“This is my worst nightmare.” Groaned Derek.
“What’s wrong bro?” Asked Devon.
“They are out of Bang’s!”
“The energy drinks?”
“Yeah! I have to hit work when we pull in.”
“Just grab some other ones! There’s literally a whole section of different drinks!”
“You just don’t understand…” Derek reluctantly grabbed three Red Bulls that were underneath the empty shelves and closed the door to the gas station’s refrigerator door. The listened for the thud from the rubber lining as he made his way to the register. “You still tryin’ for that lottery money?”
“Yeah… This is the fourth week I’ve had this dream. Six numbers keep poppin’ up every week.”
“Yeah, but you haven’t won shit yet! Maybe the numbers mean somethin’ else.”
“Can’t be… It’s always six double digits.”
The twin brothers left the Oklahoma gas station, got into Devon’s 2003 Monte Carlo, and headed back to their apartment, near the University of Oklahoma campus. Having just crossed the state line, they were almost home. The brothers visited their parents in north Texas almost every weekend.
Derek popped the top to his first can of Red Bull and gave Devon the bag of Sour Patch Kids he just purchased, taking a ‘buyer’s tax’ from it. “When is the lottery supposed to come out?”
“Not ‘til Saturday… What about YOUR dream? You still havin’ that crazy thing?” Devon popped a handful of gummies in his mouth and kept his eyes on the road.
“Yeah… Same as you, for four weeks. We’ve never ridden a horse or done any kind of cowboyin’… But there we are, with momma on a ranch up by the lake near Tioga, workin’, movin’ cattle, eatin’ beans, and drinkin’ sweet tea! HAHA!”
“That’s good land, who knows, when we land some good jobs, maybe we can get a place out there; make that dream come true… So, you gotta work tonight?”
“Yeah, Dr. Sen has the sleep study going on. We have to take notes on the subjects and monitor their neural activity.”
“That sounds borin' as hell… I don’t envy you at all.”
They chatted about random things until they got to the campus. Devon dropped off Derek then headed back home.
The week passed by and the brothers were having breakfast Sunday morning. “Did we win the lottery or what?” Asked Derek.
“I didn’t even hit one number!”
“Lemme see that ticket.” Derek double checked the numbers to see for himself. “Yup. You’re a loser.”
“What happened to ‘WE’?”
“WE are hungry. Pass the bacon.”
They ate and read the online news sources like they did most Sunday mornings. They were in their second year of college and were working for a better life.
“Hold up…” said Derek, sitting up in his chair. “Lemme see that ticket again.” Devon handed it over to him wondering what the issue was. “This is the ticket we bought here, right?”
“This is the lottery back in Texas…” Derek held up his iPad and showed Devon the numbers from the previous night’s drawing. They were the exact same numbers as his dream.
“Damn. Could have bought that ranch you dreamt about.”
“You said you dream about those numbers every week, right? When was the last time you had it?”
“I have it a couple of times a week. I had it Wednesday night with these numbers.”
“That’s when I last had the dream about the ranch.”
“You’re the therapist. Is that a thing?”
“Not yet… Maybe it is though. Let me look into a few things.”
Derek spent the day looking deeper into the psychology of dreams. He was also intrigued that their dreams could possibly be linked and the fact that they had their recurring dreams the same night brought a deeper level of connection. Derek went to Dr. Sen to discuss what he found.
“This is fascinating, Derek.” Dr. Sen said, thumbing through Derek’s research. “I would love to get you two in here for analysis if you are up to it.”
“That would be great. I’ve always wanted to explore our link.”
Derek called Devon to tell him.
“Hell. No.” Said Devon.
“C’mon bro. This could help us figure each other out like no two people on the planet, ever!”
“No, I’m not going to be some kinda guinea pig for your boss’s research. No head shrinking, lab testing, poking, or prodding.”
“He said he could pay us for our time.”
“We haven’t had no lottery dreams since, remember? No golden ticket for us. We need the money.”
“Okay… okay… but if it gets to be too much, I’m pulling out.”
“I knew you would. We start Thursday.”
Dr. Sen set up the project to enhance ideal sleep and brain function. The brothers’ diet was altered, daily exercise was programmed in and blood work was done to analyze deficiencies and levels of their physiology. They were given a dream cocktail of citicoline, huperzina serrata, l-theanine, phosphatidylserine, mucuna prureins, and melatonin to enhance levels of sleep, brain activity, and aid in lucid dreaming. The brothers reacted normally at first, either having random dreams without meaning or no dreams at all.
Dr. Sen would leave for the night then return early to continue analyzing the data. Then, a few nights in, his new assistant called him in at 1am.
“What is going on?”
