“Nothing is impossible in the field of the dreamer.” – Elliott Fyres, V-Ware seminar of 2039.
Lance opened his eyes but there was no change to his vision. His eyes strained for a moment, trying to see through the shroud of darkness around him. He felt like he was standing upright but there was no sensation to prove otherwise when he tried to wiggle his toes towards the floor. As uncomfortable as it was, it signaled to Lance that he was exactly where he needed to be.
The first time Lance had come here, he had been left frightened and disoriented by the nothingness, by the brief loss of his senses. Uncharacteristically, he’d assumed that the experiment was a failure and that he had just trapped himself inside a motionless body, forever alone with nothing but his thoughts. How wrong he had been.
These days, he found this brief moment of solitude a comfort. There was no sense of time here and as a result, no sense of urgency unless he indulged it himself. As he basked in the silence that was so rarely found in a city like Ulysses, his eyes relaxed and an opening in the darkness began to glow dimly up ahead.
Lance didn’t need to step forward, the light washed over him, briefly blinding him and sensation rushed back into his body. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he wiggled his toes once more and felt grass under his feet; this was no longer Floor Forty.
He looked out onto a lush green valley from the top of a large hill, its’ tall grass decorated with an assortment of flora that had been left seemingly untouched by civilization. In the distance, he could see a large waterfall cascading down from the top of a small range of mountains. The base of the waterfall oozed out the cleanest water Lance had ever seen into a riverbed which glowed a beautiful transparent blue, reflecting the cloudless skies above. Lance forced his jaw closed; he had been here many times before but the sight always left him briefly dumbfounded. In the industrial world of today, to call it a rare sight was an understatement.
He turned to observe his closer surroundings. Encircled around him lay the tour group, some of which were now stirring from sleep. One by one, they began to sit up in a daze while others lay looking up at the sunlit morning skies, uncomprehending.
Miss Yale was the first to stand. She walked to the edge of the hill to watch two hummingbirds in flight. She said nothing but small noises of mixed awe and delight escaped her as they made extraordinary dives through the flowerbeds and rose just as magnificently, playfully pursuing each other.
“Where…where are we?” came an anxious voice from the group. The break in the silence caught the attention of the others and their heads turned in unison towards Lance.
“I welcome you all to your first experience inside the world of dreams…” Lance replied. “…in this case, my dream.”
It took great effort not to laugh at their disbelieving stares. Lance tucked his hands in his pockets, admiring his own work with pride as he spoke.
“How many times have you had a dream you wished you could have again?” Lance asked. “How many times have you wanted to remember a dream, but couldn’t? With the Dream Lab, it has become possible to immerse ourselves like never before in the World of Dreams and explore it however we desire…Create with it.”
The power of the statement seemed lost on them. Questions began to echo throughout the group.
“Is this real?” “Where the hell are we?” “How did we get here?” Lance finally allowed himself a small chuckle before answering, much to the bewilderment of the group.
“You are all currently asleep in the IDT tower as we speak. The Dream Lab has simply connected your subconscious minds and allowed you to partake in a single shared dream together…but what’s reality without the pursuit of dreams? Can you really say this feels any less real to you?”
Some of group were beginning to understand while others shifted uncomfortably. Ms Gunter, on the other hand, stepped forward with an expression of outrage.
“Mister Lawson, I have no interest in spending another second being lied to!” She said, pointing her finger at him in challenge. “This is clearly just a large V-Ware simulation room that you are attempting to trick us with! If you think you can fool me talking about dreams and other nonsense you will have to try harder than that!” Others in the groups seemed to fall in behind Ms Gunter, muttering their agreement.
Lance arched an eyebrow at her, withdrawing his hands from his pockets.
“Very well, Ms Gunter…but you should be aware that the rules of this world are entirely dependent on my will. If I wish it then it is so…”
Lance clicked his fingers and felt his feet rise from the ground. Gasps rang out among the group as he began to levitate before their eyes.
“…and who among you hasn’t ever wished to fly?”
The investors began to shout and scream as they too began to rise into the air. Some tried to cling to the ground or flailed in panic…yet Miss Yale was not the only one among them smiling now.
“The Dream Lab wasn’t just created so we could live our dreams, but share them!” Lance shouted over the noises of panic. “You’ve been invited here because you are the regarded as the most successful dreamers today’s world has ever seen! Well, now it’s time to prove it! Come fly with me!”
With his laugh echoing through the valley, Lance soared upwards into the sky. The laws of science didn’t apply the same way in this world. There was no resistance as he flew faster, the air didn’t feel thinner as he rose higher.
He looked down and could barely see the ant-sized group below him who were still floating aimlessly. Lance arced around and descended with his arms outstretched, willing gravity to once again play its’ part.
