The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome
In The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome, lucid dreamers called "mediums" dive into their dreams to retrieve ectoplasms, sticky blobs with curiously soothing properties that are the only form of art left in the world. Each medium has their own different dream identity: David Sarella is a professional thief, and, with the help of his beautiful accomplice Nadia, he breaks into jewelry stores and museums, lifts diamond necklaces and priceless art, and escapes into the night. When he wakes, the loot turns into ectoplasms and they're taken away from him by Marianne, the nurse who supervises his dives, to be sold and displayed. The more gripping and compelling the fantasy, the better the ectoplasm. So the pressure is always on to dream ever more elaborate heists.
But the dives also require an enormous physical effort: to keep the dream world stable and bring the ectoplasms back intact, David must be in peak physical and psychological condition. And as he ages, the dives get harder and harder, the dream world starts to break up. Or is it the real world? He's not sure he can distinguish one from the other anymore. And every dream seems like it might be his last, tearing him away forever from Nadia and their high-octane, Bond-like adventures.
He decides to go down one more time --- on the deepest dive ever attempted --- to settle his doubts and pull off a spectacular job, stealing a massive painting of a battle scene. But midway through he begins to lose control... and the figures in the painting wake up and start shooting....