Author: David K Scholes

“What was the cause of death?” I asked.

“Well,” replied the bot medical examiner, “they may both have died from sheer fright. Both of them experienced a huge increase in heart rate and blood pressure before their automatic personal protection systems infused them, too late, with blood pressure meds.”

I scratched my head wondering what in this large but mundane studio could have scared them so.

“Everything is smashed up,” I was thinking out loud “but some of this equipment suggests a virtual reality extreme experience. Maybe simulated alien combat or something more perverse.”

“I don’t think so,” offered the bot. I used a dreamcorder on them. The latest models can extract recent dreams hours after brain death or even full physical death.”

I shuddered at the thought. I had once briefly experimented with dreamcorders. To have your dreams recorded and then played back in 3D as if they were real life occurrences was bad enough but the thought of extracting recent dreams from a dead person revolted me.

“According to the dreamcorder visuals of both deceased,” the bot continued “they experienced the same nightmare. Above 10 on the sleep Richter scale. A nightmare that would never be included in any public movie and would be enough to kill most people.

My mind made the leap.

“It’s a repository,” I said with a degree of certainty. “An illegal dream repository.”
“Is there any other kind?” asked the bot “two dreamcorders back to back are a repository and illegal.”

I looked around at the damaged equipment; it was easy to see how I had mistaken it for an extreme virtual reality experience studio. Some of the equipment would be similar.

“There are no dreamcorders here,” I pointed out.
“Oh nothing so crude,” replied the med examiner “this material was extracted from many different dreamcorders.” The bot showed me something I’d never seen before and had not noticed among the debris. A small iridescent crystal. “This is a new form of dream storage – thousands of dreams in this small crystal.”

We called in the dream tech experts to give the place a full going over. While they were doing so the reluctant owner and his formidable escort came in on the hyper loop.

“We recovered a lot of dreams here and I do mean a lot,” said the human dream tech expert much later. “In fact hundreds of millions of dreams.”

“It’s not just any old dream repository then,” I exclaimed realizing we were on to something unprecedented. Later under some coercion, the repository owner admitted this was the principal dream repository for supply to clients who used the dark web. Getting their thrills vicariously by choosing from innocent and unknowing people’s dreams.

The two unfortunate dead people may or may not have known what was here. Perhaps they were just thrill seekers and suspected this place had something to offer them. In the end something more than they had bargained for.

I thought that was the end of it but a few days later my off-sider pulled me aside. They’ve been able to catalogue many of the dreams, actually trace them to particular people. “Yes,” I said, “so what!”
“Several of them close to 9 on the sleep Richter scale were actually yours. Some pretty weird stuff!”

“Oh!” was all I could manage. Though I was angry at the total loss of privacy.

“Don’t worry,” he replied we’ve deleted them from the evidence. “To save you any embarrassment!”

Somehow I felt like a criminal but it was my dreams that had been stolen.