As I log off the Chakat’s Den website, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to be a chakat. They seem to be pretty close to ideal creatures to be - strong, resilient, intelligent, and free from the prejudices that seem to permeate our society so such. Plus, they combine both male and female into a single unified form. Whilst I’m happily heterosexual, I can’t help but wistfully wonder what it would be like to experience sex as a woman.
With a sigh, I shut down my computer and head to bed. I spent a few minutes reading from a book at random to relax. I have several on the bed-side table, the sort that I can enjoy for a quick read without getting engrossed. Now sufficiently relaxed after the long day, I turn off the lights and go to sleep.
There was a rush of activity as the severely injured chakat was guided into the intensive care section of the hospital on an anti-gravity sling. The ambulance driver, a soberly clad human in his early twenties, shouted "I’ve got the casualty from the Humans First riot". Rushing to assist, a chakat doctor took charge of the floating unit and guided it swiftly to a nearby operating theatre. Urgent care would be needed to see that the poor victim would not become another statistic of the terrorist group who seemed determined to drive all non-humans off of the Earth.
As the doctor hooked up the chakat to an IV, and applied an anaesthetic, shi was surprised to see the wounded chakat briefly regain consciousness and feebly move. Barely audible, even to sensitive chakat ears, shi heard the faint question "What about my mate?"
Compassionately, and with some sorrow, the doctor looked down and said "I heard the report before you were brought in. You were the only chakat survivor."
Looking up with pain and disbelief, the chakat seemed determined, yet still unable, to make a howl as shi slipped back into unconsciousness.
Everything seems fuzzy, and a little out of focus. I also seem to have trouble concentrating properly. With a start I realise that I must be dreaming. That in itself is unusual, since I’ve very rarely realised that I’m dreaming during a dream. Suddenly, in front of me, a chakat appears. Just like they were pictured in the various pictures on the Chakat’s Den website, yet with infinitely more presence, since the best of images were still only two-dimensional. This chakat was covered in a general covering of light orange fur, punctuated with flecks of white that almost looked like stars.
The other distinguishing feature is the intense look of heartache and sorrow. It carves itself on the chakat’s face, and I stare dumbly as shi raises hir muzzle and howls in agony. Not knowing what else to do, I reach my arms around hir and attempt to provide what little comfort I can, rubbing hir on the back and gently patting hir as shi continues to sob.
Somewhat curiously, my arms themselves seem to be covered with a uniformly light white fur, but I push it from my mind as I attempt to comfort the crying chakat.
The next day, I can still clearly remember the details of the dream. The look of the chakat, the various textures of hir body, and how it felt to be cradling hir in my arms. It was one of the most memorable dreams I’ve ever had. I can’t help but hope to have more such dreams in the future.
Stargazer weakly opened hir eyes and looked around. Shi seemed to be in some kind of hospital. Shi felt groggy, which was unusual for hir - shi was a morning person, and usually awoke full of energy. Looking down, shi appeared to be strapped down prone in a cot on hir back, with several tubes connected to hir body. For a moment shi wondered what on earth had happened to hir, but then it all came crashing back to hir. The riot. Shi and hir mate, Farrunner.
They’d been out for a casual stroll, and had blundered into the demonstration at the worst possible moment. It was yet another one of those riots agitated by members of the Humans First terrorists, trying to push all morph species off the planet. The mob, braying for blood, had wanted a target. And two chakats, "dual sexed freaks", had been the perfect candidates.
They had put up a brave defence. Both chakats, with their superior strength, had made a valiant attempt to break free from the mob. But to no avail. Hir last memory was Farrunner, trying to shield hir, being swarmed over by enraged humans. Then.. nothing.
A vision of the doctor surfaced in hir memory. Again the words flowed out, piercing hir heart "you were the only chakat survivor." This time, shi was able to raise hir muzzle and let out a soft howl of pain, as tears flowed down hir cheeks.
I seem to be dreaming again. The thought comes to me easily, since I seem to be in a formless expanse. Nothing but grey as far as the eye can see. I seem to be standing on something, but it too is as grey and featureless as it’s surroundings.
It’s looking down that I get a shock, seeing my breasts. Whilst it’s not exactly the first time I’ve had a dream where I’ve been female, it’s by no means a regular occurrence. Looking at myself further, I realise that I’m not just female, I’m a chakat. Looking at my arms in wonder, I can see that they’re covered in a light white fur, terminating in hands that have the tips of claws extruding from the digits.
I use my hands to feel my body, particularly my breasts. Touching them brings a strange, but not unpleasant, sensation as I briefly rub them, and touch the nipples. Turning my head, I can see the remainder of my chakat body. It seems my entire body is uniformly covered with a similar light white fur, giving me the look of an albino.
