Arachne wakes from what must have been a very odd dream, and yet when she looks around her, the place she finds herself is more dreamlike than anything she has known. There is a golden light around her, but she can tell this is a French bistro, well, something approximating such an establishment anyway. Above her, on a shimmery wall is a sign, L’Ami Louis, and before her is a table set for two with a single red rose in a vase as the centerpiece. Looking down at herself, she finds she is wearing a simple, though elegant knee length black dress. Incongruently, she is still wearing her Hello Kitty house shoes.
A figure approaches her slowly, a bit hesitantly, as if he were not sure of his welcome. He is tall, slightly balding with a lean face. He might seem slightly intimidating but for his ready smile. His clothing is beyond strange—a loosely fitting, long silvery grey coat over what looks like a dark blue bodysuit.
Onaed is overjoyed that his pathway has worked but very apprehensive of Miss Kitty’s reaction to all this.
“Welcome, Miss Kitty” he says, and gestures towards the table. He holds her chair, as Arachne sits.
“Thank you, but who are you, and where is this place?” Arachne is curious, but surprisingly, not a bit afraid. There is a air of comfort and calm that pervades the little bistro, and this man is smiling at her with considerable warmth. He’s really
not too bad looking she decides, though it is difficult to judge his age. 32 perhaps?
“My name is Onaed, and this site is devoted to French cuisine, and has many different cafes and bistros to choose from,” Onaed answers. “This particular one is supposed to be an accurate reproduction of a famous bistro in Paris, circa 2080 or
“2080” Arachne’s right eyebrow shoots upward and her incredulity is obvious.
“Yes, you see, the thread you found in your forum was an invitation to travel. Not physically of course, but through time and across your known internet into a more advanced type of cybercloud. You have come a great ways, but please don’t be alarmed. You can return to your home at any time you wish, with no harm to you.” Onaed looks quite anxious as he explains this, and his manner leads her to take him at his word, at least for the time being.
A waiter arrives and Onaed orders two glasses of Chardonnay.
Arachne is more or less bemused by the situation. “This must be what Alice felt like going down the rabbit hole,” she thinks.
“Very well, I’ll play along, at least until I wake up,” she says.
“But I assure you, this is no dream. Unless you count granted wishes as something dreamlike. I found an ancient pathway that lead me to your site. I’ve been reading, and experiencing all that I can of your freak cd site, and in the meantime, I’ve come to admire you, your manner in the forums and the joy that comes through your posts.” Onaed is a bit embarrassed by this declaration, but could find no better way to express himself.
A little stunned, Arachne sits with her mouth open a bit. Surely this can’t get any stranger she thinks. Fortunately the wine arrives and she has something to use with her hands. A good sized gulp of wine, and now time to find out what is really