Reptiles in the Herpetarium


Photo by Chester Zoo, Chester UK. Used with a Creative Commons License.

Another nightmare. Not fair: I didn’t even touch the rose wine served at last night’s business meeting!

This one concerned an attempt to escape radiation. For a reason that seemed perfectly sensible in the dream but in the morning light seems on a par with American claims that it’s the rest of the world, not America, that possesses weapons of mass destruction, I was offered an escape route from the threat of ionizing radiation.

The catch? The route went through an upscale museum-y place bearing an expensive carved sign: “Reptiles in the Herpetarium.”

Well, duh! What else would one expect to find here?

And I had to take all my stuff, which possibly included the odd reptile, with me. But I was not to worry: the highly competent staff would pack everything up properly and deliver me and my collection to safety.

Although not fond of reptiles, I played along and before I knew it was all packed up and expelled gently onto the ground far below, where I was to await the veritable mountain of baggage that was to accompany me.

I stood where I was told to stand, noticing, while waiting, that there was a total absence of signage in this brave new world I was entering. That was the trouble.

Somebody, possibly aided by reptilian brains, had invented special, apparently previously untested equipment designed to lower all that weighty junk to ground zero, where I stood, rather less than well prepared for the journey. Down came several huge, sturdy, extensible steel legs to steady the operation—one of them right on top of me, along with a pile of dirt. Death and burial in one swell foop.

“Katje!” I called faintly from under the juggernaut of human invention. “Katje!”

I thought I heard her say “Herpaderp”–something young and hopeful, as I gratefully woke up.

It’s doubtless true: I have too much baggage. And there might be a snake, the kind that’s always talking you into nibbling another bite off the tree of knowledge, slithering around through my ten-thousand-book library. But am I still naive enough to think that human invention’s most likely outcome is not to kill the very things it purports to save from itself?

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