SUBURBAN SENSHI: DREAM CRISIS
"The Last Supper"
I sit nervously at the dinner table, knuckles paler than usual. It's not just the lack of sleep that has me on edge, nor the constant nightmares-- a week's worth of withering psychic attacks-- that have me in this disturbed state. I have always suffered from bad dreams, the byproduct of a tortured adolescence and war-torn life. I am terrified of the changes the last week have wrought in my friends and family.
I sit here, at the great table where we would convene from our various "micro-habitats" as I used to jokingly call them-- Haruka-poppa's grungy gamer's den, Michiru-momma's tranquil art studio, Chibiusa-chan's unbelievably perverse pink love-nest, Xadium-san, Artemis and Minako-sempai's high-tech TARDIS, Papa's research lab, Jedite's dank cave, Setsuna-momma's Time Gate, not to mention my own antiquated library of the esoteric-- and I lament.
For this place of safety and comfort, where we would all once gather and share at least one hour of jovial, fun-filled camaraderie (yes, even with the likes of Jedite)-- renewing the bonds that held our extended family together with the ancient practice of breaking bread-- had become something darker and more disturbing. I can't exactly give you a proper metaphor for what this is-- I am too tired. A crude analogy might be a chess board, but I don't see why that would fit, really. My mind is weary. I'll tell you what I see, and you can figure it out for yourselves if you are so inclined. If I think of something I'll be sure to let you know.
The near end of the table (relative to me)-- Haruka-poppa sits at the head, with Michiru-momma to her left. In the past, they always sat together, but rarely made extended eye contact, or did the things that "couples" tended to do. They didn't need to. The depth of their bond was obvious for anyone with the eyes to see. The odd grunt from Haruka-poppa, followed by a distant nod from Michiru-momma-- perhaps over a request to pass the salt, or a remark on the latest events on some reality Television show, was enough to demonstrate the level of intimacy they shared (mentally, of course). They were always on the same wavelength.
Today, however, Michiru-momma's chair is that much closer to Haruka-poppa's, and they are holding hands, casting their collective gazes across the rest of the table with a mixture of suspicion and terror. They have withdrawn totally into one another, each feeding upon the other's love and support. That end of the table is *their* territory, inviolate and sacrosanct. From there, in their own private haven, they are safe as against the rest of us. For we are all suspects in their eyes-- the external, not to be trusted, despite our years of association.
I want to cry out, to scream at them, imploring them not to fall back into the old ways that only serve to separate us at a time when we need to be the most united. But I know from past attempts that such a display would be hopelessly futile. When they fight, Haruka-poppa and Michiru-momma seem to be an odd couple that has no business being together. When they are united in a common cause, however, they become one-- a dynamic, inseparable unity-- a force of nature to be meddled with at one's peril, and to be reasoned with not at all. So I bite my lip and remain silent, knowing full well that anything I say would probably fuel their paranoia about me.
Oh yes, I know they suspect me, their own adopted daughter. They suspect *everyone*, even the cat, Artemis. I have long since stopped being offended by their wary gaze, accepting it as a part of their persona as integral to them as their smile, or their laugh. This is not to say it does not wound me in the small of my soul, but it is a hurt I have learned to deal with over time, knowing that at least it isn't personal on their part.
My eyes linger on the empty chair that separates me from them. The seat that Jedite would occupy. A scion of the Dark Kingdom, the fearsome general reveled in his evil, supping it with a relish few found in even the most ecstatic joys of life.
People mistake my interest in his psyche to be some kind of carnal attraction, but as someone once touched by darkness, I find it interesting to observe someone so utterly *taken* by it, yet slowly rediscovering his own humanity-- even if in the simple act of hurling a plate of meat down the table to Artemis in seemingly dismissive arrogance.
I am no fool-- I have no romanticized notions of his "reform", or of having some internal core of "good" waiting to be revealed-- if anything, I realize that his is a heart of darkness that is only acquiring, over the course of years, a *patina* of civilisation-- but it was fascinating to chart his gradual evolution.
Jedite isn't in his chair, lying as he is in his bed of thorns deep within his cave, locked in a comatose state. I find myself wondering constantly as to what particular nightmare could have the effective capacity necessary to traumatize one such as himself, he who was steeped in nightmare from the inky depths of prehistory. Perhaps, I muse to myself caustically, he was done in by a *pleasant* dream. One containing pink bunnies and Hello Kitty. Or perhaps he is locked in combat with the thing that tortures us all, his life and its life in a deadly dance of destruction. These are fanciful imaginings on my part, meant to make me feel reassured that I understand what is happening, when in truth, I am as ignorant as those around me. It is a feeling I do not like.
Similarly, the chair to the other side of me is empty as well. Papa would sit there, but he is tending to Jedite. For some reason, Papa was not affected by the nightmares. I do not know if this was because of his latent madness, which usually manifests itself in some urge to create a new machine, or to clone a new daimon, but he has remained as sane as he usually is. Which isn't saying much. At first he was trying to devise a way to fight the creature plaguing us, but with the fall of Jedite, his scientific talents were diverted to keeping the Dark General alive.
