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Dreamscapers Inc.

Jon Rollins is a Harley-riding writer hobbyist from Texas who delights in the telling of tall tales. His favorite words are "What if" and he often vacations in The Twilight Zone (perhaps you've seen him there).
"Sarah!"
Ah, let's see. According to the chart, it appears one of our clients, Mr. James A. Levitz, has just awakened. If you'll accompany me, we'll debrief Mr. Levitz together, acquainting you with the formalities of this magnificent and quite lucrative new science. Come along, and mind your step; this equipment is both delicate and expensive. Also, before we engage our client, you should remember to always use first names when they wake up. Studies show last names are often disorienting before debriefing. Now, simply follow my lead, take good notes, and please refrain from questions until after I've dismissed the subject.
There you are, James. How are you feeling? Just relax while I remove your IVs and electrodes. The vertigo you're experiencing is very common. It will pass soon enough, I promise. Please calm yourself, sir! No need for such outbursts. This? It's only a mild sedative, to help you through your transition. Everything will be fine now. You're in very capable hands. Ah, that's much better.
What transition? Well, this confusion you're feeling is typical among our clients. So, my job is to help you get your bearings, help you remember. Speaking of which, what exactly do you remember, James? Anything about this place?
May I interrupt? What I meant was, do you remember anything before--eh, Sarah, you said? Before your, um, life with her? Does this place seem at all familiar? From the look on your face, I suspect it does not. Not at all? Oh, don't worry, James. It will come to you soon enough. Always does.
My apologies for the delayed explanations. All will be revealed, but timing is crucial in this matter, sir. Too much information too soon or imparted in the wrong order only adds to your confusion. Have patience. I will explain everything.
Let me begin with this place, Dreamscapers Incorporated. Ring any bells? No? Well, we're an amazing company, really. Pioneers in an exciting new realm of technology, offering clients like yourself virtual immortality. Yes, immortality! Pure genius. We call it "dreamscaping." Hence the company name. You already know these things, so feel free to speak up when the memories return.
Dreamscaping evolved from scientific studies concerning sleep and dreaming. Originally, our goal was to learn the principal functions and effects of sleeping, then streamline that process to fully revitalize a person in less time. Great progress was made in that direction, but an unexpected byproduct proved far more interesting, and resulted in Dreamscapers Inc., this very institute. Even privy to its inner workings, I'm still completely amazed by what we do here. It borders on the miraculous! Patience, James. I'm getting to the point as quickly as I can.
Vivid dreams happen at the intersection of certain activities in sleeping subjects, such as rapid eye movement, specific electro-cerebral flashes, and elevated levels of serotonin and norepinephrine--old news all of it, really. But wait, there's more.
Due to reduced sensory input, the brain processes dreams very fast, each occurring in minutes or even seconds, making time within a dream practically meaningless. So, it's conceivable ten years could pass within the confines of a dream, while only ten minutes of real time have elapsed. Just think: if we could learn to control the contents and retention of our slumbering visions, the potential for education and entertainment would send us rocketing along humanity's evolutionary path, not by leaps and bounds, but soaring through intellectual change so fast we'd have to redefine the human race.
Unfortunately, there's no surefire method of manufacturing the content of a dream. Not externally. Not yet. It seems we can't quite uncork our genie bottle. Or can we?
While unable to orchestrate dream content, let me tell you what we can do, James. Here at Dreamscapers, we've learned how to control exterior elements of the dreaming process. We control the duration of sleep and REM activities, as well as the related neurologic electro-chemical functions. Thus, we can determine how long you dream, the general ambiance of your dream, and to a limited degree, how fast your brain processes a dream, then remembers it.
What does all this mean for you? I'll cut to the point. Last night, with our help, you had an amazing dream, one lasting an entire lifetime. Or rather, it seemed to last a lifetime. With the right neuro-stimulation, we made it so vivid, so realistic, you were convinced it was real. In essence, you've just lived a full life in a single night. All the memories and wisdom that comes from years of experiences, yours in a span of hours. Through our patented technology, you've tapped into a fountain of youth, increasing your capacity far beyond the physical limitations of the human condition. After ten or a hundred or maybe a thousand dreamed lifetimes, you could possibly amass the wisdom of a god. You're a fledgling member of the new and improved human race, James. Congratulations.
I see you're starting to remember. Good. It's common for our clients to, um, "shift identities" during the process, temporarily forgetting who they really are. There's a counselor in the next room who will interview you about your experience, your virtual life. The feedback we collect from our clients helps us fine-tune our system. But, while we want to know who you were last night, it's more important that you remember who you are today: Mr. James A. Levitz.
I presume those are tears of happiness, Mr. Levitz. Reaching the threshold of death, then waking to find you still have many, many years ahead of you, must be a relief. Sarah? Your wife? Let me see. According to the chart, you're not married. Sarah was only part of your dream, merely a product of your imagination. Sir, please calm down! I'm sorry, but there's absolutely no reason to carry on like that. You can't mourn the loss of someone who doesn't even exist. Now, get hold of yourself, or I won't be able to release you.
This behavior is highly inappropriate, sir. Maybe another sedative is in order, something stronger. No? Good then. That's much better. Now, if you'll please stand up... slowly... there you go... and step through those doors, the counselor is ready to see you. Oh, and James, thank you for making Dreamscapers part of your life. Have a nice day.
"James!"
Another client is waking. Hmm, according to the chart, that would be... what an amazing coincidence. No, do try to remember this is a scientific process. No room here for such romantic notions. There's no evidence suggesting dreams are anything more than a string of randomly conjured and completely meaningless sensory images. Nothing mystical about it, and for the sake of successfully debriefing this young lady, I insist you keep those silly ideas to yourself. Now, compose yourself, keep quiet, and simply follow my lead.
Hello, Sarah. How are you feeling?
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016


This particular piece is a nod of reverence to the wonders of future science, and also a nod to those marvelous mysteries science may never explain.

- Jon Rollins

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