His descent was rapid and he could hear shrieks of horror from the group as he approached the ground. He surged forward horizontally at the last second and shot off down the valley, whooping with joy.
He flew low, his hand brushing the lush green foliage while he circled back to observe the others. Gradually they were beginning to get the hang of it. What they were willing to try gave Lance an insight into each of their individual personalities.
They had tested the rules of this world cautiously but many of them were now flying higher, cheering and screaming with exhilaration. Others weaved through the trees or circled the mountains, exploring their surroundings at a leisurely pace. The older gentleman from before seemed to be an instant natural, doing loop de loops and dangerous dives on par with Lance’s own experience of the Dream Lab. The sternness and frustration he had taken out on Walter Velmont back in the conference room was forgotten and he was now grinning wildly, wide-eyed like a child at Christmas. Lance had a sneaking suspicion that he had imagined flying many times in the dreams of his youth.
Never as vividly as this I expect.
Lance raised his hands and clapped them twice. A deep sound rang out through the entire valley like a large gong. Even those who had flown far into the distance turned their heads towards him.
“Everyone gather up!” Lance called out. His guests were happy to oblige, eager for the next part of the show. As they formed up, Lance seated himself on a rock protruding from the top of the waterfall while the others floated around him.
“So, what do you think?” He asked.
A string of voices called out excitedly at once. Any skepticism they felt before had been completely lost to them now. Words like “amazing,” “immersive,” and “impossible” were all they had to say for it now.
To Lance, they were all wrong answers. To their surprise, he shook his head in disappointment.
“This may seem impossible to you but to me, this is just a sample of nature to be found in the real world.” He said, stretching an arm out across the beautiful expanse of land they had just explored. “This does not display the true power of the Dream Lab. I think it’s time we went a little deeper.”
“There’s more?” breathed Ms Günter.
“Infinitely more…” Lance replied, pointing a finger down the valley that was followed by every head around him.
A rumbling sound grew louder in the distance and the ground began to shake. The terrain started to twist, crack and merge in ways the eye could not explain. The cracks carved out an island which began to rise up from the valley until it was floating alone in the sky. Even as it rose, it continued to shape itself, taking new form with each passing second.
Lance stepped off the edge of the waterfall and began to fly towards the island. He could sense the others following close behind and turned to find them slowly forming a V formation. The island was still a good distance away, it was time for Lance to show exactly what the Dream Lab was capable of. He dug through the depths of his imagination and weaved his will where he pleased.
Below them a herd of large white-furred creatures formed seemingly from nothing. They were shaped like large geckos but their legs galloped like horses. They ran together in a pack without a care even as the ground below them shook and reformed.
Grass turned into snow, trees shed their leaves and instantly grew new ones in unnatural colors like they had been painted. The orchids that filled the valley curled up before rising all at once as starlings. The small birds scattered in every direction before finally gathering as a large flock that danced around the group. They shone brightly in the glow of the sun, alternating their colors like Christmas lights whenever they changed formations.
Far on the right side of the group, a hilltop rose higher to form a great mountain formation rising high into the clouds that were gathering above. The mountains shook and three colossal stone figures climbed out from the cliff side. They waved to the group sluggishly before marching in single file in the opposite direction like members of an ancient tribe.
“My God! How…How is all this possible Mister Lawson?” called a voice from behind Lance. Before he could answer, he heard Miss Yale at his side.
“The Dream Lab taps into the will of the host’s dreams and creates them as a reality!” She replied joyfully. Lance turned to look at her and she gave a small look of shame. Clearly she thought she was intruding upon his tour. “At least…that is the thesis!”
“You’re exactly correct Miss Yale! To sum it up, if I can imagine it then it can exist in this world!”
There was a short silence as the group watched the titans take each other’s hands as they stepped into an endless body of water and begin to cross it together as one.
“Goodness…you truly have a beautiful mind, Mister Lawson…” Said the small voice behind him in appreciation.
Finally, the group reached the edge of the floating island. A beach coast formed up further in and water seeped from the ground, creating the edges of an ocean around the edges. Children played in the water, seemingly fearless of the edges of their new world where the water cascaded back down into the valley below.
The starlings raced ahead of the group and seemed to merge together, fusing into the shape of a dragon which soared directly over the investors. A giant wing glided close by, causing a ripple of screams and startled shouts.
Lance quelled those nerves by making the dragon explode into a series of fireworks. The children below looked up with wide eyes, pointing and laughing in wonder.
“It’s easy to forget that you are simply sharing the experience of a dream.” Lance called out. “Don’t be concerned, there’s nothing that can harm you here.”
That was a half truth at least. Physical pain couldn’t be exerted on someone in the world of dreams but there were, of course, other ways to damage a human being. It mattered little, none of those ways were anything Lance would ever dream of using here.
