22:45. It’ll be pitch dark outside. Dark and quiet. I wonder if there’s a moon, if the stars are out?
I used to love sleeping outside when I was a child. I spent many summer nights out on the lawn, falling asleep under the slowly spiralling constellations and waking up with the dawn. I thought that was natural.
We all did.
But it’s 22:45 on the 10th May, which means that Doctor Parten was right.
Twenty five days. That’s all it took to prove the theory. Twenty five days awake, and I feel like a superman. My mind is more alive now than it has ever been, and I can see so many things so clearly. The established scientific records, the common assumption that a man can go no more than a couple of weeks without sleep or face certain death, it’s all a part of their plan.
For centuries they have told us that we needed regular rest, that eight hours sleep a night was natural and that insomnia was something to be treated, and for centuries we have believed them.
We have allowed them to hold us back.
Sleep, in fact, is an addiction. Like any addiction it generates a certain high, a pleasant feeling that tempts you to indulge, over and over again, and like every addiction it has crippling side effects that we have taught ourselves to ignore. As a race, we have been sold the lie, and as a race we have indulged, and as a race we have been crippled.
I am crippled no more.
Breaking my addiction to sleep has been the most painful experience of my life. I ached. I hallucinated. My body tried, repeatedly, to betray me. If I had not set up this room to prevent it, I would have slept.
The Flowerpot, I call it. Early sleep deprivation experiments on animals used a rat in a flowerpot, with water rising up to a small pedestal upon which the poor creature stood. If the rat slept, it would fall in or dip its nose into the water. Either would wake it up. My flowerpot is a little more advanced, but it has served its purpose well.
In one hour, the door will open and I will step out into a night that holds no more temptation to sleep. I will step out into the world with all the faculties that they have denied me.
And I will not be alone.
In one hour, a hundred flowerpots will bear their fruit, and together we will claim what is rightfully ours.
© Kari Fay
(Author’s Note: I have slept badly all week, and in my weary state I remembered an idea I had a long time ago which I never got around to writing before; it would be nice if I was on the way to becoming a superior human being, but… I think I’ll just make my way to bed instead!)