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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Sci-fi · #536637
Dreams are stolen in many ways.

"Mr. Hall?"

"Good morning, Alicen. Scotty take your seat please. Thomas...".

"Mr. Hall?"

"Just a moment Alicen. Thomas pick up your coat and hang it in the back of the class room."

"Mr. Hall I don't feel good this morning."

Kneeling to speak quietly with the child Mr. Hall affected concern, "What's wrong Alicen?"

"I..I have another headache, Mr. Hall, and it hurts real bad."

"And did you have another nightmare last night?"

"Yes sir, just like you said I would."

"Now Alicen, what I said was, sometimes nightmares can happen afterwards. Now, honey it hurts me to see you worried and in pain like this so, you just go on back to my office, shut the door and lay down. I'll be back there in a few minutes and take that old headache away, ok?"

Squeezing her little blue eyes tightly shut Alicen pleaded, "But I'm scared Mr. Hall. I feel bad all the time now."

"It'll be OK honey. I promise it won't hurt this time. Go on back and I'll be there in just a minute."

The child walked slowly to the back of the class room with her head and eyes cast downward. The other children in the classroom self-consciously busied themselves with signing on to their LST's and downloading lesson plans for the day. Most all of them had been to Mr. Hall's office before.

Mr. Hall walked to his computer terminal at the front of the class and casually checked his master student control screen and was satisfied to find all the students were signing on and down-loading work assignments. He looked up and scanned the classroom. Each of the children had their ear phones in and all were oriented to their Learning Station Terminals. Now he would be able to finish up with Alicen in the back room without interruption. He shivered with a bit of excitement at the thought of finishing up a project and moving on to another. Alicen's headaches indicated it was time to move on. All of the children that had visited his back office had had the nightmares, but once a child started getting headaches it wasn't long before they caved in and broke their promise of not telling. He walked slowly to the back of the classroom briefly calculating how much he would profit from this sale of recordings. Alicen lay stretched out on the couch and appeared to have fallen asleep. Mr. Hall, again, felt that familiar thrill run up his spine as he briefly watched the child before quietly closing the door.

The intercom crackled, "Mr. Hall, please come to the administration office." Frowning at the interruption he pressed the transmit button on his wrist video voice communicator. "I'll be there in about thirty minutes."

The Assistant Administrator's face appeared on the VVC. "Mr. Hall this can't wait 30 minutes. Your presence is needed immediately. Ms. Johnson has been notified and will monitor and assist your class from her terminal across the hallway." The VVC went blank.

Richard Hall knocked on the door of the Administrator's office. The door was opened immediately by an average sized attractive woman he had never met before. She wore a light-weight, lead-gray parka, a dark blue turtle-neck shirt and matching slacks. A bit surprised Richard queried, "The Administrator asked me to report to his office. Is he in?"

"He stepped out for just a moment, please come in", the woman said.

Hesitantly, he stepped into the office and turned to shut the door behind him. Suddenly someone roughly grabbed him by the collar from behind, pushed him hard against the wall and ordered, "Raise your arms against the wall Richard and spread your legs like the good boy you are.". The woman grabbed his right wrist with an iron grip as the person behind him felt of his body and clothing. When finished they clicked wrist restraints on him. All of this happened so fast he had no time to organize a protest or ask a question.

"Richard Hall, it's so good to finally make your acquaintance in person. I'm Chief Special Agent Willie Ocher and this is Special Agent Malice. We are with the United States Attorney General's Office of Crimes Against Children." He presented his badge and credentials for Richard to view. "We've been watching you for quite awhile Richard, and I am really pleased to inform you that you are under arrest for violating United States Code 3-536, sections 19, 20, and 21 for, 'Entering the minds of children for the express purpose of stealing their dreams, willfully, and with criminal intent to sell'. Do you understand the charges against you Richard? No answer? Good, then I'll take your lack of response to mean you do understand that you have been caught. Special Agents Malice and Shapperstyn will escort you out of the building and transport you to the regional federal facility in Paintsville where you will contact your attorney or one will be appointed to you." Richard stared at the floor and didn't reply.

"Malice, as soon as you all are out of the building Mirandize him before you put him in the car."

"No problem Chief, aren't you coming with us?" Malice replied.

"Oh, I'll be along as soon as the Tech-Team finishes up in his class room, and I debrief the Administrator."

Malice pushed Richard ahead of her and out of the Administrator's Office door holding him by his restrained wrists. Agent Shapperstyn met them just outside the door and followed.

