Invisible data

by Hyakunichisou 13 (百日草 十三)


User 395890

I’m holding a key in my hand, and I drop it at the same time. I’m standing in the ocean, and I can see it lying on the bottom, on the wave-patterned sand. I bend over, but even though the water only comes up to my calves, I can’t reach the key. It lies there, next to my foot, so close but unreachable. I wake up drenched in sweat.


User 239722

Deep well? There’s a round light up top. Maybe the moon? Cold. My hand hurts.


User 047064

I’m doing laps in my pool, and suddenly I realize that the water is so much deeper than I thought, and I feel like I’m falling–


Caroline burst into the small office carrying with her the scents of snow and coffee. “Damn, it’s cold out there.” She put the cardboard cup tray down on the scrap of counter that served as their kitchenette, and swirled off her cape. A pink-and-orange-striped knit dress clung to her plus-sized frame, a purple crocheted shawl knotted rakishly around her hips. When she took off her hat, amber curls rose into the air, crackling with winter static.

“Hey. Do you have time this morning to build a new report?” Melissa said. “I was thinking–”

Caroline clicked her tongue. “Melissa. What is our rule about Friday Morning Coffee Treat?”

“Friday Morning Coffee Treat is sacred?” Melissa said.

“Friday Morning Coffee Treat is sacred.” Caroline pulled the lid off of one of the cups and set it on the corner of Melissa’s desk.

“Mmm. Caramel macchiato?”

“Damn straight.”

Melissa wrapped cold fingers around the small cup and breathed in sweetness. She sipped, and got the perfect combination of coffee and whipped cream and caramel sauce. The first taste was always the best.

Caroline leaned back against the counter, and they appreciated their drinks in silence for a few minutes.

“I have time,” Caroline said, licking whipped cream off her upper lip. “What do you need?”

“Can you build a report linking recurring keywords using that list of thesaurus clusters we worked on last month?”

“I can, but that’s going to take more than a morning. Right now the clusters still aren’t talking to anything else in the system, because I spent almost a week between that server thing and working out the feed issue with Reuters support.”

Melissa sighed. “Okay. Well…put it on the list, I guess.”

Caroline came over to look at the morphing data visualization on Melissa’s screen. “Do you have a feeling?”

“Maybe?” It was just a scritching in the back of her head, half a line of a half-heard song. When she tried to put it into words, to look at it directly, it scattered. Nothing was obvious in any of the visualizations–which was what the visualizations were for–but, but…

“Let me keep at it,” she said.

“You know where to find me,” Caroline said, and vanished behind the curtain printed with cherry blossoms that hid her desk alcove from the rest of the tiny office.


User 682309

Another running dream. It’s my third-grade teacher, and he’s a zombie. He’s throwing something at me, I think it’s pieces of chalk? They ping off the back of my head, the same place every time. I can’t outrun them.


User 661194

All I can remember is I knew I was going to be too late. I’m not sure what for, but it’s still kind of freaking me out.


It wasn’t as if Melissa didn’t have other work do to. She tried to blog about the project at least once a day, her email was constantly pinging at her, she had grant applications to write because the ad revenue was still minor and the Kickstarter funds were not going to last forever. But her attention kept being drawn back to the real-time feed of dream stories coming in from the app–their user base of almost thirty thousand and growing included plenty of late risers and people in time zones further west. She checked the news feeds too, trying to shake loose some correlation that might give her a hint about what her back-brain had detected, but there was nothing in the stream of minor local crises and political outrage and celebrity gossip that snagged her interest.

Around mid-morning, she got up from her desk and made a pot of ginger green tea. Then someone tweeted an article that she had been quoted in, so that was the blog post of the day, and she didn’t surface again until Caroline rapped on the top of her computer screen to get her attention.

“Jake’s in the neighbourhood. He says he’ll bring us dragon bowl salads from Eggplant if we want.”

Melissa was pretty sure that the last green thing she’d eaten had been the onions garnishing her pad thai two days ago. “Fantastic. We want.”

Caroline tapped at her phone. Melissa went down the hall to use the shared washroom and check their snail mail box, and by the time she got back, Caroline was unpacking biodegradable bowls heaped with every leafy green and sprouted seed known to modern nutritional science.

“Hey, Melissa.”

“Hi, Jake. How’s it going?”

“Heater in the truck’s broken. I hope you don’t mind if I thaw out here.” Jake was wearing a winter hat with the fur-lined ear flaps down, a thick pair of gloves, and both fleece and a peacoat over his courier company uniform. The tip of his blunt nose was crimson with cold.

