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The Onierographer

by Rudi Dornemann

She'd only just arrived. Translucent like illuminated smoke, the curves of buildings loomed over her, but she felt more comforted than claustrophobic and, realizing something wasn't right about that response, she fell awake.

The laminated prompt card still lay on her blanket.

One of the researchers was right there, making a show of reading something off a display in the corner. As if he couldn't have done that from control room.

She pre-empted what she knew he was going to say.

"I'll pack first thing in the morning," she said, and tugged at an electrode on her scalp.

"It happens this way with some people. A lot early, then nothing." He sounded sympathetic, but she knew he got paid by the page his subjects produced, and must be secretly relieved to get someone new into this room, someone who might dream more productively.

"I was there. On a street. Somewhere in the ammonite city."

He didn't even look up from his clipboard. "Did you see any inhabitants? Get a sense of what any of the buildings were? Were you in the inner or outer whorl?"

"I didn't..." she said. "I'm sorry." Her eye lingered on the spiral as she handed him the prompt card.

"We'll mail your last check." He pulled something from the pocket of his lab coat. "Here," he said, "for a free copy, when the book comes out."

The coupon showed the cover: More Dream Realms Revealed: A LucidTravel Guide.

She shivered awake.

The directory, Dr. Current-Waves-Tendril flushed disappointment pinks and purples from the tips of his upper limbs. "How much did you give them?"

Red-Sand-Hiding stretched on the sleeping shelf, brushed life-support barnacles from her mantle.

"Not enough," she said, "We're still a prime destination." She could feel frustration brightening her face. "Publication date's pushed back a little, that's all."

Within a year, they'd be overrun; mobs of dream tourists, gawking without inhibition, would wander the inner and outer whorl, the upper and lower spirals.

"The others haven't done much better," said the director, and Red-Sand-Hiding saw two-thirds of the shelves were empty. "They can sustain the dream, but not the dream within it. We'll have to try the next plan soon."

She loosened her limbs in agreement. Somewhere, she knew, behind walls that swirled like ink, were pens of sharks, hungry, restless, ready to turn the streets of ammonite city to nightmare for a season.


ooo! so surprising!

Posted by: David | August 22, 2008 1:07 PM


Posted by: Rudi | August 23, 2008 12:54 AM

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