by John Andreula
edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
Bad dreams happen.
About fifty percent of people experience nightmares. They occur more often in the young than in adults, and more with girls than boys.
These negative dreams have many apparent causes. Bad dreams are commonly a reported side-effect of disrupted sleep patterns and trouble breathing while sleeping. They can also be a result of consuming alcohol, drugs, and even eating too close to bedtime.
Most commonly, nightmares are brought on by stress, anxiety, and experiences of trauma.
The things that happen in the real world can have significant effects on dreams.
Long ago there was a young man named Seth Stanton.
He was an ambitious fellow with limited social skills, but he had an incredible propensity for learning. What he lacked in his ability to connect with others he more than made up for in his meticulous effort, diligence, and thirst for knowledge.
When other boys his age spent their waking hours causing mischief and chasing girls, Stanton spent his days instead in libraries. His nose and eyes were consistently pointed down into books.
At first he learned of humanities and the arts, but he quickly grew bored with those subjects, due to his perceiving them as impractical and unnecessary. He redirected his attention toward the sciences and mathematics.
He was much more fulfilled by the new knowledge he gained therein. These new subjects opened new doors. They provided him abstract thinking and capabilities.
Algebra and biology gave way to calculus, chemistry, and physics. He quickly expanded into engineering, programming, and complex algorithm. Although he was quite savvy with creating and repairing instruments of technology, he always maintained a passion for studies of the human body; specifically the mind.
Naturally, he gravitated toward psychology and the various neurosciences. He always brought forth with him the vast knowledge he had previously acquired. The more Stanton learned, however, the more he realized yearned for that which was still out of his reach.
He pondered questions like, Why does the mind work as it does? and, What are the limits of human potential?
By now he understood the traditionally accepted sciences clearly, but learning from books could only take him so far. Stanton decided it was time to discover what was outside of his books. He felt a new urge to do some practical analysis on people around him. For the time being, he would settle on doing experimentation on himself.
His explorations began in the field of human biohacking; the practice of achieving the largest possible set of results with the least amount of effort within a biological entity. Stanton had not a broad interest in all lifeforms. He was only interested in the gains he could uncover within himself.
He effortlessly mastered speed reading, acquisition of languages, and even developed a variation of photographic memory. He found additional success in the domain of physical capability, but quickly grew bored with these newfound abilities.
Being faster, stronger, and more flexible was amusing at first, but a desire for more profound meaning and results replaced the satisfaction found in such superficial gains. His true desire within his self-improvement resided locked away beyond the limits of his knowledge and understanding.
Stanton consistently asked himself what was next. He would move on to each new subject only to be disappointed with the inevitable pinnacle he would discover just as quickly. What he did learn to be incontrovertibly true was that there was something behind and beyond human beings’ limitations and their ingrained ability to learn and evolve.
Still Stanton continued his quest as he aged. Seasons came and went. Inevitably, the young man was no longer a young man anymore.
Over the course of yet another overnight session scouring the modern marvel that was internet, Seth Stanton unearthed what would become his life’s dream. He was sixty-three pages into one of his countless keyword searches of the term “abilities” when he discovered Dr. Stefani Wilkins and her Effected.
The Effected was the term Stefani Wilkins, PhD, had designated to those special humans who had lucked upon an evolutionary advancement, causing abilities only previously conceived of in comic books and science fiction stories.
The first of these was a school teacher in Canada who discovered she had the ability to create a frequency with her voice that destroyed cancer cells. She used her power freely to diminish the degenerative disease from her community.
Despite her desire to keep her ability discreet, she had people coming to see her from miles around. She retired from her teaching duties to dedicate her life to a different type of service. Many brought gifts of food, clothing, and even money, allowing her to continue her new life’s work of healing others. She became a modern-day Canadian messiah.
Upon some preliminary research, Stanton had determined there was a concerted effort to quiet the doctor, derived from a multitude of angles. Religious leaders claimed the Effected were a media created hoax, conjured in an effort to discredit their God and his teachings by the world’s atheists. The ultra-rich silenced the coverage on their vast multimedia networks. Stanton could only assume this was due to the overwhelming financial and power implications such an ability would provide.
Considering the minimal sources of information Stanton could initially uncover regarding Wilkins and her subjects, there was an exponential flow of alternative viewpoints suggesting that Wilkins was a tin-foil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist. He certainly saw through the thin veil of disinformation, even if the masses did not.
From what Stanton could determine, Wilkins located and observed the Effected. She made contact with them, and in turn, transcribed detailed records of her resulting data and discoveries.
