Little Robot Horses
Once several years ago I had this dream, as is recorded in my Book of Dreams:
Last night, I had a dream. And in the first part of it, I was in Hong Kong, in a museum of Chinese culture. And I could see in beyond, and there was room after room filled with museum artifacts. And I was by the Chinese water fountain outside, wondering if drinking from it meant they wanted a donation; and in the gift area, I was looking for Chinese playing cards, or a chess set for Chinese chess, or maybe a mah jongg set. Only all I could find were items having to do with Western playing cards. And the young lady at the desk said, no, they didn't have any.
Now next time we were up at a moon base, on the moon. And digging around outside, in hard vacuum, wearing our space suits, we kept coming across the remains of little robot horses, about knee-high, covered in the lunar dust.
And now there was word from the Mars colony that robot horses were being sighted, running across the dead, empty sea bottoms of Mars. And there were getting to be so many of them, that the robot horses were overrunning the entire planet.
Now change of scene, and I'm watching it as an anonymous observer, but it's all in the third person. A star ship has been dispatched, faster than light, to travel to another star system, and investigate what is supposed to be a new habitable planet for colonization.
And two astronauts, one a young fellow with a dark crewcut, whom I sort of identify with; and one, a beautiful, sexy young blonde Swedish babe. And even faster than light, it's a couple of months to the star system. And I think you can guess what happens with these two together, in those months in the empty deeps of space, between the stars. The phrase that occurred to me in the dream was pol na polú, which is Russian for "sex on the floor." Only in space there is no floor, no ceiling, only a slow-motion mid-air ballet in zero-gee.
And after a couple of months, these two astronauts, the man and the woman, arrive at the distant star system. And they settle down to the surface in a shuttle. And they open the airlock, letting down a heavy gangplank from the metal underbelly of the shuttle, and they venture out onto the perpetual dark of the planet, with its howling winds. And all about them, scampering with the sagebrush, knee-high, are little robot horses. And frequent lightning shows the robot horses running in snapshot profile.
And the woman takes a flamethrower, and incinerates some of the nearby robot horses, Sigourney Weaver style. But that was a mistake. Because now thousands of little robot horses are drawn from miles around to the charred remains. And they actually seem to be multiplying.
The man warns the woman back into the airlock, and they manage to get the shuttle off, and it lifts, a giant hulk of metal slowly levitating into the air. And beneath it, lit up by its landing lights in the heavy dark, are thousands of little running robot horses.
Now it's a couple of months back to Earth, hyperlight, and the man and the woman are going at it again in the interstellar deep.
And when they get back, they are kept in quarantine, in a space station in Earth orbit. Because word has come back, from other missions like theirs, and it seems that the little robot horses are everywhere, on every habitable planet that has been investigated, except for Earth. And there's a fear, because it's not known how the robot horses are spread, or how they multiply. It might even be possible for a person to be carrying the template for them, in microscopic form, like a virus. So the man and his Swedish babe are trapped up there in the space station. And they can't come back down to Earth.
And then I woke up.