Digital Dreaming 1.08: “Sleep Mode”

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Previous: Chapter 7, “Coffee and Confrontation”

Sand and Val stared at the phone sitting on the table. Eventually, Sand reached out and powered the phone off.

“Did that do anything?” Val asked.

Sand closed his eyes to check. The mask was still there.

“Nope.” Sand frowned. “Off or power save mode, it looks like both count as ‘sleeping’ to the electronic mind.”

“Give me a moment.” Val rose and left the kitchen, returning a minute or so later with a small square of black silk embroidered with silver thread. He wrapped it around the phone, being careful never to touch the device itself, save through the silk.

“A ward cloth?” Sand raised an eyebrow. “You must have quite the antiques collection.”

“It comes in handy.” Val set the bound phone in the center of the table. “And when you’ve been around as long as I have, you’ve got nothing but antiques.”

“Just how old are you?” Sand closed his eyes and looked at the phone. No mask appeared. Whether that meant it was gone or he just could not see through the silk’s warding properties was anyone’s guess, although Sand would have bet on the silk.

“It’s not polite to ask,” Val replied.

“Sorry.” Sand took refuge from the faux pas in the dregs of his teacup. He set it down, empty.

“Time for some answers, I think.” Sand rose from the table.

“Going looking for a Dreamlord?” Val made a shrewd guess.

“It seems the logical next move.”

“I’ll come with you, then.” Val rose from the table, as well.

“I don’t know that that is such a good idea—” Sand began.

“You brought that,” Val pointed to the silk wrapped phone, “into my house. I think I have as much right to answers as you. Particularly if it turns out to be dangerous.”

“Fair enough.” Sand massaged the bridge of his nose. “Okay. Fine. Grab a coat and let’s go.”

“A coat? Not a pillow?”

“Little known fact, the Dreamlords love to visit the waking world, and when they are here, they have to play by the waking world’s rules. To an extent, at least. That means, ironically, we have a better chance of tracking one down while awake.”

“What makes you think there’s one in the Twin Cities?”

“That.” Sand pointed to the phone. “An inanimate object? Dreaming? That has to be why I’m here, and I know there’s no way the Dreamlords don’t have one or more of their number here as well, observing.”

“Just observing? Not acting?”

“They can’t. Not directly. That’s what I’m for.”

Val gave Sand a long, measuring look.

“Let’s get going, then.”

Author: Robert Berg

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