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Author Topic: Dream Lab  (Read 3137 times)

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Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Dream Lab
« on: July 01, 2015, 10:24:32 AM »
« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 09:40:44 PM by MisterSherbertLemon »

Offline legomaestro

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2015, 01:05:17 PM »
Are you planning on entering this into the Anthology or is it your own creation?

In any case that's quite some interesting concept there, and the words have been pretty well written for a freewriting escapade. That shows experience in writing. Good stuff

It's interesting that this is essentially a 1 week long serial now. Hopefully ther'll be a conclusion by the last day. Could be something interesting to look into, making freewritten serials occasionally then fixing them up after.

For now I'm more interested in the tech than the characters. Looking forward to what exactly happens exactly in the Dream Lab.

Nice work there.

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2015, 01:22:37 PM »
It's my own creation, I've got a vague idea on what goes on within the Dream Lab for the next entry but at present I'm just taking it as it comes.

Depending on how it turns out by the last day I may expand on it but at present I'm hoping I can bring about a conclusion to make it a short story. The pacing so far may make that tough though and I don't want to turn the last days into a rush job so just going to see what happens. :)

Thanks for the kind words, I wouldn't say I'm experienced simply because I have never completed an original project. Trying to break that habit was one of the motivations that led me to join MR. It's been very refreshing for inspiring more effort in my work so far so thank you to the community for that. 

Offline legomaestro

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2015, 02:01:17 PM »
Haha, it's appreciated but thank yourself. I hated that feeling of having unfinished projects too and am still working out the kinks so we're on the same pilgrimage

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2015, 02:11:25 PM »
So I just realized what the Anthology section of the forum is for so decided that if I reach a conclusion within 20 pages I'll enter it for the Anthology. If not, then I'll continue it as a project of my own. The joys of being a newbie. xD

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2015, 03:28:55 PM »
Day Four complete, getting my groove on a little better after a tough day yesterday :D

Offline legomaestro

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2015, 06:24:42 AM »
Man, finally finished reading the story and I must say I quite loved the concept. The reveal at the end was excepted but you put up some great points there that made me want such dream technology to exist. I incidentally co wrote a story with someone (who has dropped off the face of the earth) and it's reall great to see the contrasts between the ideas.

I can't say I read this story with any particular interest in grammar and spelling and the likes. I just wanted to see the ideas and the character interactions so I have no true comments on that front. I can say that the writing flowed well and the characters were easy to place. As it is it already feels like a complete short story. Many props on that front.

Did you have more on the fifth day? Or?

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2015, 07:21:26 AM »
Thanks man, I'm thinking of changing it a little as the whole "Seamus, I want you to play hero" part became a bit pointless in the end and just change it to a demonstration of how characters can be dreamed up to play their parts while hinting at the possibility of interaction from real people within the dream.

I have a weird habit for varying my grammar between British and American English but as long as I manage to portray interesting characters and concepts I'm happy. :D

I have more coming and a plan has formed for how the story will play out from here but I'm taking a break from Dream Lab and am currently writing script for Dracone, my main project while practicing my drawing in hopes of posting up a couple manga chapter drafts.

But thank you big time for the feedback!  ;D 

Offline legomaestro

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2015, 07:26:25 AM »
Yeah there were british and american moments in there.

That's always good. Writers should definitely learn to at least draw story boards if they want to get their ideas across easier.

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2015, 07:31:37 AM »
I'm just too damn multicultural it seems, if you take every word in italics throughout the story, it can become an anagram for "Buy everything I write" in Spanish.  :confused:

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2016, 08:49:49 AM »
Dream Lab: Chapter One
Chapter One

“The most powerful and beautiful of worlds - and the most terrifying – are born within our dreams. Why should they all stay there?” – Edgar Gehring, Professor at the Academy of Ulysses.

"Evan..." Elene nudged the shoulder she’d been using as a pillow with the side of her face.
The room was humid from the summer heat that poured through the open window. It urged her to sleep on but she persevered. 
“Evannnn, you snoozed the alarm." She whined.
"Hrrmmwad..." The man murmured.
"You can't be late...Get up." No response this time, save his slow steady breaths.
She raised her hand to caress his chest and he began to stir. Her light strokes began to trail downwards and were met with small appreciative noises, encouraging her.
Expectations were shot down by a sharp poke to his ribcage.
Evan jerked with a spasm and a sharp yelp. He rolled away from her and she shifted her way to the centre of the bed, smiling to herself.
Works every time...

Evan sat up with a groan, holding a hand to his side.
"Urgh...” He groaned. “I'll get you for that kiddo..." Resting his elbows on his thighs he leaned forward, gathering his will to stand.
His eyes resisted the bright glow that shone through the skylight above. He turned to the bed, watching Elene as she slept.
Lucky woman... Despite himself he smiled. His cruel awakening didn’t make him feel any less the lucky one.
Evan reached for the bedside table, closing his hands around a thin pair of designer glasses. As his vision cleared, his eyes flickered to the clock beside him.
"Crap!”
Elene gave a small start at his outburst but Evan didn’t notice as he sprung off the bed and into action.
He scooped up a used white shirt from the floor, sniffed it then threw it over his shoulders. He grabbed a can of deodorant, spraying himself before buttoning up. 
Next was a pair of pressed work trousers, followed by a fight with a pair of damp socks which received the same deodorant treatment.
Professionalism at its’ finest... Slipping on his shoes, Evan checked himself in the mirror.
Tousling with his long blond hair, he began to look less like he’d been dragged from his bed. He grabbed his keys from the dashboard and checked the clock before taking one final glance in the mirror.
He still looked like *censored* but his work coat would cover most of that up.
“Eh. You’ll do.” He shrugged before dashing out the door. 

Thousands had gathered in the streets of the Northlight District, home to everything ‘Tech’ here in the City of Ulysses. Roads were separated from the pedestrian walkways by hastily erected barricades and a sparse line of security guards stood at the ready behind them. Only those working within the district were authorized to pass through.
It all seemed strangely hostile to Evan. He took out his work identification for the sour-faced guard blocking his way.
“Doctor Evan Rothman, ID 02819
Imminent Dreamer Technologies
Chief of Virtual Science Analysis”

“‘Virtual Science?’ What does that even mean?” muttered the guard, hovering over the I.D card with a handheld scanner.
Evan couldn’t tell if the guard was muttering to himself or asking a genuine question so opted to say nothing. The scanner ‘beeped’ and the guard motioned for him to move along.
Evan passed through and began to follow the road in the direction the crowds were moving.
It was clear to anyone where they were all heading after all.