“You know you’re always welcome. Can I get you some green tea?”

“Bless you.” He accepted the steaming mug, and Caroline shoved a bowl and a pair of chopsticks into Melissa’s hands. Jake settled onto the spare chair–a fold-out futon against the wall that Melissa had collapsed onto on more than one evening when she’d realized it was past midnight and she couldn’t face the subway ride home–and they chatted while they offset their weekly caramel macchiatos with kale and pomegranate seeds.

“Thanks, sweetie,” Caroline said as Jake prepared to face the rest of his shift. She buttoned up his coat, and tugged his muffler more securely around his neck. Melissa nudged her mouse and let the radiant nebulae of the dream feed visualization fill her attention as they kissed good-bye.

Caroline deserved someone like Jake. Jake, who had still been living as Janet when they’d met, definitely deserved someone like Caroline. Four years and a lot of changes in, and they still glowed when they greeted each other for a take-out lunch break.

There had been a time when Melissa had thought she’d wanted that. But as it had turned out, what she thought she wanted had been incompatible with what she needed, so.

After lunch she fell down the rabbit hole of controlled vocabulary, a problem that had been both urgent and unsolvable from the very beginning of the project. It wasn’t until she took a break at three-thirty and reflexively pulled up the dream feed that that nagging tip-of-the-tongue sensation surged back.

She poked at it for a few more hours, then surrendered and clicked the feed window closed. Caroline had warned her from the beginning that it would take time to gather enough data, let alone correlate it. The human brain was a pattern-making machine. Maybe she was just mistaking noise for signal.


“Mapping the future,” The Toronto World, November 23, 20XX (excerpt)

…Says Melissa Auslander, founder and director of the project, “After 9/11, there were all kinds of reports of people claiming to have dreamed about the attacks beforehand. You hear this all the time after major events, particularly traumatic ones–the Tohoku earthquake, the Boxing Day tsunami. Just supposing that these dreams really happened–what if we could record and use that information to act before a disaster? And given the fragmented nature of dreams, what if individual dreams aren’t enough–what if it takes all of us together to make the message come through clearly?”


“Holy shit,” Melissa said out loud.

“Good shit or bad shit?”

“I’ll send it to you.” She exported the report and messaged it to Caroline, then chewed on a hangnail and waited.

The moment Caroline emerged from behind her curtain, Melissa knew from the look on her face that it wasn’t going to fly.

“Sorry, hon. It’s well within the parameters of random chance.”

“But they look so similar.” She gestured at the graphics on her screen: two rainbow puddles, snapshots of the dream keywords and the news coverage, captured two days apart but with seemingly identical bright spots at the edge of each.

“Yes, but we’re not at our optimum number of users yet. It’s an illusion. If you look at the incidence of water-related dreams in isolation, the upward blip isn’t statistically significant. The news one is global warming, right? Personally, I think the Earth Day people are just starting super-early this year.”

“Damn.” Melissa dropped her forehead onto her desk.

Black lace from a long cuff tickled the back of Melissa’s neck as Caroline patted her shoulder. “We just don’t have enough data yet. It’ll come.”


User 989103

–piece of shit app keeps crash–


User 729262

Walk in my garden, earth is the waves. In window, my son child is cry. I can not hold him.


She stood in the dimness of her parents’ basement, between the washing machine and shelves packed with boxes of Christmas decorations and long-unused camping equipment. The knee-deep water tugged at her calves, a current sweeping past her from one side of the enclosed room to the other. Cement thrummed under her bare feet.

“You never listen,” said Kay, on the stairs. But Kay shouldn’t be here, she was far out of the city, raising children and organic apples with someone who wasn’t Melissa.

“I can hear you,” Melissa protested.

“Can’t see the forest for the apples,” Kay said.

Melissa held out her arms. They buzzed with blue light and energy, one arm the dream feed, the other the news feed, and they pulled and repelled each other like magnets, sending anticipation and frustration in jolts down her body. If only she could make them match–

Kay said something else, but Melissa didn’t hear it. She woke shaking her hands out, still feeling that electric fizz in her fingertips.


Any translation was an approximation. Dreams to words, words to galaxies of undulating pixels. Pointillist understanding, invisible data. Melissa gazed at the feeds until they lost meaning.

Caroline toyed with an algorithm that linked keywords to two categories of emotion: fear/anger, contentment/joy. It changed the visualizations utterly.

“Hey, you know what that one looks like?” Caroline said, passing behind Melissa’s chair on the way to fetching herself another cup of tea.

