The Pod: Part 2

2.

The Pod’s Emergence

The Pod, aptly named for its appearance, was first mentioned ten or so years ago, roughly the same time Nano-Particulars had its first legal trouble regarding the face-mask. As the mask was solely an entertainment product, it was obviously lowest on the list of the company’s priorities, but the most anticipated of its products. The Pod emerged fully into consciousness once the funding for the face-mask required reallocation. This new invention boasted masses of promises to the public. In time, it fulfilled more than a few of them.

The Pod, an oblong device raised a bed’s height from the ground on a heavy pedestal, is a three dimensional oval that splits at the middle. One half, connected to its base, is stationary. The other half separates upward on heavy hinges to allow its user entry. There are two sizes; a single, and a double. A single is an economy Pod built for use by one person; the double, built for a couple, or size allowing, up to three.

The patented purpose of this invention was to make home diagnoses and administer treatments for certain high-powered clientele who wished not to visit doctors. The idea however, was protested heavily by the American Medical Association whom felt, that without the aide of a trained medical professional, any diagnostic results could easily be misinterpreted. It was also possible, they decided, that the machines could be too easily tampered, and so the technology was re-purposed.

It was in this re-purposing that the young CEO questioned what an endearing public might want and desire most. The answer; their dreams. It was a genius, elegant, simple, and not at all far-fetched– at least, not anymore. The new nano-tech allowed frequent, easy, and painless installation and extraction, of specific wireless receivers and transmitters in the brain. The wireless nanites would stimulate the body to sleep while keeping a component conscious in a land where anything was possible. And so it went that The Pod became the first technology in history to allow one to harness and control their own dreams.

In the time of man, a recurring theme to capture one’s dreams has emerged. This notion was now real. Hailed as a step-forward in our own personal understanding of desire, the experiences the Pod could provide were limited only by the user’s imagination. Many men, women, even some children, gained a greater insight into things that they otherwise would never have known. Other uses for The Pod appeared.

Apart from entertainment, it could be used as a therapeutic device in mental health facilities, giving families the chance to speak and otherwise visit with those ostensibly disconnected from the world. In fact, because of The Pod’s unique abilities psychotherapists thought it ground-breaking. Many people, incapable of communication for decades or more, began to speak through the dream lands The Pod connected them to. It afforded their family, friends, and doctors insights into their states. Many of them even managed to cope with their deepest fears and most wicked desires in a controlled manner. Some eventually lifted the curses placed upon themselves unwittingly.

Conversely, the technology was not perfect– or perhaps in the last vein, was built on a loose, moral ground that said each man or woman’s dreams would bring them peace. It is untrue, of course, for there will always be those whose dreams, desires even, are the very definition of nightmares. True as it is that many of these dream-demons were slain with the aide of family and friends, those whose minds had been haggard, worn far too long, are even in their dreams, the victims of phantoms. They are unresponsive, catatonic, emotionless. Even after their dream-demons, whatever they were for each, were slain in proverbial battles, they remained uncured.

And so history deviates to modernity.

For a span of time all of these things came to pass. Unfortunately, so too has that time passed. In the depths of the Pod’s programming, there was a fatal error. As alluded, there is in fact a rhyme and reason to the Pods’ function: One whom wishes to enter the dreamland must enter the Pod. Once inside, it closes you in. A matter of mechanical noises will sound before a bright light moves over your body. It stops on the head, flares for a moment, then shuts off. It is a medical scanning system, designed to tell specific nanites what to repair; this is the medical facet of the system. Indeed, there are massive health benefits to the Pod. (They were, after all, designed as medical devices.) The flare of bright-light is the release of the bots into the tissues of the brain.

There is no pain involved, and the flare has been suggested to be pleasantly associated with the experiences of the device. It hones one’s senses for the pleasure that awaits. However, I digress. The true purpose of this explanation is a deeper understanding of the terror that awaited us all. We overlooked it. Caught so boldly by the beauty and peace that dreams bring, we were asleep to unknowable horrors that lurked in shadow.

It was first reported a month ago; a machine had malfunctioned, and in the removal of the nano-bot phase, the light had flared much too brightly. An old man within the pod, slaying wild beasts (a fantasy lived out countless times through this technology) awoke abruptly. The machine smoked, sparked. The man ran for his life. What happened next was nothing less than a spectacle of terror.

The machine, shook and rumbled before the light flared once more. The Pod’s top flew open, shattered its steel hinges, and emitted a swarm of bots. They stood before the man with shifting shapes. Billions of particle-sized robots, for no apparent reason, took the appearance of the ghastly beast the man had done battle with. The massive, two-headed demon, hued in the ever-amalgamated opaqueness of the bots bared three sets of razor sharp nestled in each of its three heads. The bots, in defiance to their programming, presented this man with a perfect apparition of the beast he’d attempted to slain. It raised a long, flesh-torn arm with a hand of sharp claws. With a single swipe, it lopped the man in two.

This event, while the first, was not the last. Even after the demon mutilated the man, it continued out the door and into the street. It ravaged two passersby who jested at its odd, statuesque appearance, causing the street-walkers to flee in terror.

The demon still walks the Earth, though I have not personally seen it. Good that I haven’t! I would freeze in terror, slain by its absent, cold blood. However, it is not the only shape-shifting, plague-mass that walks the earth. At least a dozen more have been confirmed; everything from demons to lumbering dinosaurs. They are the machinations of valiant, terrified minds, created by those whom so wished to be masters of their own dreams as to slay dragons of myth, or hunt mighty beasts that could topple buildings, or even lead conquests of Spaniards against Mayan tribesmen. All of these apparitions have been confirmed, as well as others of more “refined” dreamers.

Reports of Einstein walking about spouting nonsensical equations have been confirmed in the triplet. (No doubt, his ignorance is drawn from the limits of not only his programming, but the mind of his dreamer.) There are sirens who, in defiance to reason, lure people over only to have their songs never end. New harlots seek out patrons, but having been dreamed by the Rippers of the world, wish not to engage in intercourse, instead rob and murder.

It is a dreadful, terrifying time, but there is a plan in the works. I can say little until it is finished, or else fall to the demons I attempt to slay.

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