The IDT tower was no mere office building; it was a technological wonder. While not the tallest building in the world it was certainly the most provocative Evan had ever seen, taking up several district blocks for itself.
By day, stainless glass reflected piercing sunlight in every direction. As evening drew in, the lights came alive around the edges of IDT, forming a myriad of neon around it that could be seen for miles. The very building was practically screaming to be noticed, and today it would likely be the belle of the ball.
The main entryway had been kept clear by scores of security guards that had been hired especially for the Science Expo. Crowds filled the Central Plaza in front of the tower. There was a variety of stalls and stages set up around the plaza but the attention of the crowds was now focused on the LCD screens above.
Evan listened as a reporter’s voice echoed through the speakers around the base of the building.

“Imminent Dreamer Technologies is the leading computer software company of the era who made their mark on the world with their range of V Ware products; the most advanced and affordable Virtual Reality software available on the market. From virtual classrooms and online stores to immersive simulations, co-founders Elliott Fyres and Lance Lawson are known today for bringing the world into the ‘Golden Age’ of virtual technology...”
“Elliott is bound to love that...” Evan smirked. 
“Some of the world’s richest faces have been invited for a sneak preview hosted personally by Mister Lawson in hopes of acquiring shareholder interest before the product is revealed to the public later in the week-long Northlight Science Expo...” The report continued on. “Whether they’ll be presenting the newest range of V-Ware or something new altogether, you can rest assured that it’s going to be a big one!”
“You don’t know the half of it, buddy.” muttered Evan as he stepped into the foyer.

Lance Lawson’s penthouse was on the top floor of IDT, eighty floors up. Yet the crowds below could have been right outside his window judging by the noise.
He was tempted to take a peek out the window to see exactly how many people were gathered...but that would require moving from the nest he’d built around himself here on the couch.
-Ding-
The sound of the hallway elevator signalled trouble for Lance. The door behind him opened and violently slammed shut again.
Lance didn’t need to turn around to recognize the walking tantrum that stormed towards him.
“Are you *censored*ing kidding me Lance?”
Lance arched his neck over the arm to see his oh-so-loveable partner standing over him scowling, a slick layer of sweat glazing his balding hairline.
Behind him stood Victoria Yale, the young woman who had interned as Lance’s personal assistant for almost a year.
“Miss Yale, good to see you!” Lance said, ignoring Elliott. “Would you kindly switch to Channel 5 News for me? I can’t seem to find Reggie.”
Reggie was Lance’s name for the TV remote.
“Certainly Mister Lawson...” Miss Yale replied with a curt smile as she approached the television.
Lance stretched his legs out across the couch and felt something hard against his heel.
Reggie? *censored*, not again. Something in Miss Yale’s smile told Lance she knew he’d find it there...again.
Regardless, she said nothing as she complied with his request.
-Click- “...now going live to George Marlow who’s hoping to catch some of the action in the big reveal. How’s things down there George?”
“Lance...” Elliott warned, leaning over him but Lance put a hand over Elliott’s mouth to stifle him.
“Hold up Elliott, they’re talking about us!”
Elliott growled but his curiosity got the better of him and for a moment his head turned to the screen.
“Thanks Stacey! I’m standing outside the IDT Tower and I am not alone! People from all over have gathered to hear about the invention that CEO Elliott Fyres has claimed will ‘Change our world forever!’ If co-founder Lance Lawson has had a hand in the development of what IDT has to offer, that claim may not be exaggerated...”
Lance looked up at his partner.
“What do you think Elliott?” He asked. “Think they’ll like it?”
Elliott’s attention shot back to Lance, his anger instantly reignited.
“Tell me you’re not serious...You realize you should be downstairs, yes?”
Lance shrugged his shoulders and turned back to the television.
“Elliott, when am I ever serious?” He said. “Can't we save this until after I've finished my coffee?”
“You’re not drinking any coffee!” Elliott spluttered.
“Exactly... Miss Yale, would you kindly fetch me a coffee?”
The pretty young blonde said nothing but her footsteps faded towards the espresso machine. Elliott, on the other hand stepped in front of the television with his stout, beefy frame. The frown he wore seemed at risk of eating his eyeballs.
“Lance, some of these investors have been here since business hours began! They’re all waiting for your presentation!”
“Well that was stupid of them,” Lance rolled his eyes. “My presentation wasn't to begin until twelve.”
"God damn it Lance!” Elliott snapped. “Marissa Günter is threatening to leave and she won’t be the only one if you don’t move now!" He didn't need to indicate to the clock, they both knew it was long past twelve.
“Here you are sir...” Miss Yale offered a steaming cup, heedless of the bickering happening before her. Sitting up, Lance took it with a grateful nod and proceeded to rip open the sweetener packs on the side of the saucer.
After adding his fourth sweetener, he looked up at Elliott who had gone strangely silent. His partner wasn't going to start a real argument today. He wouldn't risk having Lance walk out on the presentation.
After all, Lance wasn't above doing so just to make a point.
“One coffee, Elliott;” Lance sighed. “Just one coffee and I’ll be ready for action, okay?”
There was a visible struggle going on in Elliott’s mind but he gave a deep sigh before motioning to Victoria.
“Miss Yale, the list if you will.”
Miss Yale rushed back to the espresso machine where she had left a clipboard sitting on the sideboard. Lance sipped his coffee, casting a knowing grin at Elliott before taking the paperwork from his intern.
"Everyone who is waiting downstairs is on that list, you won't have time to get too friendly with them... but try your best to be...”
“...an ass kisser?” Lance suggested.
“Approachable!” Elliott huffed, his frustration building.
Perfect. I hate these high class meet and greets.
The look on Elliott's face told Lance that he suspected exactly what he was thinking. It was no surprise really; the two of them had been in business together for almost twenty years despite there being a gap of fourteen years between them.
Elliott would be fifty this year but looking at him now, he seemed older. Lance felt a small shred of guilt. They’d always had minor conflicts like these but it was far too easy to beat Elliott around on a day so important for the company.
It’s no fun when it’s this easy.
Heaving a small sigh, Lance placed the unfinished coffee on the stand next to the couch. Miss Yale moved to collect it but Lance stopped her.
"Miss Yale, you will be joining the presentation today."
Her face was as surprised as Elliott’s. "Sir, I'm supposed to be helping out in Imaging today, I..."
"They’ll make do without you.” Lance interrupted. “Get down to Floor Forty and greet our guests. Tell them I'll be joining them shortly.
Miss Yale turned a nervous glance to Elliott who gave a small noise of assent.
“You’ve been here a while now Miss Yale, I suppose you’ve earned it."
Hesitation turned quickly to elation as she straightened her back.
“Thank you, sir!” She said it with such eagerness that both Lance and Elliott shared a smirk. Not that she noticed; she had already left the room. 
Once the door was closed behind her, Elliott turned once again to Lance. Now that things were finally in motion his demeanour was gradually relaxing.
"You should get down there too Lance... Please don't keep them waiting any longer." The calmness and sincerity in the request was the final straw to unravel Lance’s cockiness.
Lance took a breath, looking around as if he expected someone to be listening in on them.
"Elliott... I'm sorry...I know this is important to you.” He struggled to look Elliott in the eye.
The creases on Elliott’s forehead softened but he still wore his grimace.
“Lance...It’s not just me. This is important to the company, to all of us! If these investors don’t take the bait then this project, it... It could ruin us...”
Lance placed a comforting hand on Elliott’s shoulder.
“They’ll bite Elliott.” He said, his confidence quickly recovering. “They’d be mad not to, you know that!”
Elliott nodded weakly, saying nothing. Lance tapped the clipboard.
“They will and you know it...” Lance grinned. “This is what IDT has been working towards from the beginning, and now we can finally do it Elliott! We can finally change the world...”
At that, Elliott finally cracked a smile to match Lance’s. They began to laugh and for a moment Elliott looked completely at ease.
“You go ahead Lance...Think I’ll grab myself a coffee too and see what the news has to say about us while you get things on track.”
“No problem. Don’t listen to a thing they say about me, chief.” Lance said, raising his hand in a mocking salute. As he approached the door he began skimming the list of names that he was about to get acquainted with for the big reveal.
He froze in place.
A name had caught his eye...A name that didn’t belong. He turned back to his partner.
Elliott must have heard the paper list crumple under Lance’s fist. He sat up straight watching Lance, his breath held.
"Did you think I wouldn't notice?" Lance asked, a quiet fury rising within him. At least Elliott had the decency to look ashamed.
“Lance...Ju-just listen..." Elliott began to stammer.
“No Elliott, don't even start!" Lance retorted.
They stared at each other for a moment, their roles now reversed from Elliott’s initial entrance.
“What are you going to do Lance?” Elliott asked. Any moment of confidence they’d shared was forgotten now. There was only panic and anger between them.
Lance tapped the clipboard. He bit his lower lip but said nothing.
“Lance!”
Lance closed the door, leaving Elliott still mouthing wordlessly.

