Vincent watched her shuffling through the pages of her notebook trying to find an empty page to note down the symbols that the professor had just drawn on the whiteboard. She was sitting on the same row — a couple of seats away — and Vincent had a clear view of everything she was doing. Her eye shade was light blue and the color seemed to merge well with the light blue t-shirt she was wearing.

It was a semiotics class and Vincent usually had the habit of trying to interpret his classmates like they were each a unique symbol with tremendous hidden meaning. The girl wore black jeans and plain white sneakers and resembled a malnourished athlete.

A bit too masculine, Vincent thought. I wonder if she wears a bra. Her tits are too small. That eye shade just doesn’t go with the sneakers. Her hair seems long and lovely though. I wonder if she regularly washes it. It seems straight enough for my liking. But she’s too much of a tomboy. Fuck. If she just wore something more pink, or a good feminine top instead of that polo shirt.

When she took a quick glance toward him, Vincent quickly shifted his head upward and moved his fingers across his hair pretending to cure an itch that had mystically grabbed his attention. When she turned back toward the whiteboard, his attention seemed to just divert itself back to her like he had no control over it.

Why am I even looking at her? She seems so ordinary. Wait, fuck! That’s a Valentino t-shirt. She must be rich. A rich girl with a bad taste for clothes. Fuck.

It was after a long trail of thought that Vincent realized he was now thinking of what life would be like if he married the girl.

If we have kids, it needs to be a son. I can’t imagine a daughter with this girl. She’d be too distasteful and probably a geek virgin till 30. No, fuck it! I can’t marry her. Imagine having sex with this girl. She’d never wear what I ask her to wear. And after I’m bored of her body, it’d be hell trying to convince her to do what I want.

“Professor, I have a question,” the girl was raising her hand. Vincent’s thoughts were too loud in his head to understand what she was saying and his thoughts continued.

Fuck, she’s paying attention. She might know more of semiotics than I do. She might go to graduate school. I don’t think I want to go to graduate school. I love being intelligent in bed after sex. I like saying witty things with intervals in between. But what if she talks too much? I wouldn’t be able to be me. I should stop looking at her.

The girl took a quick glance again toward Vincent’s direction and this time he continued to look at her, but in a way that indicated that he was looking through her at the wall. The girl seemed not to notice Vincent staring right at her.

She’s dull. Fuck, I’m sure she sucks in bed. I think I should start paying attention to the class. But I can’t stop looking at her. She’s not even attractive. Stupid rich bitch with a bad taste for fashion. I wonder if she’s on Facebook. I’ll look her up later. Fuck, but what’s her name? There’s no name card in front of her. Maybe I’ll wait till the professor calls her out sometime. Wait, why do I want to stalk this ugly rich bitch? Her sneakers are so white. Does she play tennis? At least she could’ve played football. There’d be something interesting about her. But wait, tennis players have terrific bodies! Maybe she has a nice body. But that face, there’s nothing sharp about it. There are no proper curves and turns; the kind that a proper pretty girl should have. I don’t think she’s pretty. I should have just jerked off this morning. That’s why this is happening. Fuck it. Let’s pay attention to the class.

The class was dismissed and Vincent raced toward the elevator. As he waited for it to arrive at the second floor, he saw the t-shirt girl walking toward him. He felt the usual currents of discomfort that everybody feels when they become aware of who their elevator companions will be for the next few seconds. Everybody feels it with strangers, and Vincent was no exception.

Fuck, this bitch again! I hope she’s going up.

The elevator arrived and the girl entered before Vincent did.

Fuck, she’s going down.

As the elevator began to move, Vincent’s eye caught the girl who broke into a gentle and pleasant smile.

“Hello,” she said.

“Hey,” Vincent replied smiling. It was a whisper that came out in an awkward choking manner.

She’s sweet, Vincent thought. He suddenly became aware of an overwhelming scent of green apple laced with small amounts of lavender.

She’s ovulating. She has to be ovulating! Fuck, what a scent that is. Is that how she smells? Is she wearing something? Whatever it is, it smells brilliant!

The elevator reached the ground floor and the girl started to walk away slowly. While her white sneakers made no sound as they treaded against the ground, Vincent envisioned her wearing black pretty heels that made a loud noise with each step. Vincent turned around to walk toward the building exit. He was too naïve (or careless) to notice that his thoughts were now completely transformed.

