Pat Vinson was lying down in his nylon hammock, swaying gently from side to side. The warm breeze from the ocean kissed his tanned body, and cooled
The roar of the ocean was a beautiful song that Pat loved to listen to; every splash against the shore was a wonderful chord in the natural melody.
It had been three months since Pat had arrived on the island. His boat had sprang a leak in is hull, and water quickly flooded the deck. The small
craft was pulled down into the darkness of the ocean, vanishing beneath a tumult of water.
As luck would have it a large island was less than two hundred yards away.
Pat had fought the tide, and made it to shore. When he finally crawled onto the wet sand of the beach, his body felt like it was on fire. His muscles
screamed in protest, and wouldn’t allow him to move an inch. His conscious mind flitted away to some save recess of his mind, and he had succumbed
to a dreamless sleep.
When Pat had finally woke up, his back and thighs had been badly sunburned. His body was wracked with pain, but he managed to crawl to the safety of
the island’s jungle. The tropical trees and vegetation protect him from the sun, and coconuts were scattered about the ground.
Pat had found a sharp rock, and knocked a hole in one of the brown haired fruits. He sucked at the hole in the coconut greedily, its milk flooding
down his dry throat. Waves of cool fluid splashed into his belly, soothing some of the tension that had been growing in his stomach.
After a few days Pat had gained most of his strength back, and the burns to his back and legs were only a small irritation. The island was ripe with
wild fruits and vegetables, which played a key role to Pat’s fast recovery and survival.
Pat explored the island for days, and to his amazement the island appeared uninhabited. Every cove and clear beach he stumbled across was barren of
civilization. He had wondered how an island so beautiful hadn’t been found and turned into a resort.
The island hadn’t been free of wildlife. Monkey’s jumped in trees overhead, and giraffes grazed in fields further into the islands geography. Pat
hadn’t realized that giraffes lived on islands, and found their existence there strange.
After about a week of exploring, Pat had discovered a cache of supplies – food, fresh water, several hammock kits, popup tents, and a ton of fishing
Pat waited at the cache for days, but whoever had left the supplies had obviously abandoned them. So, naturally, the location became Pat’s island
The tent was state of the art. A tiny solar powered air conditioner attached to a fabric vent on the tent, providing Pat with nights of cool sleep. A
large box of water filters allowed Pat to make the ocean water safe to drink, and there was enough to last him for years.
The fishing gear was wonderful. Pat tied some mesh netting to a large stone, cast the net into the ocean. When he returned several hours later, his
net had always caught several fish.
The island provided a worry free life. It was an Eden.
A loud crash made Pat open his eyes. Monkeys cried out in the jungle, and birds flew up in every direction. Pat tumbled out of his hammock, and darted
off into the jungle. He followed the sound of screaming monkeys until he found the source of the commotion; and what he found was one of the strangest
things he had seen since arriving on the island.
A hot-air balloon had crashed down into the jungle. The balloon itself was bright yellow and aqua blue. The basket hung from the exhaust vent with its
door hanging open. Pat’s eyes darted to the ground below the basket, only to discover a blond haired woman lying on the jungle floor. Her legs were
moving slightly, and she was moaning.
Pat ran to the woman, and knelt down beside her. He gently rolled her onto her back, and found her eyes fluttering. For a brief moment her eyes
focused onto Pat’s face. She smiled weakly, and passed out. He scooped her up in his muscular arms, and carried her to his camp. He put her inside
of his tent, and turned on the air conditioner. He grabbed a bowl of water, and cleaned up a few of the scratches to her face and hands.
Night descended on the camp, and the creatures of the forest began their nightly calls and hoots. Pat sat outside of the tent door, his knees pulled
into his chest. He watched the rhythm of the ocean’s waves beat against the shore, and for some reason they appeared to splash more violently
against the sands of the beach. The stars twinkled overhead, and the ivory moon hung over the horizon.
From inside the tent, Pat heard the woman stir. He turned and crawled inside. He was surprised to see her sitting up, snacking on some of the fresh
fruits he had laid out beside her.
“I haven’t had fruits like this in forever!” she said, greedily chomping on a day’s worth of gathering. “I have to say your mind had thought
up some wonderful things on this island.”
“Excuse me,” said Pat. “Who are you?”
The woman jerked her head back like she was dodging a punch, and cocked her
eyebrow. “Not funny, Pat,” she said.
Pat backed up slightly from the woman. “How do you know my name?”
The blond woman shook her head in confusion. “Pat. It’s me, your sister Emily.”
Pat understood what was going on. The woman had obviously hit her head during her fall from the hot-air balloon. “I think you might have some head
trauma,” said Pat. “I don’t have a sister. I have no idea who you are.”
Emily tossed down the fruit she was holding in her hands, and looked at Pat. Her gaze held a hint of sadness, and pity. “Dr. Branson thought this
could happen,” she said.
“What are you talking about?”
“Pat,” said Emily. “Where do you think you are right now?”
“We are on an island,” said Pat. “My boat sank off its coast several months ago, and you crash landed here in a hot-air balloon earlier
Emily shook her head. “I’m sorry to tell you this Pat, but this isn’t an island. Or, it is, but just not an island in the real world – it’s
just the visage of an island. An illusion.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You are in a dream, Pat.” Emily shook her head. “You are in an experiment of sorts. You’re a scientist, and I’m your assistant. You created
a new technology that allows a person to live entire lifetimes in a dream state. In reality each lifetime only lasts about thirty minutes, but feels
like a hundred years – or however much time a person pays for.
“You developed this technology for many reasons – it will allow people to go to college in just a few seconds, and learn all they need to know. It
will allow people who are dying a chance to spend a few more, seemingly healthy, hours with those they love.
“Right now you are lying in a laboratory with a piece of equipment strapped to your head – beaming magnetic waves into your cerebral cortex. One
of the side effects of your technology is that sometimes there is a glitch, and the brain doesn’t associate personal memory. You become a blank
slate. Your mind generates whatever it wants.
“You have fallen victim to that glitch. We have been in simulations together hundreds of times, and nothing has ever happened. But now, it did
happen. I had to interface with your dream to come wake you up.