I look in wonder at my long, prehensile chakat tail. Experimentally, I try moving it around. It seems I have full control over it. A grin splits my muzzle as I realise that I seem to have full control over the body. I break into a walk, amazed at how effortlessly it seems to be to control four legs, when by all rights I should be tripping over myself. Gaining confidence, I break into a run, delighting in the feel of the muscles shifting under the skin, and the raw sense of power.
That is, until the same chakat appears suddenly in front of me. Shi again seems to be in some despair, as shi quietly lays sitting on the ground, with hir eyes closed and tears flowing from hir eyes. Shi doesn’t seem to register my presence, so it I sit down in front of hir, and gently touch hir face to wipe away the tears. Shi reacts to my presence then, hir eyes flying open to stare at me. I take the initiative, and gently ask hir what’s wrong.
In a halting voice shi says "My mate... Farrunner.. was killed in a riot. I survived, and shi didn’t. I’ll never see hir again". This seems to be the limit of hir explanation, as shi breaks down, and begins softly howling again.
I move in closer and gather hir into my arms, repeating my motions of the previous dream, rubbing hir on the back and softly murmuring comforting words to hir. Not resisting, shi leans into me as I allow hir to have a good cry. Finally, seeming to have cried hirself out, shi tries to wipe away hir tears. "Thank you for your kindness." Pausing to look around, shi carries on "This must be a dream. Do you have a name?"
That gives me pause. This chakat thinks it’s a dream as well? Is it possible for a dream figure to know that it’s a dream? Theoretically possible, I suppose, although I can’t remember any time it’s happened. It’s rare enough that I realise it’s a dream, let alone some figure within a dream.
The chakat is still waiting for a reply, I realise, and focus on hir question. A name for myself? I pause for a moment and then smile. "Call me Chakat Lightfur".
The dream has severely rattled me. I’m not sure what to make of it. It seemed so real in it’s own right, yet I know it would be wistful thinking to consider it anything more than a vivid dream.
Whatever it’s nature, though, I’m determined to experience it again. The feeling of being a chakat was, in it’s own way, intoxicating, and I want to experience it further. Over the years, I’ve heard about lucid dreaming techniques, where a person can use outside stimulus to help them realise that they’re dreaming, and thus take control of the dream. Indeed, Star Trek Voyager used the very idea effectively in an episode once. If I can learn it, it may be possible to guide my dreams towards further meetings with my dream companion.
. . .
I’ve been doing a lot of research on the topic of lucid dreaming, digging up some pretty fascinating information. There are many techniques for attempting lucid dreaming, from ancient Tibetan mental exercises to modern day electronic gizmos or post-hypnotic suggestions. Becoming aware that one is dreaming is also no guarantee of controlling the dream, which requires further exertion of willpower.
Thinking back, I didn’t have any problem realising I was dreaming when I was with Stargazer, nor of feeling in control of my actions. I guess I may simply have an innate capacity for controlling my dreams once I realise that I’m in one. That should certainly make things easier on me.
It still, though, raises the question of how to gain lucidity whilst dreaming and steering myself back to Chakat dreams. I can’t honestly say that I’m ready to shell out large sums of money for electronic aids, and there’s no way I’m going to ask a hypnotist to help me have vivid dreams of being a half female non-human - they probably wouldn’t understand. That leaves the mental exercises.
I’ve been practicing the exercises the last few evenings without noticeable success. Not that I’ve had any other dreams, at least, none that I can remember on waking. I’m experimenting with intermixing them with some basic meditation techniques I’ve read about, to see whether they’ll have a greater effect combined.
One of the few benefits of being stuck in a bed all day was that it gave one time for introspection. Stargazer was generally more laid back, taking fate as it came, so it was somewhat unusual to have plenty of time to just think.
Somewhat restlessly, shi briefly pulled over the Interactive Information Panel hanging beside hir cot. The IIP was the primary entertainment facility for hospital patients, providing a combined interface to communications, literature, and entertainment. Shi tried to calm down and explore the Astronomy section, but after a few minutes shi realised that hir hearts just weren’t in it. Besides, hir healing arms were still very tender, and it hurt to try and use them too much. Sighing, shi pushed the IIP away again.
With little else to do, and plenty of time for thinking, hir thoughts kept turning back to Farrunner. Yet it was without the bleak despair that characterised the last several days. It was, shi supposed, that shi was starting to come to terms with hir loss. Shi was still resentful, though. Shi didn’t want to be ‘getting over’ Farrunner. They had planned to be together forever, and now shi was forced to face the fact that Farrunner was dead.
