How To Be Caffeine-Free

“Gooooood morning, dream chasers! Rub the sleep out of your eyes, give yourself a big ol’ stretch, and roll out! Tammy here. Let’s make these dreams a reality! You are an important part—”

Greyce launched her alarm clock across the room and added a new dent to the device. Her heart raced as she searched the nooks and crannies of her mind: the darkest corners, the highest peaks. She dug as deep as she could for a dream and found nothing.

The city of Cosmos had one rule: chase your dreams. Dreams were given to all residents as they slept each night, and it was like being given a blueprint for a mission. Residents were inspired, compelled, maybe even hypnotized into chasing the dream from which they awoke. The dream was a vision that they had to make a reality.

Greyce cracked her blinds, and sunlight splashed onto her desk. The desk was covered with so many old newspapers that she was beginning to look like an amateur detective. Sitting on top was a photo of a previous resident, Lou, who had visited yeti. He stood in four feet of snow, extending his arm to get a selfie with his new pal. Cosmos spoke about that dream for weeks. Nobody was shocked that Lou had achieved his dream, but that he stayed in touch with his yeti friend long after the meeting.

Greyce continued to flip through the papers for inspiration. Dreams like that were far too attention-getting. She knew that at some point today, someone was going to ask her what her dream was. It couldn’t be something memorable. This was going on the thirty-fifth morning that she’d prepared herself for this question; the fifth week she’d been dreamless.

“This is the one!” she declared, stopping on a dream segment that felt right. She was staring to run out of material.

The city of Cosmos was an island that paralleled The Mundane: The Mundane world where limitations existed, hopelessness was common, and dreams were hard to find, let alone achieve. Greyce rubbed her temples and feared seeing The Mundane world in her next dream, if she ever had another.

“I want to find the buried treasure…” she muttered before repeating with more and more vigor, “my dream is to find buried treasure. My dream is to find buried treasure!” She said it compulsively until she could nearly fake a spark in her eyes while she dressed in a beach outfit and slipped on a pair of flip-flops. She put on the necklace that she wore every day and left her apartment with a metal detector in hand. Her morning routine was much quicker since she quit coffee five weeks ago.

She knew she was being watched as she entered the mailroom, so she wasn’t surprised to see a letter with her name on it in the cleanest script she’d ever seen. The familiar handwriting said: “It’s your fault for dodging dreams all this time.” Signed “Dreamsends.” She crumpled it into a ball and shoved it into her beach bag. She had to check her box daily. If she didn’t, it could overflow and someone would find out.

What surprised her was another letter waiting for her from DeeJay, her greatest friend. DeeJay had achieved all of the dreams he could in Cosmos, so he returned to The Mundane. Nearly an entire book of stamps clung to the envelope. It wasn’t cheap shipping mail a world away. It was dated a few months earlier.

Greyce! When will you be joining me? I miss ya! I guess I shouldn’t rush you. I’m sure your dreams are wilder than mine ever were. I wrote a book about our adventures, but I had to publish it under fiction. Ugh! I tried to tell these agents that it all really happened but they think I’m so funny. Wish I had you to back me up. You’d scare them straight just like you did in your newscasting days.

Yours truly,


P.S. Don’t forget to look after Rowan for me!

Greyce carefully folded the letter so that she could tear the postscript off. She let the sliver of paper fall to the floor and re-read the letter before she slipped it into her bag and left the building.

She stepped outside. Warm winds skipped around her as she took long strides across the street. Why was DeeJay so worried about Rowan? Greyce had known him for over a decade. He should have said “P.S. I know you’ll get your dreams back!” Not that she had told him about her mess, but something encouraging would have been nice.

Greyce lived across from The Newsroom. It made perfect sense when she was a news anchor for six years. The two-minute walking commute was ideal until she was no longer welcome there. Yet her necklace bounced against her chest, pulsing with each step she took, giving her a sense of assurance. She stepped into the lobby as though she still worked there. The receptionist caught sight of her and picked up the phone quickly.

