The Operant Unconscious Project

Chapter 08 - Sleep, Don't Sleep

Jacob looked around and found himself in a large, dark, wooden room. The room gently rocked back and forth. Nothing was in the room except for Jacob, himself, and a door at the room's far end. Jacob stumbled to the door, turned the handle and fell through.

Jacob hit the wooden floor on the other side and slowly got back to his feet. The sky was above him, and it was dark with clouds.

"I've never seen the sky," thought Jacob. "Where am I?"

Jacob looked around and found that everything was rocking because it was surrounded by water.

"I'm on a boat," thought Jacob as he looked out over a dark ocean.

Jacob stumbled to the mast as it started to rain. It was cold and the raindrops seemed to fall hard. Jacob decided to go back to the room he awoke in. As he pulled the door shut he heard something, like a soft whisper. Jacob turned around and studied the room again. It had changed; windows had appeared and showed the stormy weather outside.

"This can't be real," thought Jacob. "I have to be dreaming. But those raindrops felt real, they felt cold."

Suddenly lightning flashed outside quickly followed by a clap of thunder. Jacob jumped and slowly backed against the wall. For the first time in his life, Jacob truly felt alone and scared.

"Jacob…" said a soft whisper.

"Who's there?" said Jacob.

"Jacob…we're coming for you," replied the whisper.

Suddenly Jacob was thrown to the floor from behind. He felt sharp claws start digging into his back. Jacob tried to scream as he felt whatever it was sink its teeth into his head. Its teeth went deeper and deeper as it tore the skin on Jacob's back with its claws. Jacob closed his eyes and again tried to scream. This time he still couldn't but as soon as he tried the pain was gone and so was the creature.

Jacob woke up and opened his eyes. Immediately water rushed into them. Jacob quickly realized that he was not in bed anymore but rather in a large tank of water.

"Where am I," Jacob wondered.

Suddenly Jacob thought back to something Jesse had told him the day before, "If you ever wake up in a strange situation then relax and let your mind wander."

Jacob was sure that this was what Jesse meant and Jacob knew he could use his skills to find out what was going on. Jacob took a deep breath from the air tube at his mouth and relaxed. Slowly voices came into his head becoming louder and louder.

"I think he's awake sir" 

"Damn it! I knew we should have gone slower!"

"Alright, we'll just try again. Pull him out."

"What is his current state."

"He's relaxed sir."

"That means the little bastard is listening to us!"

"Dr. Guise, profanity is not necessary."

"Whatever! Pull him up so we can reset."

Jacob suddenly noticed that in addition to being underwater he was also strapped to a metal table. The table began to rise and slowly Jacob came out of the water. As the air hit him, Jacob realized he was also naked. Dr. Guise and an assistant were standing nearby and Dr. Bender was at a control panel not too far behind them.

"Good morning Jacob," said Dr. Guise, "we took you from your bed in the middle of the night. Before you try to ask a question let me say this. This is lab 126, the preparation lab. Behind your head, strapped in chairs, are your friends Micah, Julian, Kollin, Isaac, and Zachary. Strapped to your head is a device I will not explain and strapped to your back is a spinal tap device that allows us to control all the nerves connected to your nervous system."

Just then the lab door opened and in walked Dr. Taylor with Jesse at his side.

"What in the hell is going on here?" said Dr. Taylor.

"We started a little early," replied Dr. Guise.

"You took the boys from their beds and sedated Jesse," yelled Dr. Taylor.

"Well it looks like the sedative wore off," said Dr. Guise as he looked at Jesse.

"Jesse was supposed to be here for emotional support," said Dr. Taylor, "and you were not supposed to start without me!"

"Calm down Dr. Taylor," Dr. Guise said, "You're both here now. Jacob just woke up from our first attempt."

Jesse left Dr. Taylor's side and walked over to the table Jacob was strapped to. Jacob could barely keep his eyes open and he felt very cold and weak. Jacob managed a weak smile when Jesse got to his side. Jesse reached over and took the breathing tube off Jacob's face.

Jesse smiled down at Jacob and said: "Hi Jake, how are you this morning?"

Jacob tried to speak but for some reason, he couldn't. Jesse gently brushed the wet hair off of Jacob's forehead and then placed his hands on Jacob's cheeks.

"How are you Jake," said Jesse's voice in Jacob's head.

"I don't know; I can't feel anything, I can't move anything," thought Jacob.

"Can you feel my hands on your face?" asked Jesse.

"I can feel your warmth and calmness but I can't feel where your hands are at," thought Jacob.

"My hands are on your face," said Jesse.

"Why can't I feel anything but your warmth and the coldness of the room?" thought Jacob.

"Would you like me to ask?" said Jesse.

"Yes," thought Jacob.

Jesse let go of Jacob and turned to Dr. Guise, "Jake wants to know why he can't move or feel anything."

"We've shut down his motor controls and senses," said Dr. Guise, "he needed to be relaxed and in a restful sleep."

"Somehow I doubt he got any restful sleep," said Jesse.

"Whatever," replied Dr. Guise, "specifics don't matter. And I don't need you telling me how to do my job."

"Are you going to cover him up? He told me he's cold," said Jesse.

"No, he's going right back into the water as soon as we sedate him again and reset the computers," said Dr. Bender from the control panel.

"How many times are you going to put him under?" asked Dr. Taylor.

"As many times as it takes to complete the task," replied Dr. Guise.

