Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tele-Reality Conference Call

I figured I wrote enough stories from dreams lately, so it would make sense to mix things up and write a story about dreams this time.

Tele-Reality Conference Call

Melinda was not having the best day. It was the end of the quarter, profits were down, and the future of her business rode on the success of a single business venture. And Todd, the hypothetical brains behind the entire venture, was on the other side of the world, which rather inconveniently still lingered around 2 am while she and the rest of her department was ready for their afternoon business meeting.

Melinda looked around her office and sighed. Todd promised he would attend the meeting via remote access, but it's been almost twenty minutes since the meeting started and still no sign of him. She already called him twice and got no response. The fool must have fallen asleep, she figured. She looked over the table full of eager yet terrified underlines and said, “Sorry, people. I know we're days before deadline, but there's not much point in even having this discussion without Todd present. I'll just have to postpone the meeting and hope that...”

“No, wait! I'm here, I'm here!” Todd, or rather the monitor that Todd should be connected to, burst into life. Todd was visibly on the other end, but something looked … off about him. “Sorry I'm late, Melinda. I'm using a new networking tool and it took a while for me to figure it out.”

“Better late than never,” Melinda warned, “but not by much. I worried you fell asleep.”

“Oh, I did!” Todd said. “Still am, actually. But it's fine. I got the Dreamchat all set up last night, just in case that happened.”

The rest of the table turned into a cacophony of whispers and questions. Melinda did her best to ignore them. “I'm sorry, are you seriously trying to speak to us through your dreams?”

“Not through, exactly,” Todd insisted. “More like I happened to be in a dream, while talking to you. I assure you, my mind is as active and focused as always. The Dreamchat auto-initiates lucid dreaming. Just treat this as any other business chat, except I'm talking to you on the back of a flying purple walrus.”

Now that she thought about it, she did hear about this Dreamchat system. But she thought it was still in the prototype phase, waiting for enough idiots dumb enough to expose their inner minds to the world at large. And speaking of expose, she just realized what looked off about Todd.

“Todd, are you NAKED?”

He looked down and blushed. “Oh, crap,” he said. “I'm sorry. You know those dreams where you're back at school and suddenly have to take a test you didn't prepare for, and also you're naked? My subconsciousness must have thought this was one of those dreams.”

“Well, dream yourself some clothes,” Melinda demanded. “I don't care if you're in the office or on the back of a fantasy mammal, you will honor our dress code.” As she ordered her subordinate, however, Melinda noticed a dark figure looming over him. “Todd, look out!”

Todd whirled around, gasped, and fled away from the … camera. Melinda suddenly wondered how the camera could possibly work in this scenario, but they had bigger problems. The evil presence chased Todd to the edge of the walrus and drew ever closer, giggling in a sinister but scratchy voice.

“Todd, what the hell is that?”

“It's my childhood fear,” Todd explained. “Dirk Tinglestar, the evil cowboy clown.”

“That's right, little Toddy,” Dirk laughed. “Now reach for the sky! It's time for you to face me, or it's for you to die!”

Melinda tried to take this seriously, but she couldn't suppress the giggle. “Dirk Tinglestar? Really?”

“Yeah, you know, black hat, white face,” Todd nervously explained. “I've had nightmares about him ever since I was six, when I thought I saw him looming outside my bedroom one night. It turned out to just be a jacket hanging in the hallway, but try telling my subconscious that!”

Dirk, meanwhile, finally noticed Melinda and the rest of the increasingly confused businesspeople on the other side of reality, and left Todd alone to creep towards them. “Oh, we have guests for tonight's show! Just for them, I'll make sure you die extra slow.” As Dirk got closer to the camera though, he frowned. “What's all this?” he snarled.

“Sir, if you would please stop tormenting my director of new business!,” Melinda said, using her best executive tone of voice. “He is a grown man, not a child for you to bully, and we do not have the time for this. If we can't get this deal finished, then we'll be in the red, which will greatly displease me. And then you AND Todd will have a much bigger nightmare to deal with, capiche?”

Dirk drew even closer, until a single hideous eye dominated the screen. “Oh, no, this won't do at all,” Dirk said. “Little Toddy didn't account for growth in the public sector. If you ignore that, your profits will soon fall.”

“He didn't what?” Melinda turned back tot he table, where all the materials Todd should have needed for the presentation were scattered across the table. She gave them a cursory glance and realized the evil dream cowboy clown was right. “Oh, that's an excellent point,” she said. “What's your opinion on market change in the next fiscal year?”

Before Dirk could respond, though, he vanished, replaced again by Todd. “Sorry about that,” Todd shouted. “It's okay, I got away. Dirk shouldn't bother us again tonight.”

Melinda did her best to hide her disappointment. Besides, it sounded like Todd had another problem she would have to deal with. “Todd, I can barely hear you. What is all that whistling in the background?”

Todd looked around and shrugged. “Oh, I seem to be falling to my death,” he explained. “Not a problem. Judging by the distance to the ground, I should have a good five or ten minutes before I reach the ground. And everyone knows that you never actually die in a falling dream.”

“Well, when you wake up, would you care to join us on the call in the real world?” she asked.

“Oh, you don't want that,” Todd assured her. “I'm useless right after I wake up. Give me some time to get a few cups of coffee, and I'll call you back then.”

Melinda held her hand to her forehead. Twenty minutes late, ten minutes of this nonsense, and she knows that Todd would be at least half an hour before he can drag himself to a physical computer. “Never mind, Todd,” she told him. “Just go back to bed.”

“Oh, okay?” Todd said, confused. “But I thought this meeting was mandatory.”

“Oh, it is,” she told him. “So get your ass back here as soon as you start dreaming again. And could you do us a favor and dream of Dirk again? He sounded like he had some insights we could use.”

“Are you serious?” Todd yelled. “Ma'am, Dirk is a nightmarish apparition, the total of my darkest instincts and fears.”

“I'm an equal opportunity employer, Todd. I don't care about whether you technically exist or not. I just care if you can get results.”

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