Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dead Sleep

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

"What happens when you sleep?" people would ask Hiram.

He would say, "I don't know. Dreaming?" And they'd leave disappointed. You see, a lot of people that knew of him also knew that Hiram had to sleep about sixteen hours a day in order to function. They figured that he had to be a sleep expert; he did it all day long. But he couldn't very well observe himself. He was sleeping at the time. Turns out those people weren't very bright.

So Hiram looked into it and decided that since phases of sleep are measurable through the observation of different brainwave activity, he knew how to cure himself. He installed a WavyMaker into his head. That's what he called it anyway. It controlled his brain waves and he set it to mimic the sleeping patterns of the average person.

Hiram slept for eight hours a night and felt fantastic. Of course, if that was all there was to it, this would merely be a nice Reader's Digest type of story which made you feel better about your world and yourself. But Hiram had a thought.

If eight hours could be refreshing, why not four? Why not two or one? Soon Hiram had compressed sleep into one minute a day. Any less than that and he felt he couldn't get going without his coffee. His intense sleep experience looked to others as if he dropped dead.

With all this time on his hands, you'd think he'd get all superhuman on us and enslave humanity, but he was still Hiram. He spent a lot of his time at self-serve soft drink fountains in convenience stores, mixing flavors until they were just right. A pinch of oregano in a 44 oz. Cup made his final creation com alive.

Hiram's dreams were different. They weren't the surreal nebulous fantasies that he'd had before the WavyMaker. They were clear and sharp and seemed to last for hours rather than seconds. And they were all the same: he and countless other people were naked and climbing trees that rose forever. After a while he realized that what he thought was sleep actually was death and he experienced heaven. After all, he loved climbing trees. He loved being naked. It had to be heaven.

He started a church (on the side, so it wouldn't interfere with his fountain drink work) and installed WavyMakers into the heads of anyone who asked. Unfortunately, many of these people saw heaven as merely a pleasant side-effect and spent their waking hours more productively than Hiram. They started acting all superhuman and enslaving the rest of us. Once WavyMakers were mass produced by a couple of the good guys, everyone but Pete Verner had one. Pete didn't like the long lines. Most of the other eight-billion people on the planet enslaved him, since he was the only potential slave they had.

Man, poor Pete worked his ass off. At least he didn't have to stand in a long line, but he didn't have much time for sleep, that's for sure.

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