Welcome to Part 7 of The Psychology of Dreams, in which Al tells all … or at least some of it.
What if you got punished when you didn’t get your dreams right? That’s the dilemma our heroin, Leah, and her psychology of dreams teacher, Al. The Psychology of Dreams 101 is a romp into the sexy unconscious as Leah Kent takes a Psychology of Dreams adult education class, only to discover that the required Dream Journal leads to some seriously kinky night journeys.
No, I didn’t dream it, and I’m seriously hoping I don’t get punished like Leah and Al do if I don’t get it quite right, but The Psychology of Dreams did bubble up from somewhere in my unconscious and I had to share it. Since then,the Muse has been back knocking around in my imagination in some pretty unusual ways, and never taking the path I’d expect, but then dreams are like that, aren’t they? Enjoy episode 7!
I have no idea how long this little ditty will be, nor where it will lead, but I’m willing if you are. Please, read and enjoy The Psychology of Dreams 101.
WARNING ADULT CONTENT! It occurred to me halfway through writing this episode of The Psychology of Dreams that this little tale might be a bit of a shock for those who just finished reading In The Flesh. While In The Flesh is dark paranormal romance, The Psychology of Dreams is just raunchy, fun erotica, a bit of light relief after Magda and her Consortium. Be warned, light it may be, but filthy it most certainly is. Enjoy!
Chapter 7 Deceit and Permeable Dreams
At Eddie’s All-Night Diner, the waitress took in their disheveled appearance with only a quirk of a smile, then she headed for the counter and the coffee pot. The first thing couples wanted when they came into Eddie’s in the middle of the night was coffee. Eddie’s had a reputation with lovers – both the starry-eyed first love kind and the not-here-with-the-spouse kind. If she only knew, Leah thought. But then again, the woman did have that seen it all look about her. Waitresses, if they’d been in the business very long – especially at Eddie’s – became Renaissance women, with a little knowledge about almost everything. No doubt that knowledge by osmosis and by the unavoidable bit eavesdropping involved at least some facts about BDSM and a good smattering of psychology as well.
They settled into a booth in the back, having barely spoken to each other on the drive over. Whatever was eating at Al had kept him zip-lipped until they were safely ensconced in the booth. Even then, he waited until the waitress brought coffee and left them to peruse the menus, all the while, he kept looking around like he was a crook expecting the police any minute.
“Al, what’s so important that you had to drag me out my bed at stupid o’clock?”
He sipped his coffee, burnt his tongue, then cursed.
“Al?” The knot that had been growing in her stomach since the ringing of the doorbell dragged her up from the dream world tightened.
He leaned over the table until their heads nearly touched across the Formica and spoke in a hurried whisper. “I think Derrick is manipulating your dreams.” He gave a quick glance over each shoulder to make sure no one overheard.
“Manipulating my dream?” Leah sat back and folded her arms across her chest. “How the hell can he manipulate my dream?”
“Shshs!” He hissed at her just as the waitress showed up, and they both offered her a forced smile. To Leah’s surprise, Al ordered the jumbo Lumberjack breakfast complete with extra eggs. Even more to her surprise, she ordered the Death by Chocolate Belgian Waffles with half a pig’s worth of sausage. Suddenly she felt like she could eat the whole menu. The waitress’ smile grew wider and wider as she wrote down their order. Lots of lovers came into Eddie’s ravenous after their night of passion. From the size of their order, she must have thought they’d just come from a right proper orgy. The clench low in Leah’s belly reminded her once again, that while the woman might not have been far off in her speculations, sadly no one had gotten any satisfaction at this particular orgy. And then it hit her. “Wait a minute. This isn’t part of the dream, is it?” she said as the waitress sauntered away.
“No, it isn’t. It’s real. Remember Derrick said that if someone rang the doorbell or if there was some emergency, the word he gave us wouldn’t work any longer. This is real.”
“Of course I’m sure,” he said with another glance around.
“You don’t sound sure.”
“I’m sure! All right? I am. Really.”
“Well then … If you’re sure. It’s hard to tell anymore.’” With a shiver, she sipped her coffee then held her cup between her hands for the warmth, recalling what they’d been talking about before the urgent need to order enough breakfast for the whole neighborhood. “Now then, tell me how Dr. Clyde can be manipulating our dreams.”
“It’s pretty simple really – at least in theory. He creates a sort of door into your dream using the same basic hypnosis technique he used on us.”
She recalled them both being surprised when the good doctor told them he’d already hypnotized them and that the word was in place. She remembered nothing. He didn’t even tell them to relax or look into his eyes or anything like that. Just suddenly, he said they were done.
Al continued. “He links it to the word that keeps us under. As long as we’re sleeping soundly and we’re in a safe, undisturbed situation, he can come and go at will. I didn’t know he’d perfected the technique. We could only get it to work sporadically.” He looked down into his cup, and she thought she saw a shudder climb his spine. “The few dreams we were able to sneak in to through the back door were not ones very pleasant to be in, not like yours.”
