2016, July 26

Dusk had fallen over North America, and most of its citizens prepared to sleep. For them, or at least most of them, sleep and dreams were only an ordinary thing, something not to be concerned with, and frankly, rather unimportant, except for the only convenience to wake up feeling not tired.

But to a small group of friends in Canada, sleep and dreams meant a completely different thing, as they considered it to be rather essential and even, vital to the survival of humans.

Madzistrale and Tom entered the control room, slightly annoyed, followed by Gabzryel.

"I am telling you, dreams may show us the way to build a better future; we only have to study them more profoundly," Gabzryel encouraged.

"But what if you're wrong?" Madzistrale retorted. "What if your crazy theory is wrong, and dreams are only hallucinations, our brain trying to analyze gathered information?"

"Seriously? You believe that?" Gabzryel asked, amused.

"More than your theory! It's crazy!"

"Oh, really?" Gabzryel challenged; he walked to his computer, opened a folder, and put up a text file. "Native American mythology: 'The Spider is considered as the ruler over dreams; her woven web represents the Native American's belief that the physical world is interwoven with a multitude of spiritual worlds, all of which are, according to beliefs, accessed through sleep, hypnosis, or trance state'. Sanskrit mythology, from the Ravajama: 'According to the sacred Sanskrit text, there are 26 worlds; the Buddha world, 13 levels of Hell-like worlds, 9 levels of Heaven-like worlds, and 2 levels of physical world. It is said we can get glimpses of them through meditation or a trance-like state.' It's all documented, guys! All I'm asking is for a chance to prove it. A chance for you guys to be convinced. If I am right, then imagine what we will have discovered?"

"But we tried for more than a year, nothing showed up!" Tom intervened.

"Because you guys give me boring dreams! Skiing, adventure with zombies, human-eating dragons, romantic nights with fictional characters..."

"Hey!" Madzistrale cut, blushing.

"What I mean is that I can't get a lock of where you are, or not enough of a lock. Look, I know about music's effects upon thoughts and dreams. Let me try something tonight to see if I can't get you guys to visit a planet or watch the Earth from space, or something like that. That'll get me a visual and frequency lock on where you are."

"I guess that means another night plugged to the computer?" Madzistrale sighed.

"A rather small price to pay for information," Gabzryel smiled, sitting with an air of victory in front of the computers. "Come on guys, to your bedrooms," he encouraged them, setting up the parameters of the recording instruments.

"Lucky for some of us that we don't fancy anyone," Tom joked sarcastically to his sister. "We don't need to worry about inadequate dreams being recorded and played back!"

Madzistrale blew them both a raspberry, and the siblings entered their respective bedrooms. As the control room was hidden from the bedrooms's view, they prepared in an approximately undisturbed fashion to enter the realm of dreams while Gabzryel filled their bedrooms with a kind of techno New Age music.
He opened the computer microphone and pressed record:
"Dream Log, entry #167. I am once more attempting the 'Project Orb Weaver'. This time, the subjects have been exposed to a techno/New Age music, with should affect the location and content of their dreams."
He pressed more buttons, this time on another computer, and a grid of two RMI brains appeared, with a REM frequency recorder on the side. He pressed "Record", and noted to his journal:
"Setting up the REM waves recordings... and recording started. Playback time."

Madzistrale and Tom heard nothing of this preparation procedure, though, and they entered slowly into their dream worlds.

Darkness invaded our heroes' minds, soon to be replaced by a bird's-eye view of a country. They landed on the ground of concrete, in the middle of a city. The buildings were in the start of their ruin, as if they had been up for decades without ever being repaired. Each inch of the ground was covered with hundreds of thousands of small townhouses, side-by-side, for as far as the eyes could see. Here and there were a few buildings of twenty stories rising to the sky, crippled with age. Not a single patch of green trees could be seen, only a few yellow patches of burnt grass, where the cement of the multiples streets hadn't covered yet.

Walking in the streets, Madzistrale and Tom crossed citizens, their faces haggard, and their eyes devoid of life. In the streets, mayhem ruled, with cars and peasants alike observing no rules, doing only what they wished to do. The siblings looked at each other, their emotions reflecting exactly, as a feeling of doom entered their mind.

"Let's see what's out there," Madzistrale suggested.

As if they were birds, they rose in the air and landed upon a tower. The air was thick with carbon dioxide, and the sky was grey throughout the city, the sun unable to pierce through the polluted atmosphere. But they could still see the city below, and to their consternation, it was only the same unceasing agglomeration of townhouses and buildings.

"My God, what is this place? Tokyo?" Gabzryel gasped in horror to the intention of his diary log, as the brains of the sleeping siblings transmitted to his computer the vision, and the recording playbacked in front of him.
"It's rare in the case of the subjects, but their hearts are beating faster, their blood pressure is rising, and the amygdala activity is spiking; even though the view is not necessarily frightening, they are feeling extremely anxious," Gabzryel analyzed and wrote in the diary. "They almost never feel fear during dreams. Even in the case of potential threat, the fear is repressed and replaced by curiosity and confidence, as they know they can overcome the threat. I am thus concluding it is a psychological threat, as it is a much harder and stronger threat to fight against than a physical threat. In the case of the subjects, it is, in addition, an obscure and invisible psychological threat, which makes it only stronger in impact."