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2016, 08:50:50 AM »
 
Dream Lab: Chapter Two
Chapter Two

“When I think of how many dreams could’ve been that are forgotten, it infuriates me... It should infuriate us all.” – Lance Lawson aged seventeen.

The guests sitting around the conference table were visibly tired. Conversation had died out between them and many had clearly been grumbling to themselves prior to Victoria’s entry.
All eyes had turned to her when she had first entered, unsure if her appearance was a sign of development in the day's events or just another IDT Rep apologizing for the lateness of their VIP tour guide.
She wasn’t far off from the latter.
“Mister Lawson is on his way now ladies and gentlemen,” she told them. “He thanks you for your patience.”
The crowd groaned with impatience. Victoria was thankful they were too worn out to take that impatience out on her, for now at least. The image of Mister Lawson stalling any further and leaving her to deal with the consequences left a grim feeling in her stomach.
She coated the sick feeling with a smile and did a quick head count of those present.
It was part of Victoria’s job to know who was who in the business world. Her close work with Mister Lawson suggested that she would cross paths with many of them in due time.
On the contrary, Mister Lawson left most business networking to Mister Fyres and actively encouraged Victoria not to concern herself too much with those matters.
It hadn’t stopped her memorizing the names of the eighteen investors who had been invited, each one a well known name or face in the business world...and every one of them filthy rich.

Of the faces she recognized at least half and checked them off her list mentally:
Sam Jensen, Marissa Günter and Walter Velmont were the only three entrepreneurs that were actually based in Ulysses. Some of the others had travelled halfway across the world just to be here.
It was rather intimidating for Victoria if she spent too long thinking about it. She took her mind off things by continuing to check the names off.
Gabriella Avellino, founder of two of the largest online markets in the world.
Zakhar Runov, the biggest name in Medical Science.
Gorman Stoltz, a large player in the stock market.
Alma Fuller, Harold Li, Jennifer Randall, Alexandro Conti, young heirs to massive business empires throughout the world.
The eight remaining faces were lost to Victoria but she knew their names and was certain of one thing. These were not only some of the richest people in the world, but the most powerful too.

The door opened and Mister Lawson entered. To Victoria’s surprise he was alone; she had expected Mister Fyres to at least join them for the induction.
To Victoria’s shock, Mister Lawson was not his cool-headed self. Though he hid it well, the agitation of the investors was nothing compared to Mister Lawson’s right now. Had she done something wrong?
“Is everyone accounted for Miss Yale?” There was no hint of anger in his voice but his jaw was tense.
“Yes sir, all set.” Had something happened with Mister Fyres?
She didn’t get time to think on it further as he took a deep breath, calming himself. He strode to the head of the conference table to greet his guests.
“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen my name is Lance Lawson, CEO of Imminent Dreamer Technologies - or IDT for short - and Chief of Staff here on Floor Forty which I will be taking you through today to witness something that has never before been seen in history!"
The words rolled off his tongue flawlessly. Every face in the room lit up in shock at the change of pace.

"This is my lovely intern Miss Victoria Yale who will be joining us for what will also be her very first immersive tour of what we have to offer today, although God willing not her last...”
Victoria blushed slightly as she was introduced but raised a hand in greeting. She circled around to the side of the table in order to keep out of Mister Lawson’s way...and to observe the people he was dealing with.
Some of the group looked like they wanted to complain of the wait he had put them through but had their instincts overruled by their curiosity and eagerness to have things move along. Still, many of them seemed to be straining their features for the sake of looking visibly unimpressed.
Mister Lawson had certainly noticed but it did little to deter him.
“Now before we begin I would like to remind you that you have all signed non-disclosure agreements to get here today and I don't just mean the private tour! Everything you have witnessed since arriving on Floor Forty, even the colour scheme of this room-"
He waved an arm casually towards the smooth ocean blue wall on his right which held a series of decorative paintings, each wielding the various inspirational company slogans.
"Quite lovely isn't it? - are most likely included in a clause somewhere in that big old NDA!” Mister Lawson took a moment to inhale, had he spoken all that time without taking a breath?
“Any evidence that the companies you each represent have revealed information regarding Floor Forty outside of a business agreement with us will result in your instant arrest and bankruptcy... which I imagine is an imminent nightmare for you all!”

