Another recurring dream, and this one will make an incredible short story if I can get it down. I was in a universe where a secret society exists, one more brutal than any I've heard of in this one. Every man or just some men, starting very young, from maybe the age of 12 (I saw myself from outside for a moment; I was a kid in his early teens, a little overweight, of some race with skin slightly darker than the whites, and had straight black hair), some much later, starts getting bullied around. Cops are in on this too, or are simply being used by the cabal to harass and torture their victims. Someone, for example, would start picking on you in a public place, and others would join in. Those not in the society would cower or run away (or maybe they're in on it too, I couldn't tell), leaving you to fend for yourself. The whole purpose, as I began to understand it, was to get you to be immune to pain: I'd hit these guys, even drive a stick through their arm repeatedly, and they'd just keep coming. They'd find me everywhere I'd go. Then I started realizing I always kept going to the same places. Instead I went into a communal kitchen and pretended to be working on cleaning under the sink, and was able to hide there for a while. Then the guy who first saw me there came back, asked how I was doing. He said "You're from Pennsylvania, aren't you? This guy over there was just telling me about you." So I knew they'd caught up to me. But at that point I understood that they weren't just trying to kill me.

I started finding things I could use for weapons and caching them in different places, places I'd never gone to before. They'd catch me again and start torturing me. Their torture devices would fail, and I'd help them fix it so they could torture me some more.

The whole purpose, I finally understood, was to make men into super-soldiers: those who ignored pain, were always mobile, were resourceful, and did not fear death. At all.

I also realized I'd either pass their test, or die. Nobody, once they were chosen (and again, this could be every man, or only a few, and no women were recruited though they may have been involved) would be left alone until one or the other occurred. I felt that this was an offense to my freedom, but realized I'd have to pass the test to remain free, and by that point I'd be one of them and would be in agreement with what they were doing. In fact I was already in agreement by the time I woke up; I saw the method to their madness and decided I wanted to be that powerful myself. Especially considering the alternative.

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