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Dream: Bus to China

Along with dozens of other speculative fiction writers, I was on a bus for a trip to China.

I looked out the bus window at our guide. She was tiny next to the huge fuel dispenser, yelling and banging on its side with her purse. She was crying. “I’ve been planning this for years! And now, and now, I don’t know the fucking code to squeeze the juice from this can!”

Near the front of the bus, a particularly clever science fiction writer said, “I’m surprised I decided to go on this trip. I’m not a stupid person. I mean, we’re in Oklahoma. Somewhere in Oklahoma. The Bering Strait is even wider than it is on the maps. How are we going to get to China on a bus from Oklahoma without drowning?”

Several writers said:

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t know.”

“I HATE car racing!” said the fantasy writer sitting behind me. As I turned left to investigate this person, I noticed a flat screen television was mounted on the left side of the bus, playing a stock car race. VROOM, VROOM, VROOM, the cars went. VROOM.

I tried to turn completely around to talk to the writer, but I merely got a peripheral glimpse of her face before she pushed my head away.

“If you want to talk to me, keep looking at the screen.”

“Okay,” I said. “How come you hate this so much?”

“It’s boring and unrealistic.”

Even though I shared her negative opinion, I found myself defending the sport. “But they are so fast, and the wheels don’t last as long as most wheels. It takes concentration, ex domestic lager and lots of diet choke!”

“You’re full of shit, and the back of your head looks like a dead coconut. Damn! I want to get there!”

This hurt my feelings, so I pushed my head against the glass. Our guide was on her hands and knees, scraping her nose against the petroleum-stained cement. A horror writer I didn’t know had exited the bus and was examining the dispenser. A handle emerged from the right side of the dispenser, out of the reach of our small guide. He pulled it and the construct clucked like a chicken. A narrow bar appeared on the front, displaying rolling symbols like those on a slot machine. The rollers stopped on three dying panda bears. Something unlocked.

Our guide stood up, smiling at the writer through tears and blood. Her nose was halfway gone, and I noticed that she kept her nose clean.

“You did it!” she said. “Now we can start our journey!”

I looked at the front of the bus and waited.

Dream Over