1. Meta dream

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He knew exactly where he was, almost to the millimeter. By now this route had become a part of his identity.

Driving northbound up the familiar country road at 40 miles per hour, everything appeared extremely normal (hyperreal).

It was dusk in the North American exurbs, and he should be home in about five minutes. The dashboard clock indicated it was almost eight, sometime in the first half of the twenty-first century.

An unknown young woman was sitting next to him in the passenger seat, and THAT was quite impossible. There was no reason for someone like that to get in the car with him.

This couldn't be real. What else had he forgotten?

She was talking, seemed to be rather smart actually, must have said enough already to bring this about: "I love arriving at new places! The best part is the sense of profound alienation."

He could recall some things about his life now, an outline of waiting for something to happen. Nothing much had mattered before now.

Up ahead were the traffic lights. He pulled into the left turn lane before the main road. There remained enough orange sunlight to illuminate the passing traffic.

Something big was happening. Also, were they somehow going to make out?

"Never been here before," she was saying. "You never know where you're going until you get there."

He had always been interested in car designs. The changing styles said something about the future that was too complicated to fully describe. The end of the box car sedans, Nineties simple streamlining, scalloped fenders like origami.

His passenger had stopped talking and was staring at the road. "Oh my god!" she exclaimed. "This is before the beginning!"

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