Another flash fiction challenge – over word count by a bit but I wanted to run with this thought and work with some new characters. (Trying to push myself to write more – academic writing does not count.) The challenge was to utilize psychic powers and I went with Dream Control because, to be honest, it fascinates me; as does the research on gaming, Virtual Reality, and dream states. Interested? Look up Jayne Gackenbach – or alternately, check out this Live Science article. So while it’s not completely psychic and bends the concept a bit, I think I did, in the end, blend some supernatural with science. Oddly, I feel like that’s what I end up doing most of the time. Must be my researcher instinct. I fucking love science.

Virtual Control


He grinned. “Hey, boss.”

“Okay, this is weird…I mean, no offense but…isn’t there anyone else?”

“Sure, there is! As good as I am? Probably not… No sweat, boss, everything in here is completely confidential. Scout’s honor,” he promised, holding up three fingers in a salute.

Elektra hesitated. The situation she had expected to walk into was complicated to begin with. It had seemed easy enough though to walk in and out, just like changing your oil. But this guy…he wouldn’t be some no-name face she’d forget after tomorrow. Every day, she would be reminded of what he had done…and what she was running from. Did she really trust him enough? Tech issues at work was one thing; this was something completely different.

“They’re getting pretty bad, aren’t they?” Dominic asked, interrupting her thoughts.

“What?” Elektra crossed her arms and leaned against the door frame.

“The dreams…Most times, people don’t come here because it’s all rainbows and ponies up there,” he tapped the side of his head. “If you want…if you trust me, I can help.”

“Completely confidential, right?”

“Absolutely, boss.” As she moved towards him, Dominic grabbed a thick visor, trailing heavy cables and colorful wires.

Elektra placed the visor snugly against her skin, leaning back in the leather recliner. No wonder this was usually a last resort – laying here, senses blocked, made one feel very uncomfortable…and vulnerable.

Dominic fit the “squid” over her head – so named for the rows of small suction cups that lined the interior. “Want to tell me about it?”

She gave a nervous laugh. “Is this how you start all your sessions? You’d make a lousy shrink.”

Dominic shook his head. “Nah, I thought it might make you more comfortable. You look like you’re about to jump out of your skin.”

“That noticeable, huh?” she sighed, crossing and uncrossing her arms, irritated that she was visibly nervous. “It’s not a big deal or anything…just something that I need to go away.”


“More like bad memories…I think…maybe if I change how it ends, they’ll stop. Stupid, huh?”

“Not at all, boss. I’ve seen a lot of…things change for people here.” With a few key strokes, he switched over operating systems, accessed the mainframe and booted the program “You ready to this?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Elektra muttered.

Dominic laughed, placing a plastic respirator cup over her nose and mouth. “All right, boss, just breathe evenly… Imagine being at your favorite place in the world… Can you tell me where you are?”

“The Blue Mountains…at the waterfall by Canyon Lake.”

“Great, boss, you’re doing great,” Dominic replied in a soothing voice. His eyes glanced over at his monitor and the random blips, reporting her vitals. “Now, I’m gonna need you to help me count back from five. Can you do that for me?”

“Yeah…I think so…” Elektra had begun to already feel drowsy as her lids grew heavy and she followed the soft, calm tone of his voice.


Close your eyes.


Relax your mind.


Breathe in deep.


You feel safe.


You are there.

Elektra opened her eyes, disoriented. This was it. It was happening all over again. She turned her head to the side, full knowing what she would find. Is he dead? Like a puppet going through practiced motion, Elektra shook and prodded the body next to her. Oh God, his lips are turning blue. She scrambled out of bed, knocking her mobile to the floor. “Shit…shit..” Fumbling with the keys, she waited with baited breath through what felt like endless ringing. “Yes, I need an ambulance right now. My boyfriend…I think he’s dead. He’s not breathing. Please send someone to help me!”

“Ma’am. Ma’am? Are you there? Stay with me. Paramedics are on the way. Hello?”

Elektra stared numbly at the small phone in her hand. What? What’s going on? A knock at the door. The paramedics rush into the room, securing an oxygen mask over the man’s face.

“Hello? Miss?”

Her brow furrows as a she notices a man in uniform by her side.

“Why are you here?”

“Miss? Is this your boyfriend? Overdose on desomorphine.” He moved closer. “Have you been using, miss?”

“What? No!” Elektra rubs her arms. Why is it so cold? “That’s stupid. You’re wrong. He doesn’t do drugs. We don’t do drugs.”

“I’m sorry, Miss. We found the needles and paraphernalia in the bathroom.” He paused with concern. “Is there…someone you can call?”

