I was in a room and looking in a cage without a top, labeled "Human Hedgehogs". There were a couple of whitish hedgehog-looking creatures gesticulating at me from a cage. They could talk and motioned me over.
hedgehog: "Hey! Hey! Feed me!"
Looking closer I could tell these were people dressed in a hedgehog suits, just much smaller than I was. Half-jokingly I pointed at a sign that said DO NOT FEED.
me: "The sign says 'DO NOT FEED'. How is it that you are so small, anyway?"
They didn't answer my question, but other people started showing up. The tiny human hedgehogs were jumping out of their cage. It was a bit of chaos, but eventually one of the people in the hedgehog costume went around a corner and came back as a full sized person. He took the costume off, but was still wearing some white make-up.
former hedgehog: "So... there's a machine. You can go through it and it can shrink or expand you, up to a point. 97% or so, either way."
me: "How does it work?"
former hedgehog: "Let me explain."
He stopped and laid down a sheet of paper, and crudely sketching on it.
former hedgehog: "Let's say you have a situation, such as a piece of cake. You would like to eat a lot of cake. If you could somehow expand a very small piece of cake into a larger piece of cake--without changing its material properties, such that it had the same overall information content but far more apparent mass... then..."
me: "Yes, obviously, everyone has thought of this... twice the cake but half the calories. But it seems impossible given physics. How does the technology work?"
former hedgehog: "Well that part I don't know. But the process is called 'Spoonilism'."
The actual reasons why this 'Fantastic Voyage' miniaturization is impossible is because designs depend on non-linear relationships. Imagine a cube sitting on top of a skinny pole. If you double the overall size of this cube-on-a-pole, the pole gets twice as tall...but because it's so thin it only gets approximately twice as massive. The cube, on the other hand, will get 8 times more massive. Whatever delicate balance allowed that cube to rest stably on the pole may be thrown off completely, as gravity will now be affecting it much more strongly than the pole might be able to handle.
me: "Do you have an encyclopedia?"
A woman in the room ran to grab a very dusty looking old book.
woman: "Yes! Here's one!"
She flipped it open and seemed very amused to find that it had been bookmarked at the 'Sex' page. Because she was dawdling I grabbed the book and flipped it to go read for myself.
me: "This doesn't say much. It talks about who patented it, and that they're from North Carolina. Nothing about the scientific principles. Something like Wikipedia would be much more thorough...do you have Wikipedia?"
woman: "Oh, Wikipedia! Yes, of course!"
I followed her into another room where there was a computer terminal. She sat down to type in the search term, but there was a little orange warning button and it wouldn't let her search, instead telling her she had to contact support immediately.
woman: "I've never seen that happen before. I wonder...if it's because you're here?"
Our environment transitioned to a physical kiosk in what seemed like an airport or the hallway of another kind of mass-transit hub. She was still looking at the screen but she was speaking to a man inside of the booth window. She said what I assume was her name, and was taken through some tests. Though I couldn't hear or see the questions she was responding to, they became increasingly mathematical.
woman: "...and the third vector matrix minus the fourth power."
man: "Okay, good, you can access the database."
I made that particular math expression up, but something of that sort. I will point out that simple math questions, such as "what is three times nine", have been used to block spam bots on websites in lieu of the unreadable-text-test known as CAPTCHA.
She walked inside the kiosk, and the man came out, leading me over to a contour map of an island.
man: (pointing) "All right, we give you the California test. Let us say that you are running a boat rental company... here."
For some reason I associated the area he was pointing to on the map with the color red, like it might have been called the Red Rock Coast or something:
...it was a vague but strong feeling, and the Island looked nothing like California.
man: "One day a lion comes to you and wishes to rent a boat to take out for a day in honor of his great home country of North Korea. Do you let him rent the boat?"
I stopped to ponder the question seriously for a moment, and then I got irate and refused to be serious.
me: "How the heck should I know? Both politics and lions are things that can be entirely different from what I'm familiar with, given that California has apparently broken off and fallen into the ocean. I'm here for information, please let me have it. How does Spoonilism work?"
He got a recognizing look in his eyes.
man: "Oh no. It's you! Aaaaa!"
He tackled me in a way to stop me from seeing the kiosk or the map.
man: "What the hell... are you doing here... looking up something as lame as Spoonilism? What would you do with that?"
me: "Scientific validation of my dreaming experiences, that's what I want."
man: "No you do not! It's in fact the EXACT OPPOSITE of WHAT YOU WANT."
man: "I actually, really, don't have any idea. No one does. Most of what you do is positively baffling."
me: (frustrated) "All right, why does everyone keep talking about this person I am--who I'm actually not--who seems to like erasing his memory to FORGET ABOUT WHO HE IS? Beyond going around 'baffling' people all the time, what good things have I done?"
man: "I'm not at liberty to say."
By this time, the woman had come out of the kiosk and was signaling to me that she'd found something out. Before I could hear what she said, there was this kind of strange musical procession coming down the hallway that threw off my concentration (purposefully, it seemed) and I woke up.
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