What he had found held within the doctor’s research was utterly unbelievable. It was precisely what he had been searching for this entire time. It was literally what he had been dreaming of. Stanton couldn’t help but become obsessed with the idea of elevating his own physical and mental capabilities.
Stanton felt that Wilkins coining the term “Effected” was thoroughly ironic. The doctor obviously had not achieved any true understanding of where or how her subjects’ abilities had derived. Still, he couldn’t help but agree that they were effected by something unexplained by modern science.
Stanton was enamored with her ideology, but he certainly saw things from an alternatively more self-centered perspective. To Wilkins it was all about them, the Effected. To Stanton it was all about him and what he could gain in terms of overcoming his own biological limitations. How would he uncover and master these inherent inner-abilities within himself? And, if failing that, how could he seize these powers for himself?
Although Stanton’s desired outcome was not altruistic like Wilkins’ motive, her research and methods would prove invaluable to his own ambition. Their goals overlapped and intersected. She was essential to him realizing his dream.
He decided he needed to connect with the good Dr. Wilkins. Beyond that, he would need to make himself valuable to her, even necessary, if he was going to gain the exclusive access to the data and information he required.
She held the key to a greater understanding that was not yet contained within books or the internet. If she didn’t hold the key, she may be the doorway itself.
Despite the value it would have presented in establishing any credentials with Wilkins, Stanton was not an accredited doctor or scientist. He had never taken the time to acquire an MD, PhD, or any other certified specializations. She would not see him as a peer, therefore she would not see any reason to share her life’s work with him.
Stanton did indeed have vast knowledge and understanding of the human body, particularly of the mind. All had been gained by his own inherent tenacity and compulsive curiosity. This would not prove enough to penetrate the doctor’s paranoid guard. Wilkins was neither fool, nor personable enough for the the feat to be accomplished with ease, so he began to design an approach to his dilemma creatively.
Like Stanton, Wilkins was enthusiastic about the implications and potential she had discovered through her research. Her discoveries proved beyond any doubt that human DNA had evolved in unique ways. Inexplicable abilities were developing within many people around the globe.
Stanton learned that although the doctor had an incredible knack for finding these evolutionarily advanced subjects, her entire field of study was dedicated to theory. He would use his technological expertise to push her research toward more practical application.
Stanton located and approached the doctor. He attempted to qualify himself with his background and offered his assistance and dedication to be applied toward her work. Additionally, he promised unquestioned service and loyalty. He put on quite the display of humility and reverence, despite his authentic contemptuous demeanor.
Wilkins was a strong, independent person in her own right. She was not impressed. Additionally, she did not trust the man’s precariously conceived reasons for wanting to get involved in her ongoing campaign.
And, frankly, she just didn’t like him, nor his obnoxiously arrogant personality. Stanton was obviously a savant, but he annoyed her. She refused his help and companionship outright.
Like the stubborn would-be acolyte attempting to learn from a reluctant mentor he was, Stanton persisted in his attempts of proving himself indispensable to the doctor’s cause. Despite his gifts of uncovered information and technology of his own invention, he was rebuffed many more times.
This game of cat and mouse continued for several years. When all seemed hopeless, Stanton returned to his home near Boston. He decided to return to doing what he had done best before his obsession with Dr. Stefani Wilkins had consumed him. He would create to further his own potential.
He continued following the doctor’s work with new perspective and fervor. As more and more data reached him via the internet he searched for patterns in the brain-wave activity and vitals of the Effected she was studying.
He compared DNA samples, blood types, and even many details that proved inconsequential such as hair color, race, and age. He spent extensive time sifting through decades of data. Luckily, he had worked diligently increasing his overall efficiency in data processing when he was younger. In a year and a half he accomplished what most would have needed a lifetime for. Despite spending so much time on seemingly arbitrary information processing, he finally found what he was needing.
One cold night, that could have been considered lonely if Stanton ever felt the feeling, he stared blankly at his notes and crowded cork board. The data finally arranged itself correctly in his mind.
His understanding of the Effected and their powers began to make sense. He now had the answer to the how part of the equation; he had long since moved past the question of why.
The image of a device formed within Stanton’s head, one which he would build. He knew how to find these Effected on his own.
He went on to build a machine. It used complex algorithms, and a type of artificial intelligence that was capable of predicting the occurrences of the Effected realizing their powers to a near-perfect degree of accuracy. He called the machine his Postuant.
Stanton still believed he had insights to gain from Dr. Wilkins; either that or he continued to harbor some perverted infatuation toward the woman and her work. Despite his many failed attempts to befriend and partner with her, he would make one final attempt.
