The expression ‘Dream come true’ was never meant to be taken literally. Aspirations, desires, longings and other assorted synonyms, sure; the whole world could agree that those sorts of things can happen, eventually or suddenly, with anywhere between a lot of work and none whatsoever. But dreams were a different ballpark, so to speak. Dreams were temporary and fleeting fabrications, mostly forgotten and impossible to bottle in the same way one might bottle good fortune or good timekeeping or the ability to play jazz for twenty-three and a half minutes.
When the first dream did, literally, come true – that is to say, explode itself into existence in a very physical way – it caught quite a few people off guard.
Sally Northridge did not know what to do with her sudden and profoundly oversized psyche-eating rabbit, and did not have much of an opportunity to figure it out before her sanity was devoured and she was left a babbling mess for three weeks. Eventually her sister, a practiced part-time psychic and full-time veterinarian, found a way to reconstruct her sister’s mind enough that it would repair itself over time by extracting some of the essence of her sanity from the rabbit’s droppings. Sally was none too pleased to discover this.
When asked how she felt, generally speaking, she responded, “Shit,” which was felt to be an accurate summary of how she ought to feel, all things considered. She later broke out in a swearing tantrum when she was told that the rabbit had escaped and was, for all intents and intensive purposes, missing. And, maybe, a little bit pregnant.
Sally’s sister, Harriet, was less concerned with the whereabouts of the rabbit than she was about how it came into existence. “I had a dream about it, I think,” Sally told her. “A nightmare, I guess. And when I woke up, it was at the foot of my bed.”
Harriet quickly formulated a plan. “Can you have a dream about me and, say, Brad Pitt, on a date?”
“Why would I ever dream about the two of you on a date?”
“As an experiment,” Harriet told her, and that was that. Harriet, the mystical scientist of the family, could not be argued against when it came to experiments. Sally slept, and Harriet imagined herself and Brad Pitt dating – and, using her psychic abilities and the somewhat tenuous connection of sisterhood, forced such imaginations into her sister’s brain.
Harriet disappeared mid-sleep.
The problem with dreams is that the details are never quite right. Harriet’s hair was a different colour, and her eyes were a little bit too large. Her lipstick was smeared on one side. Brad Pitt was mostly Brad Pitt, except that he seemed incapable of smiling properly. The bigger issue was that the restaurant they were in did not appear to have an outside.
“Where are we?” Harriet asked, and slapped her hands to her mouth.
“At dinner,” Brad replied. Harriet slapped a hand to his mouth, too. Both of them, Harriet realised with a certain dread, spoke with the sort of inner voice that one imagines when one cannot perfectly recall how someone should sound.
“But where?” Harriet whispered. Brad looked outside at Nothing, and shrugged.
Sally woke up to an empty room. Harriet was gone, though Sally didn’t quite know where. Brad Pitt popped up in the news over breakfast, looking for a woman with a strange voice that he couldn’t get out of his mind, but the whole thing was chocked up to a dream he’d had.
“No,” Sally realised, “I dream I had.”
If she had to guess – and she did have to guess – she would say that Harriet was, at present, locked in the middle of Brad Pitt’s thoughts. She vaguely recalled a black void outside a restaurant in her dream, and instantly assumed it was because human thoughts did not show up on the visible light spectrum. (She was, of course, mostly correct; under certain circumstances, one could see human thoughts. It was rarely a good idea.)
Sally waited until night – impatiently and biting her nails more than she’d like – to dream again, and dreamed that Harriet and Brad’s date would end, and that they would return home.
As Brad was already within his own mind, he simply stopped thinking about Harriet. Harriet, on the other hand, woke up in her own bed the next morning with a flying New York cab outside her window, driverless. She used this vehicle to go to Sally’s again.
“That was wild,” she told her sister.
“It’s insane,” Sally insisted.
“The experiment was a success,” Harriet insisted. “I dated Brad Pitt for three whole years.” Sally informed her of the actual span of time that had passed. “Even better. Speed dating. We could market this.”
Sally outright refused. “No more dreaming of other people,” she told Harriet. “It’s too dangerous. What if I never got you back?”
Harriet paused for a moment longer than Sally would have liked. “Alright, no people. But what if someone dreams about an ice cream machine that can make any flavour you want? Or if people dream about a carpet that never needs cleaning? Or needs a candle that will go stay lit all through the night but will never burn anything?” Sally stared at her, waiting for a point or an explanation. “Three years was a long time, Sally,” Harriet snapped. “The point is that you can monetise this. No one’s ever been able to literally make dreams come true, before.”
When asked to prove it, Harriet pulled a copy of The Black Pages from her purse, which sat in her new flying cab. It took her a while to explain the whole truth of it.
“So, we place an ad? And when does it get printed?” Sally was still somewhat sceptical.
“Immediately,” Harriet informed her. “Northridge Dream Manifestors: Your wildest dream come true, or your money back. Terms and conditions apply. What do you think?”
Sally smiled, and forgot about the rabbit.