“Usually a business is built in pursuit of somebody’s dream… IDT was built to chase every dream! Is that brilliance or madness?” – “The Dream Catchers,” TV Documentary.
“As many of you may know, Imminent Dream Technologies has the largest staff count for a single building in the City of Ulysses.” Lance began as they traversed down the pristine halls of Floor Forty. “We currently have over twelve thousand members of staff working throughout the IDT complex and are constantly expanding in order to bring new talent into our fold each year.” He glanced over to Miss Yale with an appraising smile as they turned a corner. The route ahead was reserved specifically for tours like this and Elliott had invested a ridiculous sum of money to turn it into the finest sales pitch imaginable.
“Every member makes a valuable contribution as we strive to achieve a single goal;” Lance continued. “To make dreams, quite literally, come true.”
Gasps rippled through the crowd as the luminous white walls on each side of them began to side open in unison. Behind each wall was a series of one-way mirrors that peered into the rooms beyond. and their orderly line began to dissolve as they separated, clamoring to see what lay on the other side of each mirror.
One room was populated by engineers and technicians hard at work. Some donned steel masks as they welded large pieces of machinery by hand, others used computers to remotely control robotic arms working on the finer details of whatever was being produced.
The opposite room seemed to be some kind of research lab. No one seemed to be working though. Men and women in white coats were gathered together for some kind of presentation being given by none other than Evan Rothman. It seemed somewhat boring, the mirror was soundproof and Evan was simply pointing to a series of indecipherable calculations on a large whiteboard.
That was, until Evan rubbed one of the calculations with his hand. Rather than smearing ink, the formula changed color and began to faintly glow. Evan swiped his hand across it this time and it flew out from the board into the center of the room. The figures formed together as a three-dimensional sphere and began to slowly rotate for everyone around it to observe.
“It’s a hologram!” exclaimed a member of the group, leaning closer.
Indeed, it seemed the entire room was able to sustain holograms. The tour group watched in awe but the staff inside the room seemed unperturbed as they watched on, listening to whatever Evan was explaining. Evan traced his hand over more of the figures on the board and continued throwing illusions around the room. By the time he was done it seemed like the IDT staff were working among a map of the galaxy made purely of letters and numbers. The spheres then began to unravel and thread together, intertwining to reveal some mystery that only Evan and his staff seemed to understand.
The tour group were completely mesmerized until Lance gave a small cough, grabbing their attention.
“Let’s move on, shall we?” He stepped away from the window and continued down the hallway, not waiting for them to catch up.
“The final stage of production takes place right here on Floor Forty.” Lance said, tracing a finger over some kind of scanner on the wall. “Before that, there are several stages of preparation to consider…”
As if on cue, the floor suddenly shrouded them in blinding white light. Lance looked up to keep the light out of his eyes, grinning at the startled noises made by the investors.The light faded and everyone looked down. The ground beneath their feet was now completely transparent, giving a clear view into floor thirty nine below them.
The room they peered into was like a giant circular lecture hall. In the centre stood a large holographic cube, approximately seven foot in both length and height. All around it were occupied computer desks where men and women sat typing furiously into the holographic screens before them.
“What you see here is one of many of our writing teams hard at work on a project commission for one of our V-Ware products.” Lance said.
Members of the group were squinting to see what was being typed but information flowed too fast for them to follow. Lance began to explain the process.
“Commission applications are first brought forward to our Consultants on the lower floors. We can receive as many as three thousand submissions a week and yet only a select few make their way to the top of the chain… Many fail to meet IDT’s criteria; it is up to our Consultants to trim the fat, so to speak.”
“Before a commission is brought to Floor Forty, departments such as the one below us must first prepare what we loosely call ‘Data Construction.’ This can involve anything from the visual experience of a simulation all the way down to the rules and physics of the worlds we create.”
“There must be a hundred people down there…” murmured one of the younger members of the group. Many of the investors were now on one knee as they watched the writing team. “What are they working on?”
“This department is writing out the formulas for the sensations of touch simulated in this commission. There are eighty four staff members at work in that room but the numbers will vary with each department. This is but a small fraction of the entire Project Team .” The investors looked up at him, mouths gaping.
“The writers upload information in real time to the central hub over there.” Lance said indicating to the cube in the center of the room. Four men stood around it, touching and dragging sectioned pieces along its surface, enlarging and highlighting portions of text as they flowed into vision at almost lightning speed.
“There’s so much information…” Someone said, awestruck.
“All information sent to the Central Hub is handled by those four comptrollers.” Lance continued. “Each is assigned a specific subject for an allocated time and must browse the information gathered as it is filtered to the relevant screen using a well refined algorithm. This summarizes the final rules of that commission to be passed on to the final stage.”
“What if they fail to complete it in the allocated time?” asked the old geezer who had berated Velmont back in the conference room.
“If they feel they require more time with a given subject, they can do so when all other subjects are completed.”
“Would it not be more efficient to complete a subject before moving on?” asked another.
“That method has been tested in the past…IDT has come to the conclusion that to dally with one subject for too long is a sure-fire way to writer’s block.” Lance smirked.
A small ripple of laughter flowed through the group. Lance took a brief glance at his watch. They were right on schedule. He stood once again and the others followed suit.
“Are there any more questions before we proceed?” He asked. The group went silent, eager to move on to the next part of the tour. Lance was ready to continue when Marissa Günter spoke out.
“That group down there…You said they are working on simulating ‘touch?’” She asked, frowning.
“Correct!” Lance scratched his face to stop himself from laughing; he knew exactly where she was going with this. Sure enough, she took the bait.
