In bed one night, Carter dreams that Hale sneaks into her room and attacks her, prompting her to pull out out a gun and shoot him. Later that morning, the detectives are dispatched to a university where student Chloe Middledorf was murdered while participating in a sleep research study. They examine her body – which is pinned to her bed with hypodermic needles – and note that the killer doused cotton balls with nail polish remover and stuffed them into the victim’s nostrils and mouth.
Hale and Carter interview Professor Whitfield, who runs the sleep clinic. They learn that two other students took part in the study that night, and interview them to pinpoint the time of murder. Somewhat disturbed by Whitfield’s belief that dreams are messages from the unconscious, Carter tells Hale about her recent dream. Hoping to find a reason why someone would want Chloe dead, they interview her roommate Justine, who tells them Chloe was really into Professor Whitfield. Phone records show that Whitfield spoke to Chloe 17 times in the previous week, but although the married professor admits he was in love with Chloe, he insists he didn’t kill her. The scene shifts to a dream in which an unseen figure hurls a spear at a deer. When the dream ends, it becomes apparant that it in fact took place in the office of Professor Arnon Cole, an anthropologist. Cole is dead – with a spear embedded in his chest.
After examining the evidence, the detectives interview Cole’s wife, Eliana, who can only think of one man – a rival academic – who might want her husband dead. But since he was in Germany at the time, the cops are forced to eliminate him as a suspect. Back at the precinct, Oka matches a fingerprint found on the spear to one from the lock on the clinic room where Chloe was killed. The print also matches ones found in the apartment of the murdered coffee - shop clerk, who was beaten to death with a baseball bat. Piecing together the evidence, he realises that all three victims were murdered with items the killer found at the scene of the crime.
Before they can unravel this disturbing new turn of events, Carter and Hale are called to the university rose garden, where the body of campus cop Darvin Braymore lies waiting for them. Like the other victims, Braymore was killed with an implement found at the scene of the crime – in this case, a pair of pruning shears. The detectives examine Braymore’s ticket book, and see that the last one he issued was for public nudity.This leads them to a pair of students who ran topless through the garden as part of a campus tradition. When interviewed, the girls remember encountering a twenty-something man who seemed oddly detached given the circumstances.
That night Carter has another dream in which she sees a red car with a broken tail-light. She tells Hale about it the next morning, and reminds him that on the day Braymore died, he issued a ticket to the driver of a similar vehicle. Furthermore, Eliana Cole had said that her husband hit a red car shortly before he was killed. They examine webcam footage recorded by the clerk’s computer and find images of the same car, which leads them to a man named Alan Harper. Hale has doubts about Carter’s theory that Harper killed Cole because he hit his car, and killed Braymore because he issued him a traffic ticket. But Carter is convinced she’s right, and the evidence seems to back her up. The detectives make their way to Harper’s dorm room, where they find a sleep clinic journal, with disturbing correlations between his dreams and the four murders. But is this a coincidence, a genuine sleep trauma or an elaborate fabrication? And can they get to Harper before he strikes again?
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