Story: It Starts In The Mind

It Starts In The Mind




Lydia Morrison enjoyed the smell and taste of fresh-brewed coffee. She couldn’t greet the morning without its eye-opening powers. This morning, however, she drank it with shaking hands. Between her last cup of tea last night and this morning, she’d become a criminal.

She only hoped no one’d been watching. Perhaps she’d get away with it. After all, it was only a … The sharp knock at the door meant business, and swept the rest of her thoughts away.


She froze, cup in hand, which they must’ve taken for resistance. They forced their way in. They grabbed her. “You’re under arrest for the use of illegal narcotics.”

“Illegal narcotics? But it was only ..”

“I hope you have a good lawyer,” one said as he cuffed her. “u have the right to remain silent,” began the burly cop. He continued reading the middle-aged woman her rights. She perked up her ears when he got to the part about being provided a lawyer, should she not be able to afford one.

She certainly wasn’t able—not on SSDI.

They shoved her into the paddy wagon and roared to the station.

“Hey!” she tapped the window. “I didn’t really do anything!”

Then she remembered. Anything she said could and would be used against her in a court of law.

She watched out the window. They turned down the wrong street for the police station. Where were they going?

In a minute, she found out, as her son, Andy, and her daughter, Linda, came out with their hands cuffed, their faces wreathed in confusion.

“Mom, what’s going on?” Andy, nearly twenty, asked as they shoved him in beside her.

“I … I guess I incriminated you. I’m sorry.”

“What did we do?” asked Linda, her big green eyes wide with fright. The eighteen-year-old girl had just moved into her own apartment and was preparing to enter premed.Now, because of her, Linda would have a criminal record.

“I’m sorry, honey. It’s not like I intended to or anything.”



The booking took no time at all. They had the devices in the cruiser: tiny cameras in the car’s ceiling that scanned their eyes and took their mug shots; a stable pad released by a button to take their fingerprints, and small devices hidden in the car to record their interviews.

Who had given her and her son the cocaine? When had he taken it?

Andy exploded. “Cocaine! I’ve never done coke in my life. Ma, what have you done?”

“How come I got arrested?” Linda demanded.

“We’ll get to you in a minute, ma’am,” said the officer.

“Now then, Mrs. Morrison. Describe the man who shared cocaine with you, and showed you how to smoke it.”

“Well, he was fair-haired. He had no name.”

“You mean he didn’t have a name that you remembered, or he didn’t introduce himself to you. Make it easy on yourself, and draw the man. Leave the rest to us.”

“The man was just a … just a character in my dream.”

“The oneironautic use of drugs is treated as if you’d done it in waking life, and so is every other crime. In plain English, you dreamed it, you did it. For your own and your children’s sake, draw the man. We’ll find him.”

“This just in,” said the newsman on the radio in the cruiser. “Famous country singer Jerry Whiteside was picked up after smoking crack cocaine with a woman he spent the night with here in Newark. The singer disavows all knowledge of the woman or the cocaine.”

“Dammit, I never met the man. I dreamed that night before last. I don’t remember much about it.”

“Oh, Mom,” Linda sighed, “dream control. I keep telling you. There are courses, you know.”

The car made an aggressive run for a parking space. “Quite the criminal aren’t you, lady?” She and her children were hauled out of the car and frog-marched into headquarters.


They were separated. Andy was put in the men’s side of the jail. Linda and her mother were put in cells far apart. Lydia could hear her daughter protesting as they dragged her off.

Her celly was in for murder.

“Who’d you kill?”

“My husband. Caught the creep cheating.”

“For real?”

Her celly glared. “Yes, for real. You a cop, or you writing a book?”

Lydia didn’t talk to her celly. She didn’t even ask her name.

Later that day, she met her court-appointed lawyer, a weak-mouthed dude who spoke to her as if he thought her guilty. When she looked at the defense lawyer, she knew she was going down.



Hardly anyone came to this kind of trial anymore. Only the co-accused and the judge, bailiff, court reporter and assorted lawyers were there.

It didn’t last a day. Mrs. Morrison watched her defense lawyer perform very badly. His arguments were weak, especially his main argument.

“Your Honor, Mrs. Morrison testified to the arresting officers and everyone who’ll listen long enough that she didn’t really do anything.”

“The use of cocaine, Mr. Stevens, is a crime, regardless how it came about.”

“Your Honor, I’d like to call the defendant to the stand, since there are no witnesses. No one saw her purchase drugs, or use them.”

“Call your witness, counsel.”

“Mrs. Morrison, please come to the stand.”

She ignored the aches and pains of osteoarthritis and got to her feet. She was escorted to the witness stand and sat in the chair.

“Tell the court what happened on January 16, 2065.”

“Nothing happened. It was an ordinary day. I’m unemployed due to disability. I have major depressive disorder to a debilitating degree. I’m being treated with medication. I’d just started a new medication that day. I spent the day reading Teilhard de Chardin. I had dinner, watched a little TV, called my kids to see how my son was liking college, and my daughter to see how she liked being on her own for the first time, and how she liked her new apartment.”

“The co-accused,” said the lawyer.

“Yes, sir. My children knew nothing …”

“Hold on, Mrs. Morrison, we’re coming to that. “What happened when you turned off the TV?”