Elektra touched your cheek. Her fingers came away wet. She was crying. This can’t be happening. This is all just a bad…dream… Elektra sat on the couch, wrapping a blanket around herself. “This is just a dream. This isn’t real.”

“You’re right. This is just a dream.”

Elektra spun around to find Dominic lounging casually in the doorway. “What are you doing here?”

“Mind if I have some coffee?” he asked before heading towards the kitchen; Elektra trailing behind him. “I’m here to help you, remember?” he called over his shoulder.

“Help me…I don’t understanding how you can help me by being here, besides making this whole situation weirder,” she replied, sidestepping to allow the paramedics to carry her boyfriend out on a stretcher. They probably already used Narcan…he’ll be fine.

“Well, that’s the question isn’t it?” Dominic stood transfixed as he watched the machine brew. “You said you wanted this to stop, to change. The only way it will change is if you do.”

“But this is all in the past,” Elektra retorted, irritated.

“Doesn’t mean that right here, right now, you can’t make a different choice.” Dominic took a slow sip from his mug. “You do the same thing every night; this time, what are you going to do differently?”

A hard looked crossed her face. “I should have just let him die,” she said bitterly.

“Really? ‘Cause we can go back and do that whole thing over again, if that’s what you want.”

Elektra quickly shook her head. “No…I wouldn’t want that…” They stood silent for a few moments.

Dominic regarded her over the rim of his mug. “Doesn’t sound like you have any other choice then, huh?”

“No…I can change what happens next.”

“What happens next, boss?”

“He comes back from the police station…we fight…he promises to change…rinse and repeat for two years.”

“Hmm…so here we are, at this moment that for some reason your brain has decided to torture you with. You can let it, or you can take control – so what’s it going to be?”

Elektra nodded. “You’re right. I do have another choice.” Without another word, Elektra walked to the front door and pulled it open. “I’m leaving.”

The world went white before she realized she was back in reality, her reality. She fumbled with the visor before a pair of hands intervened, lifting the large apparatus off of her. Before she could move, Dominic thrust a cup into her hand.

“Drink. It’ll help with any nausea.” He collected the rest of the gear as she took small sips of a dark purple liquid. The awkward silence felt further compounded by the personal experience he had just witnessed. But then, she reasoned, this was nothing compared to shame she had endured before.

“How do you do that?” Elektra asked.

“Dream control? Not quite sure. There are a few of us who are better than others…They say it’s because we’ve spent so much time in VR, crossing between dream states is easier for us than most people. You know, moving from like dreaming to lucid dreaming to dream control. Guess it’s the one time that people can actually say that video games are beneficial, huh?”

Elektra shook her head. The nausea had passed and she slowly stood up.

“So, what do I owe you?”

“Nothing, boss. It’s on me.”

“You can’t be serious. It’s not like we’re friends or anything.”

“No, we’re not; but we could be.”

“God, you’re irritating.” She shoved a wad of cash into his hand. “Just take it.” She was halfway out the door when he called out to her.

“Hey boss,” Dominic grinned. “Never thought you’d see me in your dreams, huh?”


Track 1 – “Daimonion” – Project Pitchfork
Track 2 – “Helena Beat” – Foster the People
Track 3 – “The Long Haul” – No

Alternate ending:

She shoved a wad of cash into his hand. “Just take it.” She was halfway out the door when he called out to her.

“Hey, boss? You never told me how the dream usually ends.”

“It ends badly.”

All content reflects only my own ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
(c) Mari Lawrence


First attempt at a flash fiction challenge posted weekly by Chuck Wendig from Terrible Minds.

We had to choose from one of five randomly generated sentences which would then appear somewhere in our piece of fiction of approximately 1000 words.

The following is an exercise intended to start with developing the character and setting for future stories. It’s much darker than I intended, but I go where the characters take me. I’ve also experimented with present tense here, and I’m not hating it – don’t think I’ll make it a reoccurring style choice though….  Final note: Music is a *huge* part of my creative process. At the end of every exercise, I’ll include at least one song that I feel was instrumental [pun only mildly intended].

She brings the pain.

The rough sex arrives by adhesive smoke. It crawls along the floor, saturating the air in its heavy heat; condensing in lime green droplets on his skin. Shrouding the room, in heady bliss, Friedrich pushes his sweaty palms against the cool steel of the operating table. He wets his lips with anticipation as he starts to feel his nerve endings dance. At first it is a sharp, prickling sensation, and then his skin begins to feel like he’s on fire, a slow burn. Reflexively his arms jerk upward, but meet with resistance, as he arches against the thick Kevlar straps securing him in place. Friedrich’s eyes begin to water and he feels the inflammation. The pain starts to meld with a new sensation. Friedrich notes he can no longer feel his toes. Good. Eyes clenched, sensory deprived, his ears strain, focusing on the only clues as to what comes next…

