The “Deep Room” (Based on a dream, as experienced by Jennifer Semple Siegel)
“All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together.”
– Jack Kerouac
This piece is based on a dream that I experienced on May 20, 2014. I waited too long to jot down my dream notes, so this is an enhanced version. To some extent, dreamers, upon awakening, do edit their dreams, simply because the dream itself comes from a subconscious sleep state, while the recounting of it occurs in a fully conscious state.
I am some kind of chemical technician, working on a chemistry project that requires darkness and for the result to be stored in a leak-proof container in which light must never penetrate.
Evidently, light will result in some kind of catastrophe, although what, I do not know – I’m not privy to that information.
I do my experiments alone in a small special “dark room” that is accessible only by a badge that is read by a laser beam.
I develop sample batches of this formula, each day improving upon it. I suspect that this is a powerful chemical weapon, but I am not certain because my work is premised upon making the formula turn certain colors, not for what it does. In other words, my boss will hand me a color sample and ask me to develop a formula that is that specific color.
I am basically a drone, not a true chemist or scientist.
For years, I have done this work – it is routine, and I don’t have any fears about security or the formula falling into the wrong hands.
One day, as I am working on developing a chartreuse version of the formula, I am called in by my boss, who announces, “You have been promoted to the ‘Deep Room.’”
I have heard about the “Deep Room,” rumored to be a very dangerous place resulting in many deaths. I am not crazy about this promotion, but if I want to keep my job, I really have no choice. Working there is an honor, the selection of “Deep Room” workers very selective, promoting only the cream and trusted employees.
However, this is just a rumor because deep roomers are not allowed to talk about what they do to anyone ranking under them (just as I am not allowed to talk about my work to those in a lower position.)
To get to my Deep Room assignment, I must navigate through a series of mazes; I am guided by a GPS device that looks like a laser pointer.
The Deep Room is large, black, and cavernous, and filled with other workers, some of whom I recognize and thought had died.
“We are the testers and deliverers,” says Tara, whose obituary had appeared online three weeks ago. I must look totally gobsmacked because she laughs, and adds, “Yeah, I’m alive. Deep Roomers never die, we just recycle.”
“Let me explain. Our job involves fine tuning the formulas that come from the outer labs. You were specifically promoted because for the past five years, your formulas have always been perfect. It was time to bring you in. Your talents were being wasted in the outer labs.”
“Thank you,” I say.
From what I can tell, my work here isn’t all that different from what I used to do, except that I take the formulas from the outer labs and tweak them to specs – not difficult because I have a good eye for matching colors. I am surprised at the some of the sloppy work coming from the outer labs – I have been told that if some of these formulas had been released without deep room testing, a pandemic of some kind could wipe out the human race.
The only substantial job description difference: deep roomers are responsible for packing up the formula and delivering the product to its final destination. Because we are officially dead, we can blend in and move throughout the country without being recognized, and even if we’re caught, we cannot be identified.
My job soon becomes routine: test the formula, pack it up, deliver it. I understand why the company requires the deep roomers to pack and deliver the formulas: we will take our testing job more seriously if we must pack and deliver that which we have tested.
The packaging is interesting: it looks like a basketball-sized death star, complete with the indentation. The shell is made out of some light material that resembles milled aluminum, but it is nearly indestructible, testing 10 on the Mohs scale, despite its thinness. Once the formula is sealed in, the air is sucked out, a transport liquid infused, and the seam fused so that a seam no longer exists.
Once sealed, the mini death star requires a special tool to unlock it, only available to the intended recipient.
On this day, I have been led by an embedded GPS device to deliver the formula to an oceanfront drop point.
As I approach the spot, three young males, thin and pale, surround me and grab the package. They all have dark bushy hair and beards, wearing droopy red swimming trunks.
“Death Star!” one yells. They pass the package among themselves and study it.
“NO!” I yell. “You mustn’t take it!”
They just push me to the sand and laugh, tossing it to one another, like a beach ball.
I break into a cold sweat. Although I know that the packing material is extremely strong, I’m not exactly sure what will happen if the formula is all roiled up; I have always handled my packages with kid gloves – just in case.
I run after them, but they are stronger than me and keep me at arm’s length.
“You must give that to me,” I say, crying. “The survival of the world might depend it.”
They ignore my pleas and toss the ball all around, sock it with their bare hands, and whack it with a baseball bat. One man even tries to slash it open with a knife.
All to no avail. The package, without a scratch, remains intact.
“Please, I’m afraid...the world...”
One of the men steps back from the game of catch and grabs me by the shoulders. “No, Eve, the world will be just fine.”
I dry my tears. “How, how-w-w-w do you know my name?”
“Check your GPS.”
Sure enough, these unlikely men were, all along, the intended recipients.
“But why attack me?”
“We were testing you, Eve. To see what would happen if one of your packages fell into the wrong hands. This delivery is a just a dummy, the substance inside only an inert liquid.”
A job performance evaluation.
My fear melts and drains to my feet, through the ground.
“Well done, Eve. Your job is done here.”
And I know it’s true. I nod and take my leave, back to the Deep Room, to await further instructions.
I am truly an elite.
The “Deep Room,” © 2014 Jennifer Semple Siegel, may not be reprinted or reposted without permission of the author.