Her muscle memory urged her to march to the elevator and go to the fiftieth floor to report. In no time the garish light would be shining on her face and the camera focusing only on her. Her assistant, Josef, would have a pot of freshly brewed coffee ready for her between segments. She was the face and center of Cosmos, the best newscaster in the history. She could nearly smell the coffee roasting if she closed her eyes.

“Greyce? Oh, my word, what an outfit!”

Tammy’s voice was like nails on a chalkboard. It was bad enough hearing her as an alarm clock, but her voice was unbearable in person. Seeing her was almost as awful. She wore an atrocious patterned blazer and a poofy skirt. Greyce swore that her good ratings were a fluke. There was no way Greyce was the only one in the whole city sending in poor ratings.

“I could say the same to you.” Greyce reached into her bag and put on her swim cover-up. “Me? I always dress the part. My dream is to find buried treasure.”

Tammy chuckled, but it sounded more like a snort. “Wow! Good luck to you. I’ve read about buried treasure here, but I say it’s superstition. Well, if it does exist, I’ll be the first to know.” Tammy stepped too close as she passed by, forcing Greyce to take a step back.

Greyce thought she had picked a simple dream that wouldn’t draw attention. So much for that. “It does exist! It’s my dream!” Greyce shouted after Tammy, who was already in conversation with the receptionist. Before Greyce stormed out, the billboard at the entrance caught her eye. There was a long article on Josef—the employee of the month. It talked about how great his craft was and how fun he was to work with, of course with blocks of quotes from Tammy. Said he was a pioneer of broadcasting. He did do fantastic work, but Greyce never told him that. She wondered if the article was Tammy’s idea.

Tammy hollered at Greyce as the automatic doors closed behind her, “You’ve got twelve more hours of daylight left. You’ll need it!”

Hoverboards and flying cars whizzed over skyscrapers while Greyce walked toward the beach on the empty street. The majority of residents commuted in the airways, so Greyce was surprised to see a girl walking when she turned a corner. The sight of boisterous, carrot-colored curls stopped Greyce dead in her tracks before she redirected herself along the longer route. She avoided the shorter route when she could. There was a coffee shop that way. The aroma of all of the coffee beans from Cosmos, The Mundane, and beyond was far too tempting. She was five weeks caffeine-free and finally had a normal sleep schedule. One sip would wreck her chance at dreams, and she was running out of time.

At her pace, it didn’t take long for Greyce to arrive. She kicked her flip-flops off and dropped her bag in the sand. She turned on the metal detector and meandered along in the sand, dodging sunbathers and sand castles. The detector beeped steadily as she walked, lost in a daydream.

If only she could call DeeJay. He’d know what to do. What if she could travel to The Mundane for a quick visit? No one had ever done that before; she could be the first. She’d need a map. Then perhaps she should become a sailor, or an astronaut. Maybe a time travele—

“Greyce!” Her thoughts were interrupted, and she didn’t have a chance to react before Rowan pulled her into a hug. “What are you up to here?” Her curls were bright and unwieldly in the sun.

Greyce crossed her arms once Rowan released her. “I could ask you the same thing. I’m chasing a dream.”

“Me too!” Rowan stood in a sports bra and swim trunks. “It’s my dream to ride a shark.”

Greyce couldn’t help but stare. Who could smile like that all day long and not get tired? “I’m searching for buried treasure.”

“Amazing! We have pretty great dreams today.” She gestured to her lasso. “Anyway, I’d better get to it. If it’s anything like a rodeo, I may be in luck.” She ran toward the water and kicked up sand as she did. Greyce continued pacing in the sand, glancing every so often at Rowan where she treaded water. Not that she was worried, but DeeJay did ask her to.

BeepBeepBeepBeepBeep! Greyce tossed the screeching metal detector aside and began digging with her hands. She didn’t actually intend to fulfill this fake dream, but accomplishing something for the day made her feel like less of a failure. Sand wedged beneath her nails, she found a sack. She pulled it out and dumped the contents. A bunch of coins from a few different countries in The Mundane. Useless.

