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Old 06-27-2017, 06:42 AM   #182
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Default An Evening with Dr. Anderson

For his nocturnal adventures, Dr. Anderson is armed with a list of all the inhabitants of Jewell Island, their current locations and their status. He is especially concerned with those who were unconscious or otherwise prevented from hearing during Dr. Cotton’s speech over the radios and intercom. As Dr. Cotton’s final address seemed to contain a coded post-hypnotic phrase that triggered a block or modification of memories, Dr. Anderson is very interested in what he may find out from the minds of those not affected.

Taking a deep breath and positioning himself comfortably on the bed, Dr. Anderson focuses his entire being on experiencing dreams. He isn’t sure whether his consciousness visits a separate dream-realm that all dreamers share or whether he merely exercises a sense most people do not have, but the end result is the same. With concentration, Dr. Anderson slips into an altered state where he can sense sleepers around him, gauge their state in the sleep cycle and even catch glimpses of their dreams.

By orientating his awareness toward these flickering dreamlights, Dr. Anderson can enter the dreamscapes of anyone close enough for him to sense. Once inside the mental tapestry of a dream, Dr. Anderson can learn much about the current emotional state of the individual simply by observing in silence, but he can also alter the flow of the dream and introduce new elements when he wishes to study the reaction of the dreamer to certain stimuli. Using the dream as his medium, Dr. Anderson can access the subconscious of the dreamer and eventually learn anything that the dreamer knows.

Dr. Anderson’s mastery of dreams also has darker possibilities than mere information gathering. Altering the substance of dreams can allow him to condition his subjects in their sleep, associating positive or negative emotional responses to certain stimuli, blocking off certain memories or causing them to be perceived as dreams, introducing new memories as vivid experiences and even implanting compulsions to do or avoid certain things upon awakening.

Dr. Anderson knows that even this is not the limit of his potential control. If, while visiting someone’s dreams, he slips beneath the surface elements of the dream, beneath even the subconscious layer of meaning to the dream, he is able to go one layer deeper and enter the most primitive layer of the dreaming mind. Should Dr. Anderson do so, he could control the body of the dreamer as a somnambulist, with the subject experiencing what they did under his control only as elements of a confusing dream.

Of course, Dr. Anderson would never do that. Not if there was the slightest chance of getting caught. Everything Chase Taylor told Ms. Bell about the risks and terror-induced rage of the Powers That Be toward her if they discovered she could implant illusions in their mind applies many times over should anyone connected to the government find out about Dr. Anderson’s dreamweaving. The ability to discover any secret from a nocturnal dream-visit and mind control any person who sleeps within a few blocks from him, is something that any military or government will regard as a deadly threat to the status quo.

Which really makes it only sensible for Dr. Anderson to gather any information he can on anyone who displays abilities in the least bit similar, before Onyx Rain or other government agencies learn more. The late Dr. Cotton likely had much fascinating data to impart, but three bullets from Chase Taylor’s gun through Dr. Cotton’s central-nervous system have forevermore stilled that lamented research doctor’s tongue. The best hope is finding his notes; which he seems to have hid somewhere. The best chance of discovering where probably lies with his assistant, that charming young woman from Texas, Dr. Emma King.

Dr. Anderson accordingly reaches out in the esoteric realm of dreams, his consciousness emitting opaque tentacles of hyper-natural awareness seeking the dreams of Dr. Emma King. A twinge of annoyance shows on Dr. Anderson’s face when he does not find her. He checks to see that he has her assigned sleeping quarters correct and searches for a while close by, if she should have dozed off on a couch or in a chair, but eventually determines that Dr. King is probably having trouble sleeping and thus temporarily out of his reach.

With a sigh, Dr. Anderson resolves to delay the delightful task of exploring Dr. King’s fertile mind for its wonderful secrets and move on to other dreamers. The guards with the worst injuries, such as Tucker, Pierce, Lamb and Hewitt are all heavily medicated and in enough pain that it is doubtful that they are sleeping soundly enough for coherent dreams. Dr. Anderson decides to check on them later, give their drug-induced unconsciousness a chance to turn to healthy sleep.

