A few nights ago I dreamt of attending a university in an alternate university as an alumnus in 1998 or 1999. It had been a long time since I’d visited as a student. It looked as good as ever.
My memories were still strong, made stronger by the sudden time shift I made, to 1948 when I was a student there. It was a grand university; I only remember visiting a single quad enclosed by four walls of the building, perhaps not the only walls, and the buildings seemed to reach for the sky when I looked up at them. I remembered everything from 50 years in the future, though. I talked to the headmaster and I briefly considered telling him about the future of the university, but decided against it. I doubt he knew the importance of the exchange, at least the importance I saw in it. I remembered him so well even after he was gone.
When I was a student, my passion lay in woodwork and several loosely associated fields. My latest project at the time were a series of weapons. Among them were a shinai, a wooden club, a wooden sword, and a strange wooden weapon I didn’t recognise – a uniform stick but with a large ball-like addition on the held end. I didn’t think I’d use them that much, however. I didn’t know the first thing about kendo or swordplay, nor did I have any natural proficiency with these weapons. I had a strange choice of weapons.
We seemed to be on break here at the university. I sauntered about, talking with other students, examining my finished projects, looking around. I looked at one of the walls, and remembered that in 50 years’ time there would be memorials all around the quad on the walls. They were what I’d looked at 50 years later as an alumni.
Then the invasion begun.
We were split into groups, and my group was relocated to a nearby school to train and operate. They put us in deep end first; we were handed guns and were told to fight off the invaders. I heard gunshots in distant parts of the school, and saw the barely visible forms of the invaders clad in blue moving in the shadows and across the playground outside.
I was so terrified that in my panic I refused to take a gun, thinking it would relieve me of all the responsibility I had. Instead, I drew one of my wooden weapons as if I could do anything useful with it. I stood nervous and tense in the school’s lunch hall, waiting for the moment they would burst in.
They made it to the doors, but were shot down before they made it in. Everybody else was standing in the hall in silence, shaking, but at least they had effective means of eliminating the enemy force. As I heard gunshots, I remembered the headlines I’d read later on about the enemy force. Stories of their brutality, of how they’d show no mercy or respite to those they killed. They took no prisoners.
I’m not sure how but everybody in the hall made it through. From here, we started our training. We were sent for a run alongside a train line, following the tracks through the forest. This was something I could follow. I stayed ahead of my squadron and pushed myself every time I felt fatigue.
Before my memories of further training begun, I woke up…