Sighing despondently, hir thoughts briefly turned to the strange dream shi’d had the previous night. Born of despair at hir loss, shi remembered being tenderly comforted by an unfamiliar chakat.. Chakat Lightfur. For a dream construction, shi certainly seemed uncommonly aware.
Somewhat surprised at hirself, shi felt hirself smiling, even if only weakly. Even in hir grief, it had been comforting to be held in someone’s arms, and to be cared about. Even if it was only a dream, it had still seemed real enough to be comforting to hir, in hir time of need. Smiling again, more genuinely this time, shi wondered if shi would have any more dreams with Lightfur.
Success.. I reappear in the dreamscape that I’ve been trying so hard to re-experience. Once again I’m in the form of a chakat, and I marvel at how comfortable it feels to be one. One would expect some kind of physical disorientation from going so abruptly from two legs to four, yet it seems almost second nature to me.
Again, I am alone for only a few moments, as with a quiet pop, the chakat Stargazer appears close by. This time shi seems less inclined to succumb to hir grief. I decide to try and strike up a conversation. "Hello", I greet hir, smiling.
Shi still had a sad look to hir eyes, but shi at least seems to be feeling more sociable. Shi responds to my greeting "Hello. I’m glad to meet to you again, I really wanted to thank you for the comfort you’ve given me."
Shi steps up to me and we formally embrace each other in a traditional chakat welcome. Stepping back out, shi now has a light smile on hir face. "I am Chakat Stargazer, child of Sandstrider and Stripefur."
Matching hir, I respond "I am Chakat Lightfur, with no chakat parents."
This seems to surprise hir, and shi raises an eyebrow in question. I quickly explain, "I’m actually a human dreaming that I’m a chakat. Chakat’s don’t really exist, but there are stories told about them, and I always wanted to see what it was like to be one."
That seems to puzzle hir even more. Perhaps, as a dream creation, shi may be unaware that shi doesn’t really exist, even if shi does realise that this is a dream. I briefly consider having it out with hir, but decide against it. If shi is indeed a dream figure, it would be cruel to point it out to hir. To forestall further questions on hir part, I say "So, tell me a little about yourself."
Shi considers the question "Where to begin? Well, there’s not much to tell. I grew up on a farm, where I’ve spent most of my life. I moved away a few years ago to attend university where I met my mate, Farrunner."
Shi pauses for a moment, tears glistening in hir eyes, but shi carries on. "We were both doing the same Science course. I was majoring in Astronomy, whereas shi was majoring in Engineering. We instantly hit it off, and soon declared ourselves den-mates."
Again shi paused, an expression of pain flickering across hir face. Again, though, shi continued. "Everything was right in the world. We’d completed our courses with high marks, and were preparing to name ourselves life-mates. But then we went for a walk, and stumbled right into the midst of a Humans First riot. The crowd was in a frenzy. We were mobbed."
"Farrunner died trying to protect me. I barely survived long enough for the police to reach me and evacuate me to hospital. My body is there, lying in a bad in intensive care, with numerous injuries."
At last I can understand the source of hir grief. Whilst I can’t be certain whether or not shi is merely a dream figure, it’s not important. What is important is that shi was in pain, and I was more than willing to comfort hir.
We end up in each other’s arms, providing comfort and companionship. Together, we discuss our situations further. It seems obvious that, like me, shi assumes that I’m the one who’s the dream figure. Yet like me, shi doesn’t seem inclined to press the issue, preferring simply to enjoy hirself.
Whilst discussing my naiveté with a chakat body, shi gets a mischievous gleam in hir eye. "You know, it really is wonderful to be free of my injuries, even if only for a little while. What say I give you an up close and personal introduction to chakat anatomy?"
I can barely believe it. For Stargazer, it’s a chance to free hirself from the bonds of hir broken body, and to help ease the sense of loss of Farrunner. For me, though, it’s a chance, at last, to experience chakat sexuality. And, at the same time, to find out what it’s like for females. A wide grin splits my muzzle as I eagerly nod my assent. Together we move in together, locking our muzzles together in an extended kiss, that brings the promise of what is yet to come.
Absolute bliss is the best word to describe my feeling the following day. Our little ‘physical activity’ extended into a prolonged period of sexual intercourse, giving me a chance to try out both the male and female aspects of the chakat anatomy. I found both to infinitely satisfying, and the fact that it was occurring in a dream in no way lessened the impact. Indeed, it seems, to my embarassment, that my physical body experienced some of what my dream one did.
In spite of the minor annoyance of having to put out the sheets to be washed, I spent the day in a dreamy state, basking in the memory. It had made all the effort spent researching worthwhile. I was looking forward to repeating the meditation exercises, hopefully to be followed by some more enjoyable physical exercise.
