I really like going to bed.

No, no, that’s not what I meant. Jeez, what’s wrong with you people? Not everything’s about sex, you know. No, I mean on my own. All right, what I really mean is that I like going to sleep - going to sleep and dreaming.

There, is that what you wanted me to say? Yes, I thought so; you were listening, weren’t you? You whitecoats are always listening. You want me to tell you about it? All right then, I will.

I like it any time, but I like it best when I’m on vacation. Yes, I know everyone likes going on vacation; it seems an obvious thing to say. But I like it for different reasons. It’s because of the dreams, you see. Other people’s dreams. When I go away, when I sleep in rooms where other people have slept, when I dream on beds where others have dreamt, I get their dreams.

Isn’t that the weirdest thing? I bet it’s one of the weirdest things you’ve ever heard.

I think of myself as a ‘dreamsdropper’.

What do you mean, where did the term come from? You people ask the dumbest questions. It’s my own word, of course; I made it up. Well what else would you call someone who overhears - or should that be over sees? - other people’s dreams? And let me tell you, I get the lot, the full range. The fun dreams, the odd dreams, the adventures, the nightmares, the frights; I’ve seen them all. But the ones I like best, the ones I hope for, are the erotic dreams, the wet dreams; the dreams of conquest.

You think that’s sleazy, don’t you? You think I’m a perv, a voyeur; some kind of pathetically twisted vampire of dreams. Well, you can think what you like. I don’t think so. It’s not as if they lose something; it’s not like I’m taking anything, stealing their souls, for God’s sake! Most people don’t even remember their dreams; jeez, you shouldn’t need me to tell you that! And they never know after all, the dreamers, and I never know who they are. Their faces swim through my mind, their feelings tingle my nerves, but that’s all. They’re anonymous.

You don’t like me much now, do you? You think I’m a parasite; I can see it in your eyes. And that’s hugely ironic considering what this place is, considering what you do for a living. If anyone’s a parasite, it’s you; mucking about with people’s minds, delving into their private thoughts, analysing their reactions. Writing your profoundly academic papers which no one else can understand, and selling your findings to the State.

Research in its purest form? Don’t give me that bull. It’s Big Brother by another name; it’s human manipulation hiding behind a veil of science! You lot are leeches, sucking out the contents of people’s brains to order, just to make it easier for your political paymasters to control them.

Oh yes, go on, check the straps! They’re good and tight, I can assure you; those thugs you call ‘research assistants’ made quite sure of that. And doesn’t that just prove my point? You’re the one who has something to be ashamed of, not me. You at least had a choice; in my book that makes you a hundred times worse.

Because I don’t do it deliberately. Well I suppose I do, now I know I can do it; I deliberately go to places where I know there’ll be vivid dreams. What I meant was, I don’t do it consciously, I don’t control it.

But I don’t care how it happens, really. I don’t think about it. I just enjoy what it gives me, what it makes me feel. And if that’s being a parasite, well that’s too bad.

I look at it like this; it’s a bit like reading a book, although you can never tell what genre it’s going to be. It could be a horror story - and I’ve had some real beauts. There are a lot of frightened people out there but let me tell you, there are even more who like to frighten. They’re the cowards, you know, the ones who dream of torturing and terrorising; they live out their cruel fantasies in their minds without ever having the courage to actually carry them out.

But listen to me, what am I, Freud or something? You figure it out; it’s what you do, isn’t it? Poke about in people’s subconscious, looking for traumatic childhood experiences that turned them into serial killers? Jeez, give me a break!

Yes, I’ve seen murders. I’ve seen lots of people killed, in more ways than you could imagine. Or maybe not. You must have heard plenty of lurid stories. But how many of them were real, eh? How many were actual murders; memories rather than fantasies? I bet you’d like to know. I bet you and your hard-faced friends out there wish you believed all this crap. Someone like me could make the police’s job a lot easier, eh?

Hey, wouldn’t that make me a sleeping policeman? Oh lighten up; you people have no sense of humour.

Take this godforsaken place, for instance. Since I’ve been here I’ve seen more murders than you’ve given tranc-shots. I’ve even watched you die, my supercilious, white-coated friend, and more than once. How does that make you feel? How does it feel to know that most of the people who’ve slept on that slab you call a bed would cut your throat soon as look at you? Hell, I’d cut your throat soon as look at you!

Would you like to hear the ways in which I’ve seen you die? Would you like me to describe them? Shall I go into detail? Oh, it’s no good throwing that switch, my friend; your sterile little screen won’t show you the pictures in my head ...

Well? What did your wires and gamma-ray gizmos tell you? That my brain was producing psycho-waves, or whatever it is you call them? I’ll tell you why that was; you don’t need to be Einstein to figure that one out! It’s because I’m alive, pal; a real, walking, talking human being. Not brain-dead like most of the poor sods you have in here. And some of those needles hurt, you know; not that you care. I’m only a specimen to you, not a real person at all.

