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A Vision in a Dream
by Christopher G. Meade

Rotepconarmy Steop, a junior space cadet, was having his morning cup of coffee in the S.S. (Space Ship) Futility’s cafeteria. He had not slept well and was not looking forward to the day’s assignment; fixing the Trochaic Thrusters. Although they had been disused for years, it was the junior cadets’ responsibility to maintain said thrusters. Rotep lit up a marijuana cigarette (the use of tobacco had been discontinued early in the 21st Century), stood up and walked resignedly towards the engine room.

When Rotep reached the engine room he found old Mr. Housman who, as always, was pursuing his pointless work with undue diligence and a song upon his lips.

“The laws of God, the laws of man,
He may keep that will and can;
Not I: let God and man decree
Laws for themselves and not for me!1

‘We poor lads ‘tis our turn now, to hear such tunes as killed the cow.2’ thought Rotep. “Hello Mr. Housman, how are you today?”

“Ah, hullo my lad! Very well indeed, say, hand me that wrench, will you?”

“How can you be so happy? You know that these thrusters will never be used again, how do you go on?” Rotep queried, as he handed the wrench to Mr. Housman.

“Precisely by not asking myself questions such as those. Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.3

“Yes, that does seem to help, but only temporarily.” replied Rotep, in between gulps of beer.

“All happiness is temporary, my boy, so make it your goal to rape the world of as much of it as you can handle.”

“That’s all well and good in theory, but putting it into practice could get one into a lot of trouble.”

“Trouble? That’s just the laymen’s term for exhilaration.”

The terrible sound of twisting metal interrupted their debate. A smaller craft made of what looked like wood, had crashed through the roof of the engine room. A ramp descended from it and two beings in strange clothes proceeded down the ramp. The being in the lead was the first to speak, “Are you Rotepconarmy Steop?”

“Y-yes, I am, who are you?”

“We are the S.T.C. or Superfluous Time Commandos; you’ve heard of us, I’m sure.”

“N-no, why do you do it?”

“Why do we do what?”

“Why be time commandos, if your services are not needed?”

“No, no! You’ve got it all turned around, you twit; it is the time that’s superfluous, not the commandos. We had too much time on our hands, so we became time-travelling commandos.”

“Oh, okay then. What do you want with me?”

“You mean you don’t know the significance of your name?”

“No, what do you mean?”

“You are the future of the greatest and most artful form of literature; poetry. Your parents were ignorant and semi-literate. On the day before your birth, I gave your father a slip of paper with a name on it. This name was what you were destined to be called, unfortunately your lunkheaded father got all the letters, or ‘alphabets’ as he called them, mixed up.”

“So what is my name supposed to be?” Rotepconarmy Steop asked.

“Your real name is Contemporary Poets!”

As soon as these words were spoken, Rotep vanished.

“I told you it wouldn’t work.” said the second being.

“Oh, shut-up Wordsworth.”


Notes and acknowledgements:

The title of this story, A Vision in a Dream, is also the alternate title of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous opium fuelled poem Kubla Khan.

The piece also contains direct quotes from three of Alfred Edward Housman’s poems, as below.

1 - From The Laws of God, The laws of Man

2 - From Terrence, This Is Stupid Stuff

3 - From The Chestnut Casts His Flambeaux