Dreams

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The title is actually "Dreamer" but I accidentally deleted the original post and it won't let me repost under the same name. However, "Dreams" does fit the story as well.

This is an edited version of my original short story. Changes are minor, mostly wording.

Summary: There are many uses for a machine which controls dreams. How would you use it?

Submitted: August 15, 2014

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Submitted: August 15, 2014

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Dreamer

Locke

“Just to be sure, is it understood that what you are about to do is illegal? If we are caught, I cannot guarantee you will not also be charged.” Hal Underwood said to the man strapped into the chair in front of him.

“I’ll do anything to see my daughter again.” the man replied as he closed his eyes.

“Alright.” Hal left the small room and walked over to a control panel. He pressed the button. Hal could hear the man’s laughter in the other room.


 

“Gabriel Mandoza, you have been convicted of seven accounts of first-degree homicide and six accounts of torture. This is your last chance, if you can convince the jury you are truly repentant, the sentence will be postponed and a more suitable one assigned.” Jonathan Stride stared straight into the eyes of the hulking behemoth of a man seated in front of him.

The Giant gave Jonathan a cruel grin, “I wish I had had more time with the Lady. The most difficult part of torture is not killing the person.”

Jonathan left the room and sat down at the control panel which was behind a window looking into the room he had just left. Jonathan pressed the button. He could clearly hear the Giant’s screams.

 

Jonathan walked into the room with a cup of fresh-ground coffee in his hand. He could hear the jury quietly return to their seats as he took his across from the now limp and shrunken form of a former-behemoth. A soft whimper. “I never knew.” Two men in white uniforms entered the room, transferred the Giant to a wheelchair, and took him out of the room.

 

Several months later, Jonathan sat in the same room with the same people, the Giant in front of him. “Gabriel Mandoza, you have been convicted of seven accounts of first-degree homicide and six accounts of torture. Your sentence has been carried out. You may now speak.”

“I am sorry for what I did. Hurting people was my way of asserting my power. I used to relish in my victim’s fear, never knowing how terrible it was. I will serve the community for the rest of my life to make up for at least one of the people I took from this world. I’m sorry.” the Giant bowed his head.

 

Jonathan pressed the button and heard the familiar clunk of a can dropping. As he took his first sip he heard the slaps of dress shoes on tile. “Congratulations Stride, another criminal rehabilitated,” William Rand, the State Attorney, said as he walked up. He eyed Jonathan’s can of soda, “Maybe we should run you through the soda addiction Dream. Drinking a soda after every successful case is too much given your record.”

Jonathan sighed, “ I don’t just drink to hold up the tradition of “a soda after success”. This kind of job really gets to a person. You know we have to read the case file for all the cases. How can people be so ugly to each other? I wish I could get a hold of a certain stronger drink.”

“I hear you,” William feigned smoking a cigarette, “I went through the cigarette Dream, but I still miss having a joint between my finger.” He smirked, “ Maybe we should go see Hal Underwood. He could get us a drink and a smoke.”

Jonathan tossed his empty soda can into the recycling bin. “Isn’t that the son of Lee Underwood?” he asked.

“Yup. He’s been causing quite a lot of trouble for the Department,” William let out a roaring laugh, “Stole a Dreamer from right under our nose. Top security my ass.”

“Did you track it?”

William scratched his head, “That’s the odd part. We tracked the GPS chip and found the Dreamer in an abandoned warehouse. But the whole thing was in a pile of pieces with the chip sitting on top. He stole a Dreamer from the Department, risking life in Illusion, only to destroy it and let us track it down.”

“Has he returned to his residence yet?” Jonathan asked with increased interest.

“He’s there right now.”

“Then why don’t you arrest him?”

William laughed again, “We did. But we can’t convict because we have no evidence.”

Jonathan was thoroughly confused now, “What about the cameras and sound detectors?”

“Nope, he shut it all down. Just as skilled as his father, maybe even more so.” William’s notification watch gave a long beep. He glanced at it and a look of concern flashed in his face. “I have to go,” and he walked away.

Jonathan called out, “Wait! If there’s no evidence, how do you know it was him?”

William paused, “Because I understand how he feels.”


 

Hal sat in a chair. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes. An hour later he was woken by a loud bang of a metal door closing. With his eyes still closed, he heard the sound of dress shoes hitting ground. A chair scraped against the ground, a pause, and then the sound of paper. Hal opened his eyes and saw a man about his age sitting in the chair across from him, flipping through a file.

