Swirl electric razor muffin clasp cold...I woke up with clammy sweat on my face. Part of my mind noted dispassionately that the dreams were occurring with clockwork frequency now, while the rest frantically tried to clear the persistent cobwebs of early morning. I glanced at the readout on the wall while I analyzed the disconcerting images - it was 5:32, my favorite time of the day. It wasn't surprising that the unsettling themes persisted, since I was coming up on my appointment with the exciser. It's no easy thing to have your conscience chopped off, and I guess I was subconsciously dreading it. They say it's ... wait a second. MUFFIN???

Before I consciously acknowledged the rising alarm, long strides took me out of the bedroom and into my office (for lack of a better word), energetically flinging myself in front of the terminal. Its green-glowing screen blinked on as it detected my presence, calmly running minor system checks even as I furiously punched in Everything5.mn.northwest.terra, my preferred knowledge agglomerate. I forced myself to relax as I formulated my query and sent it off to be pondered by the Machine. As the first nodes trickled in slowly, I realized I might as well make some synkaf and wait for the more pertinent knowledge to reveal itself. I stood up, feeling all of my 34 standard years weigh heavily, and wondered what my actual age was at this point. Everyone says it's hard to keep count after the second century.

I forced myself to drink two cups slowly and steadily, and to take in the view out the Window™. It was raining, of course - the heavy sheets softly lashing the exterior of my apartment block provided a steady pulsing drone to balance my leaping thoughts; the viewing distance was set to nil, to minimize distraction. Just the way I liked it. I wasn't really seeing the nonexistent view, thoughts of the dreaded muffin whirling pointlessly in my head. The chime informing me that my preset threshold of results had been reached was like a painful climax, satisfaction at the cost of a premonition of doom.

The majority of the searches confirmed my fear; a small but loud minority were optimistically deluding themselves and others, vague so-called facts and messages of spontaneous recovery. I hate optimists; I can't help it. Still, there was the slightest chance of this crisis being brought on by my imminent date with the knife ... no. I couldn't seriously think that, especially after seeing so many other dream killers who succumbed, before and after the chop. It was really no surprise; statistically, 75% of us had a brush with infection around this age, and the longer you work after that, the higher the chances on each job. The only thing left to do now was to decide how to tackle this.

But I guess I should start at the beginning, or at least where I think the beginning is...

January 12, 2004 | February 1, 2004 | TBC