream you are imagining seems to have been originally intended for a man in parts).

There you are on this plain. You don’t know where you are and never do learn at any point. You eventually come across some hunters. You think based on their animal-skin clothing and stone spears you must be deep in the Stone Age.

The tropes you have learned do not apply.

You cannot speak the language at all, not even a little bit.

The natives are not hostile. They are a remarkably compassionate people. You are paler than them especially under your clothes (they are very curious about your clothes) but your facial structure and build are even more different. Perhaps because of these they treat you like a cripple. You feed yourself from the communal pot like the rest (there is quite a bit of drama in the dream when you do this, you are hungry but these people could kill you with a blow, but you gird up your courage to eat from the pot naturally and confidently like they do, not cringing and begging, and it works well enough). They try to explain things to you and help you as best as they can. They have the larger, brutal, savage facial bones you associate with maybe neanderthals or cro-magnons or cavemen or something, but it doesn’t look brutal or savage on them. They are all remarkably good looking. They are much stronger and fitter than you.  You feel like a goblin.

You don’t wow them with your technical insights. You rack your mind for what you, a humanities major, can teach a tribe of hunter gatherers. The answer is, not much. Traditionally it would be the formula for gunpowder but you don’t know the formula and anyhow they wouldn’t have a use for it. You think about germ theory, but they are hunter gatherers. They don’t foul their watering places, they change locations from time to time, and they don’t meet other people very often. There doesn’t seem to be a point. You think maybe hunter-gatherers had trouble with parasites some times, maybe a purgative or something would help? But you also vaguely recall you read somewhere that a lot of ancient gut parasites were probably co-evolved with us and we moderns suffer from too few, not too many. So you let that go. Just for fun at one point when there seems to be extra leather around you improvise a small loom to weave thin leather strips into a narrow cloth. You figure out, you don’t already know, how to tie the ends off. You just tie the ends off, there is probably a much better solution actual weavers would know. You also figure out how to take one section off the loom and weave the adjoining section to it, but you can only think how to do this in one direction. So you end up with this long shawl of woven leather about a foot wide and several feet long. They all love it for the novelty but there doesn’t seem to be much point to it. Still, you keep having the feeling that you should be introducing technical marvels to them and around when the dream ends you are beating on tree bark to see if it somehow turns into something like a fiber. They seem to be as skilled with medicine as you would be, though at one point someone has a fracture and you splint it and they think your splint is really neat. The fracture is a bit out of line and you have a hairy moment trying to work it back in place. You have no idea what you are doing moving the bones around. Someone figures out your intent and assists you.

(Now, outside the dream, you think that probably the buttons and pockets on your clothes would at least have made a difference to them.)

But you aren’t just a nobody either. Here is what you dream really happens. First, from right off, you discover that they love your singing. They are a music-loving people already. But you are heir to a long and rich tradition of music and basically you just know dozens or even hundreds of tunes that they don’t. They love all your songs. They love your rhythms. Later, when you succeed at teaching them to sing harmony, they literally roll on the ground laughing with delight.

You learn their language partly through a long process of pointing at stuff and repeating things, but mostly because at one point you get the gift of tongues and just know it. You are able to teach them some grammar concepts they find interesting and valuable. You compose words to your songs, they like that even better.

You consecrate oil and bless the sick and injured. It makes a remarkable difference. Your splint makes a minor technical improvement. Your priesthood healing and prayer makes a great difference, in their minds. They seem to indicate that they can almost physically sense or see forces gathering around when you do it.

But your apotheosis is when you introduce marriage to them. In a way. They are already monogamous but they way they do it is a guy takes the arm of a willing girl and they go off into the bushes and they are an item after that. It bugs you so one day you see a new couple headed out and you grab them and pull them back. You are hollering, ‘No, No, No! Like this! You, tell him you will obey him and have his children for the rest of your life! You, tell her you will protect her and give her children for the rest of her life!” They do and everyone is happy about it beyond words. They are crying. They all do these things anyway, but the idea of promising in a little rite has moved them more deeply than anything else did. It is like they see their marriages for the holiness that they are now. Before it was just something they did.

That is your dream.

The post Lost in Time first appeared on Junior Ganymede.

Continue reading at the original source →