Rowan was nowhere in sight. “My next dream should be to become a babysitter…” she grumbled, walking to the water. “Rowan! Where’d you go… Stop messing around!” Suddenly a shark launched itself out of the water, reaching a great height. Latched onto its dorsal fin was a lasso. On the other end of the lasso was Rowan.

In the air she maneuvered like an acrobat so that she was sitting on its back by the time they submerged. Greyce couldn’t deny that her palms were beginning to sweat as she waited for Rowan to come up for air. Rowan didn’t seem to come from somewhere very aquatic, so holding her breath underwater couldn’t have been something she was used to. Greyce ran into the sea. She stood waist deep, and the water crashed into her sides. It was choppier than usual.

The shark burst out of the water twenty yards away. Breathing heavily, Rowan rode the shark so that she was above water, and the only visible part of the shark was its dorsal fin. The shark moved at a steady pace. Greyce sensed that it hadn’t been domesticated that quickly, but that it was plotting. Rowan didn’t catch on to it, or she was fueled by adrenaline. “Look, Greyce! I’m doing it!” she shouted, throwing a fist in the air. That wasn’t enough. “Check it out! No hands!” She waved both hands in the air like she was at a concert and continued hollering in celebration. She managed to keep her balance despite the rocky waves and the wild ride.

Rowan’s antics captured fellow beachgoers’ attention. Residents came close and cheered her on. Typical for her to get all this admiration. A woman standing beside her shouted, “Do a handstand!”

“No, Rowan! That’s too dangerous!” Greyce called out without thinking.

A boy beside her huffed and said, “You’re no fun. I like Tammy better.”

His mother hushed him and mouthed an apology before they scurried away.

Rowan seemed to hesitate before adjusting to move into a handstand. Failure was most probable, but the potential reward of admiration propelled her to pop into it anyway. In fact, she held the move for all of three seconds before crashing into the water.

They all waited for her to pop back up with that goofy grin of hers, but the only movement they saw was the shark thrashing in a left-to-right motion, making ferocious leaps from the water, the lasso still firm on its fin. Rowan flew out of the water for a moment. She had enough time to shriek before falling back into the water. The other end of the lasso was wrapped around her ankle!

The once jubilant crowd was now silent and still. They were all simple bystanders, but surely someone would intervene and save the day. Look after Rowan for me. Greyce snapped out of it and swam after Rowan. By then the shark had given up on its mechanical bull routine and was headed full speed to the open sea.

In The Mundane, outracing a shark was impossible, but this was Cosmos. Greyce hadn’t gone swimming since before she was a newscaster. She may not have any tangible dreams, but this was more than possible. Here, Greyce could swim faster than any Mundane Olympic swimmer, and faster than a great white. Most importantly, faster than this shark. She heard her alarm clock crashing into the wall in the back of her mind. It hit the wall every morning, but it still worked. She was running out of time to catch this shark and get her dreams back, but both things were possible.

Greyce had been racing freestyle as quickly as she could, but her arms were beginning to feel like lead. The waves seemed to resist her more the closer she got. She wasn’t cutting through the water as swiftly as she had hoped and had to strategize. At this point the only way to save Rowan wasn’t to catch up to her, but to catch up to the shark. Who knew what kind of knot her ankle was in. The lasso around the shark’s fin was the best shot she had.

The shark seemed to be slowing down. Rowan’s weight must have tired him out. Greyce’s muscles were burning, but it was now or never! She used the little endurance she had left and high-tailed it to the shark as powerfully as she could. She passed by Rowan, who was flailing around underwater, trying to come up for air. The sight gave Greyce a crucial rush of adrenaline. They didn’t have much time!

Greyce reached out for the fin and grabbed it. She pulled herself on and tugged the lasso off and threw it behind her. Almost instantly the shark knocked her off. Without the weight of Rowan, the shark was quickly long gone.

Greyce treaded water, waiting for Rowan to return to the surface. The unforgiving waves she swam through settled down, and the water became eerily still. Rowan should be up by now. Greyce realized she was holding her breath. She poked her head under in time to see Rowan swimming up like a mermaid rising for a visit.