He spoke so casually that it took some of the group a moment for the information to sink in. Shock and outrage sparked on the faces of many who had clearly neglected to read the agreement in detail, presuming it to be standard paperwork. 
The more shrewd members of the group gave small trickles of nervous laughter or simply nodded in agreement silently.
Marissa Günter who had been the most audibly irritated about her wait was quite literally ruffling the feathers on the extravagant coat she wore.
“Now hold on just a sec-” She began to splutter.
“Good, so we're all clear.” Mister Lawson cut her off without hesitation. “Now, a second point of business before we begin...”
The easy dismissal of Ms Günter seemed to rattle the group as a whole. Some were exchanging wary glances but their attention remained focused on their host.
“Can I ask which of you would be ‘Walter Velmont’?” Victoria watched as he scanned each of them with a predatory glare.
Victoria’s eyes settled on the young Walter Velmont as he raised his hand.
“You can leave now...”
Walter Velmont widened his eyes in surprise.
“Excuse me?” He asked, incredulous.
“...thank you for stopping by. As for everyone else...” Mister Lawson’s words barely registered for the others.
Mister Velmont on the other hand, was sitting wide-mouthed.
“Leave? Why on earth would I do that?” He choked.
Mister Lawson looked at him with indifference but Victoria could sense the disgust he felt.
“Your father is Howard Velmont, CEO of Velmont Industries which deals in the production of military armaments and specializes in experimental warfare... A company which has no use for what we have to offer you today.”
Of course! Realization hit Victoria. She should have noticed before!
Velmont Junior was visibly irritated but tried not to show it in his voice. Giving a small cough, he tried to compose himself.
"Forgive me Mister Lawson...I think you misunderstand!" He began. "The applications your science could be used for..."
Mister Lawson raised a hand to silence him.
"No Mister Velmont I think you misunderstand so I will put it simply...You are not welcome at Imminent Dream Technologies."
His casual tone was gone now and was replaced with something much more dangerous. Leaning forward, he rested his hands on the table as he stared down his unwanted guest. The others in the room remained completely silent but Victoria could see that others were beginning to understand;

Though Mister Lawson left public appearances of IDT to Mister Fyres, everyone knew that it was Mister Lawson who had invented the V-Ware, the most immersive and believable virtual reality equipment the world had ever seen.
The potential of the V-Ware seemed limitless, with each program being capable of holding a simulation that could span the size of Ulysses itself.
As a matter of fact, Victoria was fairly certain that there already was a simulation available containing a perfect replica of Ulysses, a city that held a population of almost eight million.
This had sparked frenzy in the business world as private contractors offered large sums of money to have V-Ware products created that tailored to their own business needs.
The most lucrative of those offers came from the military, and businesses that dealt closely with the armed forces.
Every application for a V-Ware product that immersed people or trained them in simulated violence was denied by Lance Lawson.
There were rumours that these companies had even tried to sway Mister Lawson through sinister means such as blackmail, corporate sabotage and death threats.
Nothing had succeeded in swaying him, though only a select few would know how he or the company could have possibly survived it.
If there was one thing the world understood about Lance Lawson, it was that he would never allow his work to be used for violent means.

Walter Velmont understood it much less it seemed. His face had turned a deep shade of red, his fists now clenched.
“Who the hell do you think you are? I have been here all day awaiting an organized tour of your facilities!" He barked. “My presence here was authorized by Mister Fyres himself-"
"I assure you, Mister Fyres regrets that decision.” countered Lawson. “I have an issue and I am the one leading this tour Mister Velmont so the point is moot."   
Walter Velmont seethed with anger but made no move to leave.
"I would expect more tact and professionalism from a fellow businessman!” He uttered through clenched teeth.
Before Mister Lawson could respond, an older gentleman that Victoria did not recognize decided to cut into the argument.
“Oh, for God’s sake man, show a little dignity, why don’t you!” He bellowed, much to the young Velmont’s surprise. “The man says you aren’t welcome so get out!”
Marissa Günter joined the fray, clucking her own disapproval.
“That’s right! You are holding this up for the rest of us! We’ve waited long enough without you causing us problems!”
Others began to chime in, calling for Velmont to be tossed out. The voices grew louder and Victoria turned to Mister Lawson, expecting him to regain order.
She was shocked to see that he was enjoying the spectacle.
They fell silent when Velmont slammed his fist on the table and began to stand. Grabbing the green suede jacket from the back of his chair, he marched around the table, buttoning it up slowly and deliberately.
He stopped but a foot away from Mister Lawson and looked at him. Victoria was unsure which man seemed more deadly at the moment.
"You think you can hide your little inventions away in this... eyesore forever?" He spat. “How long can you keep this charade on for Mister Lawson?”
Victoria felt a chill in the air. The others were also tense now. It was impossible to tell what Mister Lawson thought of it all but there was no hint of hesitation in his voice.
"Miss Yale, please have security escort Mister Velmont out of the building...Immediately.”
Victoria opened the door and signalled the two burly security guards at the end of the hall. They entered the conference room, taking position at each side of the unwelcome guest.
Velmont’s expression made Victoria want to shiver.
“You could have made a lot of money today Mister Lawson.” He said, holding his head high. “I can assure you, things will only get worse from here.
Victoria expected some witty response from Mister Lawson but he said nothing as the guards led Velmont out.
The door closed behind them and Mister Lawson turned back to the guests. The other members seemed wary to even look at him. Doubtless they were cautious to anger their host and share a similar fate to Velmont. Even Victoria was holding her breath.
“Ladies and gentlemen..." Mister Lawson began. "Are you ready to begin the tour?”
And then he smiled as if the past five minutes had not occurred.

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2016, 08:51:50 AM »
 
Dream Lab: Chapter Three
Chapter Three

“Every business is built chasing a dream...but those two built a business chasing every dream... Is that brilliance or madness?” – Karen Warnock, Floor Twelve Consultant

Elliott had invested a ridiculous sum of money into turning Floor Forty into the ultimate private tour experience.  With Lance leading the way as the man who knew Floor Forty better than anyone, it was the perfect sales pitch.
“As many of you may know, Imminent Dream Technologies has the largest staff base for a single building in the City of Ulysses." He began. "We currently have over twelve thousand members of staff working throughout our eighty floors each week and are rapidly expanding each year." He glanced over to Miss Yale with an appraising smile.
"Every member makes a valuable contribution as we strive to achieve a single goal..."
The luminous white walls on each side of them began to slide open in unison, revealing a series of one-way mirrors.
"To make dreams -quite literally- come true.”
Gasps echoed through the crowd and their orderly line began to dissolve as they separated, clamouring to see what lay on the other side of each mirror.
One room was populated by engineers and technicians hard at work. Some donned steel masks as they welded large pieces of machinery by hand, others used computers to remotely control robotic arms working on the finer details of whatever was being produced.
The opposite room seemed to be some kind of research lab. No one seemed to be working though. Men and women in white coats were gathered together for some kind of presentation being given by none other than Evan Rothman.
It seemed somewhat boring, the mirror was soundproof and Evan was simply pointing to a series of indecipherable calculations on a large whiteboard.
That was, until Evan touched one of the calculations. Rather than smearing ink, the formula changed colour. He then swiped his hand across the selection and it flew into the centre of the room. The figures formed together as a three-dimensional sphere and began to rotate.
Realization hit some of the investors quicker than others.
"It's a hologram!" One exclaimed, leaning closer.
Indeed it seemed the entire room was able to sustain holograms. The others in the room looked on, listening to whatever Evan was explaining as he continued throwing illusions around the room.
By the time he was done it seemed like he was standing inside a map of the galaxy made purely of letters and numbers.

