I was helping to produce a show something akin to Robot Chicken, in which there was a comedic sketch that ended in a giant bonfire with a punch line about Barry Manilow. There was concern that the bonfire was going to get out of control and burn down the studio. So I and three other guys crowded into a shiny gray pickup truck to get away.
The truck had something of a small back seat with props in it (including a fish tank). So we split 3 in front and 1 in back:
When I got into the front seat, I entered from the driver's side. It surprised me when the guy sitting there moved over casually, with no discussion about driving. That surprise was explained when the pickup began to drive itself. It navigated along some clearly drawn parallel lines on the road.
me: "Uh... this truck drives itself?"
guy: "Yes, it knows the route."
me: (becoming lucid) "In 2009 we don't have this yet. Though the rest looks about the same. Your cell phones, for instance, don't seem a lot more impressive than ours."
Snapping into the moment, I began to ask more questions.
me: "So... who... am I?"
guy: "You are a program. You sort and collate anomalies referencing Jewel."
me: "That doesn't sound like much of a job."
guy: "Huh? Sure it is, better than what most programs get! You read interesting stuff all day, and get to look at pretty pictures."
For a moment I had a wave of depression at the idea that the whole of my waking life might be nothing more than a subprocess to find and analyze references to a country singer. A voice or feeling in my head sternly said no, of course not, don't be stupid. So I switched gears into believing that I was temporarily inhabiting the mind of a poor Matrix "program"/AI who had been given such a "job".
Time passed until two of the guys--who I recognized as roommates--got out with me at an apartment complex. We went into a fairly nondescript apartment with a kitchen, living area, and three bedrooms. There was a strong impulse in me to write a note for myself, but I didn't know which room was mine.
One of the roommates approached me with a pointy thing.
me: "Aaah! Please don't stab me!"
guy: (puzzled) "I thought you'd need a pen."
me: (relieved, taking the pen) "Oh. Thanks, yes, I will. Well when people approach me with things like that I just think it's going to be a needle, y'know?"
guy: "Yes, don't worry about it."
I pulled him close and looked into his eyes.
me: "Hello, I truly mean you no harm. But I am not who you think I am, I am running a deep trace. Can you show me which of these rooms belongs to the person you identify as me?"
I do not know where the phrase "deep trace" came from or why I said it, but in computer programming the concept of a trace is to look closely at a software execution to find a bug/virus/etc. The movie TRON for instance is an abbreviation for "TRACE ON", the counterpart being TROFF.
The guy took me into a dark room. He began running some kind of noisy device that I thought was supposed to open windows. I waited for light to appear, but none did. Eventually I pleaded with him to turn on the lights (because I was going to wake up otherwise, the noise was disruptive).
He found a lightswitch and flicked it. I saw that the room looked almost like it belonged to a kid. There was a black comforter with embroidered images of the power-puff girls on it. Bookshelves were filled with fantasy novels, there was a fabric thing hanging on the wall.
me: (surprised) "This is... not my usual style."
guy: "You enjoy dreams, especially ones that involve dancing."
me: "Well that part may be my style, but definitely not this bedspread."
I picked up a piece of paper and began scribbling on it. My note said something approximating:
Æ was here
What I wrote was less, some of these parts were added automatically. For instance, I wrote 2009 and the 3003 appeared on its own...and I was only using one color of pen but red parts showed up including the square.
me: "This is important. When I return to acting completely normal, show this to me again. Escalate to Jewel."
Walking into the kitchen, I picked a couple of magnetic fragments and used them to tack it to the refrigerator. Then I awoke.
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