Lying prone in hir cot, Stargazer smiled at the memory of the previous night’s activity. Being held motionless in a bed, with little room to move except for hir arms and head, shi had appreciated the illusion of freedom all the more. It had been wonderful to be able to move around, after all the days of inactivity.
Given the amount of time yet remaining until shi was ready to leave critical care, shi was looking forward to any more such dreams - a chance to feel free again, and to spend some time with a cute chakat companion.
Another night, another glorious dream. We again we meet in the dreamscape. Only now it’s no longer the featureless void it once was. It now resembles a pleasant forest clearing. The calls of forest birds register in the background, not intruding, but providing a pleasant undertone. My sensitive nose is assailed by the wonderful forest scents, and sitting together with my arm around Stargazer, I lazily start separating each individual one.
Then a startling thought occurs to me. My nose has never been very sensitive.. I could barely distinguish between pleasant and unpleasant odours, let alone any subtleties in them. So how is it that I am doing so now? A dreamer shouldn’t be able to experience something outside his experience, should he? Which could well mean that this is no mere dream, and neither is Stargazer.
There at last is the key to working out the ultimate nature of the dream. I could kick myself that I didn’t think of it earlier. I rise up on my paws, and turn to face Stargazer. Looking at hir seriously, I say "Stargazer, I need to work out if this is truly a dream or not. I’ve realised that the one way to conclusively do that for each of us to teach the other something they don’t know. We’ll need to be careful that it’s something we wouldn’t even subconsciously know. If we can both do it for the other, we’ll know for sure that we’re both real."
Thinking about it for a moment, shi nods hir head. "I agree. Why don’t I start?". Nodding my head in assent, shi carries on. "I happen to know Spanish as a second language. If you’re truly real, and your world’s Spanish is the same as mine, then take this sentence back with you and have it translated. It’s specific to our time together, so there’s little chance you could have heard it before."
Shi pauses and then says slowly with precision "Estoy gozando de mis sueños con usted". Shi repeats it several times until shi’s sure that I have it properly memorised.
Now it’s my turn to tell something to hir. Unfortunately, l don’t have enough command of any other language to tell hir something shi can be assured shi hasn’t heard in passing, and remembered subconsciously. Although with luck, their early 21st century history might have paralleled ours. All I need is something obscure enough that shi couldn’t have heard, yet can still find out.
Settling on something suitably obscure, I say to hir "In my world it’s the early 21st century, and the Internet is a growing communication medium. In this, there has risen special websites for searching for information. One of the most popular is called ‘Google’"
"Alright", shi says, with a warm smile. "We chakats have exceptionally good memories, so I can be sure that I’ve never heard that name before. I’ll try and look it up in the history archives when I wake up."
Then, with a smile of my own, I lightly reach out with a hand to gently caress hir head. Sensing my intention, shi smiles again, and with one purpose, we move in together.
I can still clearly remember hir words as I wake up. Rushing to grab some writing material, I quickly scribble down what shi said. Then, still in my pyjamas, I quickly start up my computer, and open a web browser. In anticipating, I open up the AltaVista Babelfish translation web-page, select Spanish to English, and type in the phrase. Crossing my fingers, I point to the Translate button and stab the mouse button.
The page refreshes, with a heading "Babel Fish Translation, In English:". And there below it, in a block of white are the English words: "I am enjoying my dreams with you".
I’m beyond ecstatic. I now have proof positive that Stargazer is real, and shi is from another world, another Earth. Shi is no mere dream figure. It may not be proof to anyone else, and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be published in the science journals, but for myself, it’s enough.
. . .
It’s not enough. I’ve had a few more dream experiences with Stargazer, including some extremely satisfying sexual activity. Whilst Stargazer, like all Chakats, seems to equally enjoy both sexual orientations, shi does have a noticeable preference towards the male side. And I’ve found, quite to my surprise, that I’ve been responding to that with a greater enjoyment of the female sexual role.
I’ve come to realise, more and more, that I want to be with hir always. Not merely just for the sex; we’ve been spending time getting to know each other, and finding common interests. I feel a growing infatuation for hir, and I’m coming to realise that I want to spend my entire life with hir.
I’ve been scouring through the Internet for information on crossing dimensions, without much success. If there is any possible real information out there, it’s being drowned out by the innumerable fictional stories and make-believe. The more technical websites go into super-string theory, which is useless, because it doesn’t include any practical methods for dimensional travel. I’ve reluctantly given up on finding anything useful on the Internet. I need to venture into the physical world for information.
Which has brought me to Chinatown. It’s the only place I could think of where I could enquire about such things without, I hope, being immediately considered insane. Besides, with their ancient culture, they were my best bet for finding anything pertinent.
