- [Harper] Third interview of the day. After observing the applicant for the past 10 minutes through the two-way mirror separating this room and the waiting room, the applicant appears nervous and reluctant to be here. His eyes wander around the room and he continuously regards the mirror in front of him with suspicion. He may suspect that he is being watched. His application is brief and reveals as little information as possible about himself. He was selected for an interview due to how brief his answers were, in addition to the possibilities involved in discovering the experiment's effects on someone with his particular outlook. Stephen, my name is Dr. Harper and I'm going to be conducting your interview today. I'm ready to see you now. Please, have a seat. Before we begin, I want to inform you that this interview is being recorded.

- [Stephen] Of course it is.

- [Harper] Do I have your permission to continue the interview knowing it will be recorded?

- [Stephen] Sure. I guess. Don't really have much of a choice, right?

- [Harper] Not if you want to be considered for the research project. No, I suppose not. I will take that as consent in any case. Please state your full name.

- [Stephen] My name is Stephen. You have my last name on the application already. I don't really want to say it out loud. Never know who might be listening in, you know.

- [Harper] Very well. It's true, we do already have your name on record. Well then, can you please state your age for me?

- [Stephen] I'm 24.

- [Harper] And what is your occupation?

- [Stephen] I used to be a reporter. I guess I'm unemployed now just as well since I don't like working for the man.

- [Harper] And where were you a reporter?

- [Stephen] Here, in this city.

- [Harper] No, I mean for what news agency. Who was your employer?

- [Stephen] I would rather not say. If you need my work history I can provide it later, if it's really necessary. Otherwise I'm not sure it's relevant. This isn't a job.

- [Harper] No, it's not. But we would like to know our applicants as well as possible before making a decision. We may have you provide your work history later then. So, why are you no longer a reporter?

- [Stephen] I was fired. I was accused of stalking the mayor. A lot of crap really. I was trying to get a story but the man doesn't care about the truth. The man only cares about revenue and getting sued for defamation would be bad for business. So I was fired. Happy?

- [Harper] I see. And how long ago were you fired?

- [Stephen] Is that relevant?

- [Harper] I'll move on. How did you find out about this project?

- [Stephen] I don't know. I think I saw it in the newspaper or something. Sometimes I take the papers people leave behind in the bus. Always good to be informed about what's going on in the world, right?

- [Harper] We did advertise in a number of newspapers so that seems likely. Was it likely the paper you used to work for?

- [Stephen] Nice try. I'm not answering that. Move on.

- [Harper] Then what attracted you to the advertisement? Why did you decide to apply?

- [Stephen] I'm unemployed and broke and getting kind of desperate. I'm pretty much willing to sell my soul at this point. That's hyperbole. I'm not actually willing to sell my soul if you're offering. I'm not sure if it's a real thing but I'm not taking that risk.

- [Harper] So, money was your motivation.

- [Stephen] Of course. I'm not going to walk into some potentially, mm, no, definitely shady underground organization for nothing. Money is the only motivator.

- [Harper] Then you're aware that the compensation for participating, if you're accepted, is $100,000 upon completion of the program. Correct? And you find this to be an adequate amount?

- [Stephen] Yes. That's the only reason I'm here.

- [Harper] And do you have any mental or physical conditions that may cause you distress if you were put in a high-stress environment for extended periods of time?

- [Stephen] What? Like heart conditions and stuff? No, none of that. But I was diagnosed with like paranoia and anxiety when I was a kid. Pretty sure that doctor was a quack and full of shit though. Can I say shit? Is that like the thing you guys frown on? Anyway I'm not paranoid. I just see the truth better than other people.

- [Harper] So, you have anxiety.

- [Stephen] I just said I don't. I was diagnosed with anxiety. I don't have anxiety.

- [Harper] Are you willing to sign a liability waiver precluding us from legal action in the event the environment exacerbates your condition?

- [Stephen] Yeah I mean, I don't expect you guys to care about your guinea pigs and, like I said, I don't have a condition.