“Can you dive?” Rowan asked, still trying to catch her breath.

“Of course I can.”

Rowan pointed a few feet out and smiled before she started backstroking her way to shore. “Thanks for saving my neck!” she shouted while Greyce was still in earshot.

DeeJay’s voice flashed in her head. Dreams don’t work unless you do. She had interviewed him years back. That was right after he returned from achieving his dream to discover a new planet. Everyone was floored by that one. It was an hourlong special. If DeeJay thought she was as good as he was, that had to count for something.

Greyce greedily inhaled as much air as she could before she dove. She wouldn’t put it past Rowan to suggest diving for the fun of it, but she looked like she had learned something. Greyce was about to give her lungs a break when a shine caught her eye. Treasure.

Wedged into a rock was a chest, begging to be set free. Her arms quaked and her lungs felt the pressure, but she didn’t give up. She managed to tug the iron chest out and return to the surface. She swam back to the shore and discovered how heavy it was when she dragged it onto the wet sand. Dream achieved, she thought spitefully.

Nearby, a crowd had formed around Rowan with Tammy beside her, microphone in hand. Tammy smiled widely as she spoke to the camera that loved her. In Greyce’s days, she had to have the perfect angle and lighting, the correct distance between her and the lens. Josef had known her settings by heart. Being out and about reporting on-the-go was unimaginable. Tammy was the first to take this approach. She’d surely be in the history books, immortalized in the newsroom archives.

“It was a rodeo like no other!” Rowan proclaimed. “Catching the fella was nothing, and the ride was a cinch! Dream achieved, right? But then he took me for a ride. I’m lucky Greyce was there.”

“Greyce!” Tammy echoed, and the devilish flicker in her eyes didn’t go unnoticed by Greyce. If there was a way to give Greyce bad press, Tammy was going to go for it. Greyce wasn’t quick enough to flee the scene. The crowd absorbed her, and Tammy pushed her way in. Josef was at her heels, grinning behind the enormous camera on his shoulder. Greyce never saw him so happy to be working.

“Not only is Greyce saving friends, but she’s also attaining her dreams. A dream we all thought was a myth. What are you waiting for, Greyce! Let’s see what’s inside.” It was a bright, sunny day, and in mere seconds the sky went dark and thunder boomed. Lightning struck in the distance. The crowd dispersed almost immediately. The probability of getting struck by lightning was much higher in Cosmos than in The Mundane.

Tammy and Josef scrambled to keep their equipment dry as rain crashed down on the beach. “To be continued!” Tammy shouted and muttered a curse of frustration once Josef stopped filming. As residents ran for cover, Tammy paused with her eyes locked on Greyce’s key necklace. She reached out for it and grabbed it lightly, scrutinizing the metal.

“Uh, Tammy! A little help here!” Josef hollered and Tammy pulled away to pack their equipment. They were still ahead of Greyce to get off the beach as she began lugging the chest to her home. Rowan carried the other side, taking half of its weight. “I’ll bring some power tools to your place later,” Rowan said. “It won’t budge easily.”


Rowan knocked on Greyce’s apartment door that evening with her foot. She had a toolbox in one hand and a plate of cookies in the other. “I’ve never been here before; here’s a housewarming treat. Grammy’s ooey gooey, chocolate chip recipe.”

Rowan took in every inch of the apartment, showing no interest in the treasure chest sitting on the coffee table. She walked right past it, the coffee table bearing its weight, and checked out a framed photo on the wall. In the frame, DeeJay and Greyce were kids on the roof of The Newsroom. DeeJay had bunny ears behind Greyce’s head. It was long before Greyce would have the dream to become a newscaster. “You two were friends a real long time,” Rowan said.

“We grew up together here.”

“How lucky. I always wish I made it here sooner. I had this dream, well, a fantasy when I was in The Mundane. I always wanted to live in New York City with a good friend or two.”

