Jenny had enjoyed her first week of Dream Academy more than she expected. She was also surprised that none of her new friends had been here for very long so were all experiencing their first assignment at the same time. Their outfits were slightly too figure hugging due to being made from blue leathery elastic material. They kept being told it was “standard issue” but none of them could understand why. Jenny, Debbie, Danny, Tina and Dexter stood next to each other among the larger group slightly nervous about what was going to happen. The lights over the doors to the DZ flickered as they opened to reveal Sergeant Snortgust standing there to lead the assignment.
“Morning cadets! Are you ready for your assignment?” asked the Sergeant, a muted response from the nervous youngsters came back.
“Okay, that’s normal. I promise you I will keep you safe when we’re out there and we will be far from the action to ensure your protection. We also have a team of Dream Engagement Officers or DEOs coming with us. Officers Wurnzella and Rockscurf are very experienced at this and will be the ones doing most of the work today,” Sergeant Snortgust pointed one of his horse legs over at the two individuals standing in the doorway.
Officer Wurnzella had long purple hair and dark skin, wearing a similar leathery elastic jumpsuit with standard DEO orange tags on the shoulders. Officer Rockscurf had a very long plaited red beard and was in a much larger jumpsuit to house his large belly. They both smiled back at the cadets and waved.
“How we doing cadets? I just have a wee bit of safety information for yuz. Always stand behind ole Sergeant Snorty here at all times and you’ll be reet as rain. Then all yuz have to do is sit back, watch how the experts do it, enjoy the show and make lots of mental notes,” said Officer Rockscurf as he and Wurnzella walked off to make final preparations for the journey.
The second set of security doors were now open and the cadets were being led down to the snooze luge. From the viewing platform it looked quite small but now, only metres away, the tube was 10 to 15 foot high with blue pulsing lights all around the edge. Rockscurf was standing by a console pressing a number of buttons and the blue lights started to pulse faster.
“Dream locked?” asked Wurnzella
“Yep, locked and loaded buddy,” responded Rockscurf who clearly had a good rapport with his fellow DEO.
“Okay, everyone ready? Right, we’ll go down first and then you follow after a minute. See you down there!” Rockscurf turned around and leapt head first into the large tube and all you could hear was his echoey “WOO HOOOO!” as it grew distant over the next 30 seconds. Wurnzella rolled her eyes and gracefully slid into the tube and disappeared from view.
“Cadets, try not to copy Officer Rockscurf. He gets carried away sometimes but he’s a great officer,” said Sergeant Snortgust as he approached the tube.
“Right, line up and follow me after ten seconds. One person at a time and leave a few seconds between you. Understood?” The cadets nodded and Sergeant Snortgust galloped into the tube and slid out of view, his tail swishing back and forth with excitement.
Jenny waited in line as all her friends and other classmates walked into the Snooze Luge and vanished instantly, with only their echoes of enjoyment to suggest they were still alive. She approached the large circular black hole and tried to look inside to see what was in store for her. This caused Jenny to trip going into the tube and she quickly slid head first for the ride of her life. She swiftly span her body around and sat up to see where she was headed. The inside of the tube was lit in red neon in intermittent strips and this helped Jenny to see her friends in the distance. The tube quickly stopped going straight and plummeted hundreds of feet straight down, followed by a number of zig zagging sharp changes in direction which sent Jenny crashing against the sides. Eventually the tube evened out for a few seconds before starting the first of two 360 degree vertical loop the loops. It was at this point Jenny thought about punching the person who designed this. After coming out of the second loop the loop, Jenny could see an opening ahead as she slid into their destination. She landed on her feet in a field surrounded by all of her similarly shaken classmates.
“I think I'm going to throw up,” said Dexter putting his hand over his mouth before taking it away. “False alarm Sergeant!”
“Follow me!” said Sergeant Snortgust, relieved Dexter controlled his stomach.
The cadets followed the Sergeant over the top of a hill and that’s when he looked up.
“The dream today takes place up there and that’s all I’m going to say. Watch how we do it,” Sergeant Snortgust stood to one side and let the cadets sit down on top of the hillside to enjoy the show.
Coming into view was a old spitfire plane flying through the air at an amazing speed. It started to do spins and loops in the air with the long grey cloud trailing behind it. After a minute of all these tricks the plane flew away to leave a message in the sky, it read “THIS IS BRILLIANT!”
The plane continued to do the same tricks but suddenly the sunny blue skies started to turn grey and the plane’s engine began to sputter. At this point Jenny spotted two huge grey smokey nightmares flying alongside the plane. The engines exploded causing the plane to nosedive towards the ground. The students knew exactly what was happening, the person having a lovely dream was about to die. All of the cadets were on the edge of their hillside seat.