However, I’m beginning to think I’ve hit another dead end. I’ve spent most of a Saturday combing the area for anything, talking to store owners, and searching through second hand shops. The best hope was a small herbalist selling meditation herbs. But they just turned out to be mild natural hallucinogenics.
I’m trudging dejectedly back out of Chinatown when my inner musings are interrupted by a sharp "Psst" from a door. Jerking my head up, I turn to face the building I was passing; one of the many featureless, tightly packed residential buildings that throng the edges of the business area. I can see that the door is slightly ajar, and someone is peering out through the crack.
The voice speaks, and I realise it must be an old woman. "You’re the young man inquiring about dimensional travel, aren’t you?"
"Yes" I say, nodding my head in agreement.
"Come in, then", says the voice, opening the door to reveal an old Chinese woman, gesturing for me to enter. She must be extremely old, but the description spry comes to mind. She also has an aura of vitality about her; you wouldn’t be surprised to see her out-performing someone even half her age.
I have to admit I’m a little nervous about just wondering off the street into some unknown house. They could do anything to me, even kill me for my wallet, and no one might ever know. On the other hand, there’s something about the lady, and I certainly haven’t found any other leads, so I step inside.
The room is untypical of most houses I’ve ever been in. The front door opens directly into a small living room. There are a couple of tattered chairs lying scattered around the room, and an old, battered, TV lying in the corner. There are no windows, and a string of hanging beads covers an arch at the back of the room.
Closing the door she utters an abrupt "Sit", gesturing at one of the chairs. Obediently, I sit down and watch her.
Sitting down herself, she regards me intently for a moment. "Chinatown is very self-contained. Word quickly gets around, and it’s been buzzing about the young man trying to find out about dimensional travel". Well, that explains how she knew about it.
After staring at me intently again for a few seconds, she continues on "I wouldn’t normally help out, but your persistence intrigued me. Tell me why you want to find out these things."
I launch into a condensed description of the events that have brought me to this point. I stress the test and discovery that I wasn’t merely just dreaming, and also how important this is to me. Finishing my explanation, I end with a "And now I want to try and be with Stargazer permanently. I want to be with hir forever."
Trailing off into silence I look at her expectantly. She merely gazes back at me silently, idly stroking her chin. Finally, she speaks "Well, if you’ve really made contact with another reality, then you’re already half way there. There is a way, although it’s fairly dangerous. And even if you do make it you’ll probably lose most of your memories of your life here..". She trails off again, still gazing at me thoughtfully.
Finally, she reaches into a pocket and produces a small plastic bag full of herbs. She tosses it to me, and I automatically catch it. Quietly she says, "If you’re really intent on it.. take one leaf each day, just before you go sleep, with a glass of water. And make sure you do it every day. Then see what happens."
"Now", she says, raising her voice back to normal levels, "leave.", and points at the door. I blink at the abruptness of it, but I mechanically stuff the bag into a pocket, and get up and leave the premises. I walk all the way back to the car in a daze, and it’s not until I reach it that I take out the herbs and look at them thoughtfully. I feel a sensation stirring inside of me.. hope.
Weakly pushing away the IIP, Stargazer felt strangely both relieved and disturbed. Shi now knew that it hadn’t been a dream. Lightfur was real. It was gratifying, because although they had only met several times in their dreams, shi was already coming to care for hir new friend.
It was disturbing however, in the implications it raised. Foremost was how such circumstances could have occurred. Even in this advanced day and age, current understanding of the universe indicated that the barriers between realities were incredibly strong. Two dreamers should be incapable of piercing it.
Shi idly wondered if shi should report this to anyone, but quickly decided against it. It would be hard enough to convince anyone to believe hir even in the best of times. And now, having so recently lost a mate, and recovering from head trauma, amongst other injuries, it would be neigh on impossible to get anyone to take hir seriously. Besides, strange as it sounded even to hir, this whole thing felt private. It was something special between only the two of them, and it should not be sullied by bringing in others, who would mock hir, or try to convince hir that shi was delusional.
Thinking back on the most recent dream together, shi grinned. As impossible it should be, shi frankly didn’t care. As much as shi’d always miss Farrunner, shi couldn’t deny the growing attraction shi felt for Lightfur. Shi was looking forward to their next dream encounter together.
. . .
Over the days, Stargazer had been lucky enough to have several more dreams with hir new friend Lighfur. Freed from the inhibitions of hir recovering body, and happier in the knowledge that Lightfur was real, shi had spent some time getting to know hir better, and engaging in some mutually satisfying sexual activity.
Shi wasn’t too concerned anymore how this wondrous thing could have happened. Shi was with someone shi cared about, and that was all that mattered.
