I woke up and things were different. We weren’t at war with them anymore, instead they were standing on our street corners directing traffic and making sure their children and our children got to their shared schools safely. I’d fallen asleep an embittered spinster and woken up married with five children whom I’d never seen before but for whom I had a deep and abiding love. The world had changed and I seemed to be the only one who remembered that it had been different.
I eventually met others who remembered too, some of ours and some of theirs, and we started working together to find out who was changing the world, because it kept changing. It seemed to swing like a pendulum between the extremes of a war of mutual extermination and a completely equal and integrated society. My personal situation was either single with no prospect of marriage or married with many children. When I was married it was always to the same man, others in our group had more variation. I noticed that when I wasn’t married I never saw the man who is otherwise my husband. Maybe in those versions of the world I wasn’t married because he didn’t exist?
It was sometimes scary and dangerous. Fortunately the time I got the secret police on my tail for asking odd questions was a version of the world where I wasn’t married. One of them killed the pursuit dogs for me so we could both get away. The time my ship was boarded by their privateers could have been disastrous if the first of them through my cabin door hadn’t been one of my colleagues. But it was rewarding because we were successful. We found out who was jerking us all around like marionettes and we stopped them.
We didn’t kill them, that would have made us no better than them. We didn’t change the world again either, that would have turned us into them. We broke their toy that made things different and ignored their promises of a perfect world, maintained forever. We separated them and put them in places where they can do no harm. “Uncle Henry” is my particular charge and I visit him often, along with my husband and our children. The children take him art work, I knit him sweaters and my husband talks sport with him. Then we go home and leave him to his sheltered dementia care where no-one believes him when he tells them our robusta kinsmen are savage monsters and that I am one of the equally monstrous Implacable Ones who have imprisoned him.
Who believes the ravings of a clearly demented old man?