- [Harper] If you're selected we'll provide you with that waiver. In addition to that, you'll receive a contract to sign that lists the conditions of your participation. You will be unable to leave the experiment until the program is finished as this could create unforeseen complications. Are you prepared to commit fully to the experiment knowing this?

- [Stephen] As long as I get paid, sure. Whatever. I need the money.

- [Harper] We're also requiring participants to be in a communal living environment. Is that acceptable to you?

- [Stephen] Communal living? In English please, doctor.

- [Harper] You and the other participants will live in an apartment together so we can monitor you more closely to make sure you remain healthy throughout the experiment. You'll be room-mates basically.

- [Stephen] I don't exactly have any place to go anyway so sure, I'll live with a bunch of strangers. I'm desperate enough I guess.

- [Harper] Thank you for your candor Stephen. Before you go, do you have any questions or concerns about the program?

- [Stephen] I mean yeah. Of course I do. I have a lot of concerns. I don't feel like bringing them up though. It's not like it'll make a difference and it's not like you scientists care about people. We're just guinea pigs to you.

- [Harper] Thank you Stephen. We'll call you in a few days. I'll see you out.

- [Stephen] I'm sure you will.

- [Harper] Sixth and final interview of the day. Applicant insisted on coming in late in the afternoon because she needed her beauty sleep. She is the only child of the owner of a well-known pharmaceutical company. No paper application exists for this applicant but due to her social connections she was invited to interview anyway. Miss Whitmore.

- [Bianca] Finally! I've been waiting for like an hour.

- [Harper] Have a seat. Right. Well, Miss Whitmore, before we begin let me introduce myself. I'm Dr. Harper. I also need to inform you that this interview is being recorded. Do you consent to the interview knowing this?

- [Bianca] Oh, sure. Uh-huh. Yeah.

- [Harper] Thank you. We do not have a paper application on file for you at this time so you will need to complete one when the interview is finished. [Bianca] Oh, really? I just kind of assumed I didn't have to fill one out, special circumstances and all.

- [Harper] We need to have a paper record, unfortunately. Could you please ask at the front desk for an application when we're finished here?

- [Bianca] Yeah, sure. That's fine. Anything to help the pursuit of scientific progress.

- [Harper] Thank you. Could you please state you name for me?

- [Bianca] Of course. Bianca Whitmore. But you already knew that. After all, you did ask Daddy to help fund this project of yours, right?

- [Harper] Um, well, yes. We did ask for his contribution. Okay, Miss Whitmore.

- [Bianca] Bianca.

- [Harper] Okay, Bianca. How old are you?

- [Bianca] I'm 26. How old are you? You seem kind of young for a scientist or whatever. I kind of expected someone old and kind of ugly. Are you like a genius or something?

- [Harper] My age isn't really relevant.

- [Bianca] How boring. I just want to be friendly. So, did you major in some super nerdy sciency thing in college, like computers or whatever?

- [Harper] This interview is about you, not me.

- [Bianca] I would really prefer it if this were a conversation and not a one-sided interview. Come on. Pleeease!

- [Harper] Tell me a little about yourself. What is your current occupation?

- [Bianca] Fine. I'll answer your dumb questions. I don't work. I guess I'm kind of a student but I'm taking a break from college right now like for the last three years or something like that. I think I have like a year left if I go back but businesses classes are so boring. So I quit.

- [Harper] And you haven't had a job before? What have you done the past three years?

- [Bianca] Well I tried to work once. I love animals so I tried to work for a pet store. But a dog had a little accident on the floor and my boss wanted me to clean it up and I was not doing that. Ew! So, yeah I don't work. I mean I don't really have to. So, that makes me perfect for this, right? No obligations. I just kind of do whatever I want right now.

- [Harper] You don't work for your father's company?

- [Bianca] Daddy won't hire anyone without a degree.

- [Harper] And how did you find out about this program?

- [Bianca] Well, obviously, I overheard your supervisor talking to Daddy, I mean my father, Daniel Whitmore, about the project and that it had something to do with virtual reality and stuff, like video games, right? I don't know, it sounded cool so I convinced Dad, uh, Mr. Whitmore, argh, forget it, I'm just gonna call him Daddy if that's okay, to let me apply and well, here I am.

