Chapter Seven – “I Trust You, Josh!”
Bad move, Sarah.
Josh can think and dream of nothing but his family. He wants to head back to Oliver’s and use the Plot Device again, but tells himself that he has to convince the rest of the Sociopaths first. That night, he heads out to Reb’s pad, which is an old abandoned house. The other Sociopaths are waiting.
Dave tells Josh that some of them aren’t convinced. So Josh gets up and launches into a unprepared but eloquent and moving speech. At least, Morris tells us that it’s eloquent and moving, because he either realized he wasn’t talented enough to actually write it, or was too lazy to try.
When he finishes, silence falls, eventually broken by Token (hah!) who says that he’s still not buying it. Sure, life in Nuworld sucks, but it wasn’t all unicorns and puppy dogs back home either. His family lived in a one-room shack with a bunch of rats. It was terrible. Apparently Token’s family didn’t know how to apply for welfare.
Josh, surprisingly, has a good response to this. He points out that the Sociopaths know each other now. His parents are well off and wouldn’t mind loaning Token some money. They could all help each other out.
Token asks for some time to think it over. Josh says sure, they’ll meet again in two days’ time. On the way home, Josh and Sarah look at the stars. It’s very romantic.
“Well, you’re not skinny anymore,” Josh said. “You’ve fattened up pretty nicely” (page 75).
Ah, that Josh. He’s a regular Casanova.
Token and Reb talk. Token’s getting more and more opposed to the idea. Reb tells him that if they go back, they can still be friends. They’ll hang out, he’ll teach Token how to rope, they can go up skiing in Colorado, have their own little Brokeback Mountain…
Token walks around for a bit and finally goes to see Oliver again. Oliver talks to him about the parallel universe for a couple of hours, off-screen, and Token leaves as confused as ever. That night he has bad dreams and wakes up covered in sweat, realizing how much life will suck if the other Sociopaths leave and he’s alone.
It’s so weird, having actual conflict.
The Sociopaths meet again, and Josh puts it to a vote. Everyone except for Token raises their hand. He’d come to the meeting intending to go along with it but now finds he can’t.
The Sociopaths attempt to convince him that he’s wrong. Sarah says that sometimes you have blindly follow the leader. Token points that that at those times, they were following Goel, not Josh. Josh is not happy about this. Everyone takes turns trying to convince him, for hours. He remains unconvinced. Finally the Sociopaths decide that they’ll just have to leave him behind. Yes. They’re abandoning one of their own.
Token says okay, and gets up and leaves. And that’s it. The rest of the Sociopaths go to Oliver’s, are transported to the parallel universe, and live happily ever after.
Or not. See, the parallel universe doesn’t really exist. Or if it does, the Sociopaths don’t actually choose to enter it. Why? No real reason. Except that if they did, they wouldn’t actually be able to get back, thus rendering the rest of the book, and the series, pointless. So instead, this entire parallel universe idea is just completely abandoned, only there to drive some sort of wedge between Token and the rest of the Sociopaths.
Token doesn’t know this, though. He goes home and paces around his house, wondering if he was wrong. Finally he goes to sleep, and Goel appears. Goel explains that the rest of the Sociopaths are held captive by their own hearts. They were tired of doing the tough things he was asking so they took an easy way out. Actually, Goel, they did more than that – they gave you the middle finger and tried to completely bail on you. But anyway. Goel tells him that he has to be very careful and trust only in what he tells him. Which, since Goel told them they could trust Oliver, doesn’t count for much in my opinion. He tells Token to enter into the prison that his friends are trapped in, and get them out. Then he vanishes.
Chapter Nine – Wash Jones – Detective
Despite the idiotic chapter titles, the fact that the plot is making no sense whatsoever, and that this book is contradicting not only previous books in the series but itself, often in the very same chapter, this next sequence is actually rather good. Comparatively. We have a kid whose only friends in the world have abandoned him like the self-centered douchebags that they are, all alone attempting to do something he has no idea how to do in a hostile and foreign town. It actually works pretty well.
Token heads out into Acton and wanders around trying to think of a plan. Finally it occurs to him that there’s only one person who knows all the Sociopaths, and that’s Oliver. But wait!
“But I sure don’t trust that fellow Oliver. I don’t know why. He seems friendly enough and all that. But that dream-machine stuff – it don’t set well with me” (page 86).
Let’s see – Goel has told you that you friends are trapped by their hearts. Goel has told you that the dream machine is involved. I suppose it’s possible that Oliver could be an unwitting participant in this whole debacle, but why would Token even consider trusting him?
Token goes to Oliver’s house and almost knocks, but instead, he sneaks around to the back and finds the windows of the room that holds the Plot Device. Inside he sees Oliver working. He waits. Finally Oliver leaves and goes to bed. Token climbs in through the window and starts looking around. He finds the bookcases and looks through until he finds one labeled ‘Plot Device’. Okay, it says ‘Dream Machine’. Inside, it reads like a diary. He reads for a bit, and finally flips to the end. Oliver talks about how the Sociopaths are getting more and more addicted, and he’ll have him soon. Token, however, is resistant. He may have to ‘take steps’ with him. So yeah, Oliver’s evil.
Of course, if Oliver’s working for the Dark Lord, who wants the Sociopaths dead, one wonders why he’s gone to all this trouble of the Plot Device. Wouldn’t it be easier to simply wait until they’re dreaming happily and then stab them? For that matter, why not sprinkle a bit of poison into the relaxation juice they’ve all been calmly drinking? Will there ever be a reason given for why he doesn’t simply kill them? The answer, of course, is ‘no’.
Next, Token finds a note that says that if you attach a headset under the same settings, two people can enter the same dream. Token realizes that he’ll have to find Josh, enter his dream, and convince him to come back.
A bit later, he finds something about final dreams, which the dreamer will only come back from if he himself wills it. No one can make them come back against their will. So apparently this is Oliver’s ‘plan’ – get all of the Sociopaths plugged into the Matrix, and then they’ll never want to come back. Why this is a better plan than killing them, I don’t know. And why he cooked up the entire bit about the parallel universe, I don’t know. You shouldn’t have to tell someone that they’re going to stay inside a dream. Tell them they’re heading in for fifteen minutes and then switch the dial over to eternity, mission accomplished. But from here on out, almost nothing will make any sense.
Token decides that he’ll have to go in and rescue them. But where are they? They’re not here. So he heads out and hides across the street, waiting for Oliver to leave. Eventually he does, and heads off to the prison. Apparently that’s where his secret lab is, so Token has to break into prison.
Token discovers that a young man brings bread to the prison every morning. He waits nearby and when the door opens and the man carrying bread comes inside, he ducks inside the door. Nobody’s around watching. Wow. Security must be pretty lax. He roams through the prison – not encountering any guards, of course – until he finds a room with a bunch of people laying on cots sleeping with headsets. Every single box has an extra headset attached to it. Why? They don’t want anyone waking these people up. Wouldn’t it make more sense to not have an extra headset lying there, or even manufacture the system so they couldn’t attach an extra headset at all? Just to make things more safe?
Token finds Josh, because he’s the leader, and puts the headset on. He switches the machine on.
I wrote things when I was 10 that made more sense than this.