Black Box

Camp Dreamland

Losing an ally, gaining some powers, going slightly nuts...

Approximately three months ago, five Toronto residents began suffering from similar symptoms including insomnia and an insistent rushing sound in their ears. Speaking to various doctors, each were directed to the Toronto Sleep Institute (TSI), and thence to Camp Dreamland under the care of Dr. Cornelius.

Two months pass, during which the group is required to spend all their time at Camp Dreamland and undergo numerous treatments to help alleviate their symptoms – the most concerning of which appears to be their inability to achieve REM sleep. As time passes, the group becomes much closer: Pete Lewis, a musician and layabout; Vanessa Scott, a kindergarten teacher and budding kung fu master; Phia Walker, owner of “Papyrus Dreams” and aspiring novelist; Suzan Mancetti, a recently graduated sexual psychologist; Professor Eugene Donovan, a brilliant physics professor at UofT; and Terry, a young man still trying to decide what to make of his future.

Along with firearm practice, obstacle courses, and mental examinations, one of the primary treatments is sleep inducement via a cocktail of sedatives and targeted electrical current to the subjects’ brains. Disturbing though the treatment is, it appears to be successful such that the group begins to sleep and dream more frequently. With the success of the treatment, and tired of putting their lives on hold, the group petitions to be allowed to leave the confines of Camp Dreamland. Dr. Cornelius agrees, with the condition that the group meet every Wednesday for a therapy session, and continue to spend their weekends at Camp Dreamland for treatment.

After one such weekend, about a month after returning home, interesting events begin to occur. Copies of Phia’s book begin to fly off the shelves of her store, in one case literally and hits a customer in the chest; the Professor’s lovely assistant finally begins to warm to his advances; and Terry has difficulty at work when he apparently throws a video cassette at a customer. More strangely, when the group attends a performance of “Frank and the Castles” (Pete’s band), they observe as the entire bar appears to become hypnotized by the music.

Discussing these events the following morning, the group agrees to tell Dr. Cornelius about them. However this fails to occur, as no one wants to be the first to mention such oddities. The group is also introduced to Dr. Kennedy, a new researcher brought on to the team by the TSI. Phia takes an immediate dislike to the new doctor, and does her best to avoid him for the rest of the weekend. Vanessa and Suzie, however, take turns trying to warm the doctor up, both failing miserably. Eugene fares similarly in his attempts to engage Dr. Kennedy in conversation.

The next week brings more strange occurrences: Vanessa accidentally breaks her sifu’s ribs while sparring, Pete’s normally staid drummer opens up to him about an extremely embarrassing problem, the Professor’s crystal ware explodes, and one of Suzie’s therapy couples has a miraculous breakthrough. More concerning, however, is Terry’s absence at the weekly meeting on Wednesday. Phia calls Terry on his cell, and later at his parents house, to discover that both numbers are unassigned. Concerned, Phia gets in touch with her contact at the police department, Sgt Michael Fields, and asks him to check into whether something has happened to Terry and his family.

The weekend rolls around, and the group returns to Camp Dreamland to find that Terry is still missing, and Dr. Cornelius is feeling ill. Dr. Kennedy appears, and Pete and Vanessa suddenly feel very uncomfortable in his presence. Dr. Kennedy tries to have the group begin their daily tests, but is interrupted with questions about Terry. The doctor seems extremely confused, as to his recollection there has never been a sixth patient. The group insists that they need to speak with Dr. Cornelius.

Ushered into the good doctor’s office, the group is knocked off balance when the constant rushing sound stops for the first time in almost four months. Dr. Cornelius seems far more reserved than normal, distracted and upset. Asking him about Terry, he mutters something about “they didn’t do a very good job”, but is confident that “they don’t know where the rest of the files are”. While trying to figure out what the hell the doctor is talking about, the group is stunned when he declares he can’t take this anymore, and brings a gun to his temple. Pete reacts immediately, and manages to get his hands on the gun just in time to burn them when the doctor fires.

Screaming and freaking out ensues. Paramedics and police arrive, and the group is taken to a small meeting room to wait. They all realize that the sound has returned, although none are sure when it came back. Detective M(somethingorother) arrives to interrogate the group. They explain what happened, that they tried to stop the doctor but there was nothing they could do. The detective then proceeds to ask them about Terry, confirms that they all remember a sixth patient, and then informs them that there is no record of such a person.

Because Dr. Cornelius survived, although in very poor condition, the detective admits that there is currently no criminal investigation. Still, he has them brought to the police station for fingerprinting.

With nowhere to go, and no plans for their first free Saturday night in several months, Eugene invites the group out for drinks. They go to a nearby lounge, and discuss matters. Various theories are suggested and dismissed: mass hallucination? dangerous chemicals introduced to their brains? Terry black-bagged by government agents? They agree to meet again on Wednesday, and to stay in touch to make sure no one else disappears.

On Monday Phia talks to Sgt Fields, and is informed that not only are the group all suspects but their fingerprints are all over the gun and they’re coming off as more than slightly crazy. Eugene, for his part, suffers the company of Dr. Butterman a second time, to try to determine what could have happened to his crystal ware. Dr. Butterman has a number of suggestions, none of which are particularly helpful. Eugene manages to track down the number for a slightly more reputable paranormal-psychologist/skeptic, and has another conversation lacking anything in the way of answers.

Sunday and Monday night pass with excellent sleeps for the group. On Tuesday they all receive a call from the TSI informing them that the research will continue as soon as they can find another doctor to carry on. The general response is “thanks, but no thanks”.

On Tuesday they are called back to the police station and informed that Dr. Cornelius has stabilized. He is in a coma, but does not appear to be in imminent danger of death. It is most likely that Pete saved his life, managing to move the gun just enough. With the doctor still alive, there is no need for a criminal investigation, and the group is free to carry on with their lives.

Suzie invites the group out for a drink, and at Phia’s insistence they go to a different bar than previously. Entering the bar, they are welcomed with a broad smile from the bartender and given free shots/drinks for the rest of the night. Phia and Suzie proceed to get more than slightly drunk, and are invited to dance by a random woman. They follow, and eventually everyone in the bar, save the rest of the group, are “sexy dancing”. Vanessa tries to bring Phia and Suzie back to the table, which prompts death glares from everyone else in the bar. Instead, Vanessa dances Phia and Suzie to the door where, closely followed by Pete and Eugene, they break for the exit.

Out in the street, Phia’s drunken gesturing seems to knock over a streetlight, and Vanessa’s shouting blows out every window on the block. Phia and Suzie throw up.

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JCat Dawnis

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