They sat at the lunchroom table, Dave’s feet on the scarred plastic tabletop. “I know this seems impossible,” Carly began, “but could it be some kind of telepathy?”
“You mean people sharing the same dream?” Dave asked. “I guess it’s as good a theory as any.” They hadn’t shared their theory about other beings inhabiting dreams with their grad studens and postdocs, they simply started keeping track of additional data in their tests. But they had gotten nowhere in over two weeks, so they agreed that it was time to go public.
They posted their theories on an online service for dream researchers, and shrugged off the inevitable jeers and name calling. And after dozens of attempts, no one could match any of the dreams any better than chance, there being so many typical themes among people’s dreaming lives. They were becoming a joke in the community.
It was Dave who eventually stumbled on the truth, even though he thought at the time he was making a joke. “If it’s not other dreamers,” he said one day when they were frustrated by the lack of progress, “it must be bloody aliens.”
They read up on tests used by SETI, the search for extra-terrestial intelligence, and though neither he nor Carly truly believed the alien theory, they had nothing else to try. So they called in Johanna.
She was a one in a million, Carly had once said. Johanna said that all her life, even as a child, she had known her dreams were dreams, and had always been able to control them perfectly. A natural lucid dreamer, she could be given instructions before falling asleep, and be able to remember and carry them out in her dream. So Dave, Carly and Johanna began a systematic program to try to contact the dream people.
It wasn’t an instant success — Johanna began by starting a conversation with the first strange person she encountered in a dream. She related the discussion when she awoke to Dave and Carly. “It was like we were speaking two different languages, though the words he used were English. I said, ‘Hello, my name is Johanna, what is your name?’ and he said, ‘Fruit are underwater, thank you sunset.’ It went on like that for a while then I just gave up.” Dave smirked and Carly frowned, and they looked for other ways to communicate.
Only when they tried mathematics did they have any success. Johanna began counting in prime numbers to the people she met in her dream. She’d had to memorize the sequence, being utterly terrible at math herself. When she awoke she was able to report the dream person’s response — perfectly continuing the mathematical sequence. Carly and Dave knew they were on to something. It wasn’t proof, not yet, but they were convinced. Convinced enough to try other tests with other dreamers, until they had pages and pages of similar data. Enough pages to make them realize that they had found something incredible. An entity, that was intelligent but not human, was living and acting inside people’s dreams.