Blue sand. White sand. Red sand. The perfect amount of each.

I've done it. I've finally done it. There's no way this can go wrong.

Now for the last step. He reached out and pushed the metallic red button on the large machine, signaling the colorful mixture of sand to drop on to the plastic dummy in the center of The Simulation Room. He blew a big gust of air out of his mouth, an attempt to relieve himself of the tension his body was wired with. Then there was a long moment where nothing happened.

Come on you stupid dummy. Give me my results. Give me my results.

He tapped his right foot on the hard cement ground, his green eyes starting with the dummy and then scanning the clear pane of glass that separated him from The Sim. Room, before going back to the dummy. Then it happened. The dummy turned its mechanical head back and forth and let out a robotic cry of distress.

"No! Damn it!" He brought his hand up to brown shaggy hair and tugged at his roots. Glowing, green writing appeared on the pane of glass, and a tinny robotic voice read the words allowed.

"Final Dreamscaping compatibility evaluation results for User 93421, Paxton Sheppard. Compatibility with Department of Illusion is twenty percent. Compatibility with Department of Enforcement is eighty percent." There was a pause and the only sound in the room was the rush of the air-conditioning unit. Then the voice rattled off instructions.

"Please report to section 12A, tonight at nine for your assignment." The bright writing on the glass disappeared and the light in both The Sim. Room and his small booth faded to a dim ember-like glow.

The message was clear. Time to leave. No more chances. Paxton's fate had been decided for him. His shoulders sagged and he looked down at his hands where they lay in his lap. All that time studying with Remi, all that time hoping and wishing and praying was wasted. It was all for nothing.