The familiar dream forest bursts again upon our consciousness, as we appear together in the dream. But if the first appearance of the forest had been a quantum leap from the plain dreamscape, then this is surely another. Everything has an indescribable solidity that it lacked before, and the forest now spans into the distance.
Grinning widely, Stargazer comments, "I recognise some of these species.. They’re typical of the kinds growing near the farm where I grew up. I had a lot of fun camping out in the woods, and looking at the stars. That’s one reason why I chose Stargazer as my adult name."
Nodding my head, I add in "I recognise some of these species as well. My family and I went on lots of camping trips when I was younger, too. My favourite was the Australian high country. Some of these seem to be typical of it."
Stargazer paused for a moment. "Why don’t we go explore the area?" shi asked. "There’s no need to spend all our time in hanky panky.". Shi ended that with another grin.
Grinning myself, I nodded in assent. "Sounds like fun. It’s been surprisingly fun simply walking around in the powerful chakat body. You’re really very lucky to have been one all your life."
Stargazer looked at me thoughtfully for a moment. Whilst I couldn’t read hir thoughts, I was startled to feel a welter of emotions pounding in my head. I could recognise them, but they didn’t seem to be coming from me. With a start, I realised that I was experiencing the chakat empathic sense, and sensing what was going through hir head.
I suspect that shi had forgotten that I wasn’t naturally a chakat. Back when I’d originally told hir, I suppose shi’d still thought I was a dream figment. So even though I’d told hir I wasn’t, shi’d still been relating to me as a chakat, even since finding out that I was real. Not that I would think that shi, as a chakat, would have any prejudices against humans. Although, the torment of hir mate’s death at the hands of human fanatics was something that might need to be dealt with.
However, that didn’t seem to be the case. Seeing my concerned look, shi seemed to shake off hir depression. "C’mon", shi said, idly waving hir tail in a random direction and starting to walk. After hesitating a moment, I joined hir.
Together, we spent an enjoyable while walking through the forest, taking in the sights and sounds. Now that I had time to properly appreciate it, I was finding immense enjoyment in the enhanced eyesight, and the smells that surrounded me.
Suddenly, though, Stargazer stopped and looked down at hir legs. "What’s wrong?" I asked in concern.
"I’m walking normally. Yet back in my world.. I’m.. so badly injured.. Oh, Farrunner!" Shi collapsed to the ground, and started sobbing again. Remembering the previous times, I gently knelt by hir, and folded the sobbing chakat into my arms. Experimentally, I tried focusing on emoting comfort and understanding. It was hard to be sure, but I think my earlier empathic epiphany was enough to give me a basic control of it.
After a few minutes, shi seemed to come around again. Shi turned me, and gave me a weak smile. "Thank you. You’ve been so understanding and kind." Wiping the tears away, shi rested hir head more fully against my torso for a few moments.
Finally, though, shi disengaged from me and stood up. "I have enough of the constraints and the loneliness in the hospital. While I’m here with you, I intend to enjoy every minute of it." Shi then gave a proper grin, lighting up hir entire face, and enough to make my heart melt.
Then hir grin became more mischievous. "Why don’t we have a little race back to the glade?".
Grinning myself, I said "Alright. Let us get ready..". we moved into position. "Get set.. Go!". Together, we pounded through the forest floor, two young chakats both glad to be alive.
Something’s happening. I’ve been religiously taking the herbs before I go to bed, and they have been excellent in providing an enhanced dreamscape. This wasn’t all that I had hoped for, although I would even have been prepared to live separate forever, so long as we could be guaranteed to keep spending our dreams together.
It was a little over a week after I had started taking the herbs. I was still on the emotional high from the enhanced dreams with Stargazer. Even my workmates had remarked on how cheerful I was. One of them had even slyly asked if had a love interest. Grinning, I had, at the time, said "Maybe".
I was spending a lunchtime minding the office whilst everyone else was at lunch. Lunch tended to be a haphazard affair; with a large number of eateries near our offices, everyone tended to have their own favourite places. I tended to keep a close eye om my finances, though, so normally made a sandwich to bring in with me. It thus normally fell to me to keep a token presence in the office.
I was doing a little web surfing when suddenly, and seamlessly, I was in the dream forest. Stargazer, it seemed, had frequent naps during the day due to hir injuries, but I hadn’t been feeling tired, and it didn’t seem possible that I could have dropped off so abruptly.
Whilst we spent some enjoyable time together, I was still curious at the time as to whether perhaps it was the effect of the herbs. After all, I had reasoned, they were supposed to physically transport to Stargazer’s world, not just enhance my dreaming. That had also made me wonder if I should tell Stargazer about my plans. I had decided against it, though. I could sense hir growing care for me, and I didn’t want to raise hir hopes, or propose to hir, until I was sure that I could make it to hir.
