Dreams R’ Us
By: Antwan Crump
“Right this way Mr. Warren”, she said in a hypnotic tone as her high heels clicked on the tile. The walls were bright white, leading into the floor – which were just a tad dingier -for distinction. Most patrons would pass by without noticing, but Eddie was too nervous not to archive every detail of this uncomfortable experience.
“Almost there, Sir. ” He knew that her smile was supposed to be disarming, he followed anxiously – thinking, “I should just ask her out for coffee. But everyone probably does”. Completing his thought his attention is refocused on the nurse – who’s led him to an open door.
Directing him to sit, she asks “Can you fill this out for me hun?”, handing him a clipboard. Eddie smiles and nods.
Before leaving she kisses him on the forehead, concluding, ” Maybe when you come back, we can go out for coffee”. The nurse leaves. Embarrassed, Eddie drops his head below his shoulders. Rethinking his decision, his thoughts are distracted at the sound of the door slamming shut.
“Mr. Warren”, he heard in a slurred and uncaring voice. A man sits down beside him and extends his hand. “I’m doctor Nesbit. I’ll be the primary physician overseeing your departure.” Eddie lifts his head and forces a smile.
Dr. Nesbit takes the clipboard from Eddie’s limp hand, “You know, Eddie, you shouldn’t be so glum. Young men like you have plenty to celebrate.”
Looking at the sheet that Eddie’s filled out, Dr. Nesbit continues, “It’s uh, how you get crow’s feet. Jesus! Three tours in the Middle East. Good god man, in this international climate. You, especially shouldn’t be down – be happy that you’re alive, and surprisingly all in one piece”.
Eddie’s face goes pale while he digests the moment. Dr. Nesbit places the clipboard on his desk. Removing the flashlight from his lab coat – he walks over to check Eddie’s vitals. “Though I suppose your mental state could be better.”
He remains silent while Dr. Nesbit takes record of his current blood pressure and heart rate. In an attempt to break the silence Nesbit asks, “So tell me, Eddie – why are you here?”
Eddie thinks for a moment before responding ” I’m here because I need to make a change. I’ve been out for almost a year – I just can’t seem to hack it in real life. I need.(Eddie pauses) .. To recharge. To relax. To be a person again, ya’ know?”
“Well, have you tried therapy?” Nesbit says with sarcasm, smugly glancing over the rim of his glasses.
“I’ve tried everything. I don’t trust myself anymore. I feel like I’m constantly on the brink of insanity. No one understands. I don’t think that anyone wants to. I just want to to be okay, so that I can get on with my life.” Eddie looks into Nesbit’s eyes – as his own begin to swell with tears. ” Is that so much to ask?” he concludes.
Nesbit smiles. “Alright Mr. Warren, one last question.”
“Yea?” Eddie mutters.
“Where would you like to go?”
Eddie is placed on a gurney and pushed down the halls toward the VR sector of the facility. He tries to control his rapid breathing, as his mounting anxiety once again initiates second thoughts. Noticing this, a nurse injects his I.V. with a mild dose of morphine to calm him – during this time she takes the opportunity to fulfill her requirement of informing him about the procedure.
“The VR -1000 is our brand new, top of the line cerebral relocation device. By accessing the deepest recesses of your sub-conscience, we’re able to send you anywhere and anyplace – whether it’s of your own memories or even your own creation.” She smiles creepily as they turn into Eddie’s reserved room.
Eddie’s attention is half focused as they approach the mechanism and prepare to connect him to it. The nurse continues-
“Now it’s very important that you remain calm during the transitional process. We understand that it may be a bit of a shock to the system – but the more you fight it, the rougher it will be to successfully relocate you. Remember, we will be monitoring you for the entire time – so there’s no need to fight, just let yourself go. Okay, sweetie?”
The sedative now in full effect, Eddie smiles and hums a nursery rhyme. Watching amused, Dr. Nesbit says “He’s ready”.
The assistants strap Eddie onto the gurney and place it in the upright position. Approving his vitals for the final time. They place the VR- goggles onto Eddie and inject him with the remainder of the sedative. His hums lower, struggling at first he gives in, falls silent, then asleep.
“The patient’s all clear, Sir”
“Thank you, gentlemen. That’ll be all.” The assistants leave -the nurse enters.
“So.. Where’s he going?” she asks.
“When our hero awakes, it’ll be on the sunny beaches of Bermuda. That is of course – unless he lied to me. In which case, let him play god.”
The two share a laugh, as they initiate the VR-1000 program.
A voice descends, echoing within the spacey room, as Eddie acclimates himself to the serene nothingness.
“Welcome to the VR-1000. Please give us a moment while we transfer you to your pre-determined destination.”
‘Wait!” Eddie screams. “What if I change my mind?”
The voice responds “You’re pre-determined destination could not be found. Please, tell me where you would like to go.”
“Could you maybe hold off on that? I think I’m.”. Eddie’s head pounds -he struggles through the transition between realities. The room is distorted by rippling white and black lines. Eddie falls to the ground and into the fetal position. Gripping his head, he begs “Please! Make it stop!”
Eddie’s breathing slows, the pulsing head pains do as well – until they’re gone. “What the hell was that?” he shouts – picking himself up from the ground.
“You were going into a state of shock. I was forced to administer a depressant. The transition has been completed successfully. Now, where would you like to go?”
“Retrieving location. Home.”
The room turns bright white, then fades to black and is replaced by a desert scene. Eddie examines his surroundings – realizing where he is after several moments of panicked surveillance. Just as he’s about to scream for his VR support, he hears a voice shout.
No, Eddie thinks to himself as he walks forward with caution. As the distance closes, he picks up speed -racing toward the waving child, he wipes tears from his eyes.
He picks up the child. The two weep in elation. As Eddie swings him around in his arms -overjoyed. Eddie feels a hand on his shoulder. He turns to see a gorgeous young woman, she kisses him gently on the lips. The child screams,
“What do you think he sees doc?”
Taking notes on his clipboard, Dr. Nesbit responds “Well son, look at this.” Dr. Nesbit points out the abnormal amount of medication used to keep Eddie sedated. “This is a highly concentrated depressive compound. With it, the patient is allowed full consciousness, while their body remains paralyzed.”
His assistant stares blankly- confused. Nesbit continues, “You know when you first wake up, sometimes it takes a minute for your mind to get your body to move? Same concept.”
“So then what’s the problem?” the assistant asks.
“Well… he’s about a quarter of a bag ahead of schedule. Which means he likely fought the transition. Our boy here may as well be on a roller-coaster with no brakes. At least until the dose has made its’ way through his system.”
Nesbit walks to the door. “Come on young man, we’ve got a dozen others to attend to.”
“But what about him?” The assistant says as the two exit.
“Hey, he signed the waiver. Let’s just hope his subconscious is kinder to him than his awoken mind. Maybe if we’re lucky he’ll have some clandestine-type of orgy and’ll let us in on the deets”. Nesbit jokes -laughing to himself, as they enter the neighboring patient’s room.
The woman and child fade into nothingness. Mountains rise from the sand. Eddie has no time react before raging oceans catapult themselves over the mountains and make their way toward him. Eddie drops to his knees and says the Lord’s Prayer. He is crushed by the incoming waves. Everything goes black. The VR shuts off.
Outside of the room Eddie’s body convulses violently. The straps holding his him in place snap -his limp form collapses onto the ground.
Hearing the alert -Dr. Nesbit rushes into the room, to see Eddie’s body lying in a puddle of water. Taken aback by the sight and unable to decipher what had happened, he calls the police.
As he speaks with the officers, a small light flees from Eddie’s goggles, through the puddle of water, and out of the facility.