Friday, February 29, 2008

Awheel at the Sleep

This is a tale I struck upon in Camiguin while listening to someone discuss his sleep problems as a "waking dreamer": talking, walking, etc. while asleep. It is about a man, a good, decent man, who increasingly finds himself subject to these waking dreams. They disrupt his wife and children's nights, so he gradually finds himself spending time out of the house to spare them the racket.

Unfortunately, his fatigue gets the better of him so he still falls asleep at home, but, driven by the instinct to get out, he begins leading an entire alternate life in his sleep. He becomes a manager of a logistics warehouse, graveyard shift. He finds it impossible, however, to form any solid relationships, especially with women, mainly because his "conscious" mind functions as his "subconscious" mind, and "unconsciously" restrains him from infidelity based on his "conscious" loyalty to his family. Not only are his sleep patterns inverted, but so is his psychology. During the day, in his conscious life, he finds himself subconsciously drawn to elements of sleeping life. Occasionally he encounters people from his night life, but strikes them as rudely obtuse or amnesic. His wife and children are upset that he seems both deadened at home and most likely unfaithful outside at night.

At some point, his wife realizes what is happening and she tries to explain his problem to her husband. But his mind is so out of sorts that he can't tell what is a dream or real. So his wife just settles on having an affair with his night persona, since by then that persona is more responsive than his day-self. Of course, the protagonist starts to realize his wife is cheating on him, so he begins tracking his own somnabulent persona down as the source of his family's obvious estrangement.

You might see this as a kind of domestic take on Memento, Fight Club, and The Thirteenth Floor (though I never made any connection between those stories and my own until typing this sentence). Ultimately, the story will serve as an ironic indictment of how most people live their daily lives just like the protagonist: asleep but functional. We are spiritual zombies, feeding off the entropy of the world's delights and delusions, just so we can earn our keep and leave our deepest spiritual longings and visions to our unconscious, untended life.

The title is a spoonerism that an extremely tired person might say.

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