Still sensing the infirmary, Dr. Anderson selects Cole Walker, the SRT guard who lost an eye to Taylor’s beanbag round in the long corridor of the main building. Walker is dreaming about a warm summer evening in a well-cared for green garden, by a white house with a white fence. Hot dogs and burgers are grilling on an outdoor grill, balloons and decorations hang on the white fence and there is a small horde of young children, chaperoned by a smaller number of adults who might be their parents. It is the sixth birthday of someone named ‘Dave’ and Dr. Anderson senses that ‘Dave’ is very dear to Walker.

Walker is not physically present at the birthday party. Like Dr. Anderson, he witnesses events as a disembodied consciousness. Unlike Dr. Anderson, Cole Walker has a strong emotional response to the mundane scene he is witnessing; anger, disappointment, guilt, loss, shame, regret.

There is a dark-haired, pleasantly smiling woman walking out of the house with a pitcher of lemonade and a plate of Brownies and with the intuitive sense so common in dreams, Dr. Anderson knows that she is ‘Phyllis’, the mother of birthday boy ‘Dave’ and wife to Cole Walker. After she places her burdens on an outdoor table, she ruffles Dave’s hair and speaks to him, telling him that Daddy couldn’t get away from work. Her voice is full of sympathy for Dave, but anger at his father can be heard as well.

There is a man by the grill, turning over hot dogs. He’s wearing a suit, but in concession to the heat, he’s taken off his tie and hung his jacket on a fence post. He looks sympathetically at Phyllis after she speaks with Dave and she comes over to him. The man takes her hand reassuringly. Phyllis hesitates and then moves closer to the man, leaning in close for a short moment. Powerless, Cole Walker’s disembodied consciousness stares into the eyes of the man, even after Phyllis has walked away to deal with some of her younger guests. The eyes are warm, brown, ordinary, if anything, perhaps they could be called kind. Walker sees them as yellow reptile eyes that lurk behind the warm brown eyes.

Deciding that he has no time for unfocused exploration of the psyches of various Manhanock Asylum employees, Dr. Anderson begins his experimentation. He wants to know what the code phrase that Dr. Cotton spoke was and how it works. Cole Walker was unconscious when Dr. Cotton spoke and should not have been affected initially. He therefore represents a chance to watch the operation in process.

To that end, Dr. Anderson introduces a new element to the dream. At the end of the garden, he crafts a stage, suitable for a magician or a troupe of clowns. A massive Dr. Cotton sloughs toward the stage with his arms full of mannequins. Each mannequin is the size of a person, with strings attached to it so it can be controlled like a puppet. The giant Dr. Cotton starts to make his first mannequin dance. It is a smaller Cotton-figure, leading figures dressed as Manhanock Security guards in a dervish dance. One of the smaller figures is Cole Walker. The others, aside from their uniforms, all have Dr. Cotton’s face. They speak in unison.

Cotton mannequins: “Officers, I would like to state that you have acted courageously in the defense of Manhanock. I royally salute your efforts, but now is the time to give up arms and give up. This exercise gets top marks, but do the right thing and surrender.

All the mannequins collapse as if their strings have been cut. The garden, house and guests disappear. There is only the empty stage, now surrounded by an abandoned amusement park. Using the decrepit amusement rides as triggers, Dr. Anderson examines Walker’s memories. He doesn’t seem to remember Dr. Cotton anymore, no matter what Dr. Anderson tries. At best, when Dr. Anderson succeeds in bringing up memories where Dr. Cotton could be expected to be, there is a vaguely man-shaped shadow there instead.

In the memories where Dr. Anderson would expect Dr. Cotton to be, however, there are other people. Sometimes he can see Deputy Warden Tyrrell, providing security or even applying restraint. On occasion he sees Dr. Emma King, watching closely without expression. And almost always, there is Sherilyn Bell. The memories are most often set within what looks like some form of operating theatre and she is nearly always present, watching intently. She never touches Walker and rarely speaks, but simply watches him. He is afraid of her, but it is not clear what he fears from her.

His other fears are more easily grasped. Snakes and reptiles crawl around him, driving him mad with terror. Cole Walker tries desperately to escape the secure chair he is bound to as the creeping horrors cover his body. His mouth is covered with a leather strap, so his screams are muffled, but his eyes look accusingly at Bell.

Dr. Anderson: “Is she doing this to you?”

Cole Walker nods affirmatively, even as he tries to scream while a large cottonmouth licks his cheek, idly hissing.

Dr. Anderson: “What is the worst thing Ms. Bell ever did to you?”
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