“Next! Hey, Stephen! How are you? What will it be today?”

“Just the usual. And could you turn up the radio? I can’t get enough of that new band, AC/DC.”

“I gotta tell you, Stephen, I really loved your last book. You know, the one about the little girl that could start fires with her mind? I couldn’t put it down.”


“So what’s your next one about?”

“I’m not sure. I’ve been thinking about setting a story in the future, sometime around the turn of the next century.”

“The year 2000? Flying cars and trips to Mars?”

“No, nothing like that. I’m picturing the world as being completely wired.”

“I know what you mean. I was like that before I went into therapy.”

“No, not that. I mean everyone is connected to everybody else through one gigantic computer network. Something called the CompuNet or International Net or something like that.”

“Ugh. Computers. Can’t stand those things.”

“And there’s this college kid who invents a computer program that allows everyone to trade popular songs back and forth.”

“You mean like Santana or The Doobie Brothers?”

“Right. Of course, it takes place in the future so I’ll have to make up some new band names as well. That’s the hardest part, because all the good names, like Jefferson Starship or KISS, have already been taken. So far, I’ve come up with Widespread Panic, Blues Traveler and No Doubt.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ll make it work. Is there a monster in the story?”

“A monster? Er… no. Not really.”

“No vampires, haunted hotels or high school girls who can move things around with their minds? I don’t know, Stephen. Computers and nerds. Sounds a bit iffy if you ask me. You should stick with what you know.”

“But I’ve already made up all these band names like Hootie & The Blowfish and The Dandy Warhols. Hmmm. Maybe you’re right. Say… I could give the college kid a pet. Maybe a Saint Bernard. He could be bitten by a bat, develop rabies and terrorize a young mother and her son.”

“Wow, that sounds like me before I sought counseling.”

“No, not the kid, the dog. He could trap the mother and her son in a car.”

“Now that sounds like a winner.”

“But my heart is really into this future thing.”

“Forget it, Stephen. Nobody’s gonna want to read all that geek stuff about computers. A huge, foaming-at-the-mouth rabid dog is what people want.”

“You really think so?”

“Trust me, I’m your barber.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right, Cujo.”