Leah Milanovic – Deakin University
June 14th 3074
They know we exist. Morrow says he was seen by a spy-eye at the brook. He says it was a yellow-bellied frog, says he knew because the glass of its eye reflected the sunlight.
“What did you do about it?” Khorus demands.
Morrow says he tackled it into the running water and tore off a limb so its circuits were exposed before bolting back here. He arrived at our clearing barefoot, with his clothes bundled in his arms and only a short towel around his waist.
Khorus is mad-frustrated. He’d dragged Morrow deeper into the forest, without the chance for Morrow to dry off or dress. I’d followed closely.
Khorus is silent, he makes the inevitable decis–
< Data Missing >
June 17th 3074
It hurts to lie on the built up forest fuel. Leaves that look soft only hide stones and twigs that threaten to cut and bruise.
I’m peering over a tree root. I’m trying not to breathe. In the distance I see men, suited for combat stamping through the forest in heavy boots. The slim firearms they have in the hands, pressed against their shoulders, are tranquilizers. The long, wide canons held over their shoulders shoot nets for our capture.
They’re pulling a netted Earnise off the dirt, they speak to her in low, smooth tones, “It’ll be okay.” She’s crying, screaming.
One man carries Jorald’s nine yearold body in his arms. Jorald’s neck is unsupported, his head hangs low, neglected.
I wince. Something’s bit my ankle, I kick it off, a rabbit darts away. The men have noticed, I see, looking over my shoulder. I’m already running. There’s nowhere to g–
< Data Missing >
…I step onto the uneven square stones and pull the wooden door back into its frame. Water laps the deck a metre from the doorway. I lift my flounced skirts and totter to approach it in these embellished heels. I press my gloved hands onto the rusted iron railing before me, leaning over to peer as far left, and then as far right, as possible.
Lanterns flare at irregular intervals, hanging off the sand coloured brick of buildings. Their light dyes the black canals warm oranges and dull golds, highlighting the crawling ripples…
I feel like the only earth child here. Everyone else has become figments of their own imagination.
Allow me to digress. On November 18th 3073, at UTC 4:53am, an asteroid was located on course for collision with Earth. It was expected to hit the coast of South America by November 24th 3073, at UTC 5:47pm. With urgency, the United Nations agreed to meet the asteroid with 40 nuclear missiles.
Debris that fell upon the globe wasn’t a concern once NASA realized the explosion had pushed Earth slightly closer to Venus. The reduced diameter of our orbit lead to a shift of gases in the atmosphere, which thus transformed all natural reactions.
Suddenly Earth was heating faster due to its new proximity with the sun. Our carbon emissions became more destructive, withholding the heat in our sphere.
Scientists predicted our orbit would steer wider over time, but until then we were risking our lives in a fragile ecosystem. Population declined daily, yet nobody wished to abandon the society time had worked hard to establish.
I am Atarah Hilt and I have retained partial consciousness in an unreal dimension. This dimension, or new world, derives from mass subconscious, which was, until four years ago, an unlocked element of human potential.
Meditation is a known practice around the world. Through meditation one can transcend their physical body to the boundary between being awake and being asleep. It is a suspended dreamlike state, which has been explored– the possibility to share this state, unveiled.
Projections of self come together in a world that shares the same laws as our dreams. It is an idealistic world of tranquility, where suffering is omitted.
I cannot physically record my progress in this world. Facts on paper will disappear in this dream state as soon as they are forgotten. I can only rely on the database of memory in my mind to log my quest to escape this fate.
In another space of memory I have retained events from my past, I know who I am but the path to becoming who I am is more uncertain than regular memory. The memory database I record in stores thought patterns as a report. I must think as I would write, for the information to later be harnessed as a form of electronic data. I cannot store images. It is not yet a reliable method, I have no information of the progress in this field and yet, I have to believe it’s reliable.
After our capture, the Seekers divided the twelve of us Hiders, into the back of their vans and carted us, cuffed and chained, to their domain over three days.
I spent those days curled beside a member of my tribe, a girl named Orani. We were the only two in the enclosed space who had our wits about us, caught without tranquilizers. This fact was eating us up, had we not resisted enough? Were we so weak that we could be dragged away with little force?
With no audience to engage with, the news in the world I recently left, progressively slowed. The last topic on the lips of the people was the Medicpods.
Medicpods were to keep us from harm, by putting us to rest. Medicpods have regulated airways that recycle the carbon dioxide as well as provide nutrients to be respirated. Coffins for the living.
Ironically, fearful of death, many volunteered for captivity in Medicpods. The capsules were their salvation. However, it’s a quick-fix method, largely untested with lurking consequences. If you weren’t willing to give up your real life, you became a Hider.