The group descended on a deserted part of the beach as the sun began to set. It had seemed like midday just moments before but time acted differently here. They sat together silently for a time on the crystal sands while they watched the horizon slowly turn a comforting shade of orange. Despite the encroaching darkness, the mood of the group had lightened considerably since their first arrival on Floor Forty.
“This is all quite incredible Mister Lawson, but what can you do with it?” asked a gruff voice from the group. It was the old flyboy from before. Lance considered the question for a moment.
“What’s your name sir?” Lance asked. “I’m afraid I was unable to get acquainted with you all the beginning of today’s event, my apologies.”
The old chap leaned over, extending a hand in greeting.
“Seamus Conlin, CEO of Cyclone Entertainment.” He announced proudly as Lance returned the handshake. Lance recognized the title.
“Cyclone… That’s a Film Studio isn’t it?”
“It’s the Film Studio in today’s age Mister Lawson.” Seamus replied with a coy smile. Lance laughed, knowing full well that another Film Studio rep was among the group and was now likely scowling to himself over their exchange.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mister Conlin,” Lance said with a grin. “That was some damn good flying you pulled off back there…” The grin was warmly returned and Lance decided to himself that he liked this old geezer.
“Well to answer your question…the uses available are why we have you here today, Mister Conlin. The technology is still new and the full capabilities are yet to be tested but you can all see for yourself that there is unfounded potential here.”
As if to show off further, Lance used his will once more and the sand turned a shimmering blue, lighting up the entire coastline. It glimmered off the surface of the water, reflecting shapes with each falling wave.
“What we do know is that ‘The Dream Lab’ is the next-generation in virtual entertainment…Each experience can be recorded and implemented as a new V-Ware product or edited for holofilm use, completely streamlining the filming process…”
Seamus wasn’t the only one licking his lips at that prospect.
“…and it doesn’t end there! We believe with the right commissions we can create fully immersive training simulations for professionals in any environment. Surgeons, pilots, even engineers can gain hands-on experience completely risk-free…”
“Are you saying there aren’t any risks Mister Lawson?” asked Seamus.
“I wouldn’t say that.” Lance replied. “Dreams more often than not are chaotic and out of a dreamer’s control. For a host such as myself to enter the Dream Lab’s Core can be extremely dangerous if unprepared…”
The group exchanged nervous glances but Lance continued on. Best they know the dangers now.
“To have both dreams and nightmares amplified to the point you can feel it? It can be even worse for those who try to enter such a dream. There is no way for them to understand the rules of worlds like that. IDT takes these risks very seriously. As a result, the Core of the Dream Lab will always be limited to a very select few members of trained individuals.
Unfortunately, this also hinders our progress. We take all commissions into serious consideration but do not have the manpower or resources to take on more than five or six commissions per month due to a lack of fully-trained lucid dreamers.”
“‘Lucid dreamers?’” Small frowns queried the term.
“Lucid dreamers have a natural control over their dreams but it takes training to have perfect control over dreams like what you have witnessed today.” Lance explained. “Even then, it takes time to construct a dream via commission as it is dictated by the ideas of others. Controlling your own dream is one thing, creating the dream of someone else is quite another.”
The group murmured in assent. They could never fully fathom the complexity of such a task but they seemed satisfied with what he offered. It was widely known that Imminent Dreamer Technologies had heralded in an age of great scientific discovery but even they had barely scratched the surface of what this new technology could mean for the world.
“The Dream Lab changes the way we write stories, the way we learn. It allows for people to see the worlds they’ve envisioned in their minds up close. The ideas in our minds can finally be unleashed to their full potential for the whole world to see.” Lance concluded.
The silence returned as the group mulled this over in their heads. Lance stood and stepped forward, turning to the group.
“We have the technology to make that happen. It’s here, right before your eyes. We’ve taken the largest step but with your investments, we can make this a reality for the whole world.”
As he spoke, a giant blue whale leaped out of the ocean into the air and shattered into what seemed like millions more of the colored starlings from before. With the darkness of night slowly approaching, they glowed brighter now, flying in every direction trailing streaks of light behind them and for a moment they lit up the sky above Lance.
“With your help, we can finally make dreams come to life.”
A small ripple of applause grew in a crescendo among the investors. Lance gave a small smile despite the urge to fist the air in glory.
We’ve got them right where we want them. We did it Elliott!
Lance raised his hands to silence the applause.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the presentation! If you would like to negotiate an investment today or have any more questions regarding the Dream Lab, my partner Elliott Fyres will be awaiting us outside the Lab…but first, I think it’s time we woke up.”
With one more click of his fingers, the lights above them went out.