The spheres then began to unravel and thread together, intertwining to reveal some mystery that only Evan and his staff seemed to understand.
The group were mesmerized until Lance gave a small cough.
"Let's move on, shall we?" He stepped off with a slight swagger, not waiting for them to catch up.
"The final stage of production takes place right here on Floor Forty.” Lance began. As if on cue, the floor suddenly shrouded them in blinding white light. Lance looked up to keep the light out of his eyes, grinning at the startled noises made by the investors.
“Before that, there are several stages of preparation to consider...”
The light faded and everyone looked down. The ground beneath their feet was now transparent, giving a clear view into floor thirty nine below them.
The room they peered into was like a giant circular lecture hall. In the centre stood a large holographic cube, approximately two metres squared on each side. All around it were computer desks which spread all the way to the back of the room. Men and women occupied each one, typing furiously into the holographic screens before them.
“What you see here is one of many of our writing teams hard at work on a project commission for one of our V-Ware products." Lance said.
Members of the group were squinting to see what was being typed but information flowed too fast for them to follow. Lance began to explain the process.
"Commission applications are first brought forward to our Consultants on the lower floors. We can receive as many as three thousand submissions a week and yet only a select few make their way to the top of the chain... Many fail to meet IDT’s criteria; it is up to our Consultants to trim the fat, so to speak.”

"Before a commission is brought to Floor Forty, departments such as the one below us must first prepare what we loosely call ‘Data Construction.’ This can involve anything from the visual experience all the way down to the rules and physics of each simulation...”
“There must be a hundred people down there...” said a young investor who was now on one knee as he scanned the room in fascination.
"What are they working on?" asked another.
"This department is writing out the formulas for the sensations of touch simulated in this commission. There are eighty four staff members at work in that room, the numbers will vary but this is but a small fraction of the entire Project Team."  The investors looked up at him, mouths gaping.
Lance indicated to the cube in the centre of the room.
“The writers upload information in real time to the central hub over there.” He said.
Four men stood around it, touching and dragging sectioned pieces along its surface, enlarging and highlighting portions of text as they flowed into vision at lightning speed.
“There's so much information...” Someone said, awestruck.
“All information sent to the Central Hub is handled by those four comptrollers.” Lance continued. “Each is assigned a specific subject for an allocated time and must browse the information gathered as it is filtered to the relevant screen using a well refined algorithm. This summarizes the final rules of that commission to be passed on to the final stage.”
“What if they fail to complete it in the allocated time?” asked the old geezer who had berated Velmont.
“If they feel they require more time with a given subject, they can do so when all other subjects are completed."
"Would it not be more efficient to complete a subject before moving on?" said another.
"To dally with one subject for too long is a sure-fire way to writer's block.” Lance smirked.
A small ripple of laughter flowed through the group.
Lance took a brief glance at his watch. They were right on schedule.
He stood once again and the others followed suit.
“Are there any questions?” He asked.
The group went silent, eager to move on to the next part of the tour. Lance was ready to continue when Marissa Günter spoke out.
“That group down there...You said they are working on simulating ‘touch?’” She asked, frowning.
“Correct!” Lance scratched his face to stop himself from laughing; he knew exactly where she was going with this. 
Sure enough, she took the bait.
“V-Ware has never simulated touch Mister Lawson.” She said, suspicion crossing her features.
“Speaking of which, that wouldn’t be a writing team... it would be a programming team, no?” Another voice interrupted.
“Correct on both counts! That is, until now!” Lance said, trying hard to conceal his excitement. He moved on before that information sparked up more questions.
Don’t spoil the surprise!
At the end of the corridor lay a large thick metal door. Lance waited for the group to gather together before placing his hand on a small panel on the wall.
“So now ladies and gentlemen...” He announced. “What I will show you next has replaced the final production stages of IDT’s V-Ware products and become our newest, greatest Stage of development...”
The door slid back with a soft hiss and separated down the centre.
Lance turned to his audience, visible glee and wonder in their eyes. A glee he shared.
“Welcome everyone...To the Dream Lab!”

The door opened wide and the group fell deadly silent as they wandered in, heads turning in every direction.
This was not a laboratory like anything they had ever seen. Unlike the white walls throughout the rest of Floor Forty, these walls were a metallic gray and curved upwards.
It was like they were inside a snow globe.
A seamless window took up at least two thirds of the wall, revealing some kind of control room. Looking in at them were dozens of men and women in white coats going about their duties.
A few of the white coats looked up at the arrivals through the window and waved invitingly. Lance could see that they too were excited. Clearly these people took pride in their work here and were ready to show it off.
The inner lab where Lance and his retinue stood contained columns of man-sized pods that spread along each flank symmetrically from the doorway.
It was not unlike the Writing room of floor thirty nine. The pods took up the majority of the room bar the path between the door and the large object that stood in the epicentre of the room.
“The Core of the Dream Lab...” Lance explained, motioning towards the object. “The hub from which a dream host may construct anything the mind can imagine and recreate it into the ultimate virtual experience.”
The Core shone like silver, a massive cube four times the size of an average human adult. A spherical emplacement on the ceiling dipped down into it. A series of tubes passed between the sphere and the Core with red and green LEDs emitting light at each connecting port.
The investors stared in wonderment while Lance looked on lovingly at his technological child.
“How does it work?” asked a young man in the crowd.
Rather than elaborating, Lance raised a hand in a thumbs-up to the onlookers through the window.
Evan stood there now, giving instructions even as he waved back at the group. He had the same look of anticipation that Lance felt.
To Lance’s disappointment however, there was no sign of Elliott. He thought he would want to be here for the big moment.
The investors gave a sudden jump as every pod in the room simultaneously began to open with a slow hiss. The insides were padded, the head protruding slightly to serve as a cushion.
“If you could please remove any head wear, spectacles or jewellery that is worn above your jaw-line before entering a pod, we can begin.” Lance said. “Feel free to store your belongings on your person, it is all perfectly safe but Mister Fyres likes to add to the experience with pointless safety regulations.”

Clearly the investors had not been expecting this. They were test-driving? Lance enjoyed seeing the look of conflict on some of faces more than the joy on most.
After all, how could any human stick by that non-disclosure agreement when there was so much to tell? Lance had no doubt that many of them would be unable to keep the events of today quiet, not among their inner circles at least.
It didn’t matter, so long as it was considered a taboo subject beyond these walls, the rumours would draw more interest from the public... That was Elliott's theory anyway.