“You must have watched a lot of television.” Greyce sat on the couch in front of the TV and sipped decaf coffee. She turned it on to the news, the only channel in Cosmos.

“Yeah. And they were always doing the most amazing things on those shows. And having so much fun together.”

“It doesn’t sound very different than here.”

“No, I guess it doesn’t. If we leave Cosmos at the same time, would you be my roommate in The Mundane?”

DeeJay had left for The Mundane after he achieved all of the dreams he could possibly dream. And that was always how it was. The oldest age in Cosmos was forty-five. Once someone had enough experience from their dreams, they returned to The Mundane, to make it a better world. From what Greyce heard, it felt as natural as a bird migrating. “So that we can make dreams of our own and live the most wonderous adventures?” Greyce asked sarcastically but was taken aback when Rowan nodded eagerly.

Greyce and DeeJay had all kinds of escapades when they were younger. Tricks on their hoverboards, surfing until it was dinnertime for the sharks, and creating a mural on every apartment building. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” What if Greyce was evicted from Cosmos since she was dreamless? Rowan hadn’t a care; she was enjoying the city just as Greyce and DeeJay did when they were younger. No stakes involved. “Anyway, my dream was to find the thing. Not to open it.”

“Was it really your dream?” Greyce glared and Rowan stuttered for the first time in her life. “N-no, I didn’t mean it like that! I was worried because I overheard Tammy say something about that to Josef earlier. She thinks you found a way to stay awake for all those years or something.”

“She’s desperate for a scandal.” Greyce walked across the living room and opened Rowan’s toolbox to retrieve the power drill.

“Yeah, you’re right. There’s no way anyone could do that anyway. Not sleeping means you wouldn’t be able to dream. That’s what this is all about.”

Greyce sat cross-legged on the floor and began using the power drill to maneuver the lock off the box. On the television a rerun of the beach story played. “There we are,” Rowan said, pointing at them. She was on the edge of her seat. Rowan beamed at the good press she was getting. Greyce had to find a dream that was much less interesting. For her, no press was good press. She glanced up in time to see text running across the bottom of her screen.

We’re after you.

Rowan, who was still greedily watching, didn’t seem to notice it.

The pair took turns trying to open the box as the news progressed to other reruns. An hour later when it was Greyce’s turn, the lock broke with a loud crack, and the lid opened itself. “No way…” Greyce slammed it shut before Rowan could see. “I shouldn’t have this. No one in Cosmos should.”

Bone-shaking knocks came to Greyce’s front door.

Rowan said with nervous hope, “You didn’t tell me you were expecting guests.”

It sounded like an angry mob was outside. Some of the louder voices stood out in the crowd. “Hand over the treasure, Greyce!”

“It’s our dream to destroy it!”

Greyce rose and rolled up her sleeves, but Rowan lunged to grab her wrist from where she was sitting to stop her. “No, leave them for me.” Greyce didn’t budge at the offer. “I can handle them.” Rowan pointed to the fire escape. Greyce huffed and reached in the chest to retrieve the papers inside. She buried them in her jacket pocket. Greyce looked at Rowan, stuck between arguing and saying thanks. She ended up doing neither.

Greyce made it down the fire escape and scurried into the streets, looking over her shoulder often. A payphone rang. There weren’t cell phones or walkie-talkies in Cosmos. The Mundane proved how destructive being that connected is. “This is Greyce.”

“And this is your last chance,” a high-pitched voice said. It sounded like a woman or even a kid. Similar voices spoke in the background, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying. It didn’t sound like they were speaking in English.

“Give me my dreams back and we have a deal.”

“No way! You didn’t want dreams for years. We aren’t taking your demands.”

“No treasure,” Greyce said firmly, as if scolding a child.

“If you think that a mob at your door was scary, watch this.”