- [Harper] So you were interested in the project because you like video games?

- [Bianca] Huh? Oh, uh, I mean I guess. Who doesn't? I'm not like one of those losers who sit at home and only play games all day and do nothing and live off their parents' money their entire lives or whatever. I mean, I have friends and hobbies and stuff so that's totally not me. But yeah, I think games are fun I guess. So, this sounds cool.

- [Harper] And you're aware that this is a six-month commitment, correct? You'll be obligated to stay in the program for six months.

- [Bianca] Yeah, that's fine. It'll get Daddy off my case about going back to school.

- [Harper] If you're accepted into the program you'll receive $100,000 in compensation. Is this acceptable to you?

- [Bianca] I suppose so. I'll probably just donate it or whatever. Maybe the animal shelter? I guess it sounds like a reasonable amount of money for six months.

- [Harper] Yes, reasonable. Bianca, were you informed of the waiver you'll have to sign if you participate? You could be exposed to harmful mental and physical effects so you'll have to sign a liability waiver.

- [Bianca] So if something happens to me you won't be sued. I'll probably have to have our lawyer look it over, but I don't really mind signing. I'm sure I'll be fine.

- [Harper] Do you have any pre-existing mental or physical impairments that may be exacerbated by prolonged exposure to high-stress environments.

- [Bianca] That's a lot of big words. I'm impressed. But no. I'm the picture of perfect health. Why? Are you worried for me?

- [Harper] It's a standard interview question.

- [Bianca] Uh, too bad.

- [Harper] We discussed this briefly earlier but if you agree to participate and are selected, you will not be permitted to leave until the experiment is finished as this could create unforeseen complications. Are you willing to commit fully to the project?

- [Bianca] I can totally play games for six months.

- [Harper] It's not exactly a video game, Bianca.

- [Bianca] It's close enough. Probably better even. But yes, I can commit.

- [Harper] We're also requiring participants to be in a communal living environment. Is that acceptable to you?

- [Bianca] Communal living? Living with strangers? No. Daddy and I discussed this and we think it's best if I rent an apartment nearby instead.

- [Harper] I don't think that will be possible.

- [Bianca] Look, I'll cooperate fully with the rest of your study or whatever but I am not good with people and I need my own stuff to see to my daily needs and activities. I hope that doesn't mean I can't participate because that would make me very unhappy and might not make Daddy very happy either, and I really want to do this project, and Daddy really wants me to do it too, so you should probably do what I want.

- [Harper] Is that a threat?

- [Bianca] What? No. Unless you want it to be.

- [Harper] We will see what we can do about setting up a separate apartment for you.

- [Bianca] Excellent! Are we finished?

- [Harper] Just one more thing. Do you have any questions or concerns about the experiment?

- [Bianca] So it's virtual reality, right? So it's like a video game. What kind?

- [Harper] What do you mean?

- [Bianca] Like the genre.

- [Harper] It's not really a video game, Bianca.

- [Bianca] Do we get to explore a new world and stuff? Do we kill monsters? Do we kill people?

- [Harper] I can't discuss the details with you at this time. If you're selected, you'll learn everything you need to know.

- [Bianca] You can't tell me? Aw.

- [Harper] Unfortunately, no.

- [Bianca] I guess I'll be cool either way. I'm excited.

- [Harper] So, you have no other questions?

- [Bianca] Nope. None. Can I go now?

- [Harper] Yes. Make sure to complete an application before you leave. I'll walk you out.

- [Narrator] Thank you for listening to D.R.E.A.M. In this episode, you heard the voices of Amoretta Noel as Dr. Harper Harper, Robert Spradlin as Stephen, and Ami Rae as Bianca. This episode was written by Ami Rae and directed by Robert Spradlin. Sound production was done by Patrick Hinchliffe, and our music was composed by Tim Sanchez. This episode was brought to you by our patrons and Indiegogo supporters. If you would like to contribute to the show, please consider joining our Patreon. You'll get cool perks, including getting access to episodes a day early, and you will help us to keep the show going. Our next episode will be released to the public on May 21st, 2019. Until then remember life's a dream.