Everyone was now occupying a pod except for Lance. Many lay down out of sight but others remained in a sitting position, uncertain of what was expected of them. Lance was approaching the Core when someone finally had the initiative to speak out.
“Um, Mister Lawson...what do we do now?” Lance waved a hand back at them.
“Just lie back and relax, I'll talk you through it all once you're connected.”
“Connected? What...” Lance had already moved on towards the centre of the room.
As he approached the Core, portions of the large cube rotated like sections of a rubix cube before locking into place. A section began to fold back and open, revealing a space large enough for a person to walk inside. Lance could feel eyes peering out from the pods curiously but the inside of the cube was shrouded in darkness.
“Please lie back and relax ladies and gentlemen,” He called out. “The demonstration shall begin shortly.”
A whirring sound filled the room as the pods began to close slowly. Lance did not wait for the noise to pass. He entered the darkness and the cube sealed itself behind him.

There was perfect silence within. Lights flickered on all around Lance, revealing the interior of the Core.
The walls were made up of a series of white panels that flickered randomly in a manner similar to television static. The Core itself was completely bare save the reclining chair that was bolted down in the middle of the room and a metal dome that protruded from the ceiling directly above it.
Lance approached the chair and sat back with a sigh of content.
“Hello, old friend.” He murmured, caressing the arm.
A familiar voice rang out through the Core from a speaker on the dome above him.
“I wouldn’t say ‘old,’ I’m clearly much younger than you.” 
“Well it hasn’t stopped me turning out the more handsome one, has it Doctor?” Lance laughed. “Has Elliott turned up yet?”
The voice hesitated.
“Not yet. Did something happen with you two?” It asked. Lance answered with a snort but his smile dropped.
Evan sighed down his microphone.
“He’ll show up. He won’t want to miss the main performance...Speaking of which, you ready Lance?”
“You know me Evan. Begin Demo 1A, default settings. I’ll take it from there.”
“Roger that. Good luck!” Evan switched off his microphone and the chair reclined out until Lance was looking directly up at the ceiling.
The lights dimmed and there was a soft hiss as gas filled the room. Breathing it in slowly, Lance closed his eyes and felt something surge through the chair as he drifted into sleep.

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2016, 08:52:34 AM »
Dream Lab: Chapter Four
Chapter Four

“Nothing is impossible in the field of the dreamer.” – Elliott Fyres, V-Ware seminar, Year 2089   

The first time Lance had come here, the nothingness had disoriented him, perhaps even frightened him.
These days he found it comforting.
Suddenly he was standing upright. An opening in the darkness lay ahead and Lance stepped forward into the light.
He felt grass under his feet; this was no longer Floor Forty.
Lance was now looking out onto a lush green valley, completely untouched by civilization. In the distance he could see a large waterfall cascading down from the top of a range of mountains.
The base of the waterfall oozed out perfect clear blue water into a riverbed trailing down the hillside, reflecting the cloudless skies above.
Encircled around him lay the investors, some of which were now stirring from sleep. Some began to sit up in a daze while others lay looking up at the sunlit morning skies in bewilderment.
Miss Yale was the first to stand. She walked to the edge of the hill to watch two hummingbirds in flight 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.
Lance tucked his hands in his pockets, admiring his own work with pride.
“I welcome you all to your first experience inside the world of dreams...” He said. “...in this case, my dream.”
It took great effort not to laugh at their disbelieving stares.
“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, explore it however we desire...Create with it.”
“Is this real? How did we get here?” Questions echoed through the group. Lance began to laugh.
“You are all currently asleep in the IDT building as we speak, you are all simply sharing my dream...but what’s reality without the pursuit of dreams? Can you really say this feels any less real to you?”
Lance clicked his fingers and felt his feet rise from the ground. Gasps rang out among the group as he began to float. “The rules of this world are entirely dependent on my will, if I wish it here then it is so...”
The investors began to shout and scream as they too began to float. Some tried to cling to the ground or flailed through the air.
And yet, Miss Yale was not the only one among them smiling now.
“The Dream Lab was created so we could share our dreams!” Lance shouted over the noises of panic. “If you’ve ever dreamed that you could fly, now is the time to try it out! Come fly with me!”

With his laugh echoing through the valley, Lance soared upwards. He rose higher and higher until the group could no longer see him before letting gravity play its’ part.
His descent was rapid and he could hear shrieks of horror from the group as the ground approached.
At the last second he straightened himself and surged forward, shooting off horizontally. 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.
Many of them were now flying higher, whooping and shouting with exhilaration. Others weaved through the trees or circled the mountains, exploring their surroundings at a leisurely pace.
The older gentleman was an instant natural, doing loop de loops and dangerous dives on par with Lance’s skill. The sternness and frustration he had taken out on Walter Velmont was gone and he was wide-eyed like a child.
Lance had a sneaking suspicion that he had dreamed of flying many times in his own sleep.
Never as vividly as this I expect.
Lance raised his hands and clapped them twice. The sound rang out through the entire valley. Even those who had flown far into the distance turned their heads at the sound.
“Everyone gather up!” He 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.
“So, what do you think?” He asked.
A string of voices called out at once in mixed awe and delight.
“Amazing...” “It feels so real!” “I can smell the grass!”
All wrong answers. Lance shook his head.
“This is just a sample of nature that can be found in the real world.” He said, crossing his arms. “The true power of the Dream Lab goes much further.”
“There's more?” breathed Ms Günter.
“Infinitely more...” Lance replied. He pointed a finger down the valley and the ground began to shake.
The terrain started to twist and crack, reshaping itself.
The cracks carved out an island which began floating into the sky. It was still taking new forms while it rose.   

Lance flew towards it and could sense the others following close behind. 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 from nothing. They were shaped like geckos but galloped like horses. They ran together in a pack without a care even as the ground below them took new forms.
Grass changed to snow, orchids curled up and then rose as starlings, scattering in every direction before finally gathering as a large flock which followed behind the group. They shone various colours like Christmas lights, alternating their colours whenever they changed formations.
Far to the east, a hillside rose up to form a new mountain formation rising high above the clouds. 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 a tribe.