She slammed the phone down and knew she’d better go into hiding. She passed by the television store, where all of the boxes in the storefront turned on. “Previous reporter of six consecutive years, Greyce is a criminal. For years, she has rejected new dreams,” Tammy shouted, and a horrendous picture of Greyce filled the screens. Bags under her eyes and a pot of coffee in each hand. Coffee stains all over her blouse, of course. “Our city ordinance is sacred. Without it, we’d be no better off than The Mundane. This woman must be apprehended immediately. She is a menace to our beautiful city that we work so hard to—”

Grace took off at a sprint. She had read about what happened to residents of Cosmos who rejected dreams during the inception of the city. It hadn’t happened since, but it wasn’t pretty. Crack! An egg smashed into the back of her head, and more were on the way. As though it had become Halloween, rolls of toilet paper flew out of windows to hit her. Pillows too. Residents were opening their windows and throwing what they could at her. She hated to admit it, but their aim was pretty great.

Soon she’d been hit by enough eggs to feed the entire city breakfast. Pillow feathers clung to her so that she was beginning to look like a winged beast. There was only one place where she could hide. The one place where she had the upper hand over every resident in the city. She knew every nook, every cranny, and numerous secret passages. Most residents didn’t know the building had secrets.

The Newsroom’s logo flashed on her face like sunlight, welcoming her back home. It was her instinct to walk right in the front door, but not today. She hooked around the back of the building and reached under the neckline of her shirt for her necklace. The charm on it was a functional key. She let herself in the back door and entered the industrial hall where deliveries docked every morning at five.

A plan was hatching in her mind, but first things first. Taking the elevator would alert everybody to her exact location, so she put one foot in front of the other, climbing the stairs to the twenty-fifth floor.

Newscasting was different in the early days of Cosmos when The Newsroom was in search of its angle. There were countless stations, multitudes of newscasters, and everyone had their favorites. Households would argue over what to watch, and stations fought for popularity. Things were competitive, and hostile. Eventually, one newscaster dreamed to merge everything together into one station that had something for everybody. That left many floors in the fifty-story building collecting dust for decades.

Greyce flicked on the lights and entered a retro lounge. There was a bar area and couches with notepads and pens still sitting on them. This was where the newscasters would await their showtime and freshen up. A locker room was connected. Greyce smacked cobwebs out of her path as she stripped out of her tarnished clothing, leaving a trail behind her as she entered the showers. It looked like a hotel, fully stocked with everything she needed to look her best.

She soaked in the moment as she showered, washing the eggshells and feathers out of her long platinum hair. Being the sole newscaster made her feel special, but what would it have been like to have a community, to have friends? They’d understand the challenges, she’d give them pointers, and maybe they’d have dinners together. She used to always have DeeJay in her life, so she’d never given much thought to friendship until she had none.

She plucked a spider from the towel, dried off, and wrapped herself in it. Entering a walk-in closet containing mannequins showcasing vintage anchor outfits, she picked a pattern of bright yellow and red to match The Newsroom logo, completing the look with a pair of black pumps. She wished DeeJay could see her. Tucking the treasure into the front pocket of her blazer, she left the lounge.

The last thing was to wait for her hair to dry. Adrenaline carried her through the hallways, and she mentally rehearsed her broadcast. In the kitchen she began brewing coffee. She needed something to take the edge off. It had been a month without reporting; of course she was nervous. If her plan didn’t work, she’d be back to where she started or could be evicted to The Mundane. Her hand shook as she peered into the full mug, steam luring her in, insisting she take a sip.

She didn’t hear steady footsteps approaching. “You have a lot of nerve.”

“Josef!” Greyce shouted, dropping her coffee mug in alarm. The mug shattered and she stood over a puddle of coffee, caught red-handed. “What are you doing here?”

“Unlike you, I work here. Jeez, you want me to make you another pot or something? That’s all you ever trusted me to do when we were supposed to be a team. I never got to do anything cool or experimental.”

“I guess I wasn’t pleasant to work with.” He snorted. “I shouldn’t have held on to newscasting for so long.” She’d never dare to say any of that out loud in the past, but she had nothing to lose.

“I gotta hand it to you. You have to be dedicated to not sleep for years. Remember I used to try to help you? All the times I brought you herbal tea? When I’d sneak some decaf in the pot?”