Daisy Merkowitz stands in front of the doorway leading to the operating room. Bending over, she unzips her thigh highs, unceremoniously overturning it onto the floor. A small, insignificant pebble rolls out, clinking against the metal grates. “Of all the…” Daisy mutters. “How the fuck did a rock get in my shoe?” Grumbling, she props herself against the wall as she maneuvers her long legs back into the constricting latex. She carefully checks the seams of her clothes; the latex suit sucking at her skin like a parasitic life form fits perfectly under her thigh highs and lengthy gloves. The zip of her suit secures neatly under her chin with a snap, sealing away most of her skin beneath impermeable fabric. Last, she reaches for an old friend: the silicate, reflective coating reveals only her own face. I look like shit.  She is comforted only by the fact that her client today would be receiving services from her, sight unseen. The anti-anoxia helmet slides over her head and she adjusts the fastenings until she feels the pressure lock bite into her neck. Daisy sighs. That’s going to leave a mark.

Through the thick portal glass, Daisy sees her client lying on the operating table on the other side; a toy box glints in the low light on the stand next to him. He’s oblivious, of course. The light twitches and growing jaundiced pallor signal her; it’s time. Taking a deep breath, Daisy saunters into the room. The clipboard at the end of the table indicates his name (Friedrich Blum) and the orders.  She glances over his body, as pale and motionless as a corpse. Only the shallow rise and fall of his chest betrays the truth; he is still very much alive. She makes slight adjustments on the room controls. The concentrations are much lower now but she notices how it clings even to her suit, running tiny rivulets across the black latex.

“Mr. Blum, open your eyes.” Daisy clears her throat, not certain he heard. Stupid helmet…

She opens her mouth to repeat her command, when one green eye peeks out from beneath dark lashes. Soon both eyes are open, staring at her intently.

“I asked for you….you are her, aren’t you?” he poses his question in a shaky voice. Shaky from fear….or from desire, she wonders which.

Daisy reaches one gloved hand into her toy box, retrieving her favored tool. Holding it before her, she runs the razor thin edge of the scalpel down the side of his face, tracing a line arch of crimson. “Miss Havoc,” she states curtly, “And the pleasure…is all yours.”

His hands clench in anticipatory agony as she draws the blade along his side, stopping mid-thigh to create a deeper horizontal incision.

He cries out, “That hurts!”

“I should hope so.” Even though he can’t see, Miss Havoc finds herself smiling just a little.

He starts moaning. “Don’t stop.” It becomes clear that he holds no fear, panting and urging her to continue. Some men just like it rough. He continues to struggle against his bonds, his fingertips squeak as they  briefly run across the surface of latex.

Miss Havoc digs her scalpel in deeper. “I have no intention of stopping, Mr. Blum,” she retorts in a dry monotone.  She hesitates then momentarily as she reaches again into her tool chest. Her hand closes around a thick, weighty handle; the coolness of the steel penetrating through. The weight felt good in her hand. It felt right. Without further thought, she swings the saw around to bear.  And some men just like getting their legs cut off by a woman in bondage gear. She gives an encumbered sigh before resting the teeth of the medical saw against Friedrich’s skin, pale yellow in the dim spot lights. Bring the pain.

Three hours later, Daisy Merkewitz sits on the tiny, railed-in patio of a satellite café. The air has grown chilled and she pulls the powder blue, cashmere cardigan closer over her shoulders. She flashes a charming smile at the waiter that sets down her triple Machiatto before he turns to set down a cup of dark sludge in front of her companion.

“Good day at work?”

“The usual,” Daisy replies, her lips curving up over the rim of her mug.

“Most people would say you have ‘daddy issues’ you know?”

“Don’t I?” Daisy laughs, wiping at the corners of her mouth. The napkin comes away stained red. “I mean, I can’t say I don’t like because I do. At least…a part of me does.” Her hands tighten around the ceramic as the steam rises, catching in her strawberry blonde curls.

Her companion shakes her head. “Don’t mistake pain for love, Daiz. They’re not the same thing.”

“But, aren’t they?” Daisy echoes in a bemused tone. They sit in silence, cool air filling in the spaces between. Daisy leans back in her chair, readjusting the scarf strategically wrapped around her neck. She begins to reapply her lipstick when the peace is broken by the low chirping of her mobile. Daisy excuses herself and reaches for the phone.

“Miss Havoc’s House of Pain. How may I serve you?”

Soundtrack Selections:

Track 1 – “Sail” – AWOLNATION

Track 2 – “Lilian” – Depeche Mode

Track 3 – “The Scalpel and the Whore” – Clinical Torment (A very talented artist I knew vaguely years back; Gone but not forgotten.)