“Pannasosia?” Her date narrowed his eyes. “There’s no way that’s a real state.”

“It’s as real as it needs to be, I suppose.” She sipped at a spoonful of wild rice soup. “The whole place is an underground lake, save for a few aquifers and caves. It’s actually pretty big, but not many people live there.”

“Hmm.” He thought back to memorizing the state capitals in middle school geography, all those annoying songs they had him memorize. Alabama and Alaska, Arizona Arkansas… “I can’t say that I’ve heard of it. You sure that it’s not a Canadian province or something?”

She shook her head. “Definitely not. Either way, I’m not really surprised you haven’t heard of it. The story that they told me growing up was that after the U.S. finished its conquest of North America’s midsection, the powers that be couldn’t figure out where to put new borders, so they started pouring them into holes in the ground to see where they’d congeal. That’s how we ended up with Pannasosia. It’s not on any maps because the few people who’ve heard of it don’t know where to put it.”

“Well…” He wasn’t sure if he believed her, but he couldn’t help wanting to know more. “If that’s the case, then what’s down there? Are there actual towns? Cities?”

“Supposedly, yeah. I spent most of my childhood in hibernation, though, so I didn’t get to see much of it.” 


“Yep. My parents moved to Pannasosia because they wanted to sleep for a long, long time. That’s how most people end up there. They get tired of the pace of modern life, but they’re not ready to retire, or give up altogether, so they find a factory underground that’ll let them rest for a few years. More than forty percent of the nation’s dreams are manufactured down there. You’ve probably even had a few of them yourself.”

“When did you get to leave?”

“Around the time I turned sixteen. That’s when my parents decided it was time to wake up, so we moved back to Minnesota for a few years, where I finished up high school. Up until then I’d dreamed most of my education, but it turns out that you can learn quite a bit while unconscious.”

“It had to be pretty weird, waking up for the first time at sixteen.”

“Well, I’m not sure that what I did really counts as waking up.” She pondered for a moment. “It’s not all that different up here, honestly. If anything, I just woke sideways.”