Dream Forward, A Science Fiction Story

November 9, 2009

Dream Forward, by Adrian Perez

Vivid images of the beige corridor assembled into a cohesive map. Alex walked down the corridor, the image of it updating as people walked around it with omni-cams. Alex turned his people filter on, and he was left alone in the hallway.

Alex turned on his Dream Recorder. It was a little black box attached to the right side of his neck. Little red indicators grew bright in his vision as he walked around the hallway trying to get a match for the dream. He turned to the heavy wooden door of Professor Abe’s office, and the Dream Recorder clicked into place. The red indicators switched off.

The Dream Recorder arrested his normal physical movement and started to drive his focus through the virtual simulation of the teacher offices. Alex’s feet parted from the ground and he started to drift down the hallway toward the basement stairs.

Alex said to himself, “Oh yeah! I went to the basement.”

The Dream Recorder on the side of his neck kept matching the spatial orientation it detected in Alex’s dream. It matched his virtual position in this space to dream memories corresponding to emotional responses he was having now. It was a lot like a Court Recorder, but with key components for recording memories of dreams.

He got to the stairs of the basement and fear welled up in his throat. He gripped the hand rail, but he was filtering tactile sensation. Nothing happened and he wondered if the Dream Recorder had inadequate data.

“Doctor Basil,” he asked, “What should I do? I’m not moving anywhere.”

“What are you doing, how far did you get?” Basil asked.

“I’m at the stairs and I’m just leaning against the rail. Everything looks fine. And I’m getting scared for no obvious reason,” Alex described.

The Doctor suggested, “Try turning off your tactile filter.”

He adjusted filters. Suddenly the Dream Recorder started playing forward again and he was floating down the stairs. The fear subsided and welled up again as he traveled. Then he was on a crude rendition of the beach in Santa Cruz. Details started to work into the sketch of what he was seeing, turning it into a cohesive real-life environment.

He sat on the yellow sand. Greenish waves crashed on the beach. His mother was suddenly beside him, sunburnt and sweaty. She reclined on a purple beach towel and talked to Alex about Math.

It was too overwhelming. Alex reached for the switch to turn off the simulation. He could feel Doctor Basil gently swat his hand away from the switch.

Alex sat and cried a little, while he looked at his mother. Then Alex remembered what Doctor Basil said about remembering who you are. And that the past is a tool we have evolved to survive and prosper. Pain still racked his chest.

Unexpectedly, he floated back to the University offices and arrived immediately at his mother’s office. He reached for the door handle and the Dream Recorder turned off as its dream data ran out.

Alex took the Dream Recorder nodes off his forehead. He was back in Doctor Basil’s office. The wood veneer of the furniture darkened the room, making it welcoming and natural. Alex smiled, and sighed one of the longest sighs of his life.

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