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A Cage of Dreams
by Anthony Hotopp

I was an ant.
It was not much of a life. I did the normal ant things. About as boring a life as there comes. Yet even
as a lowly ant, I dreamed of being more. I don't remember exactly what happened. There was this big
foot, and then I think I died.

This was a little more interesting.
I could remember being an ant and being very bored. Now I was something else. I could undulate now
and I had many more feet then before. I still did not really have consciousness, yet neither did I really
miss it.

It seemed I was a ‘Caterpillar’.
As a caterpillar I did the caterpillar things. I crawled and I ate leafy things. I was aware of fear
though, for I was slow and lumbering. There were things that would kill me and not much I could do. I
was neither happy nor unhappy yet I dreamed of being more. Then one day a peculiar feeling
overcame me. It was a feeling that I could be more. With this in mind I begin to spin my dream and
weave it about me.

I was trapped.
I knew I had to get out or I would die. I fought and twisted until I was free.
I spread my wings to dry and fanned them. As my wings dried I became aware of more things. They
were colors and I was attracted to them. The colors called to me that I should eat and each color was
a different flavor.

I was a butterfly now.
It was nice to fly instead of lumbering along. Yet still I was not happy, nor yet sad, nor did I have
emotions. It just seemed so repetitive to fly from color to color-seeking sustenance. Then I became
aware of a female of my species. That was a little more interesting then a flower and I woo-ed her.
Yet still I dreamed of being more. While I was dreaming of this I forgot to pay attention.

A bird snatched me from the air.
Now I became aware of my first emotion. My first emotion was of course fear. My second emotion
was helplessness. As I died I thought to myself, 'it would be nice to be a bird.’ This time there was not
a total emptiness. A light opened up before me and I entered the light.

Again I was trapped.
This time it was worse for I seemed to be running out of air. The world around me was a white shell
and it was the enemy. Desperate and scared I attacked it and slowly it gave before my might. When it
was defeated, I became aware of a part of the world around me.

The world around me was a nest in a tree.
It was occupied by vague others and most importantly, my mom and dad. Mom and Dad would take
turns staying to guard us. While the one guarded us the other would go to get us food. I was
conscious only of my hunger and that which was contained within the nest. There were others there,
yet mom and dad treated us equally. Then one day my perceptions saw that there were things
outside the nest.

There were leaves and branches and moss and vines.
There was the ground below and air and above us; there was the sky and the sun. I became
dissatisfied with the nest and I dreamed of there being more. I dreamed of leaving that nest and
going out into the beautiful wide world. Then one day with no warning, my mom pushed me out of the
nest. In terror I spread my wings to keep from slamming into the ground. Now at last, with my
spreading grasping wings, I realized that I was a real bird.

It still was not much of a life.
It seemed that I was always hungry and could never get enough to eat. I was startled by everything
and noise was the thing I feared most. Anything loud would make my heart beat out of control. I was
afraid of everything, which was kind of unpleasant. Then I saw a male of my species and that was a
little more interesting. For, whereas I was kind of drab, he was a riot of color.

He woo-ed me and we built a nest.
Then the eggs hatched and I had a family of my own. It was nice having a family and gave me a
sense of fulfillment. Like my own father and mother we took turns guarding and feeding. Yet still I
was unsatisfied for it seemed there could be more to Life. I found myself dreaming at the oddest
times that it was true. That there was more to life then just what I had so far.

While I was dreaming I forgot to be scared by a noise and a cat killed me. As I died I thought, ‘It would
be nice to be a cat.’

Chapter II Awareness

I had to get out.
I clawed and I squirmed yet my claws were weak and could not tear. I writhed and twisted and pushed
and pulled; suddenly I was falling. I did not fall far, just far enough to give me a good bump and scare
me. However there was something even scarier than that. I could not see the world I was thrust into.

There was a sudden pain near my tummy that quickly went away.
Now I was in distress for I could not breathe. I felt something warm/soft/wet/rough, about my face. I
found air in my lungs and cried out in protest at the unfairness of it all. I cried out my hunger and
confusion for the entire world to hear.

The warm/soft/wet/rough soothed me though, and purred reassuringly.
She prodded me in the right direction and I found food that I sucked eagerly. It dried up quickly yet as
I pawed and prodded it, it produced more food. This was great yet someone kept kicking me in the
head so I kicked back. I soon became proficient at pawing and prodding for the source of food.

Also I gained proficiency at kicking and squirming at my unseen tormentors.
Then one day my eyes opened and I saw the world about me. Mom was the source of the food and
my brothers and sisters were the source of the torment.

Now it seemed that I was a cat.

Very little scared me except when I was young, and the world was endlessly fascinating.
Things that moved were the most fascinating for they were sometimes good for food.
Even if they were not food moving objects became happily things to play with.

