This is flash fiction piece is in response to a Chuck Wendig – Terrible Minds challangy thing. And, boy oh boy, do I love some flash fiction challenge. Dig it? Hate it? Lemme know.
“No, I’m telling you it wasn’t the Somanetics. Not this time. In fact here,” shouted Emerson while holding out a hand sized electronic device, “take a look. Sam, beyond the recording they didn’t register anything.”
The street café wasn’t the quietest place to share a cup of Koff. Traffic honked, rattled and bumped along the double decker transport pads on the far side of the sound barrier. The walls of Chilango’s colossal architecture shaded the café and echoed the cacophony back at the pair.
“No kidding,” replied Sam sipping at the hot bowl of synthetic morning juice he had just brought back from the register. He put the bowl down and scrolled through the previous night’s nocturnal recording. “You didn’t, I don’t know, accidentally leave a plunge in the queue did you?”
The look on Emerson’s face said it all, but he reiterated for clarity. “No damn it. Who’d do that anyway? That mierda will just mess you up. I’m telling you I went there on my own.”
“Yeah? I just don’t see,” Sam paused to take another sip of the bitter-dark drink. “Wait, how do you know you went anywhere? I mean, maybe you just had a dream, right?”
“Check the coordinates at the beginning of the dream,” said Emerson.
Sam’s thumb swiped and tapped on the device. He put down the bowl of Koff and picked the device up from the table. “Hmm,” he said. There was more swiping and tapping, this time with two thumbs and a finger.
“What are you doing?” asked Emerson.
“Well, finding out where this is for one thing,” Sam said. “I mean, I’ve never seen anything like this before. Have you? Well, obviously you have, but where? Haven’t you always lived here Em?”
“Yeah Sam. And I mean ‘no’ I’ve never seen that kind of a place before. When I woke up I had to go look it up on the informática. I cross referenced that image with every place I’ve ever been. Chilangolandia? It’s never had a cherry tree in it. Let alone that many,” Emerson said with an excitement his biochemistry probably could not support. It was still pretty early in the morning.
“Em, these coordinates don’t map. Well they do, but its to the middle of the ocean,” Sam interrupted.
“I’m telling you Sam I walked down that path, just like the recording shows it. I don’t know, it was chilly and wet. Not like Chilango. I think it was morning because the light was all pink,” Emerson said with conviction.
“Look Em, there’s got to be an explanation. Maybe we should finish our Koff. Aren’t you going to get any?” Asked Sam. Emerson crossed his arms and shook his head. Sam continued. “Then I’ll take you to the Oneironautica and they can check out your hardware. Maybe something’s gone wrong with your deck. Maybe you just need a reset. Jeez, let’s hope it’s your deck.”
Emerson scowled at his friend. “Sam, listen to me. You’re not listening to me. I already ran the full diagnostic on my deck and my head. All negativo my friend, and the Oneironautica validated the tests.” Emerson sat up in his chair and snatched the device from Sam. He scrolled around a bit and held an image of a stone path, inundated in florid water vapor, and bordered by blossoming fruit trees. “I’m telling you, this place is real. I went there last night. I did it without the deck,” Emerson said emphatically pointing at the image.
“Okay, alright,” Sam replied holding his hands palm out in supplication. “I can see that this dream has got you all wound up. And why not, it’s a beautiful place.” Sam gestured with his right hand at the booming, urban canyon where they were situated. “It’s certainly better than anything I’ve ever seen.”
The two sat across from one another, Sam sipping at his Koff. Emerson studied his friend in silence.
“Do you think you can go there again?” asked Sam.
“That’s the thing, I don’t know how I got there in the first place. I don’t know where ‘there’ even is. I walked in this dream for seventy-three minutes and there was no one else. No markers, no signs. Only fog, cherry trees and the brook. If this was someone’s plunge they don’t want to get paid. I couldn’t pay them if I tried,” Emerson said.
He looked up at his friend’s face. Sam had that grin on his close shaved jaw that Emerson knew all too well.
“Oh no,” Emerson said.
“No wait,” Sam replied.
“No you can’t have the recording. Sam, you can’t have it.”
Sam feigned injury, then sat up in his little café chair. “Good idea Em, but not what I was thinking. There’s plenty of plunge in any bodega.”
“Then what?” asked Emerson.
“Well, we’ve got the full recording, thank you modern medical science, and that’s sort of a map, right.” Emerson sat silent, he could tell that Sam needed to talk this one out. “You’ve got all the brain chatter and chemical levels and whatever recorded, and the deck can reproduce those directions when you tell it to. It could even tell my head to follow your map.”
“So you want me to what, play it like an induction plunge?” Emerson asked incredulously. “There’s a reason all I ever play on my deck is certified sleep Somanetics. You know that stuff can mess you up.”
“Yeah, but how we gonna know? How else we gonna know?” Sam asked and Emerson knew he’d already made up his mind. “I’ve got the wiring, just need a deck right?”
Emerson sighed deeply. “The deck and twenty years of grade A therapy.”
Sam poured the remainder of the Koff down the back of his throat and stood. “Just think Em, you may have stumbled onto something big. I mean huge, right. You know, dream therapy I never really liked much. But getting out of here, getting the fuck out of Chilango? That’s worth the try.”
Sam wiped sweat from his forehead, Chilango walk level already sweltering and the sun had yet gotten over the artificial albedo. “Come on, let’s go get a deck. This place is too damned hot.”