Suddenly, Charles was in love. Very suddenly. He'd met this girl two hours ago and now as they kissed it seemed they were only learning to kiss as a new hatch learns to fly. And it was more like flying than kissing. You could read minds through this warm kiss. Somehow there was no doubt what the other felt -- her name was Sarah and she seemed a Sarah and there was no other life in the universe except Sarah. Sarah had brown eyes. Sarah smelled of coconut, like a fourteen year-old girl's tanning oil, but Sarah was twenty-eight. Two hours.
Charles felt Sarah's fingernails brush the back of his neck as they ended the kiss. He had trouble opening his eyes, as if they weren't ready to give up the kiss. Only the promise to again look at Sarah brought them slowly open. Sarah was getting something out of her purse. A PDA.
"I've just installed an execution module at the base of your brainstem. Charles Gaines, you stand accused of Pod Blocking under Chapter 9.22 of The Professor's conduct code. I'm linking to Tantric Sector One Court now. I'm obliged by the court to inform you that your death will be painless and that your remains will be handled with dignity."
How could this be Sarah? Where did my world go?
"What? But you... you... I love you. I'm innocent. Please don't kill me. Why do you joke like this?"
Sarah's expression had changed completely. She now looked at Charles as if she were a civil servant and he were applying for a trash permit.
"No joke, Mr. Gaines. I assure you. Pod Blocking is a very serious offense. You knew that... whaaaaa... what's that..."
Sarah's right hand, operating the PDA, became translucent. She could see right through her goddamned hand!
Charles saw it too, but he hadn't yet understood the events of the last 40 seconds since they were kissing. Since they were in love. He certainly didn't understand this. Then it happened again, only this time instead of just a part of Sarah disolving, the whole scene faded. It didn't become transparent, because there seemed nothing to see-through to. The area just lost contrast. Then, it came back to full view.
Charles got it now.
"Okay, I get it. This is a dream. You're a dream and now I'm waking up." He laughed a little.
Sarah watched her body fade again.
"A dream? No wait, you bastard! I'm a real person. I've lived twenty-eight years. I have a Mother and a Father and two older Brothers! I went to university and I've got an advanced degree. Every Friday, I meet friends at a pub for drinks and I've been meeting those same friends every Friday for years. Way before I even knew you existed! That's a lot of trouble to go through just to be part of your dream! No way!"
Charles savored the pure, thick revenge of the moment. He'd loved this woman!
"Well, get used to the idea because you're going away now. You're no more! I'm waking up."
Sarah saw that it was true. She was going fast.
She was gone.
Charles sat up in bed. What a fuckedup dream. But that felt good. God he'd loved her. Why can't I have a kiss like that? He looked around his bedroom.
"Pod Blocking? What the fuck is Pod Blocking?"
In the dream, he seemed to know what Pod Blocking was. It had made some sense. He'd known he was innocent of it, but he did understand the charge.
His wife, beside him in bed. She had blue eyes. Her name was Karen. He bent and kissed her cheek. He got up out of bed and headed for the bathroom to shower. Golf this morning.
On his way to the bathroom, he stopped. Charles turned and looked at his wife, sleeping again now, for the first time in nine years of being married to her -- with just a tint of suspicion.