EDIT: I just realised that I haven't had the chance to introduce myself properly to most of the other members so I'll endeavour to do so here.
I'm Owen and I've been coming to infrequent Writer's Lunches since late last year. I'm Vice President at the Huddersfield Author's Circle and a friend of Nick's and Ian's.
I write short stories with speculative themes: sometimes sci-fi, usually unusual.
"Why are you reading my dream journal?" I asked the man on the bench.
"Seventh of January," he muttered.
"Seriously! how the hell did you get it?"
"You left it out."
"In my bedroom! That's breaking and entering." I reached into my pocket. "I'm calling the police."
"I have a question," he said, setting down the journal.
I laughed. "You have a question?"
"You've had three now, I deserve at least one." He finally looked up at me. "Why did you lie about the date?"
"Your coil nightmare didn't happen on a Saturday and certainly not on the seventh."
"How would you know?"
"That particular dream was between your factory floor romance and wooden stick murder spree. Which were respectively on the first and fourth."
He knew so much, too much. His eyes suggested that he knew more.
"It felt like a Saturday," I muttered.
"It felt like a Saturday in the nightmare," the man corrected, "You go out on Saturdays, don't you?"
"But how would you-?"
"And, in the nightmare, you get stuck in the coil during an art gallery trip."
He slid the journal across to me. "This is the problem with not writing these things down immediately after they happen. The memory inevitably changes. You go away with the wrong impression."
"Not wrong," I said, "That was just how I remembered it."
The man raised an eyebrow. "Have you ever thought for one lucid second that a dream is noteworthy and must be written down forthwith? Then did you pick up a pen on a bedside table and scribble it all on a sheet of paper?"
"On waking did you realise that the paper, the table were never actually there?"
I nodded. "And then I remember the writing dream better than the dream that I actually wanted to write about."
The man grinned. "Vicious, isn't it?"
I finally laid a hand on my dream journal.
"Unfortunately we do tend to carry incorrect feelings of time and space into the conscious mind," the man carried on, "That's when immediate and accurate recording becomes essential."
"Also you wrote it in the past tense, not the present," he said, shaking his head, "How do you expect the dream to remain vivid that way?"
The man stood up and walked away.
"Then when did it happen?" I called after him, "When did it actually happen?" But he had already gone.
I opened the journal, flipped to the third or fourth page. Empty.
The entire book was empty."When is this happening?" I asked, "What time is it now? Really?"