It’s raining upside down.
You don’t question why, as you stand on the sky facing the grand expanse of blue, red, yellow, purple, and more flowers. The iridescent garden sparkles at you from the wet dew that dances along its leaves. It looks like it’s longing for your embrace, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t reach it.
As you’re about to give up from trying to touch the green stems, you find yourself in an ocean. The water is a cerulean color, crystal clear where you can see the finely ground sand from centuries of waves, over and over again. You’re facing downwards, admiring the tropical fish that swim around in the serene reef.
You’re not sure why, but there’s immense pressure on your teeth. They feel as though they’re falling out and you can’t help but grind them together – you can’t resist the urge, and you spit out two molars into your hands to your horror.
The alarm sounds quietly, stirring you from your dreams. They dissipate as soon as they appeared, gone into the vast expanse of your mind.
Your dream recorder beeps, confirming the successful recording of your dreams. It beeps again and its light flashes red twice, indicating that it has been sent to the official database belonging to the government for safekeeping and review for the opportunity to turn into a dream film for public viewing. It’s an honor to be chosen for the monthly screening out of over three hundred million people’s dreams – and up to hundreds of dreams per person at that.
You’ve heard that someone you went to school with had their dream selected most recently. Supposedly, the lucid dreaming training that is the highlight of the curriculum at your school has paid off. Although you’ve never been able to get the hang of it nor had the interest in trying it to be selected for the monthly competition, it’s still interesting to hear about successes of fellow alumni.
It’s time to get ready for the day, though; your friends insisted on setting up a blind date for you and you finally gave in after their begging. Apparently, this guy was a real charmer and Francine guaranteed that you’d love him. All you did is sigh and agreed to a time and place.
Now that the day has arrived, you’re not getting cold feet but instead, a mundane feeling of wanting it to be over. Socializing has never been your favorite thing, but especially when playing the romantic field at the insistence of your pushy friends.
You choose a striped white and blue romper to wear for your lunch date. It’s casual and chic to the point of where it may be interpreted as though you’re putting in some effort into the date, but not enough to come off as desperate or overly interested from the first meeting. You decide that wearing your hair down with a little bit of brushing and some sailboat earrings that complement the romper’s color scheme will do just fine. Perhaps it’ll even be an ice breaker – you enjoy the ocean breeze and being out at sea, even if you don’t ever sail.
You arrive five minutes after the arranged meeting time, primarily because you lost track of time and severely underestimated the time it would take to walk through the crowded streets of the city to reach your destination. It’s a cute little café, and you chose to skip breakfast to be able to treat yourself to the meal. A man who matches the picture that your friends had eagerly shoved into your face with a handsome goatee and a broad smile is sitting alone at a table with a menu.
“Are you Raul?” You tentatively ask as you approach the table. His attention focuses to you, and he offers that same smile from the photograph.
“Why yes, indeed I am,” he purrs in a smooth baritone, and you take a seat with a courteous nod. “And I assume you’re Sun-Mi?”
“Yes, I’m sorry for being late,” you apologize, though you do your best to make sure you’re not overly sorry. “I hope I didn’t keep you too long.”
“Not at all,” Raul takes a sip of his coffee. “I hope you don’t mind that I already ordered myself a drink.”
“Not at all,” you parrot, and wonder how long he’s been here to have already ordered a drink and have received it.
After the server comes around and you both order your meals, Raul seems to study you with open interest. You feel as though you’re a museum piece being picked apart with the way he’s intimately examining you, and you choose to drink your mocha and pretend he isn’t staring lasers into your head.
“So,” he begins, leaning back into his chair, “what do you dream about?”
Aha. So he’s one of those types of people.
“Not much,” you shrug with a thin smile, “just whatever my brain conjures up while I’m subconscious, I suppose.”
For the first time, Raul frowns and looks mildly confused. It’s almost as if he’s never spoken with someone who hasn’t been a try-hard lucid dreamer with the goal of winning the monthly competition before. “Really? No lucid dreaming?”
You called it. “No, I don’t really care for such things.” You pause. “And you?”
The grin returns, stretching widely across his traditionally suave features. “I dream about how the world can be a better place, of course!”
Of course. A typical answer of someone who not only wants to claim victory for the monthly national contest, but also an aspiring politician. You really dislike these types of people and you internally curse your friends.
“I see,” you say, and take another sip of your mocha.
“Yes! Technology has come so far to be able to harness the power of dreaming while we were asleep,” he proudly begins to explain, even though you didn’t prompt him. “I believe the next step is to create a device that allows the recording of daydreaming as well.”
“What?” You ask, concerned. This is the kind of talk that begins to borderline mass government control over the thoughts that people have while awake, meaning everything could be subject to monitoring and could be the end of free thought as the world knows it.
“We call it daydreaming for a reason, yes? So why not be able to explore what people dream about while they are conscious and see what possibilities it holds?” Raul sounds like he’s daydreaming himself right now, thinking about it. “From a scientific standpoint, that seems the next logical step.”
“And the next ‘logical step’ after that would be the government completely being able to read and record all of our thoughts at any given time under the guise of it being ‘daydreaming,’ would it not?” You argue, wondering if anyone has ever disagreed with this guy before. He seems to have a vibe of getting his way, which very much smells like a politician already and you can’t say that you like it.
There’s that frown again, soft and sharp all at the same time in its downward curvature. “No, not necessarily. But why would it matter if that were the case? If people think something bad, then maybe they should be punished for it.”
You can’t believe what you’re hearing. It sounds like straight governmental propaganda out of an echo chamber of big government supporters. The other side of it is the growing dissenting group of people who want to ban dream recorders and end the government’s control over its use. You can’t help but sympathize with the latter. “Just because someone might think something bad, it doesn’t mean they’re going to act on it.”
“Well, they had the thought in the first place, so who knows what they’re capable of?” Raul shrugs. The audacity of this man. You’re never trusting a word your friends say again, especially about a prospective romantic partner.
“I think you’ll find yourself regretting those words if that future ever comes to be,” you say, almost pitying him. “But knowing the Rebellion, I don’t think we’ll ever get to that point.”
“I suppose we’ll see,” Raul replies, eyeing you up and down once more – this time with a more scrutinizing gaze. A man bursts into the café in a panicked frenzy. Based on the way he’s dressed, you’d hazard that he’s an employee of the place.
“You won’t believe it!” He excitedly shouts through pants like he’s just run a marathon, adrenaline coursing through his eyes. “I just heard over the radio that some group called the Rebellion just sent out a notice to President Talbot declaring that they want the removal of dream recorders from every person’s household and the end of mass dream collections!”
Raul stares at him, jaw dropped. You smile as you take the last sip of your coffee.
“I told you so.”