Too Much Information

Photo © 2008 Paul Falardeau CC 2.0 BY ND

This story is a test.

Seriously, it’s a test to see whether I can magically change the future. Really.

I know you don’t believe me, but let me explain. For the past three weeks, I’ve been dreaming the future. Actually, it’s been 20 days. Today will be day 21.

It may have been going on for longer, but I first noticed it on May 21. Actually, at first, I thought it was just a coincidence. It wasn’t until a few days later that I began to suspect something… paranormal. (Yeah, that’s the word I want, paranormal. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the only word that fits.)

On Friday, May 21, a friend of mine was telling me what happened to him that morning on the way to work. He had almost gotten into a 5-car accident. (He would have been in car number 6.) And as he was telling the story, I remembered I had dreamed the night before about the same thing, an almost-accident.

In my dream, an old work colleague, who I haven’t seen in years, was driving a motorcycle down I-95, and suddenly a truck ran over her. I freaked, of course, but then she got up and assured me that she and her bike were okay. It had been a near miss.

Crazy coincidence, I thought, and I told my friend about the dream I’d had. We all had a good laugh over it and didn’t think any more of it.

That night, I dreamed a man with bloody feet was pushing boulders off a high hill, sending them barreling over the city of Philadelphia. Each boulder was larger than the previous, striking the city with ever more force, time and again and again and again. Finally, he reached the last boulder, and he told me not to worry, that this was the last one.

“What’s that been, five?” I said. “Why not ten? Why not twenty?”

“Five is enough,” he replied, grinning.

The next day, the Red Sox shut out the Phillies, 5 to nothing.

I began writing down my dreams, all of them that I could remember, every night. Then each day, I scoured Google news to see if my dreams had come true. Over and over again, I found that they had.

So I figured I’d try an experiment. I read up on lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when you wake up while you’re dreaming, just enough to know that you are in fact dreaming. And at that point you can affect what happens in your dream. You can do anything you want; after all, it is your dream. I even tried it a few times, just so that I knew I could dream lucidly. But I was careful not to affect anything in my dream. I just wanted to see if I could do it.

All the while, I continued to test that I was still dreaming the future, and indeed, I was. In fact, when I dreamed about the beached whale, which in my dream, appeared as a beaver caught in a trap, I saw the people coming to take it away. And dreaming lucidly, even though I felt helpless to stop them, I considered pulling out a machine gun (because after all, it was my dream, and I could do anything I wanted in it) and mowing them all down. But then I reconsidered, remembering that I wasn’t ready yet to progress to the next stage of this experiment. And I let them take the beaver away. I’m glad I restrained myself, because if I hadn’t, who knows what would have happened to those people in real life, the ones with the sad task of disposing of the dead whale?

But now I’m ready to futz with the future. In fact, I already have. Last night, I created my own dream, carefully designed, nothing dangerous, but specific enough that I can tell whether or not the experiment worked. I dreamed a man who had inherited a million dollars, and he walked up to a lady sitting on a park bench with her young son nearby. And he whipped out a thousand-dollar bill and gave it to her, just like that.

Remember, the actual meaning of the dream is symbolic, because the dream is a metaphor. But I take it to mean that something extraordinarily good will have happened to someone, and he (or she) will share part of his good fortune with those around him.

So now, I ask you whether anything like that happened to you, or around you. If so, you’ll have confirmed the theory that I indeed can change the future through lucid dreaming.

C’mon. Someone. At least one of you must have had a stroke of good fortune today.

Author’s Note: This story is also a test of something else, a storytelling principle. There’s something slightly off about it. Or at least according to conventional wisdom, there’s something wrong with it. Can you tell what? -TimK

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OK, I’ll bite … your story is virtually all exposition, if i am understanding the concept correctly. Is that it? My fridayflash this morning is based on a dream also, btw. I suppose if you treat every dream as a metaphor, then you’ll always find a situation in the world where it’s come true for *somebody*! ;-)

Hmm… That’s not what I was thinking, but I think you’re right. It is quite expositional. A lot of these storytelling concepts are interrelated, so that if you don’t have one, you don’t have another, and so forth. I’m still not sure whether it worked in this case, but I imagine you must not have found it laboriously difficult to read, or else you probably would’ve mentioned it. :-)

BTW, you summed up the theme I had intended for the story, so at least I got that right. :-) -TimK

OK, I’ll stay tuned to see what the secret is … ;-) But I think the key reason why it flowed in spite of being somewhat expositional is that it is first person. It definitely has the feeling of sitting down and having the narrator tell his story. In third person, I think it would’ve been much more difficult to navigate, fwiw.

I was experimenting with a different kind of conflict. Traditional form dictates that you start with a character who has a problem, and that’s where the conflict in the story comes from. But this character has no problem. Yes, he (or she) has a need, to explore his dream phenomenon. But there’s no obstacle preventing him from meeting his need. In fact, the entire story is about how he is meeting his need.

So that’s why it comes off as expository. I realize that other writers also write similar stories, but frequently they don’t draw me in, because there’s no conflict. In this story, I tried to draw readers in with the idea that the character is nuts, and then that he’s dreaming the future, and hopefully finally causing them to realize that he’s ascribing special meaning to associations that are probably just coincidence. So the story arc happens in the reader’s mind, rather than in the character’s experience.

I’m sure someone has done something like this before, but it’s the first time I’ve ever tried it, at least on purpose.


I’m always interested to take a peek at the “Experimental” #FridayFlash entries because I’m hoping to see something that will make me think about how I approach writing. I really like this story for that reason. Tt reminds me of a conversation I had with my acting professor. He dared us to prove him wrong that every person has a goal and that every person meets that goal, arguing that the only thing that ever changes is the goal itself. No one ever “fails” at a goal but changes the goal to something that they can succeed at — even if is perceived as negative. (Hope this makes sense!) In that regard, even though the character here has already achieved a goal – discovering that s/he can see the future in dreams, the next goal is to make that direct connection from someone who is affected by his/her dream. In which case, it’s open-ended since we as the readers are given the option to respond to him/her. The conflict lies within us then, I think. All that to say this is very deep stuff and I’m glad to see someone writing it and breaking down some barriers. :)

Hi, Joanie. I like that thought: every person has a goal. I don’t know that everyone’s goal is something he can succeed at. Yes, everyone needs to be able to feel that he’s succeeding at something. But he also needs to feel that he’s growing and expanding his horizons, and the only way to do that is to explore things that he’s never explored before. That’s why many people are constantly doing things that crash and burn, because they learn from the experiences. (Maybe their goal, then, is simply to learn.) As the Mythbusters put it, “Failure is always an option.”

Stimulating idea.


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