Upon multiple successful tests of his Postuant, he brought his prototype to Wilkins as a last ditch effort at a partnership. Of course he built a second version of the machine for himself with some “improvements”, but that was hidden away for when his whims demanded its use.
Wilkins, perturbed by the incessant persistence of Stanton, reluctantly agreed to a demonstration of the Postuant machine. The demonstration was an indubitable success.
This was no surprise to Stanton, after all it was his creation, but Wilkins was ecstatic with the gift and the possibilities of major breakthroughs. She had not realized that Stanton had such technical skill.
In her elation she embraced Stanton. The moment was awkward, but it had sealed a victory within the self-taught scientist’s mind.
They went on to locate five Effected within a twenty mile radius of New York City. It only took a mere fraction of the time it had previously taken her to find even one.
Of course, the determination Stanton had shown Wilkins was grown purely of his selfishness, but to the doctor that no longer mattered. What damage could he possibly do?
Stanton’s goal of getting close to the most preeminent intellectual in the field of psychic and metaphysical activity had been accomplished. Wilkins had let down her previously impenetrable guard. Now harboring a clear understanding of his genius and its necessity to her work, she proceeded to welcome the scientist’s expertise and companionship into her life and research.
Together they located many new Effected throughout the world, most of which had powers Wilkins had already observed and documented. However, a few were quite novel and unusual indeed.
They found a child in Africa capable of communicating with animals. The two made their way to Kenya, to the boy’s home. The tin-walled shanty was surrounded by baboons, bushbabies, a cheetah, among other animals of the night. They were sitting content, as if holding vigil. Inside the shack, the boy was communicating with two crocodiles using only his mind. Wilkins perceived that the boy was commanding the animals, but the boy insisted he just made requests. The animals acted upon their own free will.
A woman in Taiwan could change the temperature of the air surrounding her within approximately a nine yard radius. She could fluctuate the climate hotter and colder by about fifty degrees depending on the moisture in the air.
A construction worker in Boston, Massachusetts found he was able to shape specific metals and minerals with his mind. He was reinventing himself by creating intricate and artistic sculptures, leaving his many followers and customers wondering how he had achieved such unique forms in his medium.
Now, the sharp scientist was the necessary apprentice. The two would spend the next twelve years together. Stanton absorbed, learned, and interpreted Wilkins’ findings efficiently and relentlessly.
Wilkins was pleased to have a companion with whom to share her excitement and findings. Their relationship remained platonic, but they appeared closer than any married couple.
Stanton predicted and met the doctor’s needs well. He made himself indispensable to both her life and her research. As was the course with his manner, he eventually grew bored with the limitations of Wilkins’ style of “wait and watch” research. They were both growing older, and Stanton never forgot his desire to actualize powers within himself. Wilkins’ methods were not moving him towards this goal by any means.
Driven by this realization, the scientist crafted additional tools and technology that allowed the pair to dive deeper into their passions and curiosity for that which resided within the Effected’s minds. To do so, however, these new means required a more invasive nature.
Wilkins was reluctant at first, but by now she had grown to trust her partner and friend. Deep down, she knew he was still the same warily ambitious man he was when she had met him, but her excitement from each revelation after amazing revelation allowed her to push that ingrained knowledge to the side.
Stanton’s creations became more spectacular and intricate. However, many had the potential of causing intense pain and possible permanent damage to the subjects’ bodies and minds. He was as reticent about those aspects as Wilkins had become willing to turn a blind eye.
Stefani had never wanted to compromise her conscience by allowing anything to harm her effected, but slowly Stanton’s ambitions seemed to poison her own.
Stanton consistently cited the greater good and the bigger picture as justifications for a more expedited version of their work. He cited compelling reasons why diving deeper was worthy of the potential costs.
Wilkins recognized the error in her complicity. Their relationship became strained, as they began disagreeing more and more often. The two, who had become as close as any notable partners in history, had developed an irreparable schism between them.
Stanton didn’t dwell long on the negative. He kept himself busy and driven. He was far too dedicated to his purpose to allow such weakness to affect his work and progress thus far. In those brief moments when he was taken aback by anger he swallowed it down, allowing the rage to quietly boil up inside of his body. When Wilkins was no longer in his presence his face would redden and the veins at the side of his neck bulged out as if he were holding his breath. Then the rage expired and seemed to pass. He would move on anew.
Stanton stayed in his lab working while Wilkins continued to visit the Effected out in the field. The two ceased communicating their individual progresses to one another.
Wilkins attempted to travel without informing Stanton of where she was going and who she was visiting, but Stanton’s prowess with technology prevented her from keeping anything secret from him for long. Stanton had successfully accessed everything Wilkins would ever have wished hidden from the scientist’s dark reach.
