In Paige and Genie’s quarters with them plus Alex. Genie has just explained the situation and its meaning.
Paige is calm. She jumped into a ball pit when she was ten and woke up on a starship with a talking cat, among other things. She has no sense of normal. And yet, she realizes she has something to lose here.
Alex is confused. He lived on a planet until he was given away. He remembers normal, and he wants to return there one day. What he really wants is to return there one day and bring back his people’s lost dragon, then they’ll never give him away again. If this isn’t handled just right, he won’t get to do any of those things. He says to Genie, “Tell me one more time.”
Genie does. “Changeling is dreaming us. Us and the starship. That’s why Paige got here the way she did. Also, how many starships do you know that have ball pits? Or rooms that open on TV universes?”
Paige adds, “And kitty’s don’t talk.”
Alex nods. “And Paige can feel Changeling dreaming?”
“Yes. Awake dreaming.”
“Isn’t that just daydreaming?”
“Daydreaming is just a fancy ass way of saying you’re not paying attention.”
“And Paige,” Alex says, “tell me what you saw in the room with all the doors.”
“The last door opened and I saw Changeling. In bed.”
“So… normal sleep. Could wake up at any time. Is that what we’re saying?”
Genie shrugs. “Maybe. Definitely possible.”
“And if he wakes up…?”
“Same thing that happens to the people in our dreams when we wake up. At the very least, we stop existing and growing. worse, though, we could just end up forgotten. I’ve had lots of people in my dreams I don’t remember when I wake up.”
Paige and Alex ask, “What do we do?”
“Simple. The players in our dreams—the people, the animals, etc.—all serve the purpose of advancing the dream to a point where we wake up. A monster chases us until we wake up. Someone gives us that toy we’ve always wanted, and we wake up just as we feel that ultimate happiness. So all we need to do is make Changeling not wake up.”
Alex says, “Isn’t this wrong? Real people can die any time. How’s are situation that different.”
“Real people also stop smoking when they learn it makes their life shorter. We’re doing that, but on a slightly different level.
“Also, Changeling believes this is real. He doesn’t even know he’s missing anything.”
“What if Changeling dies?”
“Real people die. No matter what. Even when they stop smoking. How is our situation that different?
“The difference is we’ll be taking control of the situation. But it only works if we all agree.”
They took their time with it.
They agreed to do it.
Genie said, “Okay. We need to get reality farther away from us.”
“How do we do that?”
Paige smiles, “I have an idea.”
This is the end of Act One.