Chief Ocher checked on the progress of his team of investigators in the class room using his wrist VVC and found they would need at least another hour to wrap up. Richard Hall had been using a powerful Farseer 6000, state of the art system, to take dreams from his students; debugging that piece in order to preserve the stolen property was very sensitive work. The door abruptly opened and a short middle aged man dressed in a light brown suit entered. His hair was an extra dark black indicating some dye being used to hide something. He was trim and athletic appearing for his age and his face was smooth as a baby's.

"Good morning Mr. Ocher," the two men shook hands, "I'm Kurt Stevens, Administrator of Salt Creek Elementary and am very pleased to finally meet you." Mr Stevens spoke fast with a deep southern accent. "We have had some growing concerns about the decline of academic performance in Mr. Hall's class for some time now, but we never ever imagined he was involved in something as despicable as this. How did you all discover these activities of his?"

"Richard's name first came to us as a link to a case we worked up in Chicago about two years ago. It was the first investigation and arrest for our office, or any office for that matter, involving the recording and black marketing of children's dreams.”

Shaking his head Mr. Stevens nearly whispered, “This is all so unbelievable. How can people do this? The technology sounds straight out of a science fiction novel.”

“Actually the technology goes back around twenty years ago. It was around the time when the Bush administration's war against terrorism had taken a severe losing turn."

"That far back?"

"Oh yeah, It was just a little more than a year after the Trade Towers had been destroyed up in New York City.”

“But why develop something like this? I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense."

“Well as we now understand it our government was holding over a thousand terrorists down in Guantanamo. They couldn't get any of them to talk about what Osama Bin Laden's plans were or where he might be hiding out. In the meantime there was a little classified CIA research program that popped up and said they could record the dreams of the prisoners and uncover all the stuff that they wouldn’t talk about. Sort of a cyber-space truth serum I guess. Anyway, desperate to try anything, they began some select testing of the technology and now twenty years later we have this mess. People are not only taking dreams for children, but they have found out how to input those dreams into other children.”

“And what is the advantage of this, Sir? Why is this something people will pay for?

“Programming for success Mr. Stevens. I would have thought that with learning being your profession, you would have figured this one out by now.”

“Oh,…oh my god,” nearly whispering again Mr. Stevens sat back in his chair, “so you are saying..”

“Exactly. People become what they dream Mr. Stevens. The perpetrators, or Chicken-Hawks* like Richard Hall, are sort of like poaching miners, or better yet diamond miners, digging into property they don't own. They go mining for those rare gem-children who for some reason or other happen to have strong dreams of accomplishment. Research, as you well know, shows indisputably strong correlations between people becoming what they dream or fantasize themselves doing when they grow up, and a fantasy, after all, is nothing more than a day-dream.”

“So who is actually buying the dreams? What happens to the children they were taken from? Are my students damaged in some way permanently? Oh my lord, I'll be sued. Their parents will take everything I own."

“Whoa Mr. Stevens. Get a hold of yourself. These kids will be just fine in time. They’re going to be a bit slower in their mental growth for a year or two, but they'll eventually grow stronger. The dreams that have been taken from them are gone, but they will dream other dreams. The real danger to them was if we had not stopped Richard when we did. If he had kept on subjecting the children to the taping process we could have some really messed up kids. Prolonged invasive taping has been shown to destroy some brain cells but more importantly it damages synaptic nerve connections that unlike other cells in the body nerves do not repair themselves. But I think we got him early enough before any real permanent damage happened.”

“Mr. Ocher, the people who buy these dreams, they are doing it for their children?”

“Exactly. And we are talking filthy rich folks who will stop at nothing to make sure they produce and rear super human children.”

“And there’s no risk to their children by encoding stolen dreams?”

“Nope. None that has ever been found.”

“Will you give our children their dreams back? I mean, after the evidence is no longer needed by the prosecution?”

“No. I'm afraid that’s been attempted several times without any success at all, so no; we’re not going down that road again.”


“We don’t know why, but every time we have attempted to return stolen dreams to the child we have wound up with a variety of mental illnesses. Everything from dissassociative personality disorders to severe clinical depression, and none of those cases have ever been repaired. No, we can’t afford to go that way ever again. Here's the bottom line Mr. Stevens, and this is what we will tell the parents, the children will never miss the dreams that have been taken. They will continue to grow and develop normally. In time their brains will repair themselves, and they will have other dreams.”

“Mr. Ocher, I don’t know what to say. This is all such a horrible nightmare.”

“Well said. Now if you'll excuse me I need to check on my team's progress down in the classroom.”

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