My tormentors, I mean my brothers and sisters became more interesting as well. They were fun to
play and fight with. Each of them thought they should be boss, but it did not take me long to set
them straight. I was the boss and anybody who did not think so would get a good clawing.
Of course mom was the over-boss and nobody would dare to cross her. She taught us how to be cats
and proper grooming and all of that. Then suddenly it all changed when my siblings started

There was a person who took care of feeding us when mom did not want to anymore.
Then another person grabbed me one day and took me away. At first I hated them for it, then I got to
know them better and they were not so bad. They fed me interesting things and liked to tickle my
tummy; I decided to keep them. There were tickles and pets, and my person liked to talk to me and
tell me how pretty I was. I knew that but it was nice of him to notice.

There were two different worlds for me to play in as well also.
There was the inside world with my person and ready food. He had birds in cages that I now despised
and wanted to eat. However, there were also rules like not eating the caged birds and he would punish
me if I broke the rules. Most humiliating though was I had to do my thing in a box and sometimes it
was dirty. Inside was nice, but it was not enough.

Outside was in most ways better.
There were endless things to eat and play with. I was not punished for eating the birds outside. Yet
outside there was loneliness. There were no pets nor was there treats.
Somehow having my own person gave me a feeling of security. I went outside a lot, yet I would
always find myself returning to inside. Yet, I dreamed of more.

I was not my person’s only owner.
There was also the dog. The dog in a lot of ways owned him better. He would get pets outside and
would play with his person. He would make him hunt with him and it made me jealous. I was disdainful
of the dog, yet deep down I really envied him. Since we both owned the same person we tolerated
each other. I lived out the rest of my cat life though and was happy. I met many females of my kind
and serviced them all.

It was not a bad life. Yet I dreamed of more. While I was dreaming of more I guess I died of old age.

No need to bore you with all the details of being born again.
After all this was my second time and I was starting to get used to it. Being a puppy was a lot
different then being a kitten. I did not have such a wonder of life as when a cat.
There was just as much playing, yet I kind of missed my claws. These claws were not efficient and I
would never be able to climb a tree as I had before.

I had thought being a dog would be better then being a cat.
Yet, it was neither better nor worse. Matter of fact I found I preferred the company of cats to the
company of dogs even though I was one. My person was not a male of the species and was neither a
hunter nor a gatherer. Except for certain times, I was confined to the inside or to a small outside
with a wall around it. The only time I really seemed to feel joy was when my person was there with me,
or when I was doing my job.

The only thing that was kind of interesting and different was being trained.
I learned that I could feel joy with any people, but only if my people liked them. Other people taught
me how to protect my people. If you were my person or a friend or family of my person, I would love
and protect you. I would yell 'stranger,' if a person came that I did not know.

I learned that a stranger across the way was not the same as one near my wall.
If a person touched my wall or came over it and I did not know them, then it was ok to eat them.
Well, maybe not eat them, but chew them up pretty good. This was called, "Guard!" I also learned
"Sit!" "Lay down!" "Roll over!" "Shake,"(that was one of my favorites)

However, those were not as fun as the words of power.
"Watch 'Em!" was the most fun. I would stare at the stranger person and growl and tell them what I
thought of them. "Get 'Em!" was better, that meant full out war. I pity the person who had to face my
jaws for I was a bruiser.

"Find 'Em/It" was fun too.
It was like a game where my person gave me a scent. I would have to follow it/them to where it/they
were hidden/hiding. My person unfortunately did not seem to like that game much, or forgot how to
play it.

Soon I was really bored. All this training and here I was home in our hovel alone.
There were no strangers trying to get in or on the property. My person was gone a lot and I was
lonely. The worst times though were when I was ready for a male of my species and there were none
around. At least there were none that could get to neither me, nor I to them.

Finally my person let me have a male.
It was wonderful even though he did not stick around for seconds or thirds. I had a family and then
they grew up and were taken away. That made me sad. I dreamed of having more. I dreamed of being
a person and having a family and being able to keep them.
I dreamed, I lived, I grew old, and I died while I was dreaming in the sun.

I was born in Egypt.
I was a pretty girl who was born to be a priestess. I did not remember being a dog, a cat, a butterfly,
a caterpillar or an ant. Sometimes though, I had disturbing dreams that hinted at these things. I would
tell the priest of these dreams and he would tell me what they meant. He was well meaning yet never

He would tell me I had these dreams because I hated someone.
Or that I felt bad about doing this or that and brought the dream on myself. He told me I had these
dreams because I hated my mom and my dad abused me. None of these things were true but telling
him that would just make things worse. Some of the priestesses understood however for they shared
similar dreams. We knew that they were past life experiences. So I quit telling the priest
and just giggled about them with the other Priestesses.

Egypt was the heart of the civilized world.
However, priestesses were sacrosanct and avowed virgins for life. My dream of having a family and
happiness could not be realized. Priestesses are held in a kind of awe, yet try telling that to the high
priestess. She treated us like crap and cruelly beat us and yelled at us at her leisure. It was not the
life that I wanted yet I had little choice.