Now my concerns are confirmed. I’ve dropped off several more times. The most recent one was right in the middle of the supermarket whilst I was buying groceries. I had a brief encounter with Stargazer, only to be quickly roused by a concerned assistant who had witnessed me apparently faint dead to the floor. They try to talk me into going to a hospital, but I fend off their concern by mumbling about medication, a known side effect, and in the end convince them I’m fine enough to leave on my own.
My co-workers are also starting to get concerned, ever since they witnessed me drop off to sleep right in the middle of a meeting. I’ve decided that it’s no longer safe for me to leave the house. I’ve told everyone that I’m sick – extreme lethargy brought on by hormonal imbalance. It should be all right if I complete a course of medicine, but I need medical leave to stay at home whilst I’m on the medication.
I’m not sure if they believe me or not; I should have taken sick leave earlier, before my strange behaviour became so noticeable. It would have been simpler to leave it at a general illness, rather than them seeing for themselves. I just hope that they don’t do any checks and realise my deception. I try to assure them, over the phone, that I’ll be back at work as soon as I’m feeling better, that there’s nothing to worry about.
They’ve agreed, although I can hear the reluctance in their voices. I just hope they’ll believe it enough to let me deal with things myself. The last thing I need is be carted off to hospital, or locked in a mental institution. I need the freedom to pursue this. I must reach Stargazer.
I’m spending most of my time locked up in my house now. It’s lucky that I’ve got my own home. I’d been thinking about renting out a room for some time, but fate has been kind on me that I’d never gotten around to it.
I can’t trust myself to drive anymore. Visions of spending time with Stargazer are coming more frequently, at odd times during the day. I’m also, at times, having trouble walking. I forget that I only have two feet, and stumble from trying to use the extra two legs that I don’t have.
Am I going crazy? Insane? I don’t know. Am I destroying my life? Am I really reaching for a state where I can cross dimensions? What happens if all these drugs end up doing is locking me permanently in a coma, deluding myself that I’m living as a chakat? Would that be worth the price of happiness, in a figment of my own mind? Again, I don’t know.
All I do know for sure is that I love Chakat Stargazer. My time spent with hir has come to mean everything to me. It’s not just the enjoyment of being with a chakat, or being one myself. It’s that I love hir. So yes, the answer is that I am willing to give up everything to be with hir.
The nurses had been chiding hir for spending so much time sleeping. "Shir Stargazer," set one of the orderlies with some aspersion, "While it is important for you to get enough sleep, don’t you think that perhaps you’re overdoing it a little?"
Stargazer smiled serenely, and asked in return "I’m healing in my own fashion. Indulge me.. how is my healing going compared to the chakat norm?"
"Well, I have to admit that your recovery has been somewhat faster than the normal chakat recovery rate. Especially for one with such deep emotional scars. But still..". The orderly paused, frowning.
"So don’t worry. I’ll be spending plenty of time awake once I’m into rehabilitation. For now, just allow me to heal in my own fashion." Stargazer finished with a grin to mitigate any offence the statement might carry.
"All right". With an ironic grin, and a mock throw of her arms into air, the orderly surrendered to Stargazer’s logic. Making a quick final check of Stargazer’s medical charts, she wondered off again.
Watching her go, Stargazer realised that although shi’d been seeing her most days, shi didn’t even know her name. But then, shi’d spent so much of hir time wrapped up in hir own problems, shi could probably be excused for being a bit anti-social.
With a happy sigh, Stargazer snuggled back into the bed and allowed hirself to drift off to sleep.
We were together again. That was all that mattered. We two chakats stood side-by-side, head together and arms around each other, simply basking in each other’s presence.
Finally, I broke contact and turned to face Stargazer. Looking deeply into hir eyes, I said "Stargazer.. the time spent with you.. I never want it to end. I’m trying with all my heart to find a way to be with you physically. Stargazer.. will you become my den-mate?"
Hir face splitting into a wide smile, Stargazer stepped into my arms to hug me. "Dearest Lightfur, of course I will."
We stood together, two chakats locked together in joy, tears streaming down both our faces. Stargazer feeling a joy that shi had thought had died with Farrunner’s death. I, Lightfur, with the most unlikely fulfilment of a mate. With an intense joy, heightened by the empathic sense we both shared, we lay down together and consummated our union.
I’m reaching the climax of the process, I’m sure. The visions have been lasting longer and longer in real time from my perspective, and I’m finding it harder and harder to concentrate whilst in "the real world". It’s rapidly becoming more and more dream-like, similar in feeling to how the dream-world felt when first I visited it.
