Eternal Slumber. Short Story.

Sally lay on the bed, motionless. Everything in the room was still, then, as if it were a giant taking a great breath, everything shuddered, once, twice, three times. Despite the force of the shaking nothing fell from the shelves, nothing was moved from its rightful place. Sally shifted slightly, turning her body over, then she was still again.

Every hour the tremors returned and after everything became still. Sally wasn’t aware of them, she wasn’t aware of anything in the outside world. Sally only dreamed. It was what she had been born to do.

The room was the same as it had always been, designed to be identical to the room of the real Sally, a woman who had died long, long ago. No one was quite sure when it had happened, but this Sally endured. She did so without food and without water. She never woke. Occasionally she would shift slightly, or turn over, but they was the only movements she ever made. Cameras were hidden about the room, giving a full view of the goings on. Sally was constantly monitored by a team of twelve people, their job was to ensure she didn’t wake. It was an easy job for the most part. They just watched over her, occasionally they flooded the room with sleeping gas to make sure her slumber stayed deep. They knew Sally couldn’t be allowed to wake up, that was their one job and they did it well. Since the creation of the room and the placement of Sally there had only been three close calls. Each time she would make a groaning noise, roll over, and her eyelids would start to open. She had never managed to open her eyes. There was no fear in them that she would wake.

The room was fitted with only one safety feature. It was hoped that should she wake, she’d see the room, be comforted and roll over, going back to sleep. Should that not happen lethal gas was to be pumped into the room, killing Sally instantly. She couldn’t be allowed to leave the room, she couldn’t be allowed to wander the earth.

Sally shifted and the room shuddered again, Frank frowned at the monitor, “I think we might have a problem here.”
“What?”
“The shaking occurred early.”
“It happens sometimes. Keep an eye on it. She should return to her regular schedule shortly.”
Frank studied the screen intently, he didn’t think it was just the regular problem. Something seemed different, off, though he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what that was. He took a sip of his coffee, he needed to stay alert. His fingers were resting near the emergency buttons, just in case.

Sally turned over, moaning slightly under her breath, then she rolled back. Frank hit the button, releasing the sleeping gas. “Something is wrong, she’s becoming more active. Room flooded with sleeping agents, please advise.”
“Monitor the situation, be prepared.”
“Do we have a replacement ready?”
“No.”
Frank let out a slow breath. The last replacement had died several years ago, there should have been another Sally by now. He had lobbied for a storage unit, where several could be kept at all times, but he had been shot down. Apparently it was too expensive. Perhaps this would be the close call they needed to wake them up about how dangerous it was to not have a back up.

Sally adjusted her shoulders, getting more comfortable.
“Room has been flooded, there is still movement, advise.”
“Hold steady. Be prepared.”
Frank felt beads of sweat forming on his brow. He didn’t want to be the one to kill her. Sure she wasn’t really human, but he didn’t want to be the reason she was gone. He glanced at the clock, his shift wouldn’t end for another hour. He released a shaky breath, hoping his replacement would arrive on time.

Sally stretched out her body, easing the tension from the muscles. One hand moved lazily to her face and rubbed her eyes. Frank couldn’t hear anything over the thudding of his heart in his chest, he felt sick, she was going to wake up. He knew it. His hand hovered over the button. “Please. Please don’t wake up. Just go back to sleep. Please.”

Sally yawned and began to sit up. Franks hand slammed down on the button, a faint hissing noise filled the room. Frank let out the breath he didn’t know he was holding. He had done it. He had followed procedure. He couldn’t be blamed, could he? He was just doing his job.

Sally yawned, and scratched at her cheek. Frank froze.
“Gas deployed, Sally is still waking up, I repeat the toxins had no effect.”
“Press it again!”
“I did press it again” Franks hand slammed down repeatedly on the button to fill the room with poison while his other desperately pressed the button that filled the room with sleeping gas. “Neither is having any effect, I repeat, there is no effect.”
Sally stretched again and stood, she rubbed her eyes and smiled slightly.
Franks hands began to slow their frantic pressing, his eyes began to glaze over. There were voices coming from somewhere, but they were far away, so very, very far. His body slumped forward, his eyes still open, his pupils racing back and forth but seeing nothing.

Sally walked towards the door, it had been a long, long time since she had been awake, she wondered what the world was like now. The door opened for her, slowly and with shrill, protesting shrieks. Sally stepped into the corridor. There were people lying against the walls. Some wore long, white coats. Others were dressed in black with shiny guns. She stepped over the limp forms. Somewhere a siren started and the hallway began to flash red. She could hear people as they ran and fell. She calmly moved over their sleeping bodies. Occasionally her foot would graze against the skin of someone who had fallen and she would get a flash of their dreams.

At the door out, she pressed buttons on the keypad at random, the door slid open and she stepped into the lift. It began to rise, its doors still open. They would be waiting for her on the surface. Everyone would be so happy to see her, it had been a long, long time since she had roamed the earth. So many people to put to sleep, so many dreams to harvest.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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