Warren Murphy: Sweet Dreams

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    Sweet Dreams
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    Детективная фантастика / на английском языке
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Sweet Dreams: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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When a brilliant professor invents the world's first fantasy realization device, allowing anyone to watch their own secret fantasies on television, the Mafia are out to steal it, TV executives want to control it, and Remo and Chiun might be the only ones able to prevent it from killing everyone. As the death toll mounts, Remo, the Destroyer, and his teacher Chiun race to decipher the device's dangerous and deadly effects. But will the secret agents be able to resist the lethal temptation to watch their own secret fantasies?

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* Title : #025 : SWEET DREAMS *

* Series : The Destroyer *

* Author(s) : Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir *

* Location : Gillian Archives *



"Many men build dream castles. Only a fool tries to live in one." -HOUSE OF SINANJU

Anyone could die, but to die well, my dear, that was what he wanted.

Dr. William Westhead Wooley watched himself say these words on his 19-inch television screen. A drop of blood formed on the lips of his television image, first fuzzily, then in red clarity. The body lay across the floor of a well-lit laboratory. The president of the university was there on television, tears in his eyes. Other faculty members were there too, heads bowed.

"We never appreciated Dr. Wooley," said Lee (Woody) Woodward, director of college affairs. He choked back a sob. "We never really comprehended his genius. We treated him like just another physicist in a market glutted with physics doctorates."

Janet Hawley was there on the screen too, as blonde as ever, as pretty as ever, as buxom as ever. In her anguish, she ripped a corner of her pale green blouse and just for a moment, William Westhead Wooley, dying, saw the rounded edge of a pink nipple above the sloping cloth of the nylon half-bra.

The Edgewood University faculty lost its sharp outlines, the television image faded, and bedroom walls began to replace suits and faces. The red blood on the lips melted away and the television image now showed Dr. Wooley on clean white sheets in a smoking jacket with a pad of paper, hearing a knock on the door.

The bedroom had several similarities to the one in which Dr. Wooley sat, with electrodes taped to his temples, their wires leading to the back of the 19-inch screen, set like a giant square eye atop plastic enclosed circuitry.

On the screen there was no frozen turkey dinner crusting in its cheap brown gravy, or yesterday's blue socks already filmed with dust. The windows were washed, mother's ferocious picture faced the wall, the floors were clean and the bed in the one-room apartment overlooking the vast muddy girth of the Mississippi from Richmond Heights, had, on the television screen, grown to double its size. But the greatest difference between the television image and Dr. William Westhead Wooley's room was Dr. Wooley himself.

Gone were the rutted remains of the pocked battlefield of juvenile acne. The skin was smooth, clear, and tanned. The nose was strong, as though crafted by a sculptor's chisel. Muscles appeared in the arms and the dimply pale puffed skin of the belly became flat with hidden muscle. Dark hair came upon the chest and the legs had a runner's spring. On television, Dr. Wooley was thirty-two and was writing his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize when he heard the knock on the door.

On the TV screen, Janet Hawley came in, crying. What could she do? She had been threatened.

"Threatened?" asked the improved image of Dr. Wooley. He put a hand on her blouse. He unbuttoned the top button. The hand found the bra. It moved down toward the nipple. The bra came flying off and Dr. William Westhead Wooley proceeded to make passionate and glorious love to the wanting Janet Hawley.

There was a knock on the door. Dr. Wooley shook his head; he hadn't imagined that. The knock became louder.

"If you don't answer, I'm going to leave." It was a woman's voice. It was Janet Hawley.

Dr. Wooley carefully snapped off the electrodes and rolled the wires back to the set. He started to put on a pair of gray chinos rumpled on the bed. No, not the chinos, he thought. He threw the chinos into the closet, calling out:

"Coming. Coming. Just a minute."

He snapped a pair of light blue flare bottoms from a hanger. He snuggled into them. He pulled a yellow turtleneck over his head and began combing his hair even before his eyes were free of the yellow cloth.

"Willy, if you don't open this door, I'm leaving."

"Coming," he said. He bathed Canoe shave lotion across the splotchy face and dried the perfumey smell on his hair. Then with a big smile he opened the door.

"Zip up your fly," said Janet Hawley. "Why aren't you dressed? The room is filthy. Do you expect me to wait here? I thought we were going out. It's bad enough I have to pick you up."

"Only because you never let me go to your apartment, dearest," said Dr. Wooley.

"The trouble with you, Willy, is that you always turn everything I say against me. We're talking about you."

Janet Hawley was exactly like her television image, blonde, fleshy, with a healthy lust about her body. Unlike the television picture, she was clothed up to her neck with a glaring yellow blouse, and almost to her ankles in a thick scratchy wool skirt.

"Take that yellow thing off," she said. "They'll think we're twins."

"Yes, dear," said Dr. Wooley. He hurled the yellow turtleneck off his body and into the closet with one smooth swing of his right arm.

"What is that?" yelled Janet Hawley. She pointed to the screen. She poked her head close to it. She looked at the nude blonde figure.

"That's me," she screamed. "And I'm undressed and I'm six pounds overweight. You've got dirty pictures of me and you're showing them on a television screen. Fatter than I am." - "No, dear, I'm not showing them. That's not a television picture. It is, but it isn't a television picture."

Janet squinted at the screen. It was her bad side, too. But the breasts seemed a little firmer than usual. Nicer in fact. But the strangest thing was that she was undressed with Willy.

"You made videotapes and did one of those mechanical things to get you in the picture," she said.

"No, dear," said Dr. Wooley. He nervously rapped his knuckles together like palsied applause.

"Well, what is it? One of those secret devices for listening in on other people's affairs that are none of your business?"

William Westhead Wooley grinned, shaking his head.

"I'll give you a hint," he said.

"You'll tell me outright," she said.

"That's sort of hard. It's complicated."

"If you're calling me stupid, you'll never get your hands on one of these again," she said, poking a finger into the yellow bulge of her blouse, a purple lacquered fingernail that glistened.

"You're going to let me tonight then?" he asked.

"Not bare," said Janet.

"I wouldn't think of bare. But then again I did," he said and he explained.

The mind worked on signals, electric impulses. But they were different from the impulses of the television screen. The mind created images which a person saw in his imagination. Television created images taken from light waves or what was called reality. What his invention was able to do was to translate mental images into the electronic beams that ran television. Thus the tube was an ordinary television tube but instead of a station somewhere sending out signals, it was the mind that sent out signals, so you could watch what you were thinking.

He took her hand to the plastic enclosed circuitry. He put her hand on the clear plastic case. It felt warm to Janet.

"This is what makes it work. This is the translator."

He took her hand and put it on the electrodes.

"These attach to your head. They pick up the signals. Thus we have the signals from the mind into these, running along this, into this, which makes them into television signals and into the picture itself On the set. Dum de dum dum dum."

"You're not allowed to show dirty pictures on television," said Janet Hawley.

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