“The dream is doubling back upon itself,” said the Superintendent of Prisons, wringing her hands. She was a steady woman by nature – had to be, given her job – but there was no denying the Island facility made her nervous. It made everyone nervous. The Island was the one prison without bars, the one where bars would do no good. And yet it was also the one prison whose criminals could least be allowed to roam free among society. “They’ve become aware of the discrepancies. You can see it right here.”
“You needn’t worry.” Mr. Jacob was always so eerily calm. That ought to have been reassuring, but was not. “The Island holds paradox after paradox. They’ll spend so much time falling down the rabbit hole that it will never occur to them to look up and see the light.”
“Who do they think they are? In there, I mean.”
“Some of them know the truth, more or less.” Mr. Jacob paused at the head of one of the inmates, who lay – as they all did – naked on one of the glowing beds that encircled the room. The lights that played upon their bodies sometimes eclipsed their faces, but in a moment of brilliance, the Superintendent recognized that he was indicating James “Sawyer” Ford. “This one knows he’s committed murder, though he thinks it was with a gun. And that one knows he’s an addict, but he thinks his problem is heroin.” He stepped further down the row. “She, however, believes she’s creating new life, instead of taking others’ away. And he honestly believes he was helping people more than hurting them, so now he thinks he was a medical doctor. Runs around on the Island all the time, trying to bandage cuts and stitch wounds. It’s almost touching.”
Touching to anyone that didn’t know the harm Jack Shephard had caused by prying around in other people’s minds. Telepathy was too rare and too powerful to be abused, no matter how well-meaning the interference; many around this room had interfered with minds in ways that were by no stretch of the imagination well-meaning.
You could lock telepaths in a prison, for however long it would take them to warp their jailers’ minds until the doors were unlocked and the security systems taken down; that was usually less than a week. You could drug them, but then they dreamed or hallucinated – and the results of that could be more frightening than anything a telepath had ever done on purpose.
Just when the public panic had reached fever pitch, and more extreme telepathic criminals like Ana-Lucia Cortez and Ben Linus had begun making grandiose demands, Mr. Jacob had appeared with a solution. Literally, a solution: His drug cocktail, administered intravenously to multiple telepaths at once, wrapped them in a shared illusion so deep they would never waken. Their feverish dreams would feed into and off of each other instead of influencing the innocent normal people around them.
The outcry had led to the imprisonment of all known telepaths, not just those who had committed crimes. Known crimes, the Superintendent reminded herself. She, like most people, assumed any telepath must have gotten away with violations nobody else would ever suspect. She, like most people, had never asked just how Mr. Jacob had developed his solution. The results were too important to question the price.
“Do they sense your presence?” she asked.
“Oh, yes.” Mr. Jacob’s smile disquieted her. “They all project images of who or what I might be – contradictory in the extreme. So they’ll never figure it out.”
“The things they must envision for each other.” The Superintendent shuddered. “The Island must be hell.”
“In some ways, I think it is. But the hell they themselves created.”
Neither of them ever considered that – given enough time – the prisoners might be capable of creating their own heaven. But it would be a very long while before anyone understood the true nature of the Island.