Finally the group reached the edge of the floating island. A beach coast formed up further in and water seeped from the ground, creating an ocean around the edges. Children played in the water, seemingly fearless of the edges of their new world where the water descended to the valley below.
The starlings raced ahead of the group and formed together, fusing into 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 other ways to damage a human being, none of which Lance would ever dream of using.
The group descended on a deserted part of the beach as the sun was setting. It had seemed like midday just moments before but time worked differently here. 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.
“What's your name sir?” Lance asked, considering the old chap.
The gentleman straightened his back and stepped towards Lance.
“Seamus Conlin, Cyclone Entertainment.” He said, extending a hand in greeting.
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 scowling at their exchange.
“It's a pleasure to meet you Mister Conlin,” Lance said as he returned the offered handshake. “That was some damn good flying you pulled off back there...”
That left a brief grin on the elder man's face.
“Thank you Mister Lawson, just Seamus is fine.” He coughed humbly. 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 Seamus. 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 filming uses, 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 is 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 the ideas in our minds to be unleashed to their full potential for the whole world to see.” Lance concluded. “With your investments, we can make it happen.”
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 a click of his fingers the lights went out.

Offline MisterSherbetLemon

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Re: Dream Lab
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2016, 08:54:11 AM »
Dream Lab: Chapter Five
Chapter Five

“How far can things go before we don’t know what reality is? How long until the virtual world is the one in control?” – Anti V-Ware Protestor

Elliott took over the last lap of the presentation in the waking world. Share prices would be his primary topic of conversation for the next few days as he negotiated with the investors and discussed the commission process further, all the while climbing over stacks of paper work.
With Lance’s part done, he retired to his quarters. The toughest part about being a Lucid Dreamer was that the mental strain far outweighed the physical. His mind wished for sleep but his body felt fully rejuvenated. It had become ritual for him to work off that energy in his private gym to balance things out.
After a quick outfit change, he started up the treadmill and broke into a steady jog to warm up. He found the low whine of the machine soothing when accompanied by the rhythm of his footsteps, allowing Lance to lose himself in his thoughts for a time.
He would need to discuss certain things with Elliott tomorrow. What was the man thinking trying to give Walter Velmont access? They had discussed the matter time and time again but it seemed Elliott didn’t grasp the full gravity of how dangerous the Dream Lab could be.
It was kind of ironic, considering how reluctant Elliott was to give it a try himself.
There were too many people like Velmont trying to gain access to IDT’s secrets and not enough was being done to safeguard against them.
We can spend some of that new money on extra security checks. I should be able to trust Elliott with this stuff but...
Stepping off the treadmill, he sat himself at the exercise bench and lay back with his hands behind his head. As he pulled himself up for his first sit-up a floorboard creaked beneath him. He tried to ignore it.
-Creak- Can’t even trust him to get someone in and take care of these floors. -Creak- We spend six figures per year just maintaining this place... –Creak- and we can’t fix a bloody- CRASH!
What the..?
The sound roared through the room like a cannonball had smashed through the walls. Lance instinctively closed his eyes and braced, expecting a drop or some kind of concussion.
Nothing came but the sound continued. Lance opened his eyes again, scrambling up from the bench. He stumbled to his feet and his head begun to spin. He leaned against the wall as he made his way to the door.
BOOM! There was a new sound, an explosion from below. It shook the floor sending Lance stumbling against the wall. All the while the creaking grew louder, deafeningly louder...
What the hell is going on? It’s like the building is under attack...
That was when Lance saw something impossible.
A stone colossus was outside, standing in the middle of Central Plaza. The very same colossus from his dream, and yet it wasn’t. It held the same form but its’ eyes burned like coals, the passive expression replaced with ferocious hatred. The smooth stone was now sharp and cracked; it was no longer a peaceful tribesman, but a demon.
“No...This is all wrong.” Lance murmured fearfully. He had spent enough time in the Core to identify dreams from reality. He knew this was reality.
Wasn’t it?
He stepped closer to the window, staring in horror.
The beast’s eyes glowed brighter as it peered into Lance’s penthouse. There was no denying, it was looking right at him. The colossus raised a massive jagged hand towards him, hot embers flaring up within its’ palm.
Lance reeled backwards and his heel collided with the treadmill. He fell backwards and felt his skull collide with the handlebar. Something warm trickled down his neck.
The windows smashed as the hand reached for him. The building shook harder now, it could topple any second. Lance pulled himself up once again and bolted for the exit, never looking back.
“What the *censored* is going on!” He screamed. “Elliott!” He called, begging for his partner – for anyone - to call out to him. He heard nothing but the destruction going on behind him. It didn’t matter. Nobody shared this floor with him, he was alone.
Lance didn’t dare call for the elevator. He threw open the stairwell doors just as the lights cut out.
A monstrous deep roar bellowed out from behind him. Against all reason, he turned.
He saw nothing now except the flaming hand of the stone giant. Its’ fingers tore through the walls on each side of the doorway, enclosing itself around him.
It’s going to crush me!
The hand was several times his size. If it squeezed hard enough there would be nothing left of him for anyone to find. Desperation overwhelmed Lance, all reason abandoned him.
And then a final insane thought crossed Lance’s mind. He turned back to the stairwell.
With all his remaining strength he leapt, willing his body onwards through the air.
Fly!

