1. Meta dream

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He knew exactly where he was, almost to the millimeter.

Driving northbound in his own car, uphill at 40 miles per hour on a familiar exurban country road. By now, this route had almost become part of his identity.

It was evening, and he should be home in about five minutes. Everything was extremely normal (hyperreal).

There was a girl next to him in the passenger seat, and THAT was quite impossible. There was no conceivable reason for this person to be there, no possible motive for her to ride along with him. Reality was not like that.

The dashboard clock indicated it was a quarter past six; too bad it had no date. What else had he forgotten?

She was talking, had already said enough to bring them here, whenever now was: "I love arriving at new places! The best part is being surprised."

Perhaps the reason he couldn't remember anything was because nothing had mattered before now. That might be true; he could recall some things about his life, an outline of passive failure, irrelevance, waiting for something to happen.

Up ahead the lights were red. He pulled into the left turn lane and stopped before the busy main road. There was enough sunlight left to clearly see the traffic and make sure he wasn't dreaming. Apparently it was not possible to speak. Everything looked so clear. Something big was happening. Too big.

"Never been here before," she was saying. "you never know where you are until you get there."

He had always been interested in car designs. The changing styles said something fundamental about the future, more than anyone could have predicted. Nineties streamlining, the end of the box car sedans, scalloped fenders like origami.

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

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