Back in the siblings's dream, they came back down, and entered a mall, where they watched as the vacant people rushed past them to buy this or that, an almost inaudible background music playing.

"Is it me, or are these people not alive?" Madzistrale whispered, her ethereal blood cooling.

"It's not that. It feels more like they don't have anything to look forward to," Tom whispered back, analyzing the people. "They do everything automatically, as if they've done that for a long time. In a way, you could say they are not alive, but if something were to happen, I strongly believe they will spring back to life. But, right now, they indeed look... dead."

Just as he finished speaking, the volume of the background music rose, and a voice spoke:
"Hello fellow citizens, it is time for the mid-day news!"

The shoppers stopped moving, and all listened intently. A man and a seemingly four-year old girl in his arms stopped beside our heroes, and out of politeness, told them:
"I hope it's good news!"

Tom and Madzistrale smiled politely in return, and listened:

"The Rajars of the Ten States met today to talk about economics; they are working on lowering various aspects of the economics, in the hope that it will stabilize the situation. Unemployment is now at 64%, a rise of 13% since last year, a record. The FedCor also announced that there might be a loss in the distribution of soya packs, as the fields are plagued by a heavier drought than expected. Also, the Rajars ask that their citizens ration the water, as a crisis is imminent, according to the sciencians (to the heroes mind, it automatically translated as "scientists"). Finally, tension is till high as the Turans have not yet reached an agreement with the Rajars, and the former threaten to go ahead in with their plans of sending droid troops to the Ten States.
But there is good news: the final experimental shipment has been launched from Terra, and is now in orbit about Mona. Sciencians believe that in forty years, the entire solar system will be ready to be populated.
Thank you for listening to the mid-day news; we will now return to the program."

The news finished, and the volume turned back low.

"Ration the water?? Eat less?" the man beside Tom and Madzistrale exclaimed to a woman who appeared by his side. "We are already living on one dinner per day. Everyone who is unlucky and found themselves in the streets is starving, because we are not allowed to feed them, and now water is going to be rationed??"

A heavy debate started, and the siblings stepped aside, listening from afar.

"Yeah, what about Turan's armies? Who will protect us if they invade?" another woman cried. "They are all busy with this Mona Mission. If that same money would have been to Terra, we wouldn't be in trouble! Now who's gonna care if thousands of us die?"

Hearing enough, Tom and Madzistrale got out of the mall, and they flew above the city, seeking the limit of it. But there seemed to be no end to the townhouses. After a while, they realized the sea of buildings never stopped.

"Where are the farms??" Madzistrale wondered.

"I think that's the point," Tom said sadly, "there are no more. Whoever controlled this place was stupid enough to counter population by spreading it across the surface of the Earth. Nothing remains now."

Suddenly, they heard a tremble, and they stopped their flight, now hovering above the ground. For a reason they couldn't explain, dread filled them completely, and the urge to wake up came as strongly. But they were determined to find out more about what was coming. And then, they saw it. Rising from the horizon, enormous plates of metal rose from the ground. Perfored, perhaps to let air come through the metal plates, they rose higher and higher in the sky, sending a constant trembling across the earth. As the siblings watched in horror, unable to move, the plates started to curve, and fill the sky. Shoutings came from above, as the masses of citizens got out of their houses, and watched as the plates covered more and more of the sky, well above the polluted air.

"What is this??" a woman screamed.

"It's the Turan armies!" a man replied.

"Impossible, they don't have that much power to build such a thing."

And on the debate continued, growing in fear and rage as the plates continued their ascension and coverage.
Then, as a few kilometers of visible sky remained, the sky boomed, and an almost military-like voice spoke, with perfect calm, and a hint of nonchalance:
"People of Terra, this is the Rajar Command. We speak from Mona. The Mona Mission has been accomplished successfully, and rest assured that the legacy of Terrans continues through our selected elite members of this mission. However, there is one small problem."

At this moment, Tom and Madzistrale could swear that they heard the voice speak the last sentence with an amused tone.

"As the experiments grew, we found, through an enormous tragedy, that the atmosphere of Mona is sensible to any alien bacterias, and so are the elite members that now inhabit Mona. For security reasons, the people of Terra will not be able to leave this planet, nor have any contact with Mona whatsoever, otherwise you will endanger the survival of humanity. For this reason, your planet will be enclosed, so that no one can attempt to leave Terra. We repeat, this is to ensure the survival of humanity."

Then, it was clearly heard by everyone: the voice smiled, and said these last words, the last words Terrans would ever hear from the stars:
"Welcome to Hell."

A note from MelodieRivers

Earth, 2017. Two Canadian siblings and their eccentric friend test the mysterious Project Orb Weaver, a project that if proven, could protect humanity forever. However, what is hope for one is also the doom for another.

A tie-in to my novel series The Shadow Paradigm, in fact, the first tie-in, it follows the discovery of the famous and elusive Project Orb Weaver, which is an important part of the novel plot. 
This story was written nearly five years ago; so re-reading it, I feel that it could use some improvements. What do you think?

About the author


Bio: I'm a writer that believes in optimistic, hopeful stories that tell a good future. A friend said: if you cannot find the light, become the light.
So if you like feel-good, kind fantasy and sci-fi stories, sometimes dark but always striving for the light, you've come to the right place.

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