It is the future. The distant, but not-too distant future.

I'm walking down a hallway. It is a big, bright yellow hallway with lots of elevator-like doors. I am following two very attractive female guards. I am carrying a tazer-like stun gun. I stun the two guards repeatedly. I black out.

Time Shift

Reality returns. I am someone else. I am a Soldier - a General of some sort, and I've been assigned the task of entering this prison to speak to a prisoner. The prisoner is a General as well, but of another "faction", I assume. He is a prisoner, but is treated decently and with respect. I carry a stun gun which flips inside out and turns into some sort of plasma-based sidearm. (No physical rounds are fired - it fires quick bursts of directed energy.)

I enter the prison. It seems very familar. The hallways are big, and painted bright yellow. Each cell door is constructed similar to an elevator, and has doors like elevators. I walk up to one, and press the button. A loud "Ca-Chunk!" echoes from behind the door, and the prisoner's cell is lowered to the small window. I ask for the General by name (I don't remember it now), and the prisoner replies "No."

I repeat this process for two more cells, and on the third cell, the prisoner asks "Who wants to know?" I state my name, and unbelieving, the prisoner looks through the window and smiles. I say "Please state your occupation before opening the door.", and he replies "I'm a General."

The door opens, and he greets me with a handshake. I immediately get the feeling that we are old friends. We sit down at the table in his cell, and talk about the prospect of discussing peace. The other two guards stand behind the prisoner, and call the chief to let him know we have established contact. (I also get the impression that the prisoner and the chief are also old acquaintances.)

As I sit back down at the table, he quickly trots out of the cell. I jump up and pull out my sidearm. I exit the cell door, and turn to the left to find him grabbing a quick drink from the water fountain next to the cell door. I tell him "You want to inform me next time you decide to do that so I know not to chase you?" He smiles, and nods.

We sit down again, and have a conversation. The conversation is about nothing specific, and we're just bullshitting. Suddenly, he jumps up again, and bolts out of the cell door. He runs across the hall and starts to scale the side of the wall on the other end. At the top of the wall is a vent shaft, and that's what he's after. By the time I reach the wall, he's already halfway up and I'm fumbling with my sidearm. He's just about to enter the shaft, when I fire eight or nine low-yield discharges at his back. He slows, but doesn't stop. I fire two more, and he loses his grip on the wall and falls to the ground. I grab him by his collar and drag him back to the cell.

Time Shift

The prisoner and I are sitting at the table with the cell door securely closed. The door opens, and the chief arrives with his assistant. The chief suggests we take our discussions somewhere more public. I reluctantly agree, and we migrate to a restaurant. The restaurant is dark, with loud music and dance club-like lights. We are sitting at the table talking when the chief shakes his head. "No. This is crazy. Don't you see? This can't be the way it goes!" He suddenly stands up and points his plasma pistol at the prisoner. I jump up, immediately swing around pointing MY sidearm at the chief. I slowly and sternly say "Don't do it", with the emphasis on "Don't." He pauses for a moment, then fires a single, full-power discharge at the prisoner. I fire three stun shots at the chief, and turn to get a look at the last of the prisoner being vaporized.

This, of course, was enough to jolt me awake. I have a nightstand next to my bed, and on top is my fax machine and my answering machine. Looking at my answering machine, I notice an extra blink on the saved messages light. I press PLAY and skip to the second message.

The mechanical voice begins speaking.

TUESDAY, THREE TWENTY-THREE PM. MESSAGE TWO.

Through the answering machine's speaker, there is some shuffling barely audible. A few clunks, and then voices. The quality is scratchy and bad, but still understandable.

"No. This is crazy. Don't you see? This can't be the way it goes!"

Shuffling, a rubbing, and two clicks. Immediately after, a loud clank, more shuffling, two clicks, and a low buzzing sound.

"Donnnn't do it..."

A pause... and then a quick, loud, high-pitched "BZZOOO". There are three more, rapid-succession lower-volume "Bzzooo" sounds, with a backdrop of people yelling and running. All goes silent with a click.

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END OF MESSAGES.

I sit there, absolutely dumbfounded at what I have just heard on my answering machine. I begin crying, partly in sadness, but mostly in absolute confusion and frustration.

I wake up. Again. for real, this time.