The penguin stepped into John’s bedroom, “You’ve learned a lot since we last spoke,” it observed.
“What are you for?” John asked, pointedly.
The penguin looked around the bedroom, “Ah, direct, I like that.”
John waited for more elucidation, but all he heard was Storm boiling the kettle in the kitchen, the clanging of cups as she prepared the tea.
The penguin sat down on the foot of the bed and leaned against the wall. It looked at John’s face. John returned its gaze, trying to read things in it’s eyes that weren’t printed on the page of it’s book.
“Who made you?” asked John.
“You already know that, the author’s name is written on the book,” the penguin indicated the crumpled document lying on John’s pillow.
John picked the book up, gestured at the penguin with it, “You’re a sidual, a magical symbol composed from this guy’s ‘demand of the universe‘, mixed with symbols from our common culture that somehow represent that desire.”
The penguin nodded. The kettle in the next room bubbled, boiled, and popped off its switch.
John waved the book in the air some more, “this guy’s cosmic request is using my brain, using me,
pushing the entire world towards his goal and you won’t even tell me
what that goal is?”
“You already know what that goal is. You know it can help you.”
Storm carried three steaming hot cups into the room, handed one to the penguin, another to John and climbed into the bed next to him.
The three of them sipped at their cups.
“You see now?” asked Storm, “Everything is possible! The world is just what we imagine it to be. We make our own
The penguin shook his head, “Don’t listen to the hippie,” he said, “she has no idea.”
“Hey!” protested Storm.
John was confused, “But that’s what you’re saying isn’t it? Fill the world with these ‘sidual’ symbols and anything you desire will come to you?”
“Look,” the penguin stood and started pacing around the bed, “influencing minds, bending the collective unconscious, changing people, these things can achieve a lot. They can help you to see what it is that you want, understand your own will, and then to get it. But, to quote Scotty of off Star Trek, ‘you canna change the laws of physics Jim’“
Storm looked hurt, “The laws of physics are just what we imagine them to be!” she claimed.
“Oh yeah? Then levitate out of that bed!” the penguin shot back.
Storm’s body began to rise, carrying the duvet up from the mattress with her, she sipped at her tea as she cleared a full three feet off the bed. The other two looked on in amazement.
“Yeah, well, this is just a dream. Obviously.” excused the penguin, “Try doing that in waking life.”
Storm sighed and floated back down next to John, “Faith can move mountains” she said.
“Yet despite the prayers of millions, the mountains continue to move on their tectonic plates at around the rate your fingernails grow,” the penguin pointed out, “powered by the same forces that created them before humans even existed.”
Storm just shook her head, “You’re as bad as he is,” she gestured at John, giving him the look that reminded him why they broke up.
John felt he was losing control of this dream. He had actual questions to be answered and here was this penguin having the same argument he’d had with Storm a hundred times. “Can we get back on track here?” he asked, “This is my dream after all.”
“We’re all sharing this dream,” corrected the Penguin, “your own personality runs on this wetware more often than we do, but right now we’re just as conscious as you. It’s running us as much as it’s running you.”
“I’m the one that’ll remember it when it’s over!” John pointed out.
The penguin shook his head. “Oh, John, you’re still not getting it.”
He pointed at Storm, “She, your model of Storm, the ‘Storm’ in your head, she’ll remember it. That other ‘Storm’ running in the hippie girl’s head out there in the waking world, she won’t remember it, but then she’s not actually here with us. The only ‘Storm’ in this dream-room right now is the Mini-Storm you built from your contact with her.”
“Huh?” Storm and John were equally baffled and equally ineloquent at saying so.
The penguin sat down at the foot of the bed again and covered his little bird face with the end of his flippers. He sighed in frustration muttering to himself about how difficult it was to get this stuff over to people.
He lifted his face again and looked at John, “You humans,” he said, “you’re all living constantly with a hundred different people in your skull, you hear their reactions, you see the looks on their faces, and yet you’re all so determined to believe you’re the only ones in there! I swear you’re all insane.”
“But all those others are just my impression of people!” protested John.
“Yes! Precisely!” the penguin vigorously agreed, “And ‘you‘, you too are just your impression of yourself. That’s what you’re not seeing, dummy.”
He pointed at John’s skull, “There is no ‘you‘ inside there other than the ‘you‘ that you think you are.”
The penguin was becoming so animated he was spilling tea all over the bed, “Your impression of Storm here was formed exactly the same way that your impression of yourself was formed. You’ve just spent considerably more time with yourself than with this pretty lady.”
John screwed up his face and scratched his head in thought. The three of them sat in silence for a while, sipping their tea.
“Is that what you are, what you mean?” asked John, “Is that why this guy created you? To get that message out, to make people like me see that I am just an illusion, no more conscious than the dream characters I create?”
“I have many purposes.” the penguin answered, mysteriously, “but you are not just an illusion.”
“Didn’t you just say that I was?” said John thinking that he still clearly didn’t understand.
“Not at all!” the penguin climbed fully onto the bed and waddled towards John at its head, “You’re no more an illusion than I am, than laws are, than money and corporations and Buffy and Mini-Storm here are.”
“All these things are real, in a sense, they’re all able to affect the world, to change things, by pushing around the atoms in your brain, by contracting your muscles, by digging and building and playing and singing and by influencing others.” the penguin had now waddled far enough up the bed to flop down between Storm and John, lying on his back, spilling tea all over himself in the process.
He rested his cup on the white patch on his belly and raised his flippers up to enfold them around the two humans at his side. Hugged them in closer.
“You two,” he said, “John and Mini-Storm in John’s head, and the other Storm out there in the waking world, and your families, and your friends, and the whole of the human race, you all have so much power, so much potential. If only you could realize what you are, what you mean.”
“You all exist, you all have the wetware to run you, the muscles and senses and presence to see the world, to understand it,” the penguin looked pointedly at Storm, “to see it as it actually is,not how you would like it to be,” he looked back at John, “thento actually change it! To mould it to your will.”
John took a moment to enjoy the warmth of the penguin’s flipper around him, to rest his head on the penguin’s shoulder. “Okay,” he said, “but how? What should I do?”
The penguin jumped up with remarkable sprightly speed for a penguin, turned to face the two sat at the head of the bed and said “Firstly, stop asking other people what you should do! Start figuring out what you want.”
John drained his cup. he looked thoughtfully at the four foot high penguin stood in the middle of his bed.”and then?” he asked.
“then concentrate your mind on it, concentrate the minds of everyone you meet on it, build a symbol â€“ that will help. include aspects of me in it if you want. i’d like that. then spread it, as far and wide as you can.”
the penguin looked over to storm again, “it won’t happen by magic, it’ll take work, effort, thinking alone isn’t enough, you have to do things.“
he back-flipped off the bed and landed neatly on the floor at its foot, “but ten thousand people devoting a small part of their mind to it will work better than even the whole of your own. recruit whatever subconscious resources you can, in whatever people you can. sidual magic will help you do that. just look at the effect money and corporations have had on the world.”
Then the penguin turned and waddled out of the room.
John turned to storm, but she was gone. he was alone in bed, thinking.