The Experiment of Dreams
By Brandon Zenner
Genre: Psychological Thriller
A shocking psychological thriller: Benjamin Walker's lifelong career of testing experimental drugs and medicines, as well as participating in fascinating sleep-related studies, has come to an end. A new and lucrative job opportunity is offered to Ben, working on a project named Lucy, a machine capable of reading and recording a person's dreams in intimate detail. All is finally going well for Ben . . . until strange dreams of a town named Drapery Falls begin to plague him, and memories once hidden begin to reveal themselves. The doctors and staff onboard team Lucy are not who Ben thinks they are, and Mr. Kalispell will stop at nothing to keep Ben's emerging memories buried for good. Ben is put on a collision course that will bring him to the brink of total insanity, and perhaps even death. At the heart of it all, Ben's worst enemy is his own mind, and he must confront his past in order to save his future. The twist and turns in The Experiment of Dreams will keep you guessing, down to the very last line.
Brandon Zenner was born and raised in Red Bank New Jersey, only a short distance from the shore. His short fiction has been published in both print and online publications, the first being PLAZM 28, submitted when Brandon was just 19 years old. In 2014 Brandon published his first full-length novel, "The Experiment of Dreams," as a Kindle ebook. The paperback novel followed a year later. His second full-length novel is well on its way.
Throughout his early years writing, Brandon's favorite practice was to open a dictionary to any random page and aimlessly select the first word that this finger touched. He would then feverishly write a short story using his Smith-Corona typewriter. Using a mechanical typewriter, without the aid of auto correct, taught the importance of grammar and spelling (as well as patience and aggravation).
“Just a moment,” Dr. Wulfric said, using a swivel knob on the keyboard to fast-forward the scene. He stopped as the images cleared to what looked like mountains; only they were very blurry. Then the image again snapped into unimaginable clarity, the brightness of which startled and entranced Ben. His brain let loose a sense of euphoria that swept through his body. The camera was high in the air—in an airplane or helicopter—flying above a colorful mountain range or deep valley, perhaps the Grand Canyon. Ben didn’t know.
“It’s beautiful,” Ben said. “Is that the Grand Canyon?”
“I’m not sure.”
Patches of brush in the far distance appeared in such detail that Ben doubted that he’d be able to see it any clearer if he were there himself. Suddenly the camera dropped, diving straight into a massive gorge. The plane barreled down, and then quickly leveled itself, going faster and faster—like a jet. Ben felt his stomach lurch as the camera swung straight up, hugging the wall of the canyon. It was so close to the rocky edge that whatever aircraft was taking these pictures was in serious danger of crashing into the wall. Flashes of dark brown, yellow, and orange whizzed past the screen at amazing speed, yet the image was never blurred; only his eyes couldn’t process the speed in which they were passing. When Ben blinked and held his eyes shut, the exact image of whatever was flashing by on the screen stayed in his mind like a photograph—no streaking or blurring whatsoever. It was so fast—too fast. The scene swooped down and back up through the valleys and gorges, in unbelievable detail.
Ben’s mind whirled. Dr. Wulfric hit a button and the screen went black. Ben shuttered his eyes, letting his brain rest.
“So, what did you think of my video?” Dr. Wulfric asked.
“I don’t know. Those colors ... I’ve never seen colors that vivid on a TV screen. What is this, some new high-def system you’re testing?”
“Not exactly.” He chuckled. “The little girl was my daughter, although she’s no longer a child. The roller skating rink is just like the one we went to on her third birthday, maybe a little different. The mountains, though—I have no idea where they came from.”
“That, Ben ... was from a dream I had a few days ago. I don’t remember dreaming it, but that was indeed recorded from my dream.”
Ben looked about the room—the CAT scanner, the computer monitors and blinking machinery, and the Pyrex beakers and other labware. “What exactly are you guys doing here? You recorded your dream? Is that what that thing does?” Ben pointed to the scanner.
“Sort of,” Dr. Egan replied before Dr. Wulfric could answer. “What we have here are two separate technologies. We’ve created a serum that actively monitors the neurological activity in the brain during REM sleep and transmits the activity to that piece of equipment over there. That instrument is called a Frequency Responding Lucid Transmitter. The serum works off the electrical output of the brain, triggered in part by the release of serotonin in the pineal gland, which lies above the medulla—”
“Yes, Ben,” Dr. Wulfric said, waving Dr. Egan down—who was pointing at the base of his head to his own medulla oblongata. “To answer your question without confusing you any further ...” He looked again at Dr. Egan, “that device can read and transmit the images from your sleep—from anybody’s sleep. Presently, it can only transmit during the REM cycle, but that is about to change. This machine can record a dream in greater length and detail than the dreamer is aware when he’s dreaming.”
“That’s just crazy,” Ben said. “I mean in a good way. It’s amazing. I’m starting to see where I fit in with all of this.”
Dr. Wulfric smiled. “We would like to further explore the extent to which this machine can operate. We need someone who can utilize their REM cycle to its fullest potential. Someone like you, Ben.”