To counter Hiders they brought in Seekers to track and catch. They work with the assistance of spy-eyes, robotic replicas of living creatures. Spy-eyes signal a person’s coordinates the moment they spy them, but they weather and break easily– most often before they find anything– so they’re not an assured method of tracking.
I cannot recall the layout of the ‘storehouse.’ When we had arrived, the van’s doors were flown open and we were passed out to the awaiting doctors. They held syringes and wrestled to prod the needle through our skin.
When I came to, I didn’t. I could not wake further than the dream they spoke of in the papers. Of course, at the time, I didn’t recognize it as the new world. It took me, what I think was two days, to understand something was awry.
I was milling with girls my age on the grey stairs outside the city. A circle of quality gowns and solemn white plaster masks with exuberant, glossy-red lips, black rimmed eyes, arrays of glitter paint swirls and the occasional dotting jewels.
We were waiting for someone and passing the time gossiping about boys in a whisper. My right hand was clamped over my upper left arm, it felt like concrete had set under my skin. I focused my thoughts on why. It had been aching for as long as I could remember and I couldn’t remember how far back I could remember.
As per custom I pinched the skin of my arm. The concrete seemed to liquify and trickle down into my fingers before disappearing entirely.
The sensation that followed was key to it all. It’s like falling back from your face, like your face is a mask hovering in midair and you see the circles you had been looking out of. You continue to fall back slowly until you see a projection of yourself growing smaller.
It is coming to acknowledge that you have a physical body but unsure how to move it. You have fingers but can’t control them and your toes are miles away. The air you breathe is cool but it still carries the scent of the dream and when you think you’ve opened your eyes, you haven’t. You can see whatever you can imagine, but you can’t see what is real.
…I fold onto the seat and smooth my skirts. The old man before me waits until he’s sure I’m settled.
“Heading towards the carnival, are we?” he asks, in the lighthearted but heavy voice I’ve noticed old people tend to have.
He’s looking over my head, watching a young couple, smiling for each other as they dance over the stones to the faint hum of music.
“Yes,” I reply flatly, no intention to blur in with the others. “Please take me to the centre square.”
I want to get as far away as possible, I want to get as far away as possible.
He pushes the gondola away from the deck steering into the expanse of darkness– we cannot see where the sea meets the night sky.
We sweep away from the festivities and we leave the glowing lights in the care of the floating city.
t’s not unusual that this world works in unusual ways but I’m still uneasy. New laws, new principles and no handouts for what they’re about. All that was known is now undefined. For instance: gravity, time.
I am learning things everyday. I hypothesize and I experiment. I feel I can conclude that the mind state we share allows for subconscious connections, wherein what I long for is sought out as another’s objective. Of course, without either of us realizing the set up.
If I would like to be complimented on my appearance, the tidy girl sitting across from me in the library or the man from the dry-cleaners, someone will pay me that compliment. This is the logic I applied with the gondolier, he assumed we were heading for the carnival – we docked at a fishing port.
Somewhere along the way the gondolier had changed from his striped shirt and necktie into overalls and gumboots. With my next breath I choked on a thick smell, which alerted me we were coming in with a catch. The sleek gondola had become a long fishing vessel, with nets decorating the side and I knew I also had to change.
I couldn’t see locals from my seat on the boat and thus I had no idea what I should be wearing. I am always nervous at these times, as this is when it is necessary to give myself up to the dream.
Though the breath of my physical body must have been steady, I was panting in the dream, as if I had come up from a nightmare. I had to muster strength in mental power to return to a stable breath. I woke to the same level of awareness I’d had previous to surrendering my will, wearing three-quarter length jeans and an oversized tee-shirt with a print of a dancing tea set.
The subconscious state principally reacts exactly as a dream, with unexpected transitions and without explanation.
When one, like myself, is partially conscious and wishes to stay that way, every move becomes a risk. A risk of alerting the Monitors. Monitors come and go from the state of subconscious. They wander between cities, between dreams, watching for radicals trying to escape. By all means, I’m not the only one. I’ve seen men and women, young and old, fighting to escape the confinement of the Medicpods, the clutches of the Medics.
A Monitor, and you can always spot a Monitor not bothering to fit in, will arrive before a radical can, I suppose, wake anyone else up. They disappear from their position and, although it may startle some, it is no ones concern.
This dream allows for no explanation.
… I don’t understand. I remember a bustling market. I remember turning a bangle over in my palm. I remember feeling drowsy.
I’m lying down. I’m under glass. A plastic tube is running into the translucent skin at the crook of my left elbow so I lift my thin right hand to the glass. With slight pressure it raises automatically. I struggle to sit up.
I catch my estranged reflection in the metal cart beside my bed.
Leah Milanovic is that not-so-down-to-earth, endangered species kind of girl that no one ever knows best. If her pen is at pause, you can guarantee her mind is at whirl. Leah’s blood type is W-Positive. The ‘W’ in the term standing for ‘Writer.’