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"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.

Little Dreams

Samuel Poots is a writer from N. Ireland who communicates primarily through Pratchett quotes. He can usually be found clambering around the north coast searching for new boulders to fall off. He was recently given the Support for Individual Artists award by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to go towards writing his first novel. If found, please give him a cup of tea and send him home via the nearest post office. You can follow him on Twitter at @pootsidoodle.

The dream nets stirred in the early morning breeze, their strands stretching out high over the rooftops. Miya tried to focus on them as she clambered over the rickety platforms. The dream merchants had already stripped away the large dreams, decanting fantasies of riches and power into tankards ready for those who could afford them. However, glimmering motes of color marked little dreams left to wither in the coming dawn. The crystal bottles dangling from her pack chimed softly as she hauled herself up to the first net.
She was in luck. A small dream glowed a gentle red in the net's clinging tendrils. With careful fingers, Miya unraveled the dream and coaxed it into a bottle. For a moment, the glass felt warm to the touch. Images crept into her mind. Her father showing her the dream nets. The low burr of his voice as he spoke out in the city's central square. The smell of paper and beeswax, so much a part of him, lingering in the workshop long after the Duke's men had taken him away.
She stoppered the little bottle, shaking her head clear of the dream. With a hand that shook only a little, she wrote "A Dream of a Lost Loved One" on the label and hooked it back into place. Half of selling dreams lay in knowing who needed them and plenty in the city would need one like this.
Miya moved from net to net, her bottles singing against each other in tinkling rhythms. The sounds of the waking streets drifted up, a buzz of murmured conversation punctuated by sudden silences and the tramp of the Duke's soldiers on patrol. The Duke liked to remind them all who ruled.
The next net yielded a dream that was simply the remembered taste of a favorite meal. She lingered for a long while over that one, savoring the flavor of fresh bread and thick stew. No wonder the merchants had passed this one by. Why would a noble need such little dreams?
The final net held a nightmare. Miya watched the pulsing, buzzing thing strain against its bonds. Taking up a pair of tongs, she drew it out and let it spin itself into oblivion. Nightmares were illegal, after all. Dreams, the Duke said, were there to distract and amuse. His city was no place for nightmares.
That night, after she had made her deliveries, Miya returned to her hiding place in the lee of her father's workshop. All over the city, people were settling down to sleep. Some, she knew, would be opening their bottles, ready for her dreams. Somewhere a stooped and broken man saw his brother again. A woman with only horse bread dreamed of a time when her table lay full. One by one, they all dreamed of better days. One by one, they would turn their eyes to the Duke's keep. This city was no place for such nightmares. She smiled and wrapped herself in her thin blanket. Miya dreamed. She dreamed of making better days.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Author Comments

This story came out of a challenge to myself to try writing something hopeful. I started thinking about how people get through difficult times. What power do dreams and stories have? Everything starts as just a little dream, after all. The rest was a ton of fun world building and I really want to go back to this setting one day.

- Samuel Poots
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