“Doctor, at exactly 11:09pm their neural activity spiked. 45 minutes into the study they went into rapid eye movement (REM) and began dreaming. They have been dreaming since then.”
“That is already 4 times as long as the average dream! How are the rest of their vitals?”
“Their heart rates have increased periodically but never simultaneously. It coincides with rapid breathing and some perfusion.”
The dream sequence went on for another 90 minutes. The two stayed asleep for the rest of the night. The next morning, they woke up bothered.
Dr. Sen walked into their room as they began to get up. “Good morning, while it is fresh, can you describe what you saw and how you felt?” The new assistant, Craig, followed behind with a video camera.
Devon gathered his thoughts and spoke first, “I was bein’ chased. But it wasn’t anywhere I’ve ever been before and I don’t know by who or what. I couldn’t see any faces; I just knew I had to run. It felt like I ran all night.”
Dr. Sen was a bit disenchanted, “Is that all you remember? Do you remember anything about the landscape?”
Devon thought for a moment, “I remember brick walls, runnin’ toward water, some benches in a park, then a giant arch, looked silver.”
“How big was the giant arch?” Asked Dr. Sen.
“Like McDonald’s?” Interjected Craig.
Devon shot a confused look at him. “No, this was one arch, like a few hundred feet in the air.”
Dr. Sen continued, “Hmm, were you lucid? Were you able to control your dream? Did you realize you were dreaming?”
“No, other than looking around, I made a few direction choices maybe, but I just went along with it.”
Derek looked stunned and somber.
“What about you Derek?”
“I saw a kid get taken. I couldn’t help, I could move but it was like a barrier was around them. I also couldn’t yell even though I was tryin’ to. I could only watch. I saw their faces and clothes. The area was blacked out; like we were in a dark room and light was shinin’ only on them.”
“This is peculiar…” Dr. Sen said as he paced around the room. “Normally, in your dreams, you only dream of places and people you know or have seen, on the television for example. Yet, you say you have never been to this place nor seen those faces. It would also appear that the two may be linked, either literally or figuratively. I hope it would be the latter.” He then turned and walked out.
Craig told the brothers to change and leave when they are ready.
When they came out, Craig, told them to take notes if they remembered anything else then to bring them back the following night.
“Alrigh’! See you later ‘McDonalds’…” Yelled Devon as they walked out.
“That’s Craig, he’s new. ‘McDonalds’ is a good nickname for him though. He’s always eatin’ it.” Replied Derek.
Their dreams that night were uneventful; dreams about middle school dances, playing sports, and living in a Looney Tunes cartoon. This stream of imaginings went on for a few nights. Despite any sort of impactful visions, their state of lucidity was increased and they were able to fully assimilate to their dreams, controlling them.
A couple of days later, the boys arrived at the laboratory, they got ready and ingested their nightly cocktail. ‘McDonalds’ was watching baseball highlights on his laptop, on ESPN. The Top 10 was on and the #2 play of the day was a home run to the outer wall of the field. The camera panned the stands following the ball as it traveled out of the field.
“McDonalds! Where’s THAT?!” Yelled Devon as he moved in closer to the screen.
“That’s Busch Stadium.”
A replay with a different angle showed the path of the ball. As it moved across center field, the image of a giant silver arch stood tall on the horizon outside of the stadium.
“Where’s Busch Stadium?” Asked Devon.
“St. Louis, Missouri.” Replied McDonalds. “Is that the arch from your dream?”
“Yeah! We’ve never been to St. Louis, right D?
Derek shook his head, no.
They turned around and saw Dr. Sen watching them. “Gentlemen, we have been at a stalemate the last few nights. I would like to place an additional variable into the study. I am going to begin giving you a micro dose of psilocybin to aid in the visions you have. I want to see the effects on your dream state.”
Devon and Derek agreed and took their additional enhancement before going into the room.
Derek began looking around the room and saw stars. “Think this’ll work?”
“Yeah… oh yeah…” said Devon as he was staring at his feet, wiggling his toes, lying in bed.
The next morning, they were alert and anxious as soon as they opened their eyes. They popped out of bed and looked at each other as the staff entered the room. With the video camera rolling, Derek said “Devon was in it. We were walkin’ down a street and I could see a dozen kids playin’. They were so happy. You could see it in their faces. I turned to look at Devon and his face was different, it was someone else’s. It looked like the guy from the first dream. That’s when I woke up.”
“You could see faces again?” Asked Dr. Sen.
“Yeah. But I still didn’t recognize them.”
Devon stuttered, “I-I-I had the s-s-same dream… I was walking down a street. I could see houses no cars. I couldn’t see the kids but it was all in black-and-white. Everything. Everything but the door. There was a house with a red door. I went up the stars to the porch and opened the door. When I opened it, I heard screams, fell backward, then woke up.”
