Part 11: The Biggest Goober of All
The Biggest Goober of All
You actuate it and await its effects. Your consciousness of the physical world fades...
"Those are some kinda symbolic obelisks alright."
"Well hell, I seem to have misplaced my various death-dealing implements in reality. Now all I have to do is avoid talking to mysel-"
You wake up.
"My bad! Send me back in!"
Your consciousness fades yet again...
"I need someone else to speak to... of course! Dr. Freud, can you hear me?"
"You seem strangely unimpressed that I am contacting you psychically from the realm of dreams."
"This happens to me more or less all the time, Frau Steve."
"Fair enough. I seem to be in a very symbolic place."
"You are in what my associate Carl Jung will eventually call a liminal symbolic space, in which the dreams of the captive humans reside."
"Isn't Carl Jung like 20 right now?"
"This is the world of dreams, Steve, how do you even know you are talking to me?"
"Tell you what, let us just leave it at that, ja? Is probably better for your sake. Now go touch an obelisk."
"That sounds brash and impulsive, even for me."
"Go ahead. Your Id wants it."
"Well, I can never say no to my Id!"
And thus did Steve touch the northwest pillar, traveling to a strange (and very symbolic) garden.
"Are those trees moving?"
"It would appear that the owner of this dream fancies images of botany, possibly due to an overly effeminate upbringing associated with being overnurtured and learning to see such behaviors as necessary for continued functioning."
"Or it could be George Washington Carver's dream."
"Who is the psychological community going to believe, hmm?"
"Does your research say anything about trees that move in front of the only pathway and refuse to move?"
"Ja, it suggests the dreamer is an asshole."
You see a young black man.
"Welcome, welcome, friend. You are just in time to assist me. I have been trying to complete this experiment, but it is hopeless without assistance."
"That's, uh, that's why I'm here."
"There will soon be a plant sprouting in the center of this area. It must be allowed to grow to full maturity. This would normally occur with no assistance. There is, however, one problem here. The worms."
"The worms are symbolic, Steve."
"Nobody asked you!"
"When the plant grows, there will be worms which try to eat the plant or the pod. The plant must be protected from these worms. Unfortunately I see that you are not armed to fight these creatures. What you must do, then, is use the seeds I will leave for you. They will grow plants whose flowers repel the worms. If you cultivate these plants properly, they will allow the seedling I leave behind to grow to full maturity. When the plant is mature, it will bear a pod. You must use the pod knife on the pod to open it."
"Why can't you do it?"
"I must leave you for now, but I will return at the end of the experiment. Do not forget, my friend. Protect the plant at all costs."
"So I just, what, water the seed?"
"Ja. Clearly the genesis of life - and the hazards which seek to prevent it - hold for Mr. Carver a specific meaning I have not yet determined. I will continue to observe."
"In other words, you have no fucking idea."
"That is generally not the way psychologists like to state it."
The seed begins to sprout. Now, normally you would drop one of the four wormsbane seeds onto the same square and water it, and this would repel the worms, but I couldn't make that actually work properly, so fuck it, we're doing this my way.
And my way is to bodily get between the worms and the seed and savagely beat the shit out of them with the pod knife and my bare hands until they run off, critically injured.
And this works. Fuck symbolism.
So what's in the pod?
"What the HELL were you doing in there?"
"I do thank you, my friend. You have allowed me to experience the fullness of the Martian life cycle. I was afraid that I would never fully understand it."
"Ja, but in what sense does anyone truly understand birth? Mr. Carver's desire to experience the birth of a being alien to him in fact represents his own lack of understanding of his own birth."
"I don't think I actually said I was interested in your conclusions, Dr. Freud."
"You called down the psychoanalysis, Frau Steve, now reap the phallic symbolism."
"And now that we are back in the Hall of Dreams, I am free to go as soon as everyone else is freed from their dreams."
"Yeah, about that, I'm not too good with names..."
"George. George Carver. I help farmers. I love people and I love plants. That's why I'm doing so much study on plants and food. People are funny sometimes. They won't believe me when I say tomatoes are good for them. They say they're poisonous."
"What the hell? People back now actually believed that?"
"And when I told them that growing goober peas is really good for the soil, they said that the goobers themselves were good for nothing." He smiles. "Guess I'll have to discover something to do with all those wonderful peanuts besides growin' new goober pea plants, eh?"
"Have you ever considered mashing them into a spreadable thing, like maybe say a buttery substance?"
"Ha ha, Spector can't tell me not to fuck with space-time in here! Causality 1, Avatar 1!"
"Well, I do seem to have a green thumb. I can pretty much make anything grow. It just takes the right soil, warm temperature, water, some sunshine. Sometimes you might need a little fertilizer, but that's simple. I know what to use on most plants back home. These Martian plants are a little different, but not much. I was taking some notes before I came here to the dreams."
"I read those! It was pretty gross."
"Well, you never know when that sort of thing will be handy. Goodbye for now. I do hope we see you again. It's been an honor to meet you."
"Do you suppose she's still... Steve?"
"I was having the most wonderful dream... and none of you were in it."
"It would appear so."
"Well, we ain't done in there yet. Flip the switch, Warren!"
And that's how the dream sequences work. Find the person, solve their problem.
We've got three more earthlings to help before we can move on: communist Vladimir Lenin, glassmaker Louis Tiffany, and novelist H.G. Wells.
Then we can meet the Martians of Hellas.