Heterophenomenology with Werewolf
"... there could be talking bunny rabbits, spiders who write English
messages in their webs, and for that matter, melancholy choo-choo trains. There
could be, I suppose, but there aren't--so my theory doesn't have to explain
The doctor glanced up from the folder and gave her an appraising look. He did this without moving anything but his neck, as if suppressing his body's urge to send body language of any sort. Which was more telling, actually, in some ways. Of course, Julia told herself, he could be suffering from Psycho-Motor Retardation.
Or perhaps, upon reading her file, his prey instincts for survival kicked in. No sudden movements. Freeze and perhaps you'll be overlooked.
"You understand that I am no Dream interpreter?" he began as he finally straightened up.
Impatient and annoyed with being treated like a fragile soul, Julia cut him off. "Yes, I understand you're a clinical psychologist. You've written several articles for the popular magazines debunking Freudian theory, except as an observational model of individuals for that particular period in time in that particular society. Like Freud, you believe in observation and interaction. Unlike Freud, you don't give a whit for symbolism nor do you rely on your reactions to what I may express. There's an unseen third party to interpret my responses to your questions and also to measure your reactions to me, for a theoretically impartial observation. You are, in short, a heterophenomenologist, and therefor, perhaps, the complete opposite of a dream interpreter."
Dr. King blinked and quirked a smile. "I see... then I'm afraid I don't understand why you would come to me if you are bothered by these... dreams."
Because you're the last psychologist in this freakin' county to take my insurance, you stupid ass.
Julia sighed, trying to ignore her own mounting stress. "Because, I am afraid these dreams have taken the weight of..." Words failed her for a moment and she blushed with embarrassment. "...the weight of actual experiences, Doctor."
Dr. King nodded as he examined the situation in his mind. Sounding distracted, he said, "Well, I can see you're a very well spoken young lady. So, I cannot help but to notice that you are NOT saying that you are confusing these dreams for reality."
Julia nodded. "That's correct. I know these are just dreams; truly, incredibly lucid dreams. But in those dreams, I have a different affect... different mannerisms and different ways of talking and thinking. I--"
Go ahead, tell him about the blood and howling at the moon. He won't think you want to become a monster. Nor will he chase you around the room screaming that "you need it doggy style" and that "it's the only way to end these nightmares."
Julia sighed. "I'm not in my own body," she blurted out. "Or if I am, my body's changed... beyond recognition."
"I see," the doctor said thoughtfully and Julia flinched. They always said, "I see."
"I know these are dreams, I awaken in the morning often without even recalling them. They aren't nightmares, some of them are even... pleasant." Julia swallowed, knowing what she sounded like to her own ears. "The problem is... I find myself reaching for things that seem like an arm's reach away... and I'm surprised to discover my arm is only so long. Or if I am relaxed and someone asks me a question, my voice slips into another accent... as people do if they spent much time abroad. In my mind, I am distinct from this dream persona... but it is quite disturbing the way it seems to be bleeding into my waking hours." Julia flinched belatedly; the word bleeding threatened to open unpleasant memories.
Yet, they are not truly unpleasant.
The doctor nodded. "Julia, I am not going to lie to you. I am uncertain if I can help you. On the surface, it seems like an issue of a type of dysphoria. If that turns out to be the case, I may not be the person best suited to treat you."
Tell him you don't want to be treated. Or cured. Tell him you want to be guided. Helped along the way.
Julia sighed. "Well, if nothing else, I figure I'll make a good case study."
Dr, King gave her a hard look and Julia had to wonder if she somehow insulted him. She's done it before, never having been an actual "people person." Well, if his feelings are so sensitive, maybe he's in the wrong line of work, she told herself.
If only he's seen what you've seen, he'd believe you...
I have never seen it, Julia beat the thought away. Never. Not really.
There had been no brazier set before a giant's spiked skull giving off a plume of Jasmine scented smoke. There was no reaching into that smoke, watching it distort flesh and bone into something inhuman. It was just a dream and it meant nothing. I went my whole life without dreams, Julia scolded the shadows in her mind, and now that I am having them I just have to learn how to... how to...
But Julia found herself not knowing what exactly it was that she wanted, and that was something that just did not happen to Julia Vedder.
So, she told him about the dream and the brazier and, the moon came up, in conversation at least, and that led to the blood and the howling. Soon, however, she came to the realization that her time was up and she felt so... so... close.
"Let me speak with my partner," Dr. King said, "We don't have another appointment until quite late, and I do not believe he has any plans. Perhaps we can continue this." Julia thanked him as he slipped out of the room, down the hall out of her sight, and into a room full of monitors, watching Julia from every angle and nearly every spectrum. "Well...?"
The large brown werewolf turned, wearing nothing but fur and an amulet of a jade skull studded with spikes. He growled, "She's pretty close to shedding her pretty pink skin, but I think we need to throw her back. She's too small and not stressed enough. Maybe in another few weeks she'll be a warrior for our cause. If we awaken her now... she'd just be a girl with fangs and we have enough of those, don't we?"
Dr. King nodded and walked down the hall to ask Julia to come back next month. Preferably on the next full moon, if he could fit her in.
Final Score: 43 out of 50
Cool story, Greyflank, and well-executed from a Technical standpoint -- but it wasn't brought to life as richly as some of the other entries. It's almost more of a vignette than a story per se -- we don't really know much of anything about Julia or her struggles, nor do we know what the werewolves need warriors for. The elements that are here are pretty standard fare for "beast within"-type stories, and there's relatively little connection to the chalice seen in the image -- it's just part of a dream sequence, and thus does not have any particular significance that the readers are made aware of. Still, for what it is, this is a fun little short.
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