Richie Almares, a pool cleaner, is working and another worker, Cheto, admires him and figures he gets lucky with the woman. Richie admits he’s never gotten lucky and he’s been in debt for 20 years. He goes back to his truck and sees a newspaper underneath the wipers with a headline about a serial killer at large. A man appears on the street, says, “Wake up!” and shoots him.
Richie wakes up in bed and remembers his nightmare. His roommate Lenny needs the rent and Richie says his new client should help him make the bill. Richie takes off his shirt… and reveals a mass of scar tissue on his chest. He goes to a clinic but can’t explain what happened. The doctor, Anna Rosoff, is skeptical but brings in a colleague to discuss his condition. She goes out of the room and Richie spots his file on the table. He goes through it and sees comments on his anger management issues. Dr. Rosoff comes in with… the shooter, who tells Richie to wake up and shoots him in the stomach.
Richie wakes up in his bed, startled, and figures it’s a dream within a dream. He explains to Lenny what happened and promises to pay his half of the rent. Richie has another scar in his stomach that he can’t explain. Richie goes to his client’s house and the attractive wife comes out as Richie discovers a rat in the pool filter. She flirts with him, noting her husband Mr. Hunt is away. He tries to ignore her but she kisses him. Mr. Hunt comes in: he’s the Shooter. He hits Richie with a pole and then beats him and leaves.
Richie wakes up to find himself in a chamber with a metal framework strapped to his head. He takes the headpiece off and sees a control chamber through a window. The chamber is empty until a technician comes in and informs him they’re suffering a technical failure. Richie prepares to smash through the window and the technician comes in to explain he’s undergoing dream therapy for his nightmares. Richie wants to talk to someone in charge and the Shooter comes in, says “Wake up,” and shoots Richie again.
Richie wakes up with no scars no his chest and figures it’s over. Lenny comes in and gives Richie his mail. The envelope is from VirtuaCorp and contains a $12,000 bill for dream therapy. He goes to VirtuaCorp where they tell him he’s client even though he doesn’t remember it. The receptionist goes to get someone to answer his questions, and Richie notes two techs going into a secure area. He follows them in and finds the chamber he was in earlier in his dream. He enters the control chamber and finds images of his life: his truck, his pool. There are CDs with his name on them. He then brings up a newscast recording showing Mr. Hunt dead. The newscaster relates how the poolman got into a fight with Hunt then killed him, and the tape shows Richie being arrested.
An alarm goes off and Richie runs out of the building to his truck. It won’t start and Hunt appears and tells him to wake up, then shoots him through the windshield.
Richie wakes up in bed again as Lenny looks on. Lenny tells him that the cops are outside waiting to talk to him: they found Hunt dead the previous night. Lenny asks if Richie killed him and Richie starts slapping himself to wake up. There’s a pounding on the door and the police burst in. One of them is Hunt, who prepares to shoot Richie. Richie begs for his life but Hunt says “wake up” and shoots him again.
Dr. Rosoff looks on in the virtual reality chamber and explains to Mrs. Hunt that they have created a dream scenario where Richie, a convict, will have to relive his victim’s death over and over… and he has 47 more "life" sentences to serve out. Share this article with your friends