“Do you remember anything else? An address or any other details?” Asked Dr. Sen.
“The only part of the street name I remember was Ave. I think I saw a “1” when I was walking up the stairs.”
“With your proclivity to have foretelling dreams. I gather there must be some sort of connection between a future abduction in St. Louis and this house.” Dr. Sen continued to pace around. “This will take some looking into.”
The brothers left the lab bothered and sorted through the images in their heads. They spent the day comparing each other’s dreams. When they returned, Dr. Sen and McDonalds had a stack of papers on a table.
Dr. Sen looked up with a concerned look they had not seen on his face. “Unfortunately, we were correct. There has been a series of unsolved murders in St. Louis whose primary victims are adolescent children.”
The brothers had felt a punch to the gut land in the pit of their stomachs. Devon became irritable… “No, I didn’t sign up for this. I thought this was goin’ to be a study about our heads and dreams, maybe even some psychoanalyzin’ but not this! We’re right in some messed up shit!”
Derek stepped up to his brother and grabbed him. “We’ve got to keep goin’. We might be able to help solve this! We might be able to help some kids!”
Devon struggled with the thought but yielded. He said “Fine.” Then walked away with Dr. Sen.
That night’s brain activity was explosive despite them only dreaming for 15 minutes. At 4am Derek woke up and made a blood curdling scream, waking up Devon. The lights came on and the staff ran in. McDonalds ran in to check on them while another assistant grabbed the video camera.
“He’s dead! I saw him kill him!” Derek’s face dripped with sweat as he sat up in bed. “I saw it happen! Oh my God!” He wept. “It was the same faces that have been in my dreams. It’s them! Oh my God! It was horrible!”
“What did YOU see?” McDonalds asked Devon.
“I was running through a cemetery. I didn’t know why. I just knew I had to be somewhere. I got to a street and went right. I kept running. Everything was still in black-and-white. I saw the street we were on last night. It was Eastover Ave. I ran down that street. When I got to the house, I saw red again. The red door. I ran up the stairs and made sure I looked at the number, 1304. I was about to go in when Derek yelled.”
Dr. Sen ran in the lab 30 minutes later with a man in a suit. After viewing the video, they went into the lab to see Derek and Devon. The brothers were still awake and calm, but unusually quiet.
“Agent Williams is a friend from the local FBI office and has reached out to authorities to permit us copies of the case files for the missing children.” Dr. Sen spread the papers about on a nearby table. “They have only recently been brought into the case. After explaining to him what has been going on here, they have allowed us to view them. He is here to gather any other information that could aid in the abductions.”
Derek and Devon sorted through the papers and read the statements. Derek picked up pictures and pointed out the faces in his dream. He remembered some of the children in the photos and sorted them out. Then he saw the photo of the boy who was killed.
“This is him! This is the kid! He’s the one that died!” He gave the photo to Agent Williams.
“Samuel Barker, 9 years old. He was abducted just a few days ago. They were on a school trip to the Gateway Arch when the teacher noticed he was no longer with the group.”
“Wednesday. St. Louis PD has been on this for weeks. They’re not sure if they’re all linked but the count is over 20 in the last two months.”
“That’s two days after we had the first dream. We’re two days ahead. He’s probably still alive!”
“Hopefully so. What about the guy?”
“Looked like a white guy. Big, like fat with muscle. Like a powerlifter. He had a black hoodie and pants on. And he had a beard.”
“Devon, you saw the area?”
“Yeah, 1304 Eastover Ave. It’s a small house, looks nice. Taken care of. There are stairs headin’ up to the front door, and its red. There was a cemetery down the street in the dream.”
“Anything else you can remember?”
“I’ll pass it forward. If anything comes out of it, I’ll let you all know. Thanks guys.”
Agent Williams left with Dr. Sen. The lab was quiet and everyone was visibly tired. Devon and Derek left the building somber.
“You wanna go get breakfast? Asked Devon.
“Hell yeah! I wanna go get a couple Bangs too. After last night, I don’t wanna sleep… at all…”
That night they went back into the lab and were met by Dr. Sen and McDonalds.
Dr. Sen looked at the brothers with a muted contentment, “The FBI raided the house today acting on an ‘anonymous tip.’ Young Mr. Barker was still alive, tied up in a back room with seven other children. The perpetrator confessed to the killing of another six.” Dr. Sen consoled Derek as he began to sob. “The house did indeed have a red door and a cemetery at the end of the street.”
Devon put his arm around Derek and hugged his brother.
“What say we forego the dream cocktail and just try to rest as best we could tonight, ehh gentlemen?” Dr. Sen said as he led the way into the lab.
Derek replied. “No doc, I think we’re just gettin’ started.”