Evan’s fury peaked as he stared at the report on his screen.
“God damn it!” He shouted at the emptiness. It was long past office hours and the rest of his team had gone home. Security had already attempted to eject him several times without success.
“Is that blasphemy I’m hearin’, Doc?” A voice chided.
Evan wheeled around to the door and was blinded briefly by torchlight. His anger flared up again.
“Hans, if you’re here for another round I’m not in the *censored*ing mood!”
“Wrong guard Doc, shift change.” The guard lowered the torch and shone it over himself. Evan relaxed as the light revealed a familiar goofball smile coated by a straggly blond beard. Sinking back into his chair Evan sighed.
“Kelvin...Is it the shift change already?” He squinted at his watch in the dark. It was past midnight.
“No ‘already’ about it Doc,” Kelvin said.  “Hope they’re paying ya extra for this... You mind?”
Before Evan could reply, the guard flipped a switch and the main lights flared up. Evan raised a hand to his face as his eyes adjusted to the brightness.
“Sure.” Evan groaned, turning back to the computer screen. It was difficult to ignore the thumping in his head. “I could be here a while.”
Kelvin approached the desk and leaned his head over Evan’s shoulder.
“What you workin’ on this late for anyway? I heard boss man landed the big money today, thought you’d be off celebrating?”.
“So did I...” Evan sighed. “It’s complicated Kelvin, no offense.”
Kelvin shrugged, pulling a seat up beside Evan.
“Well, might be worth bouncing the whole thing off me anyway, don’t cha think?” said Kelvin. “When I gotta problem I can’t work out, I work it out sometimes just from speakin’ it out loud, y’know?”
Evan remained silent, staring at the screen. Kelvin didn’t wait long before he began to stand.
“Screw it.” He touched the screen in several places and drew his fingers together. The blocks of text on-screen shrunk down until they were nothing.
In their place were three differently coloured diagrams of...
“Is that a brain?” asked the guard, leaning closer. His breath stank of stale cigarettes but Evan did his best to ignore it.
“Yes, Lance Lawson’s brain to be exact.” Evan confirmed. “Part of what I do is analyzing how the brain acts during our tests. There’s a lot we don’t know about the...”
Evan stopped himself just in time. Certain things were strictly need-to-know here on Floor Forty, even for the Security.
“...the Project?” Kelvin suggested, picking up Evan’s hesitation.
“Exactly...Anyway,” Evan continued. “One thing we do know is that it works with the body’s final stages of sleep, manipulating them somehow.”
Evan pointed at the first diagram.
“Look, you see the bright yellow? Those are neurons that show where the brain is active in each phase. That activity will change for every stage of sleep the brain goes into.” 
Evan shrunk the diagrams down, bringing up a new screen.
“Kelvin, could you get the lights?”
The night guard obliged, moving towards the door. A small click and the room went dark.
“Now, look at this.”
Evan put his hand to the screen and one of the diagrams leapt from the screen, stretching and expanding as it moved to the centre of the room. The hologram was no longer a mere diagram. It was a full 3D model of a living brain. It pulsed light as it slowly rotated, bathing them in a warm yellow glow.
They were both silent for a time as they watched the shades of light fork in different directions like lightning.
“It’s a helluva sight...” Kelvin said in wonder. “You’ve got some nice toys here Doc.”
Evan tapped the desk in agitation.
“Don’t you see it?” He asked. Kelvin turned, perplexed.
“See what Doc? It’s big, it’s yellow... what else is there?”
“It’s wrong... It shouldn’t be possible.” Evan murmured, his frustration of the problem growing by the second. He grabbed the screen once more and threw four, five, six smaller models out. They were notably dimmer in sections by comparison.
Floating through the air, they took position around the larger model. Evan stood and took one of the models in his hand.
“This is what the brain does in the REM stage.” He threw it across the room and it popped against the wall like a water balloon. He proceeded to grab others.
“There are the four stages prior to REM,” Evan continued. “Stage one...Stage two...” Each one was thrown aside as Evan spoke, disappearing in splashes of light as they hit the wall.
“They each have a specific purpose for the sleeping brain! They are each supposed to be unique!”
Kelvin’s expression grew more bewildered as Evan’s voice rose. Evan ignored him and held up the last of the small models.
“This is the brain when fully awake.” It was also dimmer by comparison to the original. Like the others, it was cast aside.
“Every stage is easily identified by the activity it shows in these readings. There shouldn’t be any conflict, but this...” Evan turned to the large brain that hovered above them.
“...what is it Doc? What’s wrong with it?” Judging by Kelvin’s voice, he was beginning to feel the same chill in his spine. There was something...different about this one. That much was obvious to anyone.
Kelvin took a cautious step towards the model.
“That’s Lance’s mind...straight after today’s presentation...” Evan said.
Evan stared at Kelvin while Kelvin stared at the brain until comprehension dawned on the night guard’s face.
“...Is it all of them?”
Evan gave him a look that was answer enough. Not only was every neuron active but they were moving at an alarming rate. Kelvin raised his hands questioningly.
“How can it be all of them? That’s not how the brain works, that’s your point right?” Kelvin shuddered. “What does that even mean, Doc?”
Evan slumped into his chair.
“I don’t know Kelvin...but it should be impossible.”
Before Kelvin could say anything the radio on his belt crackled to life. A panicked voice echoed through the lab. 
-Bzzt- “Someone call an ambulance! There’s been an accident!” –Bzzt- Kelvin grabbed his radio and held it closer.
-Click- “What’s happened Jason?”
-Bzzt “It’s Mister Lawson...I think he fell, on the east stairwell...Floor seven four...”
Evan and Kelvin exchanged a look before rushing out of the lab.
-Bzzt- “Oh God...I think he’s dead...”

Elliott sat in the chair of his study. There was silence save for the fire crackling in front of him. Yet there was no peace in his thoughts.
It was foolishness and he knew it. Lance had pulled through and set the investors’ tongues wagging. Every one of them wanted a piece of IDT now. Many more offers were sure to come once the Dream Lab went public.   
Lance’s words echoed in Elliott’s mind bitterly.
”We can finally do it Elliott! We can finally change the world.”
It didn’t matter now. There were bigger things in motion, things that Elliott couldn’t stop.
Not that he wanted to... Did he?
What if I’ve made a terrible mistake?
A ringing echoed through the room. Elliott sat up straight and pushed a button on the desk beside his armchair.
The screen above the fireplace lit up once more, revealing an elderly gentleman sitting in an armchair not unlike Elliott’s.
“Mister Fyres, a pleasure to see you again.” Elliott doubted it. The old man’s face was expressionless and his voice was like ice. Elliott shifted uncomfortably at the cold stare.
“Mister Velmont...”
“I hope you haven’t gotten too far into the bottle tonight? You have a busy week ahead.”
Elliott glanced at the whiskey bottle on the table. The urge to pour another drink was strong as he began to babble.
“Please Mister Velmont if I can just explain...Your son, I hoped Lance wouldn’t-“
“There’s nothing to explain Mister Fyres. Everything went as expected.” The words fell on deaf ears.
“Please give me another chance sir, I can...”
“It’s done Elliott.” Velmont insisted, his tone brooking no argument.
Elliott’s jaw laid open in disbelief.
“You...What...I don’t-“
“You don’t need to know the details,” Velmont said, waving a dismissive arm. “Suffice to say, I have what I need for now and you will get what you want so long as you continue to honour our agreement... I trust that won’t be a problem?”
Elliott’s mind searched wildly for answers, he wanted more but he knew when to quit. More importantly, he’d learned when it was unwise to push. He couldn’t risk irking a man such as Velmont, not in the position he was currently in.
“No sir.”   
“Good.” Velmont said, a hint of satisfaction seeping through that cold demeanour. “Everything will be taken care of. You will be contacted at work tomorrow, when I have need of you.”
Elliott’s head shot up in confusion.
“At work...b-but Lance...” Elliott stuttered. Lance was no fool, he would notice if someone didn’t belong on Floor Forty.
“There’s no need for you to worry about Mister Lawson anymore...So long as you play by the rules you will receive everything promised to you...in time.”
Before Elliott could respond, the screen went black.
Elliott stared into the fire. He was about to become one of the richest men in the world.
He drank down the remains of his whiskey and poured another, his hands shaking.
“There’s no need for you to worry about Mister Lawson anymore...” What did that mean? The tremor in Elliott’s hands grew uncontrollable until he dropped the glass and it smashed on the floor.
He made no move to pick up the pieces. Instead he took the bottle, cradling it as tears streamed down his face.
I’m so sorry Lance...but you can’t beat them this time.
The phone rang several times in the night but Elliott was too scared to answer.
He sat crying long after the fire had gone out.