Friday, December 2, 2011

222/365 --Playlist Story-- inspired by "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" by Spoon

I had insomnia all my life but it got worse when the others started sleepwalking. Well, it wasn't sleepwalking per se, but it was some form of it. It's what I call it anyway. I'll give you an example.

The first time I saw it, was a woman in my apartment complex who stood outside my door in her nightgown smoking a cigarette. I always look out the peephole before I go out, and there she was, just standing there, and so I stood on my side, with my jacket half on, watching her and wondering what the hell she was doing there. The cigarette burned all the way to her lips, with the ashes falling in a little pile between her bare feet. A few seconds after the cigarette burned out, she disappeared. Just blinked away. Not exactly sleepwalking is it? But she was asleep.

I pondered this event for the next few days. I questioned my sanity, and came to the conclusion that maybe it was I that had been sleepwalking and overlaying a dream onto my surroundings. I started to push it to the back of my mind and got on with the business of my life. But then, on one of my late night walks I often took to try to tire myself out enough to fall asleep, more people appeared, sleeping in place. Out of thin air and all at once. They just stood there, wavering slightly as their unconscious brains worked to keep them upright and balanced. I stopped in my tracks. I looked at my watch and began counting the minutes. They stood there for a little over three minutes, about twenty minutes after midnight, and then they disappeared again, presumably back to their beds.

I went out the next night, and the next several, and nothing happened. But then ten days later, it occurred again, at twenty minutes after midnight, for a little over three minutes. I took pictures of them with my phone. I recognized some of the people, but wondered about others. I wasn't sure they were entirely local. I don't know why, but I wanted to find out where they were from.

I made up a series of cards with my contact information on one side, and on the other I asked them to get in touch with me if they felt they were having strange dreams or sleep problems. I put the cards on strings, and when the next event occurred, I was able to put the cards around the necks of five people, and on the next one, about thirty, because with each event, more people were sleepwalking.

There were no calls for a few weeks, and I began to think it was all in my head again, which was sort of disappointing on a couple of levels. But then, slowly, the emails and calls came in.

"Yes, I've been having strange dreams. Are you a doctor? How did I get your card?"

That was typical. But I also got this sort:

"How dare you invade my privacy! How'd you get into my house?! Asshole!"

Those are the 'get-off-my-lawn-you-whippersnapper' people, and I didn't respond to them. It was fascinating that they did respond at all because it probably meant deep down that they did wonder what was happening to them, and it scared them. Anyway, I only dealt with the open-minded people. I told them what I saw and showed them the gallery of photos I'd been collecting of the sleepwalkers. Maybe I shouldn't have done that.

They all seemed to want to talk to each other, rather than me. I went ahead and facilitated that. I connected them. There was a flurry of chatter--they were happy to find each other, and I found out why. They'd been in each other's dreams. Don't ask me how that works. They met in person, secretly at first, and then the media got a whiff of it, and bam, it was all over the news! Everyone wanted in on it. Then they started cutting me out of the loop, when they realized I wasn't in the dreams at all. I began to feel like I was some slightly-reviled outsider. It made me feel lonely somehow.

I continued my night walks. Soon thousands of people would appear, standing virtually motionless for a little over three minutes. And they weren't just people from the neighborhood. They were from all over the world--whoever was sleeping at that time could show up, and in turn, the phenomena spread to other parts of the world. Where it happened, geographically, seemed to be patchy. Eventually it got so crowded that I couldn't continue my walks. And then I lost my job because I wasn't a 'dreamer'. My boss just sat me down in a chair (he stood) and said that I wasn't a 'good fit'. I wasn't one of them anymore. Well, whatever.

I decided the only thing I could do was move. I rented a house in rural Indiana. It was sort of a depressing place--an old 1920s house, a bit rundown, in the lee of two hills, but at least there were no sleepwalkers, and at least I could grow my own food, which ended up being a good thing when the sleepwalking extended from three minutes to forever. I'm glad I wasn't back in the city to watch helplessly as ninety percent of the human population died standing up and asleep. What a way to go that was.

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