"We'll stop before any serious physical damage occurs," added Dr. Bender.

"Oh, that's a relief," said Dr. Taylor sarcastically.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, the other children began to talk.

"This is the weirdest experiment I've ever been a part of," said Kollin.

Julian gave a nervous laugh that caught everyone's attention. Julian couldn't stop moving. He was tapping his foot, moving his fingers and he looked frightened.

"Julian, are you okay?" asked Micah.

But Julian wasn't paying attention. His eyes were fixed on Jacob across the room. Kollin followed Julian's gaze and suddenly understood. Julian wasn't afraid of what might happen to him but rather what might happen to his friend Jacob.

"Julian, I'm sure Jacob will be okay," said Kollin, "he's a tough kid."

"How can you say that! They're hurting him! Didn't you see them drill that thing into his back!" Julian said in a loud whisper.

"Julian, calm down. You freaking out on us isn't going to solve anything. Besides, we can't stop them," said Kollin. "And he looks like he's alright at the moment."

"How do you know that, they said they shut down is motor functions," said Julian.

"Ask Jesse then, he knows," suggested Zachary.

"Is he the kid walking around over there?" asked Kollin.

Zachary nodded and then shouted, "Jesse."

Jesse looked over at Zachary, smiled, and then mouthed "one minute."

They watched Jesse place a hand on Jacob's chest, kissed Jacob's forehead and then he left Jacob's side and walked over to the boys.

Jesse walked over to Zachary, "Good morning Zach, whaddaya need?"

"Good morning? What's so good about it?" said Julian coldly.

"Well you're in a good mood Julian," said Jesse.

"Don't mind him," said Zachary, "he's just worried about Jacob."

"Then that makes two of us," sighed Jesse. "He says that he's cold and afraid."

"That doesn't sound like Jacob," said Isaac, "Ari's never been afraid of anything."

"He said something to me about something in his dream attacking him," said Jesse. "And that he felt alone and afraid."

"How can you possibly know that?" asked Kollin.

"He's a telepath, like Jacob," said Micah. "And…"

"So help me God, if they hurt Jake I'm gonna kill them," Julian suddenly blurted out. He was still watching Jacob. "He's all I have…"

"Julian you're starting to scare me," said Kollin.

Jesse walked over to Julian and whispered in his ear, "I agree with you Jules, and I know how you feel about him. I promise to try and protect him."

Julian looked up into Jesse's cold black eyes, "Thank you, Jesse."

"This is all throwing me for a loop," said Kollin. "Will someone please explain exactly what's going on?"

"Sorry Kollin, there's no time," said Jesse. "They are about to start again and I need to talk to Jake."

"Okay," said Dr. Guise from across the room, "let's give this another go."

Jesse hurried back over to Jacob and placed his hand on his forehead, "You okay Jake?"

"I'm okay at the moment," thought Jacob, "What did Zachary want?"

"He wanted to know how you were," said Jesse. "That and Julian is freaking out."

"Jesse put his breathing tube back in and back away," said Dr. Bender.

Jesse sighed, "I have to go Jake, be careful in there."

"Where?" thought Jacob.

"Your mind," said Jesse. "It's not always the safest place to be."

Jesse replaced Jacob's breathing tube and backed away as Dr. Bender pulled the lever to lower Jacob back into the water.

Jacob suddenly felt very tired and quickly drifted back to sleep.

Jesse stood watching as Jacob drifted back into the world of the unconscious. Dr. Taylor walked up next to Jesse.

"What kind of experiment are they doing to him," Jesse asked Dr. Taylor.

"You know when we use you to create a world to project into the minds of others?" said Dr. Taylor, Jesse nodded. "Well you still have some control over what happens don't you?"

"Very little control but yeah I have some control," said Jesse.

"Dr. Guise wants to get rid of that control; to throw the ‘tool' into a world of their own making, leaving everyone else untouched by the tool's mind," said Dr. Taylor.

"That ‘tool' is my friend," said Jesse. "Could this hurt him?"

"Yes, if Dr. Guise is not careful he could physically hurt Jacob but Dr. Guise is not worried about that. Just as long a Jacob is alive and can do what Dr. Guise wants him to do," said Dr. Taylor.

"This isn't fair," whispered Jesse. "Does the rest of the world live like we do?"

"No Jesse, they don't," said Dr. Taylor. "But I fear that what the Council has in mind for Jacob will affect everyone in the world."

Suddenly the control panel Dr. Bender was at started beeping.

"Dr. Guise, we are starting to damage the boy's nervous system," said Dr. Bender.

"Are we done building the pathways we need?" replied Dr. Guise.

"Just about sir," said Dr. Bender.

Jesse suddenly felt like his whole body ached. He looked over back at the tank and saw that Jacob was thrashing about.

"Stop! Pull him out of there," shouted Jesse. "You're hurting him!"

"Shut up," said Dr. Guise. "We're so close."

Jesse held his hand out towards Dr. Guise and Dr. Guise flew back against the wall, pinned.

"If you don't pull him out of there right now you vindictive bastard, I'll tear all of your limbs off at once!" shouted Jesse.

Suddenly, though, someone hit Jesse from behind and he fell to the ground. He felt that someone plant a knee in his back and he felt a needle pierce his skin.

"I'm sorry Jesse but this is for your own good," Jesse heard Dr. Taylor say.

And then Jesse passed out.