Stanton continued his charade of obedience to the Doctor’s whims and boundaries, but he too was taking his own trips to visit the Effected surreptitiously.
Always a few days behind Dr. Wilkins, Stanton would visit the subjects and test out his new gear. He would inevitably gain much deeper insights than anything the doctor could ever hope to achieve through his newly devised methods.
Wilkins had instinctually determined that something was awry, as Effected she had recently worked with gradually became unreachable by communication. Many had seemed to disappear.
Wilkins had located and visited a wonderful boy who could fly in the Philippines. After concluding her time with him she purchased an airplane ticket to visit another Effected in Nagasaki, Japan.
There was no Effected to visit in Nagasaki. She never boarded the airplane in Manila for which she had bought the ticket.
Wilkins was waiting for Stanton. She hid in the boy’s village in attempt to see what her partner was planning.
Stanton arrived in the modest farming village with an assistant of his own two days hence. They each pulled behind them large metallic rolling suitcases.
The scientist paid one of the poverty-stricken families of the village fifty US dollars to vacate their farm hut for three days. He conversed in Filipino as if he were a native speaker. The family accepted the money and didn’t ask any questions.
Stanton and his college-aged pug-faced female assistant donned their white lab coats and went to work setting up their makeshift operating room within the hut. Although Wilkins didn’t recognize much of what they unpacked, one particular device the assistant placed at the head of the table was familiar to her.
It was a large domed helmet he had called his Exasberator.. He had shown it to Wilkins once before. She would never forget the resulting interaction.
The helmet required direct input into a patient’s spinal column. It had many functions. Stanton even fitted himself with input plates on his neck and back for testing and observational use.
Regardless of Stanton’s promises of the many benefits of using his “perfectly safe” Exasberator, Wilkins immediately and incontrovertibly understood the risks. Manipulating the spine and nervous system could cause paralyzation and death, whether accidentally or intentionally.
Wilkins had immediately objected to Stanton creating this perverse machine. She demanded he destroy the helmet and never build another one like it. Stanton reluctantly acquiesced and incinerated the device while she was there to witness.
The rift remained even after the helmet did not. That was the moment the doctor had determined to no longer be complicit in her partner’s wanton destructive tendencies. In her eyes, that was the moment their partnership ended.
That memory was from two years prior. She had little doubt that the second suitcase held another near-identical machine. Only he knew how many more there were.
Stanton had no fear of being overheard in this poor village. None of the locals spoke English, so he spoke freely. He informed his assistant that he was going to use a surgical technique to determine the exact location in the cerebral cortex that the flying boy’s ability had derived from. He continued with instructions on what he would require of her during the procedure.
Wilkins deciding she could not sit idly by while Stanton did harm to this beautiful boy. She had just connected with him, and she had earned his trust. She was already too much an accomplice in the scientist’s madness. She had allowed Stanton access to everything she had worked so hard for. Her labors were heart and soul.
Wilkins confronted her partner. She was afraid to ask how many of her Effected he had visited after her, but she had an idea based on her many futile attempts at communication with them recently. She felt ill at the idea of her fault in aiding his exploits.
Dr. Stefani Wilkins has not been seen since that day.
Seth Stanton, on the other hand, went on to partner with several billionaires who created a mega-corporation that would fund more of his research into Wilkins’ Effected.
The company provided him with everything and anything he desired to achieve his ends. He had unlimited funding, guarded laboratories with full staffing, and any other resources Stanton would ever deem necessary.
In their eyes, his ends would justify their means. After all, he would be weaponizing the Effected. He kept up the air of these shared goals with his benefactors, but he still remained covertly self-centric about his exploits. He never forgot his dream.
He fed his partners technology and information that would allow them to exploit or destroy their competition. They could gain unimaginable riches as well, but that was only half of the story.
No one knew what Seth Stanton, now known as the Controller to his employees and partners, truly desired. He had more than any army or the richest first world nation could ever possibly imagine, but it would never be enough.
More than immortality, legacy, and riches, the Controller still lusted for power for himself. He wanted that power within himself.
The Controller understood from all his exploits with the Effected that there were powers out in the world that were far beyond his wildest imagination. Making those powers his was still his dream.
At least now he was on his way…
Bad Dreams is the second arc of an ongoing fiction epic called The Dreamer.
Look out for Part 2 in two weeks.
In the meantime, if you haven’t read the first arc check it out here.
John Andreula is a writer and dreamer residing in the foothills of Colorado.
More of his works of can be found at:
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