Melissa leaned in. “What? Do you see something?”

“That, there. That yellow shape. It looks like a duckie.”

It goaded Melissa into laughing. She tossed a pretzel at Caroline in retaliation. Caroline fielded it with ease.

“Relax,” she said, crunching. “We’ll know it when we see it.”


User 823030

Lying on teh floor stuff is falling off the shelfes. its bursting like pinatas except its not candy inside its all my stuff and my family. water breaks down the door and washes everything out and im the only one left.


User 207831

My younger sister drowned in a neighbour’s pool when I was six. Last night I dreamed I was in bed in the house we lived in when I was a kid, and she came when I was asleep and stole my teddy bear. Man, I haven’t had that nightmare in years.


Water drifted down around her, soft as feathers. Kay brandished a bucket.

Now will you listen?” she demanded.

“Tell me what you want,” Melissa begged.

In the corner, a woman in a blue Chanel suit and tasteful pearls stood in front of a weather map. Front lines writhed across it, bisecting smears of colour that bloomed and shrank, hot, cool, cold. The land mass behind them was blurred and unfamiliar.

Kay walked away, her hands sparking and glowing blue with some piece of Melissa that she was taking with her. Melissa felt her connection to it stretch like taffy, felt that connection snap and the recoil sting back into her. She staggered, and heard a muted roar above her. She looked up, and a world’s weight of water pounded down and flung her awake.


“It’s not that I’m not listening to what you’re saying,” Caroline repeated, “but the data just doesn’t support it.”

Melissa pressed her lips together to avoid saying something sharp. She counted to ten. “I can’t shake the feeling.”

“Have you been dreaming about water?”


“It could be observer bias.”

“Or,” Melissa said, “something’s really happening, but it’s not happening to enough people for the visualizations to be able to pick up on it.”

“That could be it too,” Caroline said equably.


Deepdream Help – Getting Started

Deepdream allows you to either type your dream, or speak it. Do what is most comfortable for you.

Describe your dream just the way you experienced it, with as much detail as you can remember. Don’t worry if it sounds strange or doesn’t make sense. Every little detail is a piece of knowledge that might help us make a breakthrough.


User 299954

–I drop–


User 713188

–it falls–


User 674976

–the current sweeps it away–


Melissa nudged the door behind her, sorting most of a wad of paper mail directly into the blue box. “I can’t believe this. We’ve been here, what? Four months? How we got on so many mailing lists–”

“Melissa,” Caroline said, and there was something odd about her voice. “You’d better take a look at your news feed.”


Breaking News with Lekha Suresh, Your 24 News, Vancouver (transcript)

Authorities have not yet confirmed the magnitude of the earthquake, but eyewitnesses describe the ground shaking for several minutes. Waves as high as three metres have been reported from the coast of northern California to Vancouver Island, and further waves of the tsunami are expected in the next thirty minutes to several hours all along the Pacific Northwest Coast. Although the Cascadia Early Warning System was able to broadcast a warning almost an hour before the first wave hit, saving countless lives, subsequent evacuation and rescue efforts have been hampered by widespread cell tower damage and overloaded networks. The number of casualties will not be known for some time. Property damage is estimated in the billions. We bring you now this exclusive footage from a viewer in Port Alberni, Vancouver Island–


Not only the news feed; the dream feed was going crazy, and continued to do so for days after the Cascadia quake.

“Now we know what correlation looks like,” Melissa said hollowly, hunching around her crossed arms. “Only it’s the wrong way around.”

“The power of suggestion,” Caroline said. “Once the tsunami was on the news, suddenly everyone remembered having dreams of shaking buildings and deep water.”

“No, I knew there was something there. Something to do with water, with waves–I just couldn’t bring it into focus–”

If there was something there.”

“If I had been able to figure it out before the–”

Caroline rapped her, gently, on the crown of her head. “None of that. That way lies egomania and lazy character motivation.”

Melissa rubbed a hand over eyes that felt filled with sand. “I know. You’re right. But I can’t help feeling that there’s something I should have done.”

“Aside from making that generous donation to the relief fund?” Caroline’s fingers smoothed down Melissa’s tousled hair. “We can’t do more than what we’re doing. We’re going to take this data, and we’re going to be able to help the next time something like this happens. Or the next, or the next. If something’s there, we’ll find it.”


Pre-interview, Melissa Auslander/Dreamdeep, George Adama for Ting and Aday Explain It All To You, SNAP Radio 104 (transcript; excerpt; unaired)

GA: Ms. Auslander, major news events break all the time. How are you able to understand which dream elements predict specific events?