Suddenly Officers Snortgust and Wurnzella flew in holding their standard issue weapons of choice, Dreambreakers. Holding the long torch-like sticks tightly, they blasted both Nightmares into smoke and then covered the plane with a combination of orange and purple streams of light which put out the flames. Once the engines were no longer on fire, it looked like they were using the Dreambreaker’s twisty handle which seemed to reverse the previous 30 seconds of time and sent the nosediving plane back up into the air, leaving it flying straight, as it was before the Nightmare attack ever took place. The sunny blue skies returned and the glorious happy dream continued as if nothing bad had ever happened.
The cadets broke into a round of applause and started to cheer. The two officers flew in and landed just in front of them.
“And that’s how it’s done!” said Rockscurf with a big beardy smile on his face.
After a long Q&A session on the hillside it was time to leave the dream. Sergeant Snortgust pressed the round button on the side of his Dreambreaker and a large round portal appeared where they had entered the dream originally.
Everyone jumped into the Dream Extraction Zone and experienced their Snooze Luge in reverse going backwards around two loops, zig zags and up a long tube until they flew out into the DZ control room once again. On her journey back up Jenny had got distracted thinking about how her Dad loved Spitfires and it brought a tear to her eye. She’d done well to try to lock up these emotions but the Dad door was open again. By the time her journey up the tube had come to an end she had composed herself once more but for how long, she wasn't sure.
Jenny couldn’t sleep. She had been remembering a trip to an air museum with her Dad where he had got to sit in a Spitfire and it had set her off. Her tears seemed to have been flowing for hours but it was probably only half an hour. Her heart was broken once more and despite all her new friends she felt alone once again, as she did on that first day waking up at Dream HQ. Her brain raced all over the place to try to give Jenny a way to deal with this and it hit her with all the force of the spitfire hitting her at full speed.
Jenny quietly got dressed, took something from her cadet kit and pocketed her key card. Debbie was sound asleep so didn't hear a thing. The door to their room clicked shut behind Jenny as her old mischievous smile had returned.
After navigating the glass walkway and trying her best not to be seen, Jenny came to the door which led to her destination. She put her ear to the door and it sounded like there was no-one in there. She took the tweezers out of her pocket, bent them around as her Dad had once shown her and she had seen on TV, and rammed the metal into the door’s back up lock. She knew her hand print would not work on this one. She wiggled the tweezers to the left and then to the right. Nothing. She tried again and put some more power behind her attempts to turn the lock but still nothing. Sweat had built up on Jenny's forehead. To catch her breath she leant her arms on the door handle. The door opened sending Jenny flying through the doorway. It hadn’t been locked.
Jenny picked herself up, carefully closed the door and walked over to the part of the room she remembered. Sitting there as before was the Life Lens. She still couldn’t believe Dai hadn’t locked his office. He was more absent minded than she’d thought. She sat in Dai’s chair and stared at the lens.
As before, Jenny didn’t have to think about her Dad for long as the lens sprung to life. The Earth slowly rotated once more and then quickly zooming in closer and closer, through the clouds, over the continents, into Europe, over Great Britain, and now over fields, into a road, through some iron gates, down a row of gravestones resting on the top of one headstone looking down at Jenny’s Dad, Kenny.
He was kneeling in front of a headstone with some flowers in his hand. He placed the flowers on the front of the grave, lifted his head and Jenny saw the tears in his eyes. This must be her grave!? She burst into tears and cried out for him. Jenny felt her connection with the lens before opening her mouth.
“Dad? Dad! DAAAAAAAD!” Jenny screamed into the lens. Her Dad looked around to see who was screaming as Dai, who had walked into his office quietly, grabbed the lens off the table and broke Jenny's connection.
“That’s enough!” said Dai sternly.
“Wait, he heard me!!? I need to speak to him.” insisted Jenny.
“Jenny, I can’t believe it either and I have no idea how you did it. But it’s forbidden and you know full well why that would be! You’ve broken into my office and abused my trust. Now consider this a warning, next time I will have to notify the Dream General about this. Is that clear?” Dai’s happy go lucky tone had gone and was replaced with something much more serious and grown up.
Jenny was confused and wanted to kick Dai in the legs and steal the lens more than anything but she knew it was wrong so decided to play the long game. She had to talk to her Dad again and that lens was her answer. She left Dai’s office slowly and walked back to her room in a daze. Dad heard her, wow! The sense of relief was overwhelming. But she wanted more, much more and she knew exactly how to get it.