So, I practice and I mull over all of these little puzzles. My unconscious keeps churning away on this stuff and then, one day, at least one thing gets resolved. It ain’t the answer to one of those big questions, but hey, it’s something. “When first I appear I seem mysterious, but when I am explained I am nothing serious.” The answer just rises out of my unconscious like the sun appearing over the ocean at dawn. I realize that my mind had approached the question of when an apprenticeship ends as it would any other childhood riddle, a riddle being something that has a hidden meaning, which turns out to be a pun, or a twist of logic, or a shifting of perspective.
I had been assuming that an apprenticeship could only end when the master decides. This is the key. The riddle takes this traditional fact and turns it on its head. Question: when does an apprenticeship end? Answer: when one realizes there is no longer a need, or a want, to be an apprentice.
After a couple of more weeks as Sarah and Rebecca’s apprentice, I realize that I’m as good a Dreamer as I’m going to be, at least for now. What few skills I have seem to plateau. Now, all that remains of my apprenticeship is what of my vast repertoire of talents I’ll demonstrate to earn my citizenship in Dreamland. This doesn’t pose much of a dilemma; I have very few Dream skills from which to choose. Thus, I work on my stupendous talent for juggling as my means of completing Dreamland’s rite of passage.
The day of my performance arrives. It is a small gathering of my three friends, and the mayor. For my efforts, I am awarded by the mayor a moonstone in order that I may participate fully in Dreamland’s economy, which is based on either barter of things, skills, or the direct exchanging of one’s own energy. The gemstones facilitate this by acting as storage receptacles for energy that one can draw upon to perform the Dream conjuring. Creating or manipulating things is tiring work. I’m told that it gets easier the more time spent in Dreamland. Some people can tap into the energy available in humanity’s collective unconscious, and some truly powerful Dreamers can even tap into the energy bound up within atomic and subatomic particles.
Anyway, no longer being an apprentice, I didn’t need to stay on with Sarah and Rebecca. It just would not be proper for an apprentice to remain under their mentors’ roof at the end of their apprenticeship. So I took up an offer from a friend of Sarah and Rebecca’s. Her name is Zuki Farwanderer. She lives in a home on the outskirts of the city of Atlantis. It turns out that she was the one who had first found me when I met up with the umbrella-wielding punk.
Zuki has sleek black hair, which blends into the soft small patch of white on her chest, and she always wears white on her hands and feet. Zuki’s home is Japanese in architectural design and is a specially commissioned Dream by one of the city's talented Japanese Dreamers. She is entitled to such a home, being one of the captains of the guards for the city of Atlantis. Her home is decorated in a black and white motif, with a white futon couch and black pillows, for use by those occasional living companions. I was not her first. In the room’s center area is a small wooden box, which is ornately carved with Japanese crests, and a golden paper bag, which has a Japanese coastal scene hand-painted in dark blue ink. Off in the corner is a tall multi-tiered structure. It rests on a platform covered in lamb’s wool the four posts supporting the structure this in thick cording, which shows signs of clawing. The rest of it is an elaborate thick black carpeted combination tree house and jungle gym, of jutting platforms and varying geometric shapes.
Today we are leisurely chatting and Zuki asks where I live in the Waking World. I realize what an odd question this is. No one in Dreamland has ever talked about their Waking World lives. I see no reason to refuse to answer. So, I tell her where I live.
“Well my fine M’an-friend Lamont,” Zuki purrs, “the best territories in the City I have found were the areas around Golden Gate Park.”
“You’ve been to San Francisco?”
“Oh yes. That is where I live in the Waking World.”
“Really. I can see why you were attracted to that location. It is a good location for hunting.”
“Very right friend Lamont. Excellent hunting, Fla-fa’az, Rikchikchik,
and Mre’az abound in the area.” Zuki twists herself around so as to carefully lick her back.
I wait patiently as she grooms herself. She gives herself one last lick, stretches her head towards me, then settles down, carefully placing her front paws together in front of her.
“Lamont, my friend. Perhaps you have met my other friend.”
“I doubt it. I have no friends in the Waking World. Only here.”
“That is a shame. But I think not true. You told me of a Mr. Wells and a Mr. Kay. Are they not among your friends?”
“I guess so. But I’m beginning to believe that I, I mean they, were just a dream. It’s just that I’m getting so confused. Lately, I can remember things that happened here more clearly than something that happened in the so-called Waking World. I’m not sure which is which.”
“Perhaps you are just trying to learn how to adapt to things here?”
“Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s something else, like, I’m losing my grip on reality.”
“Do not despair, my friend, sometimes, at the beginning of one’s stay here, one can get disoriented. It will get clearer, my friend, Lamont, in time.”
“I hope so. Enough of my complaining. Who’s this friend of yours you were referring to?”
“She is friend Miriam, a Wiccan priestess, with a daughter named Basha and a good looking ‘tom’.”
“Miriam and Basha? (How many Basha’s can there be in any world?) Well, Zuki, when did you know her?”
“I have known her ever since we both came to Dreamland. I met her during my first years with the force and I was first assigned to patrol the streets in the city of Ulthar.”
“So, Basha is in Dreamland. (She’s here! Basha has been here in Dreamland all this time.) Where do they live?”
“I would imagine, friend Lamont, that they live at the Queen of the Night’s Temple.”
“Well, thank you Zuki Farwanderer for this honor you have shown me of telling me of your friends. I look forward to meeting Basha and Miriam here in Atlantis.”
“Good, then it is settled. I will have them come over to my house and meet you.”
“One thing. Who is this tom person? I didn’t know Basha had a brother?”
“She does, but he’s adopted and he lives with her father. I was referring to the male cat that lives with them named Gizmo.”
 From Monika Beisner’s Book of Riddles, Jonathan Cape, Ltd., printed in Singapore, 1983. First American edition, 1983, Sunburst edition, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1987.
. Zuki is referring to birds, squirrels, and mice. Widespread knowledge of the language of the Az-iri'le / Feline Folk became available when DAW Books Inc., published Tad Williams' scholarly work, Talechaser’s Song, in 1985.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.