She looked down, feeling smaller than ever. “Now’s your chance. Got any eggs, toilet paper?”

He huffed. “If I wanted to sabotage you, I would have a long time ago. You can’t dream anymore? Tammy’s been giving me an earful of all of her theories about you. She’s obsessed.”

“I knew she knew! Well, it’s true. The Dreamsends are blocking me.”

“I’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about Dreamsends lately. I hope I can get them on film someday.” He poured himself a mug, and she stopped herself from doing the same.

“I shouldn’t have doubted them. But. I may have outsmarted them.”

“Whatever you’re planning, I’m in.”

“It may not end well.”

“I want to make history. Whose idea do you think it was to do onsite reporting? And you really think it was Tammy’s idea to wear those ridiculous outfits? I’m making my mark in history for The Newsroom. I’m not letting you take all the glory here.”

Greyce’s face tingled, and she was moving muscles that hadn’t been used in a long time. She realized that she was smiling. “Unbelievable. You’re pretty clever.” She felt proud of him, but also regret for never taking him up on a brainstorming session.

They heard the elevator door open, and voices and footsteps approached. “Ya smell that? That’s coffee. She’s close.”

Greyce and Josef stood comically still as if that would make them invisible. “Before we run, you want a swig of that?” He pointed at the pot.

Greyce poured it into the sink and kicked off her shoes. “Let’s get out of here!” Taking off in a sprint beside each other, Greyce told him, “Hook a left, and then a right!”

Many pairs of footsteps charged behind them. “You won’t get away with your crimes against Cosmos!”

Greyce made the mistake of looking back and tripped up at the sight of a resident holding an actual pitchfork.

“Jeez, you rookie.” Josef pulled her along, the mob gaining on them. They indeed took the left hook and then the right turn to come to a dead end. Greyce was as calm as she could manage and focused on banging her fist on the wall in particular spots.

“Nowhere to run. It’s best if you turn yourself over now,” the pitchfork man said. The mob had caught up. They were cornered.

Josef stepped forward, his open palms raised high. “Listen, gang, I want to detain her too. But I want answers. Why did she dodge dreams for so long? Heck, how did she even? Is she planning to destroy the city? New world order? What was her first dream anyhow?”

Greyce kept trying to unlock the secret passage.

“I don’t care.” A man in the back spoke for the crowd.

“This crime is going to be in the history books,” Josef said. “Don’t you want the firsthand story to tell everyone you know? This is once in a lifetime.”

The hallway clamor fell to dull mumbles. The man replied, “That does sound exclusive. We do have time, I suppose.”

“Okay, fine. But we are going to detain you, Greyce. Tell us the dirt before we do,” a woman holding a carton of eggs said.

Finally, the hallway gave way like a revolving door; it moved so quickly that Greyce alone was pushed into a dark hallway with nothing but a dim light. She followed it to find a TV that had been left on all those decades, making faint static noises, calling out persistently to be acknowledged.

Greyce entered an old broadcasting room. It was exactly what she was counting on. The equipment was older, but usable. It was only a matter of time until the group outside figured out how to get in, so she was swift. She flicked on all of the lights and got the camera ready, wishing she had Josef’s expertise.

She grabbed the treasure from her blazer and read it over quickly. Her heart was beating quicker than it did the first time she ever broadcasted. She didn’t think she’d ever get the chance to do it again.

She took a deep breath before she turned on the live broadcast, now addressing every single resident of Cosmos. “Yes, the outfit is vintage,” she said, flashing a smile. In all of her years newscasting, she never smiled on air. That ought to get their attention.

“By this point you have most likely hit me with an egg, thrown a roll of toilet paper my way, or even chased me down with a pitchfork. You’re not wrong for it. I’ve dodged my dreams for six years.” She slid her sweaty palms on her skirt. “I wanted to do this forever. To be in Cosmos forever. But we all know the city ordinances. That’s not how this works.”

She looked hard at the paper in front of her before making eye contact. “This is your last chance, Dreamsends. You know what this is. I intend to tell-all.”