“I happen to own a lot of your products Mister Lawson and I can safely say V-Ware has never simulated touch.” She said with a hint of suspicion. The realization clearly began to
“Speaking of which, that wouldn’t be a job for a writing team,” Another voice interrupted. “it would be for a programming team, would it not?”
“Correct on both counts! That is, until now!” Lance said, trying hard to conceal his excitement. Eager not to spoil the surprise, he moved on before his answer could spark up more questions.
At the end of the corridor lay a large thick metal door. Lance waited for the group to gather together before typing a password into the small panel on the wall.
“So now ladies and gentlemen…” He announced. “What I will show you next has replaced the final production stages of IDT’s V-Ware products and become our newest, greatest stage of development…”
The door slid back with a soft hiss and began to separate down the center. Lance turned to his audience and saw visible glee and wonder in their eyes. A glee he shared.
“Welcome everyone…To the Dream Lab!”
The door opened wide and the group fell deadly silent as they wandered in, heads turning in every direction.
This was not a laboratory like anything they had ever seen. Unlike the white walls throughout the rest of Floor Forty, these walls were a metallic gray and curved upwards like the inside of a giant snow globe. A seamless window took up at least two thirds of the wall, revealing some kind of control room where dozens of men and women in white coats were working away at Lord knows what. A few of the white coats looked up at the arrivals through the window and waved invitingly. Lance could see that they too were excited for what was to come next. Clearly these people took pride in their work here and were more than ready to show it off.
The inner lab where Lance and his retinue stood contained columns of man-sized pods that spread along each flank symmetrically from the doorway. It was not that much unlike the writing room of floor thirty nine. The pods took up the majority of the room, bar the path between the door and the large object that stood in the middle of the room.
“The Core of the Dream Lab…” Lance explained, motioning towards the object. “The hub from which a host may construct anything the mind can imagine and recreate it into the ultimate virtual experience.”
The Core shone like silver, a massive cube four times the size of an average human adult. A spherical emplacement on the ceiling dipped down into it and a series of tubes passed between the sphere and the Core emitting varying colors of light at each connecting port. The investors stared in wonderment while Lance looked on lovingly at his technological child.
“How does it work?” asked a young man in the crowd.
Rather than elaborating, Lance raised a hand in a thumbs-up to the onlookers through the window. Evan stood there now, issuing instructions even as he waved to Lance in greeting. He looked as eager to begin as Lance felt.
To Lance’s disappointment however, there was no sign of Elliott. He thought he would want to be here for the big reveal but it seemed that their little spat had dissuaded him. Lance tried not to think too much on the matter, his excitement overriding any lingering anger toward his partner.
The investors gave a sudden jump as every pod in the room simultaneously began to open with a sharp hissing sound. The inside of each pod was padded, the head protruding slightly to serve as a cushion.Lance turned to the group and began to recite the one part of the tour that he hadn’t personally prepared.
“If you could please remove any head wear, spectacles or jewellery that is worn above your jaw-line before entering a pod, we can begin.” He said. “Feel free to store your belongings on your person, it is all perfectly safe but Mister Fyres likes to add to the experience with pointless safety regulations.”
Clearly the investors had not been expecting this. They were going inside those things? Lance stifled a laugh at the conflict between excitement and caution that was waging on each of their faces. After all, how could any human stick by that non-disclosure agreement when there would be so much to tell?
Curiosity seemed to win the battle, soon everyone was occupying a pod except for Lance. Many lay down out of sight but others remained in a sitting position, uncertain of what was expected of them. Lance began approaching the Core when someone finally decided to speak out.
“Um, Mister Lawson…what do we do now?” Lance waved a hand casually back at them.
“Just lie back and relax, I’ll talk you through it all once we’re inside.”
“Inside? Inside what…” Lance was already out of earshot.
As he approached the Core, portions of the large cube rotated like sections of a rubix cube before locking into place. A section began to fold back and open, revealing a space large enough for a person to walk inside. Lance could feel eyes peering out from the pods curiously but the inside of the cube was shrouded in darkness.
“Please lie back and relax ladies and gentlemen,” He called out. “The demonstration shall begin shortly.”
A whirring sound filled the room as the pods began to close slowly. Lance did not wait for the noise to pass. He entered the darkness and the cube sealed itself behind him.
There was perfect silence within. Lights flickered on all around Lance, revealing the interior of the Core.
The walls were made up of a series of white panels that flickered randomly in a manner similar to television static. The Core itself was completely bare save the reclining chair that was bolted down in the middle of the room and a metal dome that protruded from the ceiling directly above it. Lance approached the chair and sat back with a sigh of content.
“Hello, old friend.” He murmured, caressing the arm.
A familiar voice rang out through the Core from a speaker on the dome above him.
“I wouldn’t say ‘old,’ I’m clearly much younger than you.”
“Well it hasn’t stopped me turning out the more handsome one, has it Doctor?” Lance laughed. “Has Elliott turned up yet?”
The voice of Doctor Rothman hesitated.
“Not yet… something happen with you two?” It asked. Lance answered with a snort but his smile dropped. Evan sighed down his microphone.
“He’ll show up. He won’t want to miss the main performance…Speaking of which, you ready Lance?”
“You know me Evan. Begin simulation field V1A-7, default settings. I’ll take it from there.”
“Roger that. Good luck!” Evan switched off his microphone and the chair reclined out until Lance was looking directly up at the ceiling. The lights dimmed and there was a soft hiss as gas began to fill the room. Breathing it in slowly, Lance closed his eyes and felt something surge through the chair as he drifted off into sleep.