When the Dream Gate was first invented, the scientists heading up the project used it to record the dreams of their subjects. It was only much later when a number of corporations and private individuals began trying to reverse engineer the patent, that these people discovered that the Dream Gate could also craft dreams. Reversing the flow of data allowed you to insert dreams instead of just observing them.
Imagine being able to order a dream off a menu? Do you want to be rockstar, the President or have a threesome with Playboy bunnies? Imagine being able to customise the exact duration, place, events and other details that you would experience in a dream? Do you want to watch the history of the known world as it unfolds or to feel a year-long orgasm?
The porn industry was naturally an early adopter of the technology. From normal to orgies to kinky to extreme snuff dreams, the depraved depths were the limit here. Next were the leisure and thrill seekers, who downloaded customised dreams, visited far-flung parts of the universe, skydiving without a parachute or blood-soaked rampages down main streets.
Then imagine that prisons are full. Do not forget that holding and feeding prisoners for the whole terms are also expensive. Now consider that you can forcefully insert a dream into a convict that felt like they were in prison for the duration of their sentence? You could even customise special features in this dream to teach the convict a lesson. And, best of all, this only takes an evening’s sleep to enforce and when the now-humbled convict awakens in the morning, you can send him on his way.
Researchers, academics and students were the next to use find use for the Dream Gate. Like the criminals, they would use it to extend time, but their’s was for research and studying. Imagine that the night before an exam, you could get a good night’s rest and have an extra year to study for it. Imagine that you could go to sleep and give a research project with limited funding for a year near-eternity to be completed?
Sure, there were tragedies along the way. People who messed up the Dream Gate’s functions, input too much time or customised dreams that they could not handle. But, in the end, the attractions outweighed the cost. As time went on, it not only became more acceptable to use the Dream Gate until it became the norm.
Eventually, most of the world was asleep most of the time. Luckily, AI, synthetics and micro-robotics had advanced to such as a stage that no one needed to wake up. Everyone was well nourished and agelessly maintained–the problem of aging had been solved by a scientist after dreaming about it–while the Earth carried on spinning around the Sun. Solar, wind, water and gravitation power sustained automated cities, sustainable countries and a world that had fallen asleep.
Who knows how long it actually was? Who knows how much time passed while mankind collectively dreamt their individually customised dreams?
But, despite the world’s dreams, reality was still plodding on. The Earth still had awake life on it. Over millions of years, this scurrying, fury life would quietly evolve into intelligence. This intelligence would grow up around the infrastructure of these strange, dreaming beings that slept in their quiet, forgotten cities as their metal, magic guardians silently moved around them.
Before the last Sleeper died, the Sleepers would initially inhabit this new intelligent lifeform’s tribal myths. Then the Sleepers would inhabit this species’ religion, and, eventually, the Sleepers–now long dead–would be as little more than rock paintings and obscure references in old dusty books as this species began to reach for the stars.
Little did this species know that many of their subsequent achievements would echo the private dreams of their now-completely-forgotten co-natives to Earth, the Sleepers. Little could they have comprehended it, anyway, as nature had learnt Her lesson and this species She had evolved to need minmal sleep and absolutely no dreams.