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Morgan lay in bed and fought the exhaustion from the day as it washed over him. His nights were always a battle of will: physical exhaustion from the Wasteland fought against his mind’s will to escape the recurring nightmares. Inevitably, though, the body won. And then the nightmare came. It was always the same – or at least similar enough to be the same theme.

Mostly, Morgan dreamed he was a prisoner in an alien place. He was held in a room with cushioned walls on three sides and large mirror on the fourth wall. He knew, somehow, that there were Readers on the other side of the mirror watching him. If he pushed his face against the mirror he could see their shapes on the other side; not anything definite, just the vague shapes of them. He assumed they were the wizard Readers of the Pre-Cataclysm because he sensed it. There was no proof, just an impression of knowledge.

He was helpless to struggle or attempt to free himself because they had him bound in a strange coat whose sleeves buckled behind him. He was left with the only option to scream and cry and plead and wail. And that’s how most nightmares transpired.

Every so often, there were other versions. Versions that were not as horrible as this common one. Sometimes, his nightmare took him to a room in the same prison where he was tied to a bed. Sometimes the Readers walked into the room in their white robes and told him strange things that he didn’t understand. These things infuriated him. He didn’t know why but they did. These nightmares usually ended with him gnashing his teeth at them and cursing them as he struggled to free his bound arms and legs.

This particular night was different. In this nightmare he was tied to a chair in a room with several other prisoners. One of the wizards stood beside him silently while Morgan watched the other prisoners. For some reason he couldn’t speak or summon the strength to move. He tried desperately to speak to the other inmates, but it was useless. His mouth just wouldn’t cooperate. Every ounce of effort only yielded a slurred mumble.

Morgan woke suddenly and said to the darkness, “Why am I here?”

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