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Issue number six




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Hill Street Dream by s.c.virtes

I was reading about some bacteria (or algae) that grew on stamps. In fact they only grew on a certain stamp from the Netherlands and escaped detection by mimicking a not-terribly-rare printing error. I had a few copies lying around the house, so I sprayed Lysol on them, but nothing happened. "This is stupid," I determined, and lay down.

There was a knock on the door. The clock said 4:060, just to be annoying. Who the hell? Right. It was Dad, flown all the way out from NY. Surprise. "Well, come on in then...”

"No, no. That's okay." He handed me a loaf of bread (Roman Meal) and warned me very emphatically about an impending earthquake. "You should come back east before it hits."

"No, no. That's okay," I said. "Nobody knows what they're talking about."

So he left. I hoped he was using frequent flyer points, but he never in fact goes anywhere. I walked around confused and stood on the corner of Palm and Washington for a while, but the world didn't end. On the way home, I passed through someone else's dream, which was always annoying.

First there was an oink, then a moo--all the sounds of a farm getting ready for sunrise. Then there was a farm, and a lopsided barn, and I slipped into the barn to see what all the noise was about. A pig was reading the early edition, snorting something about "politics as usual,” while the huge smelly head of a cow looked over its shoulder impatiently. The farm girl came in with a fat crunchy bag labeled FOOD and started throwing the stuff around. One look at her dry lips told me that she was Ramona, that girl Dylan sang about back in '64.

She bumped into my shadow, and gasped, "Bob?"

"Um, not exactly," I said.

She ran screaming out of the barn, leaving a trail of oats.

She ran out into the street, and there I was, walking up the hill.

"Still no earthquake," I was thinking, looking up at the fading stars. I don't remember who I thought I was talking to.

"Help there's some horrible smelly demon-thing lurking in the barn here's a baseball bat come bash its brains out for me oh thank you thank you eek!" she shouted.

I muttered something about the show “Twin Peaks” eating away the fabric of reality and figured it was worth a detour. Besides, it was me in the barn, and I knew I wasn't in the barn anymore, so even by dream logic I wouldn't need to bash my own brains in. Maybe if I just thumped and yelled a bit, I could be a hero before breakfast.

The sun came up, a strange piece of clockwork that ticked off the roosters something fierce. They staggered around and checked each other's batteries.

Ramona pushed me towards the barn, her hair still turning white from the terror of the Stranger she had encountered in there. I recited something bizarre from the Book of Mormon (any page will do) and stomped forward, trying to look brave.

Luckily the barn became an apartment building before I could get there. Ramona's cousin from the city came outside with a glass of o.j. and a copy of Julian Jaynes's “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind,” and I thought I should say hello.

I said I had just published a story about the guy, who was, in my opinion, totally technocentrically nuts. I'm always annoyed by people who downplay the abilities of the men (and women) of our ancient civilizations. "The guy is the Von Daniken of the psych psychos. Oooh."

I had a copy of the “Omni” with me. The picture was cool, a seething dust storm with a hundred faces. The title? “The Bicameral Wind.”

An opaque breeze blew down upon us; the pages were ripped away. I woke up twice, and one of me was already on the way to work, thinking there was some deep meaning to everything. The rest of me stayed behind, knowing that there are only glimpses without answers.

s.c.virtes is a programmer by day, daydreamer by night. His stories have appeared in Analog, Space & Time, Steel Caves, Ideomancer, and lots of other places. His short story collection Year of the Twist is now available at amazon.com. Home is sunny Escondido, CA. His short story, "Homeward Found," previously appeared in The Cafe Irreal.

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