MA: We’re not at the prediction stage yet, but our programmer, Caroline McLaughlin, has written algorithms that correlate news events with dream keywords. One of the goals we have in the first phase of the project is to link dreams with events that have already happened. This data will help us refine the algorithms to project data into the future.

GA: So it’s all done with computers?

MA: Caroline and I do look at the dream feed as well, though of course there’s too much data there for any individual to read, let alone analyze.

GA: And have you had any success–with the Cascadia tsunami, for example–in linking dreams to future events?

MA: [Pause.] Nothing definite, no.

GA: Do you think that failure to predict an event on that scale invalidates the project?

MA: Does it–no. We’re tapping into a data stream that has never before been accessed on this scale. We’re learning as we go.

GA: Don’t you think it could just be a huge Rorschach test?

MA: Are you even listening to what I’m saying?


Caroline swept her broad-brimmed straw hat off her head. She took a lace-edged handkerchief out of the pocket of her yellow sundress, and dabbed at her moist forehead. “I’m not sure if you’re going to need a spoon or a straw. These might have melted in the fifty feet between Tatiana’s and here.”

Melissa accepted a cardboard cup of roasted marshmallow and coffee ice cream, and snagged two spoons out of the mug full of pencils and cutlery on her desk. She handed one to Caroline, and they made similar appreciative noises as they dug in.

Five minutes later, Melissa put down her cup with a sigh. “Does it reflect poorly on my life that that was the highlight of my week?”

“It reflects well on the quality of handmade, million-percent-butter-fat ice cream.” Caroline dropped her cup in the green bin and her spoon in the sink.

“So, end-of-the-week review,” Melissa said. “I don’t know if you saw, but our sales are up from last month. I think that interview you did with What Ho! The Future! got a lot of reblogs.”

“Speaking of hand-crafted perfection, I have a good feeling about my latest tweaks to the algorithm.”

“I posted the newest monthly report to the blog yesterday.” Melissa made a face. “We’re doing great, aside from completely not accomplishing the goal of the project.”

“That part isn’t up to us. We can’t make it happen,” Caroline said. “But when it does, we’ll be ready.”


She recognized the lawn furniture, her aunt’s old foldable lounge chair with the frayed green webbing. She didn’t recognize the stars. They arched over her in silver garlands and unknown constellations, which, as she watched, whirled to spell out–to spell out–

Kay seated herself on the end of the lounge. She reached out and laid her hand against the curve of Melissa’s jaw. “I’ve never done this before. I made some mistakes. Could we try again?” Not Kay’s words, Melissa’s words, the last time that Kay had said No.

It wasn’t Kay, it was someone else who looked just like her. She leaned in close. Her breath made a warm spot on Melissa’s cheek. “Can you hear–”

Melissa jolted awake and flailed reflexively for her phone. Her sleep-clumsy fingers fumbled it, and the phone clattered onto the floor. Outside, a car alarm shrieked.

Dawn was just lightening the narrow stripe of window above the curtain rod. Arrows of pain impaled her right temple in rhythm with the car alarm. She groaned, kicked off the sweaty sheet, and stumbled to the shower.

Despite a breakfast of almond butter toast, strong tea and ibuprofen, her headache lingered. By the afternoon, the pain was a hot helmet tightening around her head. At three she gave in and took two more painkillers, then immediately dropped the bottle under her desk. Straightening, she pressed a hand to her temple and hissed through her teeth.

“Not sleeping well?” Caroline asked, filling her pottery mug with ginger tea.

“I slept fine. I woke up badly.”

“You look pale. You should go home and lie down. I can hold the fort here.”

Melissa thought wistfully of closing her eyes in a darkened room. “I have so much to do. The pills’ll kick in in a while.”

Half an hour later, she sent an email that she had meant to save to draft instead. She thought of swearing, realized she didn’t have the energy, shut down her computer, and was blessedly asleep ten minutes after she locked her front door behind her.


She’d never seen the feeds act like this before. They filled her screen, writhing. Auras of colour pulsed out of the computer and throbbed around the room like jellyfish. All the users were talking at once, a cacophony of words flying out at her. She tried to catch the words, but there were too many and they sailed past her too fast, she couldn’t hear them all, she couldn’t understand

A hand rested on her shoulder. She turned and looked up, but it wasn’t Caroline; it was not-Kay, though now she looked completely different.

