Indexing (Kindle Serial) - By Seanan McGuire

Attractive Narcolepsy

Memetic incursion in progress: estimated tale type 709 (“Snow White”)

Status: ACTIVE

Alicia didn’t feel well.

If she was being honest, she hadn’t been feeling well for a while now. The world was spinning, and everything seemed hazy and unreal, like she was seeing it through the filter of a dream. Maybe she was. Dreaming, that is; maybe she was dreaming, and when she woke up, everything would be normal again, rather than wrapped in cotton and filled with strange signs and symbols that she couldn’t quite understand. Maybe she was dreaming . . .

In a daze, she called a cab and left the house, the door standing open and ignored behind her. The dog would get out. In that moment, she didn’t have the capacity to care. Alicia didn’t feel well, and when you don’t feel well, there’s only one place to go: the hospital.

Alicia was going to the hospital, and when she got there, they would figure out what was wrong with her. They would figure out how to fix her, and everything would be normal again. She just knew it.


My day began with half a dozen bluebirds beating themselves to death against my window, leaving little bloody commas on the glass to mark their passing. The sound eventually woke me, although not before at least a dozen of them had committed suicide trying to reach my bedside. I sat up with a gasp, clutching the sheets against my chest as I glared at the window. The damn things had been able to get past the bird-safety net again, and I still couldn’t figure out how they were doing it.

A final bluebird hit the glass, making a squishy “thump” sound. Feathers flew in all directions, and the tiny birdie body fell to join the others. I glared at the bloody pane for a few more seconds before turning my glare on the clock. It was 5:22 a.m.—more than half an hour before my alarm was set to go off, which was entirely unreasonable of the universe.

“Once upon a fuck, you people,” I muttered, shoving the covers off me and onto the floor. If I wasn’t going to get any more sleep, I was going to get ready for work. At least in the office, there would be other people to receive my hate.

Wildflowers had sprouted from the hallway carpet again, this time in a clashing assortment of blues and oranges. I didn’t recognize any of the varieties, and so I forced myself to step around them rather than stepping on them, the way that I wanted to. Research and Development would be able to figure out what they were, where they originated, and what tale-type variants they were likely to be connected to. The wildflowers were usually random as far as we could tell, but they had occasionally been enough to give us a lead. Rampion flowers meant a three-ten was getting started somewhere, while the strange blue-white blooms we had dubbed “dew flowers” meant that a three-oh-five was under way. It wasn’t an exact science, but very little about what we did was anything like exact.

Turning the water in my shower all the way to cold produced a freezing spray that chased away the last unwelcome remnants of the previous night’s dreams and left me shivering, but feeling like I might have a better day than the one indicated by the heap of dead bluebirds outside my window. Really, if all that went weird today was a few dead birds and some out-of-place flowers, I was doing pretty well.

I work for the ATI Management Bureau. Our motto is “in aeternum felicitas vindactio.” Translated roughly, that means “defending happily ever after.” We’re not out to guarantee that all the good little fairy tale boys and girls get to ride off in their pumpkin coaches and on their silver steeds. They’ve been doing that just fine since the dawn of mankind. They don’t need any help from a government-funded agency so obscure that most people don’t even suspect that we exist. No, our job is harder than that. Fairy tales want to have happy endings, and that’s fine—for fairy tales—but they do a lot of damage to the people around them in the process, the ones whose only crime was standing in the path of an onrushing story. We call those “memetic incursions,” and it’s our job to stop them before they can properly get started. When we fail . . .

When we fail, most people don’t hear about that, either. But