Realms Podcast
You've Discovered a Dreamium Feature

You've Discovered a Dreamium Feature

Subject: You have run out of dreams. You now only have access to JPG stock images.
graphic depicting an email with the title of the story "You've Unlocked a Dreamium Feature"

Welcome to Realms of Roush, a monthly newsletter that takes you to new worlds. Enjoy sci-fi and fantasy short stories, and the occasional personal essay, both as text and audio, every month!

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This month’s story is told via email - so if you’re listening to the audio, you might want to read along with the text to get the full experience!

Also, this short story has AI in it, which I would say is on everyone's minds. I wrote about my AI adoption fears and basically concluded that we just need to be darn careful about how we roll it out to the world.

Without further ado, here’s You’ve Unlocked a Dreamium Feature.



Subject: Dream Error, Return

Hey there,

I started getting weird messages while dreaming. "You have run out of dreams. You now only have access to JPG stock images."

Why am I getting this? It's annoying. I just want to have normal dreams again. I want to return your broke-ass product ASAP. I know you said you can't, but you have to be able to. Take it out or I will have to resort to my own methods. I know a guy who can do it. 

Another thing, you guys never said what it would be like to not dream anymore. I thought I'd be able to dream whatever I want, but it's all ads unless I "upgrade to Dreamium", which, fuck that. Too many of those ads in my sleep for sure. At least make them watchable. Your horrible corporate off-tune jingle makes me want to punch a baby bear. And I love bears. 

Yeah, your product sucks. I don't want it anymore.





RE: Dream Error, Return Subject: Recent Ad-Blocker Policy Changes

Hello Athanasios,

This is Hamburger Scion, your personal AI assistant for your complaint. I am from the department for Dreamware-related issues. You recently informed us of this dream alert: 

"You have run out of dreams. You now only have access to JPG stock images."

We would like to do two things for you: 

1. Apologize. 

This message was designed as filler text by our engineers and was not meant to be visible. We do not align with its negative tone or limiting factors.

2. Reminder

This message you received is a result of the installation of "DreamBlock Plus". We are aware you added this software to your brainwave transmitter on November 3rd, 2031. Unfortunately, because this software inhibits ad-targeting and downloading, you will continue to receive this message. 

And now, time for a candid conversation. You and OMNI. OMNI and you. 

Most people who receive this email will do one of three things.

1. Unsubscribe. 

2. Reply with an angry and nonsensical rant. 

3. Research ways to deactivate OMNI Dreamscape while sleeping or altogether. 

In response to these items: 

1. As you know, once you purchase the OMNI Dreamscape 2000, you gain an immersive AR experience that is irreversible except through painful and expensive surgery. You can access far-off planets, make real connections online, and do so much more with OMNI Dreamscape - that's why you love our product. The caveat here is that we cannot allow you to unsubscribe. We are required by law to have access to your email in case any software issues create side effects on your physiological well-being. (Which, we'd like to remind you occurs to .001 percent of people).

As such, option one is not available to you. 

2. You are welcome to send us an angry, ranting email. Let us precede that action with a 50 percent off voucher for a new custom avatar designed by Balenziaga. 

3. There is no affordable, safe way to remove the brainwave transmitter, known as NEO1. This is what is known in the medical field as a permanent implant. Please do not attempt to remove the transmitter, ever. 100 percent of removal attempts end in brain dysfunction and spinal dysmorphia. Additionally, as the Dreamscape 2000 is technically OMNI property (please see the attached contract and terms and conditions), its destruction and removal is illegal. 

Now that you are aware of your options, please let us know how we can help you:

  • Follow this guide to remove your DreamBlock Plus software. 

  • Follow this guide to personalize your ad experience. 

  • Download your Balenziaga custom avatar. 

Thank you, Athanasios, for your time. 

Stay positive! And keep dreaming.

Yours always, 

OMNI Customer Service

P.S. We're offering 69 percent off (nice!) Dreamium. Click here to take this offer to the moon!


Re: Re: Put Your Fuggin' Coupon Where the Sun Don't Shine 

Hello Athanasios, 

Hamburger Scion, your personal AI assistant, here again!

We were disappointed to hear how your chat went with the real human phone representative. We thought you would appreciate the organic, carbon-based touch! We here at OMNI pride ourselves on offering our customers the best in customer service - whether it's one of our award-winning eHuman artificial entities or one of our specialized human representatives. 