“I had my usual cup of tea and then went to bed.”

“Do you remember what you dreamed about?”

“Yes. I dreamed that Andy and Linda came home from a concert. I asked the kids if they were high. Linda said she’d enjoyed some marijuana, while Andy said he’d done some cocaine.”

“Mom!” Both kids looked at her, hurt in their eyes. The judge called for order and no further outbursts.

“Then what happened?”

“I wanted to join the kids. I wanted to get high with them. I was on a balcony. It was a warm night, nothing like January. There was a man with me and the kids. A friend of theirs, I suppose, though neither I nor they have seen him. My God, he was only a dream character.”

“Objection. The accused is aware of the law. Please instruct the witness that you are her defense, Mr. Stevens, not she.”

“Sustained,” said the judge.

“Please continue, Mrs. Morrison. What happened in the dream?”

“A man was there, and so were my kids. I got curious. I wanted to try cocaine, so he lit up some rocklike thing, and showed me how to smoke it.”

“Your Honor,” said the defense, “this is a drawing made by the accused of the man she saw in her dream. Note that the face is mostly undefined. The only feature that is well defined is fair hair. The costs to this country looking for an imaginary person …”

“We’re aware of the cost, Mr. Stevens. Please continue.”

“Yes, Your Honor. Mrs. Morrison, you say you went to bed on a January night, but in your dream, you stood on a balcony on a warm summer night?”

“That’s correct.”

“Are you, in waking life, a smoker?”


“In waking life, do you use illicit drugs?”


“Do your children?”


“Objection,” cried the prosecutor. “Andrew and Linda Morrison do not live in the home. Mrs. Morrison can’t possibly be aware of their waking or oneironautic activities.”

“Sustained. Please proceed on a different tack, councillor.”

“Yes, Your Honor. Mrs. Morrison, have you ever spent the night with the well-known singer, Jerry Whiteside?”

“No. I’ve never met the man. He’s just my favorite singer. I’ve had all kinds of dreams about him.”

“So, you couldn’t possibly have smoked cocaine with this man?”


“Sustained. The court can make its own inferences, Councillor,” said the judge.

There was a ten-minute recess.

“Thanks a lot, Mom,” Linda hissed. “No more medical career for me. And all because you wouldn’t spend a hundred bucks for a lucid dreaming course.”

Lydia turned away, muttering, “Who can afford such things on a fixed income?”



The kids had both been questioned, testifying they had no knowledge of the events till the cops arrested them for the activities they had engaged in during their mother’s dream.

In his closing statement, the prosecutor alluded to this, saying, “A long time ago, wiser men than I developed technologies that would give law enforcement officials an edge. A telepathic edge. Since crime begins in the mind before it is actually committed, these wise men devised a way to stop crime before it starts. Thus, our legal system provides the same penalty for crimes committed in dreams as it does for crimes committed in waking life. Furthermore, anyone the dreamer knows or imagines having committed the same or other criminal acts is also subject to the laws of the land. Defense Council has claimed that Mrs. Morrison was only dreaming. A laughable argument, since that does not matter. Our society depends on the safety we’ve created for ourselves and for our children. I ask, Your Honor, that the criminals be given the maximum penalty provided under our current laws.”

“It is so ordered,” said the judge, banging his gavel.

“Just a moment, please,” Mrs. Morrison said, standing up.

“I have ruled, ma’am,” said the judge. “Any further comment from you, and I’ll rule you in contempt.”

“Since I’m going down for something I only did in a dreamI assume you’re sending me to a dream prison, and that I’ll awake in my own bedroom? And that my kids will awaken in the same manner, so that they can pursue their careers, my daughter in medical school, and my son in law school?””

“Go, Mom!” cried Linda and Andy. The clerk and reporter also stood up and cheered, along with the defense lawyer, while the judge banged and called for order and the prosecutor smirked at her.

“Are you saying, Your Honor, that everything you’ve ever thought or dreamed is pure and moral and ..”

“I said, Order, You are in contempt of court.”

“The court is contemptible!” she shot back. “If I’m going down, I’m going down for something I bloody well did!”


Lydia Morrison took the pipe. “Okay. Go for it,” said her dread-locked celly. She did as instructed, and felt a rush of pleasure.

“So, this is cocaine.” she whispered.

“Sure is. How do you like it,  grandma?” The young girl smiled at the older woman.

“It’s amazing. I could go dancing.”

“Shhh. Keep your  voice down, granny. Want to get  us busted?”

They both giggled. It was the best joke Lydia’d heard. No one cared what they dreamed now. “Sorry, Amaretta. One thing, though. This is different than I dreamed.”

“Well, duh, granny, this is for real.” They both giggled.

Lydia passed the pipe.

“I’m just sorry about my kids.”

“Why? It’s a first offence by proxy. And that singer you like? Same thing. As for us, we’re locked up, and they’ve thrown away the key. Meaning, since we can’t harm nobody in society with our actions or thoughts, they don’t really care what we do.”

“What are you in for?”


“Real or dream.”

Amaretta shook her dreads at the older woman. “Granny, where do you think I got this stuff? How ‘bout handing back the pipe, huh?”

Lydia did so.

“What are you staring at, grandma?”

“I don’t know. You look familiar. You have my sister’s eyes.” She held out her hand for the pipe.


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