“Don’t panic,” the woman said. She stroked Melissa’s hair. Melissa closed her eyes and tilted her head to rest against the woman’s hip. She could feel the woman’s regret, her determination to do better this time.

Through her closed eyelids, Melissa knew without seeing it that the woman had balanced something on the top of her computer screen. Something fresh and full of juice–an orange, a peach?

She opened her eyes, and the flickering resolved itself. An apple.

“Is that your name?” Melissa asked, and heard the rustle of leaves.


User 235412

I was looking down a long tree-lined lane. There was a light at the end, and it was coming towards me from a long way off. At first I thought it was a car, and then I thought, No, cars don’t go that far. Whatever that means.


User 907690

I’m dancing with a girl, which is odd, because I’ve never been into girls. But we’re waltzing like in an old movie, stars whirling around us, and our arms are around each other, and I realize that I will never be as close to anyone as I am to her right now.


User 395890

I can’t reach that fricking key again.


At the beginning of August, the Perseid meteor shower coincided with a major coronal mass ejection from the sun. The night skies were spectacular. For a week, both feeds were full of strange lights, UFO sightings, shooting stars.

“What’s it going to be this time?” Melissa asked under her breath. “A satellite falling? A plane crash?”

“What’s that?” Caroline asked, nudging aside her curtain.

“Something about the skies, travelling…” Melissa rubbed her face. “I’ve got another feeling.”

Caroline came and stood behind her, watching the visualizations morph and flow. “I can run some reports.”

“Yeah, please do.”

She hadn’t listened before. She wasn’t going to make that mistake again.


The corridor led to many other places. She could tell that from the windows, open doors, curtained doorways, shadowed alcoves, picture frames. But she kept walking forward on the deep carpet, towards a promise of sunlight. When she neared it, the breeze brought her the scents of cut grass and strawberries. Flagstones were under her feet, a bower of grape vines above her, blue-red bunches pendant from between the shading leaves. The lawn stretched so far and green she could not look at it. On the café table was a bowl woven of flowers, heaped with fruit. To take it, she knew, was to acquiesce.

The apple caressed her palm. Her mouth filled with water. She touched the fruit to her lips. It was sun-warm, waiting, willing. It tasted like nothing she had ever had in her mouth before. Warmth swirled out from her centre, and every hair on her body stood on end.


Melissa surfaced from sleep aching and wet between her legs, keenly aroused for the first time in longer than she could remember. The dream was already dimming. She rolled groggily onto her stomach and worked her hand down the front of her pyjama pants. She brought herself off in under a minute, tasting the ripe flesh, sweet and tart, on her tongue.


“Sorry, sorry I’m late, I should have texted you, sorry,” Caroline said, rushing in at a quarter to ten.

“Are you–” All right, Melissa had been going to say, but Caroline, in a plain linen shift and sandals, her hair pulled back from her face with a flowered headband, glowed like a woman who was definitely all right. “No big deal.”

“I swear I woke up early this morning, but–” She fanned herself. “Jake says his T’s the same dose as it’s been since January. It must be something in the water.”

Melissa felt herself blush, remembering the dream from the night before, and turned towards her computer screen. Caroline poured herself a cup of green ginger tea from the pot Melissa had started.

“The past few nights, have you had any dreams about–” Melissa paused. Surrounded by office furniture and fluorescent lights, it was difficult to recall why a dream about eating an apple on a patio had had such an impact on her.

“You know I never remember my dreams.”

“Not even since we started the project?”

“Not even.” Caroline shrugged. “Still got that feeling?”

“Yeah.” Melissa maximized the dream feed. Galaxies of colour eddied around her screen. “I’ll keep you posted.”


User 880956

This is rather embarrassing for my first recorded dream, but I suppose this is in the service of science, so here you are. I was in my fourth form classroom. I was truant from games–which was something that happened rather often at the time–and a girl was in the room with me. In the dream she was the first girl I ever fancied. It becomes very vague; I suppose we talked, but then we were standing very close, and she let me put my hand on her blouse. On her breast, I should say.

I am an old man, but this simple experience had quite a remarkable effect on me.


User 693892

Sexeh tiems lol


She had been climbing the tower for quite some time, and it was a relief to come out on the roof at last, a high circular space guarded by crenellations of stone. There was no wind, but the white curtains of the four-poster bed billowed as though they were reaching out to her. Melissa lay down and looked up. She could see the night sky through the canopy.

Apple looked different again. The bed lowered under her weight, and she rolled, smiling, until she was pressed against Melissa, her body a warm line through their clothes.