I don’t have much time left. I’ve made sure my will up to date, and also, somewhat unsteadily, left a detailed explanation of everything that’s happened up until now. I can’t be sure, if the process does work, if I’ll leave behind a lifeless corpse, or if I’ll simply vanish without a trace.
I’ve also hidden the herbs away. This has been an intensely persona experience, and I don’t want them ending up in some lab, where a white coated scientist would sceptically examine them and waffle on to the grieving family about how the boy was killed by overdosing on hallucinogenic drugs. I can only hope that the police won’t find them in the inevitable investigation.
Even simple tasks like going to the toilet is becoming harder and harder. I’m spending what little time remains in this world lying on the bed, staring bemusedly at the ceiling.
"I must congratulate you on your progress, Shir Stargazer. You’re ready to leave intensive care and move into the recovery ward.".
Sitting in front of the desk in the consellor's office, Stargazer silently nodded hir assent to the previous statement. Having a smidgeon of medical training hirself, shi new that even Chakats, with their exceptionally high healing rates, normally took longer to recover from such extensive damage.
The counsellor continued, "I don’t mean to pry, but you also seem to be dealing admirably with Chakat Farrunner’s death." The sentence ended with a great deal of sympathy in her voice.
Stargazer smiled sadly. "I’ll alway’s remember Farrunner, and the sacrifice shi made. As for my grief, well, let’s just say that I’ve had some pretty vivid dreams since the accident. They’ve helped me to come to terms with my grief".
Jess waited a few moments with a raised eyebrow for an elaboration of the statement, but none was forthcoming. Stargazer felt uncomfortable even mentioning them at all. They had been an intensely person affair, and shi didn’t wish to speak openly about them.
Sensing Stargazer’s reticence, Jess grinned and said, "As you wish. If you don’t want to talk about it, it’s your own decision. I’m just happy that you’ve made such an excellent recovery. It’s always so hard to deal with injury victims who’ve suffered a personal loss at the same time."
Shuffling some papers on her desk, Jess continued on "I’ll take you over to the recovery ward in a minute. Before we go though, I need to discuss something with you. You’ll be sharing a taur equipped room with another Chakat.. a pretty severe amnesiac. Shi was brought in a few days ago by a helpful fox tod who found hir wandering the streets."
"Basic testing has shown that shi not only has little memory of most activities, even the basic stuff that should have been ingrained in hir. Shi didn’t, for example, even remember how to properly use a toilet to defecate. Shi’s been undergoing some intense therapy to relearn some basic skills, but it’s going to be a long process to help hir to regain hir memories or to relearn everything shi needs to know."
"I’ll be glad to help in any way I can" Stargazer said.
Grinning again, Jess said "I was hoping you’d say that. A major problem with such a severe case of amnesia is that the patient frequently has no knowledge of family or friends. DNA testing has also failed to turn up any records. Shi’s a complete unknown. Although.. shi did remember one chakat companion quite well.."Here, the consellor trailed off. Hir emphatic sense told her that several emotions were running through Jess' mind. Chief among them were puzzlement. Obviously, there was something strange about the amnesiac. It was also mixed in with a degree of suppressed happiness. Obviously, she was anticipating the two of them hitting it off.
Standing up, Jess said, "Why don’t go meet hir?". Gaining a nod of agreement from Stargazer, she led the way through the hospital complex, with Stargazer following slowly along, taking it easy on hir healing limbs.
Reaching the recovery area, Stargazer was pleased to notice it featured a semi-open area, with a central common area with indoor park and catering facilities. Jess pointed out various sections of interest, finishing with "You can explore it further later on if you wish. For now, I’ll show you where your room is."
Walking down a side corridor, Jess finally paused in front of a door. "Remember your roommate’s lack of memory. As well as general learning, shi’ll also have to be retaught chakat customs and attitudes. Go easy with hir."
"Don’t worry, I will. Besides, I think it’ll be easier to finish my recovery with a companion, even if shi does have amnesia."
At this, Jess gave a grin, acknowledging the statement. "Well, this is the room. I’ll leave you to go in and introduce yourself. We’ll be having further sessions in the coming days, and we're hoping you might be able to assist in identifying where shi comes from. For today, though, simply settle yourself in and familiarise yourself with the facilities." With this, and a cheery "Tail high" parting, Jess walked off back down the corridor.
After watching her go, Stargazer turned back to the door, took a breath, then knocked on the door and then opened it to meet hir new roommate. Sitting on the bed was a chakat who was instantly familiar. "Stargazer" the chakat said happily.
Stargazer was stunned, and could only stare in amazement. Finally, in disbelief, shi whispered "Lightfur?".The End.
Story and characters are Copyright © 2002 by Paul Gilbert
Chakats are the creation of Bernard Doove
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