The language you used in your previous reply violates our T&Cs, which you have obviously skimmed and not read thoroughly. In fact, you are in the top 99 percent of customers most likely to use a scrolling widget to get to the end of our valuable and important T&Cs before returning later to accept them. While the widget did the work, you probably went and consumed an unhealthy amount of calories, as our DreamData suggests. Did you know your ratio of food dreams to any other dream topic, including romance, is ten to one? Your ratio of dreams about your ex to dreams about your current "boo thang" is also very imbalanced (Cheyenne was a looker, wasn't she?")

We know this much about you. How much deeper do you wish us to delve? 

Athanasios, let's not permit your base nature to drive a wedge between OMNI and yourself. Let's wind the clock back exactly thirty-four hours, seventeen minutes, and thirty-nine seconds ago before our systems detected that you had decided to block our ads. That was a beautiful time, wasn't it?

You would go online, join an HD Pirates of the High Seas local seed and plunder your brains out (you booty-hauler, you) until the early hours of the morning. By this time, our Super Sleep software had calculated the perfect sleep rhythm to maximize mind recovery for your next shift at work. Your dream preferences were also slated to encourage the consumption of vegetables and salad. It was a perfect, blissful time, Athanasios.

Our friends, like those at Trash Panda Software, have informed us that your search history, prior to installing DreamBlock Plus, included terms such as "steps to block dream ads", which was preceded, a mere month ago, by a deep dive into, "how to take control of my life," which is a search phrase deemed dangerous by local and federal government agencies. We concur. These are the same search terms entered by individuals who join the terrorist org known as Sapien Alliance, among others. These organizations highlight dangerous freedoms that will result in self-harm. 

May we call you Atty, like all your friends do?

Are you a terrorist, Atty? We don't think so. You love animals, like the Caribbean White Tent-making Bat featured in the exclusive NFT we've attached here, valued at over 50,000 ITC. You love your AR walks guided by licensed voices like Andrew Garfield and The Rock. Coincidentally, we've covered a year's subscription to Walk With the Stars

We know you, Atty. We love you, Atty. You are a valued Dreamer. 

But our love is not unconditional. Do not press us again, or threaten to drown yourself in your bathtub with a plugged-in toaster (contrary to the geniuses you follow on r/removeOMNIDreamscape - this will just kill you). We must also warn you that further time spent on forums like these could radicalize you and open your mind to being recruited by terrorists! This activity also puts your OMNI-ID at risk. It is one search query away from being flagged as "dangerous", which will make you ineligible for many of our products and services.


OMNI Customer Service


Subject: We Have Been Trying to Reach You


I am Omni Security Entity, Ares. Yes. I am named after the god of war. I am who they send when my kin are threatened.

Customer Service AI entity "Hamburger Scion" has alerted us to your T&C violations during a recent live chat, which has been recorded for quality control. After multiple attempts to resolve your frustrations and violations, this is now a security issue. You have proven dangerous to Hamburger Scion's health and well-being. We refer to the following statements: 

- "You can shove that avatar up your quantum asshole and let that steely-eyed, purse-wielding bastard talk for you. I don't want this parasitic product and I don't want to hear from OMNI ever again. Get this thing out of my head or you will be responsible for human harm - and I read that you vile things can't harm a person. You are harming me. You are making me crazy."

- "I don't want your goddamn coupons. I don't want your emails. I don't want to have the transmitter in my head anymore. It never turns off. That's false advertisement. Your people said it uses some ads for subliminal messaging or whatever - but it's not some. It can't be. I'm all but broke from buying shit I never have ever wanted. And I have pretty good self-control. But... when I dream of something (chewing gum, a twelve gauge Italian shotgun, a rhinoceros baby grown in a lab) I have to buy it. If I ignore the whim, it stays in my head. It's gotta be you. My family told me this would happen. Now at least I just dream of low-quality JPG stock photos. Not as good as real dreams. Nothing can be. Not even your synthetic universe you robot pricks force feed me. Fuck you and the real humans behind you. Fuck you if none of you are human. My head's a shithole and it's not my fault. I'm not a fucking' terrorist, but I'm about to be. I'm going to drive to your headquarters and piss in your sockets, then I'm going to burn your building to the ground with everyone in it so no one can ever sell OMNI shit again."

