“The Dreams Strike” – Ryan Britt

August 30th by Gabriela Vainsencher
August 30th by Gabriela Vainsencher

The Dreams Strike
Ryan Britt

The trouble started when everyone I knew began their morning in terrible fits of gloominess, making me think that maybe there wasn’t a right side of the bed to wake up on anymore. Of course, we were all aware of the troubles at the dream factory, but we didn’t blame ourselves. We paid the taxes that provided for the public service with reasonable regularity. We shouldn’t have to deal with the grumbling of some half-ass non-corporeal faux-life forms. The “real” subconscious-the antiquated kind used for old fashion dreams- hadn’t been a sentient intelligence, so why should an artificial subconscious be any different? The mere idea of dreams having rights was total poppycock.

And yet, as I rubbed my temples, trying to shake off the sleepless night behind me accompanied with the unrelenting hopelessness that usually was a sign of needing another cup of coffee, the wireless news feed started blaring out of the wall-speakers in my apartment.

“This just in! Folks it’s official, the dreams normally transmitted to you in your sleep from various slumber factories around the country have organized into a union. They are striking. Repeat, the dreams are on strike. While the exact nature of their demands is unknown, sources close to some of the dreams say they simply want to be recognized for possessing an intelligence that is at least equal to that of conscience human beings. As previously reported, this crisis first arose when several common, and recurring dreams such as FLIGHT, FALLING, WEIRD RAPE FANATASY, & FACELESS PERSON, all suddenly disappeared from the collective unconscious. In their joint statement they claimed they were tired of being ‘bullied’ and ‘used’ just to give people something to do while they were asleep. They then encouraged all other dreams to do the same. A lawyer for the ACLU thinks the dreams might have a case. According to Clive P. Goddard, because contemporary dreams are no longer manufactured by human brains, but rather—-“

I switched off the transmission with a snap of my fingers. This was totally ridiculous. The dream factory was a public utility. If my blender started rebelling and talking back to me, no one would worry about it having rights. I hoped the government wouldn’t kowtow to this dream union nonsense. But darkly, I knew that we would have to get the dreams back at some point, or we would all start to seriously lose our shit. And despite my fatigue and normal grumpiness, this thought miraculously, lead to another thought, and then another. If for a second I bought into the notion that the dreams were alive and they had minds and an imagination too, then it followed that the dreams must need dreams as well. Any conscience mind, even a subconscious conscience one, needs to have a separate subconscious, right? So what did the dreams dream of? The answer was obvious of course. The dreams dreamed of us. They needed us to survive, and they knew it. If someone in the government figured this out, then the strike could have been ended immediately.

I poured myself another cup of coffee, and sat down on the couch, satisfied I had solved yet another problem in the world. This was something that happened to me frequently in casual conversation, and even by myself, alone, just like that, while listening to the news. I was just too damn smart for my own good.  I knew being an armchair philosopher suited me, and I liked it. Then something else occurred to me,  I was probably dreaming right now, and in a moment I would wake up and everything would be just fine. I laughed at this thought out loud. Stupid dreams.

I waited several seconds and didn’t wake up. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. They didn’t even wait until I answered it, because in an instant I was flying through the air involuntarily. Or maybe I was falling. Then all at once, I was surrounded. The other dreams were standing around me laughing and jeering. Faceless Person was high-fiving Embarrassing Childhood Memory, while Tooth-Falling Out Dream was smiling at me toothlessly.

Terrified, I thought maybe I had been wrong. Maybe the dreams don’t need us anymore. Maybe we’d become too complacent. Maybe this wasn’t just a strike, maybe it was a revolution. And as I fell and flew, and ran, and jumped, and cried, I clawed at my eyes, desperately trying to open them, and wake myself up.

The dreams could have whatever they wanted. I was ready to start talking.