My gaze passes that chair, and I look to the other end of the table, to the place where the other couple in the household would be. The exact opposite of Haruka-poppa and Michiru-momma, the still newlywed Xadium-san and Minako-sempai would always be overtly "romantic", feeding each other morsels of food, sharing private jokes, and generally fawning over one another, much to the bemusement and annoyance of everyone else at the table. The odd combination of the reserved, introverted Time Lord and the "genki" ebullient young woman was always amusing to watch, even when it was degenerating into an overly romantic "love-love" exhibition. One could always see in them the fresh dynamic of life, the yin-yang drives that drive even opposites to attract, in the prelude to the creation of something new. Despite the 180 degree difference in their attitudes to Haruka-momma and Michiru-momma, the same depth of warmth and affection between them could be seen and appreciated-- yes, even by the likes of me.
That was gone now. Xadium-san's chair was empty, and in Minako-sempai's place sits the stone-faced Sailor Venus, her blue eyes replaced by the golden eyes of the "pure" Senshi of Venus. An air of sadness surrounded her. Worried for the suffering of her husband, Venus had chloroformed him, knocking him into an unconscious state so he would not have to suffer whatever nightmares plagued him. She had also decided to stay transformed and awake, for a much longer time than any of us had ever stayed transformed before.
As a result of the twin stressors of constant transformation and no sleep, the cheerful persona of Aino Minako was becoming more and more submerged with each passing moment-- subsumed and supplanted by the ancient, more battle-hardened mind of Venus, a past life whose thoughts usually only intruded for the briefest of times. So worried was Venus about her new family and her friends, and so determined not to lose them or fall in battle as she had against Beryl or Galaxia, that she was slowly destroying herself in order to "power up" for the confrontation with the enemy, which she saw as inevitable. And, since Artemis still suffered from a mental block which prevented him from even seeing that Venus was *alive* (blame the live action series' unfortunate choice of subplot and Artemis' own hypersensitive soul), this lonely soldier, the leader of the
Yon Shugo Jin no Senshi, had no one to lean on for emotional support, or draw her out of her shell. Those who cared most for her were seemingly lost to her forever, even as she was losing herself too.
Chibiusa-chan sits one chair-space away from her, next to Setsuna-momma, one step away from being passed out in her peas. Chibiusa's 905 year old body may be ancient, but it is still that of a child, and it couldn't take the stress of remaining constantly awake. We all know she might fall at any moment, but there is nothing we can do. As annoying as she is, none of us like to see her suffer, but we're all damnably helpless against this blasted foe from the depths of the id.
For her part, Setsuna-momma looks down upon Chibiusa-chan with a mixture of pity and... something else. Sadness, I think. Not for Chibiusa-chan's sake, but her own. Chibiusa-chan represents the incarnate validation of the eternal union that Setsuna-momma can never sever-- the love of Neo-Queen Serenity and Neo-King Endymion. O, how ironic, that the one little girl who was her fast friend and constant companion throughout the stretches of infinite night at the time gate would also be the undeniable manifestation of her own impotence against the one true desire that filled her heart, taking the love of Endymion as her own.
Yes, even I, who eschew the bonds of the heart, felt her pain. For while I personally might not desire that kind of love for myself, I can understand the need of it in others. And, them being my family, fractured as they were at the moment--shattered, yes-- yes, that's the word...
As I look across the table again, the metaphor finally comes to my sleep-addled mind. We are a family shattered, fractured, and Balkanized. Once a mighty union of inseparable unity, we have become small islands unto ourselves, all wrapped up in the throes of our secret pain, shutting out all connections to the outside, be they friends, lovers or family. We have chosen to suffer in solitude and silence, in the hopes that somehow, we can personally overcome, and through our sacrificial catharsis, be able to save the others. We are a shattered mirror of our former selves, a broken parody of a happy family.
The screams of Chibiusa-chan snap me out of my reflective reverie. For she has slipped into slumber, and the terrors have come upon her again. Haruka-poppa and Michiru-momma look upon her with suspicion, wondering if the enemy will burst from her like a xenomorph in that science fiction film, Alien. Setsuna-momma looks at her with tired frustration, unsure, for once in her long life, of what to do. Sailor Venus looks on impassively, fixated only on gaining control of her own fears, preparing for combat in case the enemy should appear, and staving off her own inner guilt and despair. Artemis just covers his ears with his paws in a futile attempt to drown out the unearthly yelps and shrieks of primal terror.
A Shattered Mirror, indeed. How ironic, I think, as I stand up, looking with pity at Chibiusa-chan as she flails in her mashed potatoes, consumed by some terror known only to the deepest reaches of her soul. I reach out my hands to her, wrapping them around her throat.
As I hear the gasps of the others all around me, the clattering of silverware and the shattering of fallen dishes as they leap into action, I smile and continue to squeeze, choking the life out of the abominable spawn of Serenity. For I am the goddess of the Shattered Mirror of Dreams, the daughter of darkest night. As my hands choke the life out of Serenity's wretched spawn, my rictus grin grows. For I am Miss Dream, and the curtain of my eternal night has dropped at long last.