We were also at the mercy of the Pharaoh.
He treated us like his personal harem. Sometimes the other girls would get pregnant and the child
would be indoctrinated as a priestess if a girl. If a boy and not have royal birth they would be dashed
against the rocks. Sometimes they were of royal blood yet would be killed for the father would not
acknowledge them. If a boy and have the royal blood they would be permitted among our ranks only
until the age of five. Then they would go to the temple of the
brotherhood to be trained or given into the care of the father.

I hated it, and I hated my life.
I began to dream of what it would be like to be a male and be in charge of my life. There was no
equality for women and there never would be. While I was dreaming there was a war. Fanatics
overran the temple of the virgins. One of them raped and killed me.

As I died I dreamed of revenge.
I dreamed of being a warrior and on the side of right. I dreamed of being a lawgiver and punishing
people like this who raped and pillaged. As I dreamed I died.

I did not remember being raped and dying.
I did not remember being a dog, a cat, or a bug. However something in the core of me must have
known; just as I was known by the name of 'The Gentle Warrior. I have come to believe that even if
you do not remember your past lives, still you are influenced by those lives.

I was a huge man.
Standing almost seven feet tall and weighing about three-fifty or better, I easily towered over most
people. I was born in china. I was what came to be known as an arbitrator. An arbitrator is a law unto
himself. They travel from town to village, to province, etc. and their word is law.

I was a monk, a warrior, and a lawgiver.
I tried to temper my justice with mercy, yet it was not always possible. For the most part my duties
were simple ones and the cases I tried were simple in nature. If his neighbor who was a goat herder
wronged a farmer I would arbitrate the conflict. If for instance the herder allowed the goats to
destroy his neighbors crop and would not pay for it. In such a case I would figure the amount of
damage to the amount of wealth of the herder. Then instruct the herder to
give up so many goats or to pay the amount of damage to the farmer.

Yet the truth was not always easy to get to.
If the farmer suffered other damage, for instance to his life or family, it could be worse.
This is assuming that the herder was at fault for negligence and the farmer was blameless. That was
not always the case, for instance if the farmer wished to hurt the herder and enticed the sheep to his
property. I always found out the truth and sometimes the methods I had to use were unpleasant to
say the least.

Harder to judge were the cases of crimes like murder, rape, and theft.
Each had to be judged on its own merits. Witnesses had to be brought in. Then the witnesses had to
be judged as well as to the validity of their witness. Bearing false witness against your neighbor was a
crime punishable by death if it could be proved. Therefore a woman saying she had
been raped had better have been raped or it could go very bad for her.

In china at this time justice was impartial.
It was the accuser as well as the accused that were put on trial. It sometimes took a long time to sort
out the truth from the lies. I was however one of the best. I had a good life and few regrets. Yet,
sometimes I would dream. I would dream of being better then I was. I would dream of actually making
the laws instead of just enforcing them. Sometimes the laws were unfair. Though I did not agree with
them, it was my job to enforce them.

I was on my long lonely road when I came upon a great injustice.
Hill bandits had waylaid a caravan on its way to the capital. Most of the men were already dead or
dying. Parts of the caravan were on fire other parts were lying in the road. There were dead women
and children. The women and children left alive were being raped or sodomized.

I was like the wrath of God when I came upon them.
I killed upwards of fifty men before I was brought down. I laid my brow upon the cold earth and I
dreamed. I dreamed of being a God. I dreamed of bringing order so that travesties such as this
could not happen. Then I died while dreaming.

I was not born again; I existed.
The Alantians called me Persephone. My people were beautiful. It was a nation of scholars and
statesman. A more perfect nation could not be imagined. It was a nation based on law. There was no
theft, no rape, and no murder. The people of my nation were perfect; they worshiped the ground
I trod upon. They respected the environment, they respected each other and; and I could not stand it.

It was a nation of sheep.
For every step forward in technology there was a step backwards in willingness to step forward, until
they wanted for nothing and became decadent and slothful. My perfect people were now petty and
bickering about inconsequentialities.

What had I done?
I had killed the human spirit. They had made golems to serve their every needs of the physical. They
had made cornucopias that supplied them with endless fruits of their desires. They made replicated
meats that never had to be slain for they were created whole. They became decadent and fat. They
even quit procreating because they lost the will to get out of their floating chairs.

Then they quit worshipping me.
Not only that, all they did was sit on their fat behinds, eat and be served. I implored them to shuck
off their slothfulness and embrace life again.

In my wrath I destroyed them all. I razed Atlantis from the face of the earth and I sunk it below the
seas. I destroyed everything my people had built....

Now I am alone...
A cage of dreams surrounds me
Each bar of my prison is one of those dreams.
Every once in a while I grab a bar and shake it.
Then I see the reality of each, one by one.
I pace back and forth in my dreams, lost.
Perhaps I will find one day a single bar...
One bar that gives before me and lets me escape.
I have nothing to do but ponder them.
Until, someday a new dream occurs to me for...
Where could I possibly go from here?
I dreamed I was a God and became one.
Now my people are dead and I?
I think I was happier as a bug.

Used by permissionof the author
All Rights Reserved By
ACH Incorporated
ACH Unpublished Works 2005

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