Rewrites are harder than I thought:
Lilly Doe thought she’d have a nice quiet evening at home.
She sat in her sanctum, the soothing living room of her Chicago bungalow. After looking through a research paper on modern Archetypes and the female psyche, Lilly strolled over to her bookcase to find a mystery novel to read — and dissolved into a sparkling mist.
When the molecules that made up her body realigned themselves, Lilly found herself in an eerily perfect coffeehouse. Black walls, dark interior. Scattered shelves with bric-a-brac — a stuffed armadillo, a badly tarnished coffee urn. A small stage, enough for three musicians, but perhaps not enough for four. A dusty upright piano, which she suspected was in perfect tune. Lilly felt as if her insides were still sparkly mist and her legs about to dematerialize once more. But stubbornness would not allow her to shrink from the emergent situation.
The coffeehouse, however, stood silent, and nobody sat at the tables. If Heaven had a coffeehouse, Lilly reasoned, this would be it. Who knew Heaven would be so empty?
Lilly felt goosebumps form on her arms. Her knees buckled, and she collapsed into a chair. She pinched herself and felt pain.
Just then, a man glided up to the chair across from her and sat down. The man had fine, straight, black hair pulled into a loose ponytail, wide Asian eyes, and a graceful nose. He wore unrelieved black, which almost blended into the darkness of the walls.
The man looked at her expectantly.
“Am I dead?” she queried.
“No,” he replied, in a silky tenor. “I suppose you could be dreaming, Lilly.” He rested his chin on his elbows, watching the emotions play on the woman’s face.
“I don’t dream,” she snapped. “Do we know each other?”
The man raised his eyebrows. “I know of you. You have touched me.” He studied her again: a short, curvy woman with sunny curls, a button nose, and at the moment a scowl on her face.
“How could I have touched you? I don’t know you!” Lilly shivered.
“I heard a story about you once. It touched my heart,” he murmured. A long-fingered hand gestured toward his heart.
“I don’t know you,” Lilly snapped, standing up.
The man gestured her back down gracefully. “Think of me as an Archetype,” he said. “An Archetype who holds a cultural pattern for humans – thousands, even millions of people at once. Without their cultural DNA, their anchoring in the world, humans will die.”
“Millions of humans? ” Fear replaced skepticism, as though the words resonated with a buried part of Lilly’s memory.
“Pretty much. Archetypes generally live in spaces between worlds, a bleak place called InterSpace, so they can be called to be the template for a human in this world. Archetypes seldom visit Earthside, except in our case.”
“If this is a dream, why are you in it?” She held her breath to keep from screaming. “People can’t dream of what they haven’t seen before.”
“Did I say it was a dream? I called you here, to the ideal coffeehouse, a space that would reassure you, so I could talk to you.” His hand touched hers, and she jolted.
“This isn’t reassuring me,” Lilly sighed.
At that moment, two large lattes appeared on the table. Lilly took a sip; a perfect latte. “Are these real?” she asked.
“Is this not the best latte you have ever tasted?” He smiled as if he’d made the lattes himself.
Lilly remembered the setting finally, a Chicago fixture whose eclectic shabbiness had earned it renown. It had been years since she had been — Lilly shivered. This compelling man – Archetype – spoke in riddles. “So why are we here?”