Oh, here we go, I wish I’d never mentioned it earlier. And why the hell should I tell you about my childhood, anyway? Didn’t you have one of your own? By the look on that pig’s face of yours, I wouldn’t be surprised. If you ever had a mother she probably took one look at you and left you at the nearest abattoir ... All right, all right, no need to get worked up.

No, I wasn’t abused by my father; no, nor my mother either! Jeez, what is this? You people are obsessed with sex ... and what business is it of yours if I play with myself now and then? Haven’t you ever done it? Oh I get it, you’re going back to the wet dream thing, aren’t you? You think I’m dysfunctional, or whatever you psycho-types call it. You really can’t get it into your head that I’m not some kind of undercover Peeping Tom.

Under cover! Did you get it? All right, weak joke I know. Jeez, don’t you people ever laugh? You must lead awfully boring lives ...

What, now you want me to describe the wet dreams I’ve seen? God, you people are sick. I think you’re the pervert here, mate, not me! Don’t think I didn’t see your eyes light up when I mentioned erotic dreams. You were almost drooling ...

No, as it happens, I’m not going to describe them for you. Why, is that how you get off? Well, don’t think I’m going to sit here and give you a free ride. Go get your own thrills!

Oh, that’s it, isn’t it? You’re incapable, you’re impotent! Well, let me give you some advice, my sour-faced friend; go talk to the whitecoat in the next lab. He’s the expert in physical reactions and I should know; his needles hurt far worse than yours ...

Well, ask some proper questions then. You’re supposed to be the one with the training. What, you want me to do your job for you?

No, as it happens, I’m not a mind-reader and I’ve never claimed to be. Although I could make a stab at what you’re thinking right now, if you like. But it’d be an educated guess and in my opinion mind-reading’s either that or trickery.

I think your memory must be failing. Haven’t I already told you I only see people’s dreams? To do that, I have to sleep where lots of other people have slept, and preferably where they’ve had emotional or stimulating experiences.

Why? Because someone who’s led a blameless, monotonous life doesn’t have vivid dreams, and the ordinary ones aren’t strong enough to hang around. That’s what I think anyway; people have good or bad experiences which stick in their minds and the strength of their emotions hangs about where they’ve slept, just waiting for someone like me to come and soak them up.

That’s what I am, a dream-sponge. There’s an image for you.

Hey, what about your dreams? I bet you have some good ones. I can’t believe you sleep easy in your bed every night, not with what you do to some of these poor suckers. Wouldn’t you like to know what you dream? I could tell you, if you like. But I’d have to sleep in your bed. How would you feel about that? How would your wife feel? You do have a wife, don’t you? Does she have vivid dreams; erotic dreams? I bet she does, you look like a cold fish ... Oh, there you go, reaching for the switch again! What’s the matter, friend, don’t you trust her? Don’t you want to know who your wife sees when she dreams ... ?

Jeez, that hurt, you know! You didn’t have to do that; I wasn’t threatening you. What could I do to you, strapped down and shut away in here? And you don’t believe what I’m telling you anyway; you called it crap. All right, I called it crap, but it was only what you were thinking.

So what do you want to know now? We’ve done my childhood; no abnormalities there. We’ve established that I’m heterosexual but that sometimes I play with myself. And if that makes me a psycho then so is nearly everyone else! I’ve told you I’m not a medium, or a faith-healer - whatever the hell that is - or a mind-reader; and I don’t hear voices either.

Although that’s not strictly true, I suppose. When I see someone else’s dream, I also hear the voices. What do you mean, what voices? The voices in the dreams, of course! No, it’s not God telling me to do things; jeez, where do you get this stuff from? People do speak in their dreams you know, and other people speak to them. Doesn’t that happen in your dreams? What, you don’t remember? Don’t know much, do you? You’ll be telling me you don’t dream in colour next, or you never smell things, or feel things . . .

Do you know, I’m really beginning to think you’re the abnormal one. Why don’t you take these stupid tests? Why don’t you wear the wires? Stick the probes up your backside and see what your little blue screen tells you. Only you’re too scared, aren’t you? You don’t mind inserting needles into my nerves and sticking electrodes onto my skin, but you wouldn’t put up with it yourself.

But it doesn’t matter. None of it matters. This place doesn’t matter. Only the dreams matter; only the dreams are real. But you don’t care about that, do you? You don’t believe me. You think I’m deluded; you think I’m making it up. Well I don’t care what you believe and I don’t care what you do. The straightjackets, sedatives and rubber straps mean nothing to me because very soon now, you’re going to wake up.

Oh yes. You’re going to wake up and remember that it’s me asking the questions and you strapped to the slab.

The End