Saturday Storytime: Traumphysik

This is fine. I’m okay with the events that are currently unfolding, as is the protagonist of this story from Monica Byrne.

When I was finished cataloging everything, I did something I now regret. I carried one of the little pigs—a female, who was quite docile, and seemed happy to go for a ride—into the surf. I wanted to see if it could swim. I thought it must be able to swim, the species being so proximate to water, even though its ancestors were likely ship-borne vermin.

So I carried it down into the surf until I was knee-deep. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have gone so far out. I let it down into the water. At that moment, a wave of unusual force slapped my midsection and I fell into the water. I lost sight of the little pig. Then I glimpsed it again, underwater, twitching and writhing and sinking, clearly unable to swim. I reached for it but just then, another wave slapped me back, leaving me even more disoriented than before. I lost sight of it altogether this time. I didn’t recover it, or even see it again.

I felt quite bad. Maybe I should stick to physics.

In my dream last night, I managed to stand up in front of the full-length mirror I’d positioned at the foot of my mat. (The Navy sent it with me. Of course I must have a full-length mirror. God forbid I should be unaware of my appearance.) I was very intrigued to see that my image was not inverted—the MIT insignia on my nightshirt read MIT, not TIM as it does normally in waking life. I remember receiving that nightshirt my sophomore year; it was a gift from Professor Gaertner—-the wife Sofia, not the husband Bernhard; I should clarify, as they both bear that title—who thought I might be lonely as one of the only coeds at the Institute. I appreciated that.

And now here I stood, wearing the same nightshirt, noticing how MIT stayed MIT. This is the first deviation from known physics in waking reality.

In honor of the Gaertners’ German heritage, I’ve decided to call my experiment (and the universe it elucidates and its attendant systems) Traumphysik, which sounds more rigorous than “dream-physics.” Everything sounds more rigorous in German.


I had my daily check-in with base at noon. I’m told the war is going well. I take their word for it.

They asked whether I was keeping up with my fitness routine. I said yes.

They asked whether I had enough food and water. I said yes.

They asked whether I was having any trouble with the generator. I said no.

I heard another voice ask me if I was lonely and then muffled laughter and then shushing and then silence. I said nothing.

I lit the signal in the evening as a new squadron flew over. Supply planes, using my atoll for a landmark. I could make out the numbers on their underbellies. They looked like a school of flying fish overhead—and I, at the bottom of the sea. They flashed their call sign in Morse code and I flashed back. Lucifer. I am the light-bearer.

I’m developing quite a taste for coconut. I’m not tired of it; on the contrary, it’s the only thing I crave now. I split the hairy brown ones on a spike and then carve up the flesh with my knife.

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Saturday Storytime: Traumphysik