What a delicious chick. That t-shirt went so well with those jeans. A pretty athlete; how brilliant is that? I hope she’s on Facebook. My phone’s out of charge. Fuck! Once I get home then. I should talk to her in the next class. I wonder if she drinks. We could go out for a drink sometime. I’m sure she loves good vodka. She looks classy. She definitely likes good vodka. I can’t believe I thought of dropping semiotics. I should form a study group with her. And that smile in the elevator — so . . . soft and genuine. We need more women like her. I could just feed her berries in bed all day without touching her. I’d still be happy.

Vincent pulled out a cigarette to light as soon as he stepped out of the building. He looked around him and then adjusted the waist of his jeans to hide the pounding erection that made the cigarette tremble in his fingers.


The Dreamtrix

The Dreamtrix

The Dreamtrix v300 was an absolute luxury. It was the fruition of humanity’s perpetual search for advanced technology, and being termed a “desire-designer” came alive in the hands of the Trixcorp Dream Project, a research project motivated to create a user-customized dream-generation machine, with 300 tons of aluminum-based alloys, 30 million terabytes of computer storage, and a ton-load of human intellect. It was a machine created for the men and women who lived in the creamiest layer of society’s wealth chain and of course, it was only them who could choose to afford it. It offered an intense and near-real experience by allowing users to dream whatever they desired.  Still in its early stages of research and development, it had a few glitches in its random-dream algorithm that, on occasions, could leave its users in irreparable torment—the kind you would find in the mind of a young man after an all-gone-wrong experience under the influence of an intense psychedelic substance.

“What’s it going to be today Mrs. Dawn?” asked the machine’s chief operating engineer to the short grinning 43-year-old questionably heavy woman standing before him.

“Well son, I’m feeling quite adventurous today. Jared Smorsgard please”, she said as she lay herself down on the warm white-sheeted bed surrounded by the ten-foot tall contraption. Lisa Dawn was the wife of a billionaire in the diet industry who was responsible for half the obesity in the Earth’s Western hemisphere. She arrived at Trixcorp Dreamlabs once every week and paid $300,000 to have an intense experience of one hour of dream sex with the celebrity of her choice. She loved it, and nobody could blame her. Her husband joined her on a few occasions and paid for his turn, although his tastes were quite strange often matching the same as those of his wife. A few of the engineers at the lab counted 19 times they could remember when Mr. Dawn himself came wildly in his pants following his happy time with Jared Smorsgard, the Swedish movie star who had now graced Hollywood for a decade with his unique smile and perfectly toned body.

The accuracy of the Dreamtrix v300 in producing a real-world experience was questioned by none of its users. The machine worked by sedating its user and manually creating a dream experience  drawing information from a complex algorithm that spidered the world’s largest information database, the Trixcorp Access v720. It was acquired 17 years ago from a very old company, about two centuries old, called Google, Inc. The database provided all the required data to create a virtual environment that matched the user’s requirements. The algorithm was responsible for transforming this data from raw information to a perfectly three-dimensional experience that was fed into the user’s brain to create his or her dream experience.

The hour was over, and Mrs. Dawn walked out with the widest of grins the engineers had ever seen her display. They were happy. Mrs. Dawn had mourned louder this time compared to any of the previous sessions she had in the v300. This means the machine was evolving and the engineers were making great progress with their research. Mrs. Dawn even left a $10,000 tip for the operating engineer—a considerable increase from the usual $7000.

Carlyle Blue, the 39-year-old motorsport celebrity recently divorced with his 19-year-old wife, walked in to the lab looking a bit under the weather. What the engineers at Trixcorp really enjoyed was seeing how they transformed frowning folk into smiling people who on some occasions even had tears in their eyes. “Good afternoon Mr. Blue. How can we help you?” the operating engineer asked as he stroked a large red-button at the lower-right portion of the v300 with white text that read, “Random Option”.

“Have you’ll made any progress with the Random Algorithm?” Carlyle asked. “I’m tired of doing 6-mile laps on Mars and fucking aliens on Pluto. I’m tired of choosing what I want. I’m unsure what I want.”

