Sleep Like the Dead


I don’t sleep anymore. Not since they brought me back. The doctors don’t know why, and I think it’s beginning to worry them. They don’t tell me that, though; they just smile and ask for a few more tests. They tie me down with wires and nodes and electrodes and stare at me through their viewing monitors. They tap their pens against their teeth and make hmming noises and pretend like it’s all actually getting them somewhere.

I think things are a little simpler than they’re making it out to be. I was asleep – sort of – for almost twenty years. Maybe I got enough. Sounds alright when I say it, at least to myself. Of course all the shrinks claim there’s no such thing as “catching up” to your sleep schedule, no way to bank the stuff; you need it when you need it, usually at least once a day, and so far as anybody’s been able to figure out, if you skip it entirely for a week or so, you die.

Of course, it’s been six months for me. So I’m throwing their data curve off a bit. Sometimes I wonder if the others are doing the same, if pretty soon that little factoid is going to have to be modified to accommodate people like me.

I’m not the only one, after all. There were a half dozen in my group, and as the tech improves, they’re doing more all the time.

I picture someone thinking about this a decade ago, twirling their finger around their ear and whistling cuckoo noises. They said folks who believed in it, let alone paid to have it done or volunteered for it were crazy, deluding themselves. Said that having your corpse put in a deep freeze until they could fix whatever was wrong with you and zap you back awake was a pipe dream for the worst kinds of nuts.

Well, to those people I say that me and the six hundred or so others they’ve brought back are here to prove you wrong.

Of course, a lot of it is bullshit; the ones who had their heads cut off and frozen because their bodies were too screwed up, or the ones who were hoping for a cure for cancer… Yeah, they’re still out of luck. The ones who had strokes or other cranial damage are also up the creek, right along with the ones who didn’t get iced fast enough. Maybe someday they’ll get their chance. But for now, it’s mostly people like me. Heart attacks, exhaustion, frostbite, wristcutters. Little or no structural damage, low core temperature at the time of death, stuff that could probably have been fixed or avoided, given time, finances or proximity to appropriate care services. The reason’s simple; if it was something that could have been fixed or prevented, that means they can do the repair and zap us back, now. If it was something they couldn’t fix then, odds are they can’t fix it now. They might still be able to fill the body full of that crazy cocktail the dweebs cooked up and put the paddles to the schmuck who’s missing half his skull or who’s brain took a permanent vacation, but all they’d get is nothing, under the best of circumstances.

Worst case scenario’s a whole lot worse. They get to watch them die. Again. Sometimes more than once.

Yeah, the lab coats weren’t too bright when they first thought they’d figured out the key. I hear one of the first subjects, who took a steel rod straight through the dome, ended up dying twelve times on them before they finally figured out that he wasn’t going to stay alive too long with the giant hole through the center of his brain. Have to love the MENSA quiz kids. Always coming up with something brilliant, then forgetting the practical aspects of it.

But hey, at least they’re determined, I’ll give ’em that much. Of course, now they’re also scared. Because the folks like me, in addition to throwing off their understanding of how us humans are supposed to function, are getting weirder.

I hear one of the first success stories still doesn’t sleep, and he’s been back for almost a year. But he still dreams, though. Sometimes he’ll just be walking along, doing his thing when he’ll drop into something the lab monkeys call a fugue state, at which point he goes very weepy and whatever he’s saying gets a lot weirder. Sometimes he thrashes, swings wildly at nothing – or anyone dumb enough to be in his way – for a bit, then goes back to whatever he was doing. Doesn’t even remember it, gets agitated if you push the issue.

That’s what one of the techs told me, anyway. Who knows if its true. We don’t associate with one another, and the company likes to keep what they’ve been doing quiet. There may be six hundred of us or so, but most of us have only had a chance to chat with one or two others, usually from the same batch.

I may not sleep… but I dream.

There are images in the back of my head, all the time. A gray place, dozens of shapes that might be people, might be something else, trudging among spires that look to be made of rotten flesh, leaving bloody footprints in their wake. Sometimes I think I see a familiar face in there, other times they’re all strangers, and other times they don’t seem to have faces or defining features at all. But they’re always there.

Most of the time I can ignore it, go about my day. Sometimes I just freeze, staring at them and wondering if they’re looking back at me before I realize that’s a crazy thought. Just hallucinations brought on by dead cells misfiring as they try to come back to life.

Sometimes I even believe it.

KA Spiral no signature

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