St. Dog and St. Cat used to be room-mates, back when they both worked nights at the Qwik-Stop. Back then, as fall became winter and day, night, and hangover haze blurred, their comfortable routine was interrupted by a strange occurrence: for three days, they each dreamt vividly of a silver alarm clock. They talked about it and couldn’t figure out why they were having the same dream. It wasn’t something they had both seen on TV, or an ad on their commute. Dog dismissed it as a coincidence while Cat continued to obsess over it secretly, and that Spring, Cat moved to Springfield and Dog had to find another roommate.

They didn’t see each other again until five years later. Cat was back in town for an exhibition of her art, and they arranged to meet up for dinner. This daunted Dog, who was still working at the Qwik-Stop, but the restaurant wasn’t as expensive as it looked.

Over dinner, the conversation drifted back to their time living together, and Dog confirmed: yes, that hole Cilantro punched in the wall is still there; the landlord barely comes anymore, so they haven’t gotten around to filling it; the new room-mates are fine and all but nothing beats the times we had when you were here and why did you leave anyway?

Cat said that ever since the alarm clock dreams, she felt a little uncomfortable in her skin. She knew she had to do something, but didn’t know what it was. The alarm clock dreams scared her, but what scared her more was the idea that they would stop. And they eventually did. But after she moved to Springfield — and worked at a different (but somehow internally identical) Qwik-Stop with a boss just like her old boss and a coworker remarkably like Dog — they started again. She’s not making any more money now, but she’s happier: her art has changed from alarm clocks to bells and now to parrots.

“Did we have such a dream?” said Dog. “I don’t remember that.”

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Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software.

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