She propped herself up and curled her free hand against Melissa’s cheek. She bent down and kissed the corner of her mouth, parted her lips. Then she was lying on Melissa, her weight heavy and hot, and Melissa opened her arms wide, opened her mouth to the kiss, opened everything she had.

Apple traced the curve of her breast, and she arched into the touch. Melissa smoothed her hands down Apple’s back, over the dip of her waist. Apple’s hands cupped her face, wove through her messy hair, trailed across her collarbone. Warm lips surrounded a nipple, though Apple was still kissing her mouth. Hands rubbed the centre of her back where she pressed into the mattress. Gentle teeth nipped her earlobe. Yes, I’m listening, Melissa thought.

Strong, warm hands slid over her hipbones. The button of her jeans popped. Lips pressed a kiss to her abdomen. She felt Apple’s smile against her mouth.

The zipper of her jeans vibrated on its slow slide down. She moaned. Firm palms trailed down the curve of her ass. A tongue drew a spiral on her breast, moisture cooling in the air, making her nipples tighten. Skillful fingers slipped between her legs and circled lightly, a tantalizing slick friction, and she shuddered and spread her thighs, laying herself wide.

Wet heat closed around her clit, and she gasped and jerked her hips, held in place by weight and sensation. A fingernail drew a sharp line over the tender flesh at the back of her thigh. Lips breathed a spot of hot mist on the inside of one knee. Fingertips dug into her shoulder, urging her on.

She thrust up against Apple’s weight, against all of them, seizing them and pulling them closer. More, she thought, all of it, and the radio beside the bed burst into chords of triumph and joy. Her back bowed as she came, and breakers of pleasure pulsed from her core and continued out into the night sky, turning to light and colour, waving there like a signal flag.


Caroline handed Melissa a cardboard cup, and they sipped in slightly muzzy silence.

“Did that have an extra espresso shot in it?” Melissa asked finally.

“Mm-hm. I needed it. Too much?”

“No, no, it’s fine.” There were long hours between now and when she could go back to bed. Melissa sighed, shifted in her chair, and directed her attention to her work.


User 501204

Okay, so I dreamed I was flying, but it was really more like being an acrobat. I think I was a plane at the same time. I was doing loop-the-loops and flips and whooshing all around. Maybe I was a bird. I went high into the sky, up into the stars, and I could see the Earth from a long way away.

I read that flying dreams are really about sex. Is that true? How do you know?


Melissa picked the envelope up from the floor by the door. The paper was thick and cream-coloured, like a wedding invitation, and she knew that although she was receiving it, she had also somehow sent it as well.

The letters on the card were wriggling, swirls and tendrils of ink, but holding the card in her hand she understood what they meant, as though someone were whispering it in her ear. We’re so glad you heard us. We’d like to come visit you. We’d like to come visit all of you.

A poster on the wall came to life. A starburst soared, trailing a line of light, like an animation in an old movie where a plane showed a trip by gliding across a map. Except this map was of stars, suns and constellations she couldn’t name, and the line went on, and on, and on.

Hands cupped her shoulders; warmth pressed into her back.

On the screen in the corner, the meteorologist gestured at the seven-day forecast, the usual symbols plastered over with orchids, pears, apple blossoms.

Melissa closed her eyes and fell back into waiting hands.


She ran the report twice. She tried using narrower keywords. She plotted Venn diagrams that bloomed into clusters like chrysanthemums and bunches of grapes. She saturated the colours on the dream feed, then paled them out to spring-flower pastels. Then she ran the report one more time, and shot it off to Caroline.

“Huh,” she heard Caroline say, and the sound of feverish typing.

She was sipping fresh ginger tea, tinglingly hot, when Caroline pushed back her curtain.

“It’s statistically significant,” she said. They stared at one another for a moment. Melissa started to grin.

“It’s significantly statistically significant,” Caroline elaborated. “I used January’s and June’s feeds as a control. You’re right; something’s going on.”

“I knew it.”

Caroline lost the battle to keep her serious face on. “This might be proof. It might be real.”

“It’s real.”

“It might be really real!”

“I know!”

They beamed at each other.

“But what is it predicting?” Caroline snickered. “Modern science wants to know: What does it mean when large numbers of people dream about really, really good sex?”


Caroline’s eyebrows rose. “What arriving?”

“I’m not one hundred percent sure,” Melissa said, still grinning. “But I have a feeling it’s going to be amazing.”


User 395890

The doorbell sounds like wind chimes. I can smell green things growing and fruit ripening in the sun. I open the door.

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