“Well, we can assure you that we’ve removed the vagueness element from the algorithm. Users are assured sensible experiences that are related to what we experience every day. You don’t have to worry about finding yourself as a Uranium atom in the middle of a nuclear reactor fighting the possibility of seeing yourself dismantled by a chain reaction”, the operations engineer was marketing the Random Algorithm with a grave look on his face. There were several former occasions when users who chose the Random Option Dream Experience (RODE) ended up dreaming of things that made no sense at all. For instance, one young woman dreamt of being a potato placed next to a huge watermelon on a dining table, and that was it! That was her entire dream. Another customer dreamt of being a battery in a cell phone and had the undesirable experience of constant tickling sensations passing through him, perhaps caused by the direct current. Dreams depend on what the human mind is currently aware of. In the v300, the Random Algorithm would feed random information from the database that the mind would become aware of. But, this information could be anything considering the size of the database. In order to make the algorithm sensible, Trixcorp would be required to filter out useful information allowing only information that could be sensibly perceived by the human mind. The people who chose RODE were unsure of their desires and were open to any new experiences. It was important to ensure that while the algorithm filtered out nonsensical information, it still left room for new and unique experiences that would thrill users.

“Do you think I should give it a shot?” asked Carlyle.

“There is one problem sir. While we’ve made great progress with RODE, we still cannot avoid the probability of an extreme nightmare. There is still the 50% probability of an extreme nightmare. And considering the extensive amount of information available in our database, that nightmare could be something so terrifying you might leave the lab a different man, with high chances of permanent psychological wounds. You will also be required to sign a document stating that you are responsible for your decision to use RODE and Trixcorp cannot be held liable in the case of extreme consequences. But, you already known all of this don’t you?” The grave appearance of the operating engineer deepened as his assistants walked up to join him to explain the algorithm in detail to their curious customer.

“Give me the document”, Carlyle signed the RODE agreement document and the engineers strapped him to the contraption. RODE required extensive strapping and Carlyle’s toes and fingers were each wired to a separate program that made sure the user’s body would not go into shock in case of an extreme nightmare.

“Also, during the process, we will be unable to shut down the system in case of the occurrence of an extreme nightmare as the powerful sedative you will be given will not wear off until an hour is complete and shutting the system will result in an awake mind but a body under paralysis. This will result in an extreme case of sleep paralysis and might even rocket your awareness into the darker and ignored portions of your sub-conscious mind creating some of the most unimaginably gruesome experiences that are possible in the realm of consciousness. The sub-conscious of every individual mind has the entire history of mankind encoded within itself and you might end up accessing portions of that history that will destroy the current idea of who you are and your sense of existence. You might wake up a very different man or you might wake up, psychologically dead.” The operations engineer explained all of this with a very philosophical tone to his voice and finally tapped Carlyle on his shoulder exclaiming, “But, well, it’s a 50% chance of a bad time. There’s a 50% chance you will have the most amazing time of your life.”

On completing input of all required parameters and closing the settings window on the operations panel, the chief operating engineer pushed the big red Random Option button as a variety of sounds filled the lab bringing great anticipation to the entire Trixcorp Operations team.

On examining the race car driver’s initial reactions, the engineers found him to be breathing right, smiling, and at ease with whatever dream he was having. The v300 system offered its engineers the facility to view and study a subject’s dream after it was over, however, not while the dreaming was in progress. After about 35 minutes of smooth virtual dream-cruising or as it seemed, Carlyle’s blood pressure jolted upwards and his fists seemed to stiffen a bit. Although this was no serious cause for alarm, the engineers had their equipment ready to counter any undesirable consequences. With about ten minutes left to complete his RODE experience, Carlyle began to viciously bite his tongue with a frown on his face that clearly depicted he was going through some sort of pain. A thin stream of blood began to run down the edge of Carlyle’s lips when one of the junior engineers raced to the operations panel and began fiddling with some of the controls.

“What are you doing?” the chief engineer asked, beginning to sound a bit nervous.

“I’ve been testing an algorithm that can override RODE and insert a pre-defined dream into the subject’s mind. I’m unsure what he’s going through but we might have a chance to change it,” the junior engineer was racing through chunks of code on his laptop as he hooked it to the operations panel.

“Fine, do whatever you have to”, the chief engineer replied.

With about five minutes remaining for the end of the RODE session, the junior engineer successfully executed his override algorithm much to the relief of his team members.

Carlyle began to breathe easier and his blood pressure dropped back to normal. The bleeding from his tongue reduced and his jaws relaxed to their normal posture.

“It’s working!” the junior engineer exclaimed. “I used my algorithm to override RODE and replace the dream manifested by the random algorithm with this dream.”

The other engineers looked at the large monitor of the operations panel to see the display of a fantastic view of the Appalachian Mountains with the sun rising in the background. It was a basic dream but was enough to create positivity in a subject’s mind.