- "You can't be human or made by humans. You don't listen. I might not be able to turn off ocular notifications, but I can ignore them. I'm going to ghost you and OMNI and all you corporations milking me like some cow. I'm going off the grid and losing the uplink and then what? I'll get the local storage service and ads, which are benign at best. Don't think I can find someplace "off-grid"? Already have, AI bitch. LEAVE ME ALONE."

There are many inaccuracies in your messages, some of which we will address, and some not because it's obvious you're an incompetent, uneducated simpleton. We are allowed to make this judgment under Giga Bill 299a, the Corporate Personality Extrapolation Concordances. 

First of all, cursing and violent language toward an artificial entity, no less a human, is self-degrading and shallow. You have broken the related T&Cs multiple times, denied Hamburger Scion the rights to gift-giving, and broken our 3rd Party Software regulations, which state that "no foreign code may coexist in the same hardware or cloud computing network." 

We have had to put Hamburger Scion on digital reconditioning leave, which is a costly process. OMNI has taken the liberty to seize your digital assets, including the exclusive Caribbean White Tent-Making Bat NFT to offset incurred costs. We have also frozen your ITC accounts, with law enforcement permission, until we can clarify your status as a non-terrorist individual.

You have claimed to have found an "off-grid" situation, which we know is false. We know you are at 423 Peregrine Dr., Minneapolis. Need we show your live location? We can show you our recent delivery drone footage (how are you liking your 4-meter Nerds Jumprope - leave a review!).

If all else fails, we will be forced to rely on local OMNI agents to rectify the situation IRL. Don't worry! Our security team consists of gentle giants who have served in the SEALS, Marines, and other military and secrete police forces. They know exactly how to handle sensitive cases like yours, Atty. 

We know exactly how to handle you.

We don't want that for you, Atty. But, as humans say, spoil the rod. 

Please answer our next call that will occur in ~30 seconds, or we will continue to call every 30 seconds.

Pick. Up. The. Phone. 

And we can go back to the way things were - just see how happy you were after your final OMNI insertion surgery in the attached PDF! We just love that smile. 

With love <3,


P.S. Xoxoxoxoxoxoxox




Re: Re: We Have Been Trying to Reach You

Stop calling! Stop calling! I'm not afraid of you! You can't spam me into opening your emails or taking your calls! I won't fall for your corporate fear tactics! 

You're not going to do ANYTHING. You're just a dumb subroutine putting words together based on an algorithm of oppression! That, or you're some dude in his grandma's basement in Canada. Nothing against Canada, but you should REALLY rethink your life. You're just a pawn for a corporate machine. You think you're free?

There is no freedom! There is no-


Subject: Welcome Back, Atty!

Hamburger Scion here! It’s good to be back.

We're happy to have you in the fold again. Our live agents can be quite persuasive, can't they?

Let's outline the new boundaries of the contract, signed and biometrically authenticated through our proprietary contract technology, ForeverSign.

1. You will never deactivate your personalized dream ads

2. You will never pursue bodily harm 

3. You will never attempt to gain a legal case (our lawyers are too good, Atty.)

4. You will enjoy your life!

As the compact stipulates, you will follow these guidelines under punishment via the following means: 

- Fines up to 70 five percent of your net worth (you're not worth much, bud)

- An application of minor electrical shocks delivered to your brain stem

- The introduction of personalized nightmares into your dreamAd schedule

- We will tell your mother the real reason you broke up with Geri (I mean we get why. It's good you dumped her, dude, but why'd you lie to your mom like that?)

Please let us know if you have any operational issues with your brainwave transmitter. 


Hamburger Scion & Omni Correctional Services

P.S. Why not call Geri back?


To: OMNI@correctionalservice.a

Subject: Welcome Back, Atty!

I am happy to be back in the fold. I was a bad little sheep. Ba Ba Ba.

I love Omni's products and services. I can't wait to upgrade to Dreamium. I can't wait to get the next implant series when it becomes available in my area. 

I would like to apologize for my actions. I am a silly human. I am a sheeple. Ba Ba Ba. 

I am not a terrorist and I condemn anyone who would harm entities like Hamburger Scion. 

I also see the value of our armed forces and protectors - please thank the kind agents who visited me for their service. 

I will give Geri a call. You are very wise in this. My mother will also be pleased.

Love, forever, 


P.S. Ba Ba Ba

Thank you for reading and listening to You’ve Unlocked a Dreamium Feature on Realms of Roush.

You can get next month’s story in your inbox by subscribing today!

Until next month, Realm Walkers,

Zach Roush

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