The Dream Writer
The day I was hired to be a dream writer was the happiest of my life. I never imagined that it might kill me, and imagination was the entire reason I was hired.
I became a bartender at the Freudian Cigar to hobnob with dream writers, who worked in the building across the street. There, at five o’clock in the evening, they would gather to smoke, drink, and blow off steam from the day’s chaos, prior to stumbling to their cars or rideshare services, to go home and hopefully dream of absolutely nothing. I had hoped, rightfully as it turned out, that I could use that proximity to wrangle my resume into the hands of somebody that mattered.
That the Dinas needed dreams was a relatively well-guarded secret, perpetuated by a tacit agreement between the government and media outlets. There was far too much money invested in the success of the Dina program for any weakness to be revealed, at least on a widespread basis. It was pure rumor that brought me to the F-Cig, and I wasn’t disappointed. As a writer, it was by far the most interesting thing I could be doing with my life. And I still felt that way even after hearing about how the job really was.
The dream writers, while snugly tucked into my bar with a few belts in them, described a work day with a hellish pace, split between altruistic brainstorming sessions with coworkers and feverishly hammering out mostly outlandish scenarios, with a few moments of genuine literature that would only ever be known to the Dinas receiving them. The pay was mediocre, though far more than an unpublished genre author could expect to earn, but one only needed to do a quick Google search for Dinas in the news to understand why the dream writers had such high job satisfaction.
Without dreams, the Dinas had a high likelihood of psychosis. It was something having do to with their genetic coding; they couldn’t achieve REM sleep without a Wave Augmentation Device, and even then, their subconscious minds couldn’t come up with anything, a fact that confounded their creators as Dinas are anything but lacking in creativity when awake. Research was ongoing, but as a stop-gap measure, it was discovered that giving them a dream script to follow, administered subliminally via the WADs, prevented any mental breakdown. Once this was discovered, the dream writer career was born, and the government began recruiting. New York City was the location of the first center, which was uninspiringly called the Nexus (I guess they couldn’t get the rights to the Matrix), and it was across the street, at the F-Cig, where I managed to convince a middle manager with a fondness for whisky sours to consider my qualifications.
So, I got what I wanted after all those years. I soon discovered that all those bar patrons weren’t exaggerating. Dream writing was an enormous task. Our branch handled over 500 Dinas, and each of them needed at least a three hundred word dream outline daily. We ran three shifts, just like out in the world, but thankfully only a quarter each of the Dinas worked second and third shift, respectively. I was on second shift, so my workload wasn’t quite as bad as the first shifters. I only had 27 Dinas assigned to me, and most of them were stationed at Fort Ellis Island, which made writing their dreams pretty easy. Soldiers were probably the easiest career field to write for; one could get away with fairly mundane stuff and keep ‘em from eating the business end of their sidearms. Still, I tried to add as much science fiction to the dreams of military personnel as possible, after all, if an alien invasion really did occur, they’d be better equipped to deal with it. Right?
It wasn’t until I had a .45-caliber pistol pointed at my testicles that I realized that might have been a mistake.