an eBook in EPUB format. Paul Denning, a young electrical engineering student, is forced to drop out when his father, despite family contacts in the gambling industry, runs up huge debts, then suicides. Paul’s mother, himself, his sister and his uncle – all with very strong anti-gambling sentiments – are saddled with a compulsive gambler’s colossal debt.
His girlfriend Suzie, an ambitious, newly-qualified lawyer, knows that Paul is basically decent, but wants to further shape him into the perfect partner to enhance her career plans... she intends to be a judge. Paul also sees himself as unlikely to succeed on his own, since he regards himself as very average.
Paul’s one unique skill has been to create unusual brainwave patterns under biofeedback conditions, first discovered while participating in a university study. In his hobby experiments, wearing a “stim-band”, he stumbles on a strange effect after prolonged stimulation in an unnatural brain state – he drops into a “waking dream” condition. His body collapses into a comatose state, even though he is fully awake and aware, super-active mentally – this is quite frightening for an observer, and Suzie is alarmed. When he tries moving around, she reports a faint “angel” apparition of Paul, while his sleeping body starts to show signs of fitting.
The “angel” is enclosed in a flexible membrane, and moving about is very awkward and clumsy – he can’t interact with the outside world in any way. Maintaining the mental state is a great strain, and he starts to experience odd physical reactions. He finds that pushing further into this mental state causes the membrane to suddenly thicken and disappear from normal view. From Paul’s internal perspective, it solidifies and becomes a cocoon, and he discovers that a small space and time offset has been triggered. Since he can’t interact with the outside world, and fears suffocation if he stays in the cocoon, the experiments once again grind to a halt. More physical reactions show up – a nasty skin rash which reacts badly to normal cortisone treatment.
With his family gambling connections, Paul sees the possibility of using gambling to clear the gambling debt! He decides to take current racing results into the cocoon and try to transfer them to his computer through the wall of the cocoon via wireless transmission – he hopes to remotely write results files before the results are known.
Experiments follow but, by the time he discovers a workable method, it has become obvious that his worsening physical state is directly caused by inducing and maintaining his abnormal Gamma-Theta mental state. The aftermath of every cocoon session is severe, and will get worse. His doctor finally diagnoses Lupus when his skin rash becomes discoid, scaly, and his joints start to redden and swell. This is a dreadful condition, so Paul decides to use the cocoon to make some big wins quickly, before his physical deterioration makes it impossible to use the system. He concentrates on multi-race, multi-match football and lotto bets, where the odds are long enough to yield big wins.
His relationship with Suzie worsens along with his physical condition, especially when it becomes obvious that he is regularly gambling, against her wishes, as well as those of his family. He soon finds that he simply can’t get into the cocoon any more. The pain threshold is too severe, so his brief gambling phase ends.
Determined not to cave in under social and family pressures, and encouraged by his physiotherapist, Paul stubbornly struggles to find a way to live a ‘normal’ life and discovers that he isn’t quite as average as he had thought...
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