“Hal Underwood, you have been convicted of illegal possession and use of a Dreamer. Do you have anything to say?”

“Where’s the jury?”

Jonathan looked at him quizzically, “Given your previous visit here, I doubted you would need a jury to hear your apology, so I saved the effort.”

Hal smiled, “You read my file?” a nod from the man, “Then you know who I am.”

Jonathan began flipping through the pages of the file again, “Son of Lee Underwood, inventor of the Dreamer device. Fights for public access to Dreamers. Not arrested until today for the illegal possession and use of a Dreamer,” he looked up, “Stole a Dreamer from the Department so he could destroy it. Yet somehow still had one at the time of arrest. How’d you do it? Engineers verified the pile of scrap metal was a Dreamer.”

Hal gave a grinned, “How good is your memory?”

Jonathan gave a start of surprise, “You memorized it?”

“As the file says, ‘Son of Lee Underwood’. Daddy branded engineering into my brain when I was born.”

“So you stole a Dreamer, reverse-engineered it, then built your own?” Jonathan asked. Hal gave a slight bow. “Impressive. If you would be so kind, I’ve had a question for you since I read your file. Why? Why are you so against the system? Everyone else is happy. Criminals can rejoin society as productive citizens. Why can’t you accept that Dreamers will only be used for the rehabilitation of criminals?”

Hal leaned forward, “Why can’t you allow public access to Dreamers?”
“Because it would destroy society. If the people could simply just enter their own dream world where they are the supreme ruler, what reason would they have for living here in this world?”

“Regulate it. Think about all the happiness Dreamers could bring into the world. People could relive the happiest moments of their life and go on their dream trips. That man you arrested along with me, he was reliving his last memory of his 10-year old daughter who died in a car crash last year.”

Jonathan froze, “The case file said he was having a sex Dream. Are you saying the case file is falsified?

Hal smiled, “Governments will do that kind of thing.”

Slower than before, Jonathan continued, “And what will we do with all the criminals? Ever sense we started using the Dreamer, rehabilitation has been at a historic high. Without it, how will we change hard criminals?”

“Brainwashing isn’t the answer. That just turns them into slaves. There’s a diference between a change of heart and a change of mind. My father meant for Dreamers to be used for happiness, not the enslavement of the entire country,” Hal replied.

“Do you truly believe that?” Jonathan asked. Hal nodded, “Then I am sorry for this, you have been sentenced to life in Illusion.”

Hal was surprised, but his resolve remained unwavered, “Really? ‘The Last Resort’?”

“You’ve put me in a difficult position. Never in my eight years as a Dream Maker have I failed to rehabilitate a criminal. I have thought of the strangest Dreams for rehabilitation but I could not think of one for what you have done.”

“Maybe because it’s not a crime,” Hal said.

Jonathan paused, “Then maybe someday you’ll be acquitted.”

Jonathan signaled and two armed guards entered the room and led Hal away.


 

When Hal woke up he was lying in on a bed on a completely dark room. The bed wasn’t uncomfortable but it has a certain feeling about it that made it seem like it was not meant for a person to sleep on. Several hours passed as Hal sat on the bed in the pure black. Hal heard the sliding of metal. A voice, “Are you Hal Underwood?”

“Yes,” he responded, “How did you get out of your room? Didn’t they get some qualified programmers to make Illusion?”

A light in the ceiling turned on as the person, who Hal now saw was an elderly woman, sat down in a chair. “I am Stacy Evans. I worked with your father on the Dreamer Project,” she said.

At this Hal became furious, “Then why aren’t you at the Department? That's where all of you backstabbing bastards went!”

The old lady refused to take the bait. With a look of sadness she said, “Not all of us. Your father hired everyone on the team that developed the Dreamer because of their skills and experience. Everyone except me. Your father and I both attended MIT and were good friends, both top of the class. He asked me to help him on the Dreamer device. When the government stole the Dreamer Device blueprints, I stood by Lee. And for that, I was setenced to Illusion.”

Hal looked her in the eyes and saw true sadness and pain in them. “Then it will pain you to learn that my father committed suicide 28 years ago.”

Stacy didn’t look surprised, “He was near hysterics when the agents came and took the blueprints and prototype.  He devoted his life to giving people the ability to be happy and the government took it away from him and the people.”

Hal was silent for a few minutes. Then he asked, “Do you still believe in my father’s work?”

“I wouldn’t be here otherwise,” Stacy replied.

Hal smiled, “Good. Because I know how to get out of here.”

 


© Copyright 2020 Locke000. All rights reserved.

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