The hour passed and Carlyle woke up with a look of horror in his face. He looked around at the engineers and seemed to be embarrassed about something. On unwiring him from the system, he burst out into a rage at the engineers yelling, “You mother fuckers! I’ve had enough of this shit.” He stormed out of Trixcorp Dreamlabs throwing a check of $300,000 behind him—the money he owed Trixcorp for his nightmare.

Following an hour, the chief engineer gathered the entire operations team to study Carlyle’s dream.

“Well, doesn’t look too terrible, does it?” he asked walking towards the coffee machine with a smirk on his face.

The other engineers had the dream on rewind for two hours and couldn’t find a moment to stop laughing.

Carlyle’s nightmare wasn’t the most horrific anyone could have, but it certainly wasn’t something the average dreamer would have even thought of before trying RODE.

It seemed that the Random Algorithm spidered the entire Trixcorp Access database and somehow managed to find only Carlyle Blue’s mother to give him a blow job for fifty-five minutes before the junior engineer overrode it.

“Well. I guess playing with random is like playing with the devil boys. We better get to work on this or we’re soon going to have some rich boy here with his lawyer suing us for injecting incest into his conscious mind”, the chief engineer was back addressing his team who were still roaring in laughter discussing the terrible luck of Carlyle Blue.

The Trixcorp Dream Project didn’t last too long. Soon a rich guru called Swami Mayananda from India got curious and arrived at the lab asking the engineers to use him as a guinea pig for the RODE experiments. He was the founder of the world’s first global yoga corporation, which was called Tat Tvam Asi, Inc.

“Sir, why would you even consider virtual reality? Aren’t you supposed to be beyond these experiences? What’s in it for you? What would you do with customized dreaming?” the chief engineer asked.

“I have spent my years in silence, meditation, and abstinence. I have known reality like a child knows fire the first time it touches it. I am tired of clarity. I am bored of bliss and ecstasy. I want to know the charm of illusion again. I want to play with it, to lose myself again. Self-realization is not eternal as they say it is. It is part of the process of forgetting and remembering. I remembered, and now I wish to forget again”, the guru explained. “I have no desires. And that is why I need RODE. I need RODE to give me desire.”

The process went smoothly but resulted in the guru putting a bullet in his mouth after shooting three other attendees at a yoga retreat two weeks later. No one would understand why, except the engineers.

RODE had a very different effect on the guru’s mind. The program revealed that all his years of meditation served more to push the entire content of his conscious mind into his sub-conscious mind. In other words, the result of his meditation was in opposition to its purpose. On examination, the engineers saw that RODE made the guru dream of the death a woman whose identity was unknown to the engineers. On probing further, they found out that the woman was the guru’s mother. This triggered his sub-conscious mind and resulted in an explosion of every thought the guru had pushed back into his sub-conscious. He dreamt of all kinds of sexual fantasies, violence, expressions of mental illness, murder, and betrayal. It seemed like the guru’s idea of love had resulted in an opposing energy of hatred in his sub-conscious. This energy manifested in the form of perhaps the worst nightmare that was ever created by Dreamtrix v300 in its history. The engineers were unaware that the sub-conscious could be triggered by an externally induced dream in the conscious mind.

Following the guru’s death, Trixcorp was sued and the entire Dreamtrix project came crashing down. The government got involved and passed regulations on the entire dream technology industry.

Trixcorp had an agreement with the government that it would not use Dreamtrix on live subjects again but begged the government not to confiscate the machinery so that research could continue. In one year, news passed around the world about the dissolution of Trixcorp Industries and the destruction of the Dreamtrix v300. But then, the engineers knew how it was sold to the highest bidder, actor Jared Smorsgard’s virtual lover Mrs. Lisa Dawn, on the black market. She had the RODE algorithm removed from the machine and had the last remaining engineers perfect the machine’s primary algorithm before sale; all she wanted were her virtual lovers.

Following the sale of the Dreamtrix v300 and the dissolution of Trixcorp, a reporter for a magazine called The Illusion stated, “Well, if you look at the entire Dreamtrix racket, it was always quite obvious it would never work out. Life and all that goes with it is simply an illusion. And, to create and customize dreams within that illusion is to create an illusion within an illusion. I mean, we’re part of this illusion. We are the illusion. And our desires make us feel like we are real, like we exist, like there is something to live for. We don’t exist. Our desires don’t exist. And everything we create based on our desires is a greater illusion than we ourselves are.”