“We?” She definitely felt the shudder crawl up her back. “What do you mean we?”
He shifted in his seat and rearranged his cutlery, holding her gaze. “You may have noticed that on the syllabus and on my class handouts, it says Instructor: Doctor Aldrich Foster. I worked with Derrick — post doctoral research on the permeability of dreams.”
“Permeability of dreams? You mean like…”
“I mean Like what Derrick is doing with us. He shows up in your dream and makes … suggestions.”
“Suggestions? Suggestions!?” The lovers at the table across from them glanced up from the raspberry chocolate truffle sundae they were sharing to see what the fuss was about, and Leah took a deep breath in an unsuccessful effort to calm herself, as the stomach knot tightened still further, then she spoke between barely parted lips. “He’s a fucking pervert, that’s what he is. How the hell can he be in my dreams unless I dream him? It was my damned dream? Wasn’t it?” her voice rose again, and this time the lovers shifted nervously and pretended not to hear.
Al shushed her and tried to grab her hand, but she pulled it away. “Listen to me, Leah. You have to listen to me, whether you like what I have to say or not. You need to understand.”
She glared and him and braced her feet against the floor in a useless attempt to keep from trembling. She wasn’t sure if it was from fear or anger though she suspected it was a good mix of the two. “So enlighten me, Dr. Foster.”
She felt just a hint of satisfaction when he flinched at the use of his title, but he squared his shoulders and inhaled like he was about to go deep-sea diving without oxygen. “It was promising research – really promising. I mean we both thought it was possible, thought that maybe through hypnosis there might be a way to influence another person’s dreams, not just influence them, but actually enter the dream state with the subject. Believe me, Leah,” he raised his hand as though he feared her response, “Our plan was to help people. Think about it; a surgeon can cut away damaged tissue, go in and reconnect, bypass, heal a person by actually getting inside their body, finding what’s wrong, and making it better. But while psychologists and psychiatrists can diagnose and treat symptoms, we can never actually cut into the part that hurts, we can never actually see for ourselves what the problem is because the mind is not flesh and bone; it’s not muscle and sinew we can cut into or stitch back together. Think what an advance for medical science it would be – and advance for human health, if we could walk with a troubled person in their dream world and heal them from the inside. Like a surgeon for the mind.”
He leaned over the table closer to her, his eyes bright with conviction. “I mean imagine what it would mean if we could actually find a way in?” When she did nothing but stare at him, he continued. “Medical doctors have all sorts of tools at their disposal. They have X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and while we can do brain scans, while we can look into the actual physiology of the brain, we have no way of doing the same with the mind, no way of understanding on a psychological level, anything beyond the outward symptoms and what the patient is willing to share with us. And what if the patient can’t tell us? What if the patient is so traumatized they can’t speak or what if they can’t even remember? All we have to go on is the obvious and what the patient or client tells us; and people lie, Leah, people are notorious liars – especially when it comes to their mental health.”
“So you thought you’d just shove right in and help yourself to my dreams, did you? Christ, Al, that’s sick!”
“No! Leah, no! It wasn’t like that. Honestly. We never attempted anything on anyone who didn’t completely understand the process, what we were doing and the risks, which were minimal. We were very careful to be sure of that. We never tried the dream permeation technique without our subjects’ total and complete consent. Or at least I didn’t.” Suddenly he was toying with his cutlery again, avoiding her gaze, and the knot in her stomach turned to ice.
They sat in silence as the waitress delivered their food and refilled their cups. The waffles didn’t look nearly as appetizing as they’d sounded a few minutes ago, and Leah physically fought the urge to run away. She was in this mess up to her ears. She had to know the whole story, and then she would kill Al. Surely the waitress would bring her a steak knife. After that, she’d kill Dr. fucking Clyde and tie him to his own goddamned desk bare ass in the air. But first, she had to know. “What happened?”
“She was a friend of Derrick’s.” the fine muscles along Al’s cheekbones twitched. “More than a friend, I suppose, though I didn’t know that at the time. They were drunk. He took her to the office and then the lab we shared, and when he told her what we were doing, she insisted that he try it on her. He couldn’t refuse. He always was a bit full of himself, Derrick.” He sat for a long moment as though he had suddenly been hypnotized, and maybe he had been by whatever memories were going through his head.
Leah watched him, hands clenched around the napkin in her lap, feeling a chill that didn’t come from the AC. She watched him and waited, and when the silence became almost worse than the knowing, she asked the question she was pretty sure she’d rather not know the answer to. “And then what happened?”
He looked up at her as though he’d only just remembered she was there. “I found them the next morning, asleep in one of the beds we used for our subjects.”
“Well you did say they were drunk.” Funny how the brain always grasps for the easy answer. That was it, of course it was! Had to be. They were drunk, and the project got cut because, well drunk and disorderly … drunk and disorderly what? Drunk and disorderly sleeping?
With an effort, he held her gaze, his hands now clenched in fists on either side of the jumbo Lumberjack breakfast getting cold on the plate. “Leah, they were in a coma.”