Flash Fiction Challenge: Virtual Control

Posted: May 26, 2013 in Flash Fiction Challenge
Tags: ,

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

  1. jreinmiller says:

    I’m a sucker for alternate reality / sci-fi so I enjoyed it whether or not it was a strict “psychic” power.

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