She read it over silently one last time. The treasure was for her eyes only a moment longer. Then she began.

“The first dream in the history of Cosmos was given to Maple. He was the architect who created The Newsroom. All fifty floors and the logo too. He had a great sense of adventure and mystery and created quite a few hidden passages.

“Next was Reena, who saved six endangered species of shark. Ike, who launched the first satellite into space for Cosmos. Noelle, who created the hoverboards that we still use to this day.” Greyce continued reading the most amazing dreams ever created, and her eyelids became heavier as she took many pauses to yawn.

She perked from her slouched position when she saw her friend’s name. “DeeJay…” she started. “DeeJay discovered a new…” Halfway through that sentence, she fell asleep with her head resting on folded arms. She almost made it to the bottom, to the secret that the Dreamsends were keeping. On live television, Greyce slept peacefully.

When she awoke, things were different.

“You’ve gotten pretty good at this sleeping thing,” Josef greeted her. The angry mob was no longer angry. They were scattered about, taking in the vintage room. Greyce rose with a start, ready to run.

“Our collective dream was to catch you. We have, so that’s that,” their ringleader said, triumphantly raising the pitchfork.

Greyce stood up and quickly looked around to make sure that no one had read the treasure before tucking it back into her pocket.

“This was some groundbreaking stuff. Exactly what I was looking for,” Josef said, high-fiving Greyce.

“That’s all well and good, but can we head out? I could really use some dinner. Chasing you all day is tough work!” a woman from the mob teased.

“Right this way!” Greyce began leading them out barefoot.

“Don’t forget these,” Josef said, handing over her shoes.

She slipped into them and led them out through a different secret passage that brought them back to the lobby.

“Corner Diner?” a teen from the mob asked, pointing at everybody to get votes.

“I’ll meet you there,” Greyce said and watched them all leave the lobby, feeling victorious. Moments later the telephone rang. She reached over the receptionist desk to pick up. “Truce?” the Dreamsends asked, the usual background voices now silent.

“You gave me two dreams. We’re even.”

She heard a sigh of relief on the other end. “You know what would happen if that last part was public knowledge.”

“Cosmos would cease to exist,” Greyce said.

“Burn it,” they commanded.

She did not burn it. It was part of history, and she knew the perfect place in The Newsroom to hide it. Greyce had already outsmarted the Dreamsends: She was confident in her instincts. She understood that if the wrong person found it, it would ruin Cosmos. But the right mind who understood the importance of dreams would be able to transform The Mundane World. She wouldn’t burn that bridge.

It was a blueprint to connect the two worlds.

She was about to go home; it had been a long day, but adrenaline filled her, and her dream could not wait one more moment. She started running until she was knocking on a door.

“You did it!” Greyce hardened when Rowan embraced her before she settled in and hugged her back. “What did you dream? Tammy can’t stop speculating about it. We need to know!”

Rowan guided her in, and they sat at her table in front of the window overlooking the sea. There was a cheeseboard and cookies awaiting her, along with herbal tea, now cold.

Greyce leaned forward and whispered, “They’ve never done this before. I had two dreams!”

“No way.”

“Well, one is to become a tour guide for The Newsroom.”

“You could do that blindfolded!”

“I’ve got exploring ahead of me. I think it has more secrets than I know of,” Greyce said through a yawn.

“Why don’t you spend the night? It’s been ages since I’ve had a sleepover, and you wouldn’t believe how comfortable my couch is.” She jumped up before Greyce could agree. “I’ll get the pillows and blankets.”

Greyce had been tired when she got there, but lying perpendicular to Rowan on the L-shaped couch, their heads close enough for whispers, she was restless.

“Are you still awake?”

“Mm hmm,” Rowan hummed.

“We shouldn’t wait until The Mundane. We should become roommates here, in Cosmos.”

Rowan stretched as she craned her neck to peer at Greyce. “You mean it? I’d like that a lot.”

Greyce’s cheeks were beginning to hurt. She’d done lots of smiling that day.

“Say, Greyce, what was your second dream?”