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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A drug that lets you enter people's dreams to fix their problems; A blessing? or a curse?

Sleep – The natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored.

Sleepers – People who traverse other people’s dreams while asleep in hopes of restoring the mental state of others by removing deterrent images.


“Sigmund Freud once said that depression is anger turned inwards. In other words, repressing your aggression can lead to inner turmoil since you are not releasing those negative thoughts. Sleep is considered to be the road that leads into a person’s consciousness; their inner thoughts and desires. So one might assume that depressive thoughts can come out during one’s sleeping state. What if also, you can infiltrate a person’s dreams? Target the source of negativity at its roots, extracting it and put that person back into a happy life, into a good mood? Look no further and join our Sleepers program! All of your dreams can be revealed in front of us. Anonymity is guaranteed. Feeling suicidal? Depressed? Anxious? In an angry mood all the time? Join now and get…. – “

“You heard that shit, Doyle? Heard it yesterday on the news. Now they’re advertising the goddamn drug everywhere. This shit is still experimental. It’s not even a safe product, it’s far from safe actually. Some poor chap may get killed because of this little monster here. We can get killed here too.” James held up a small, rounded white pill under the strong rain, “Let’s do this quick and steady. It’s my first time, show me the ropes.”

Doyle finished smoking his cigar and dropped it in a puddle. 6’2” big guy with an injured right hand wrapped in gauze. He looked back at James who was still examining the mysterious pill as if it was an alien artifact. It was cold, rainy and dark today. The rain was nonstop and the feisty winds made it more angry and volatile.

James noticed Doyle looking at him looking at the pill and said, “So Doyle…mind telling me what we’re doing in the cemetery in the middle of the night with no umbrellas? You want me to catch a cold on the first day on the job?” James put the pill back into his pocket. He’s shorter, about 5’9”, skinnier than Doyle. His slim and bare bones face made him look like a zombie. 

Doyle walked up to him shielding the side of his face from the rain with his forearm, “You’re not here to complain. We have a customer here. A real midnight shifter. He’s a grave digger and tidies up this cemetery.” Doyle pointed at a nearby stone structure and James followed his arm to the point of his finger and looked ahead, “He’s right in there. Come.”

“Right in there? Well shit, what are we standing out here for?”

Both of them entered a moss covered chapel-like structure. Very short. Doyle had to bend his knees in order to make his way through the entrance. An old man was sitting atop a stone table in front of them with his legs crossed. He wore a white dirty beard and an even dirtier brown overalls. He looked like a stock image of a typical homeless person sporting the whole outfit, sockless feet and all. He stared at Doyle, noticing how tall he was compared to everyone else and how his head almost reached the ceiling.

James was looking around, “Cozy place. What is it?”

“A place of worship. People come here to praise and talk to dead gods and spirits,” the old man said.

“Gods? People believe in that sort of stuff still?”

“Well, I don’t. I don’t care if other people do.”

Doyle walked forward and said, “So what’s your uh…..condition?”

The old man uncrossed his legs and got off the table. He stood up straight and looked Doyle right in the eyes, “I murdered someone, gents. Stabbed him 17 times over a woman named Heather. A sweetheart I accidently fell in love with.”

“Jesus,” James said, crossing his arms.

“I know. It all happened 7 years ago and I was placed in an insane asylum. Was diagnosed with having severe schizophrenia and I was given medications to calm me down.”

Doyle said, “What are you doing here then?”

“I escaped, obviously. Loony bins are strange when it comes to time. You lose track of it and forget you are actually in a prison with other crazy people. So I broke out. Don’t know how I did it, don’t even remember it. Probably high off their damn meds.”

“So this woman, uh Helen…” James took a pause, trying to remember if that was the correct name.

“Heather, forgot already?” The old man said.

“Right, Heather.” James clutched his head and let out a small groan, “Is she still alive? You killed a boyfriend perhaps?”

“James. This info is useless, we don’t need to know where she is or nothing like that. This man is our customer now.” Doyle said, almost cutting off James.

Doyle looked at James and both of them nodded in agreement. Doyle said, “What do you want us to do then? You seem complacent.”

“The schizophrenia was just a front for the murder. My get out of prison card ‘cause truth is, I was completely mentally awake during the killing. I didn’t go crazy per se, I knew what I was doing and why I was doing it. I do have schizophrenia, but I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about my murderous tendencies, gents. I want you to help.”

“Sounds a bit vague, mister,” James said.

“Ya’ll are Sleepers right? I called you out for a reason. That’s your job. C’mon, this is crushing me.”

Doyle took out 2 white pills from his pocket and James soon followed his lead and took out his own pill.

“Now listen and listen carefully,” Doyle clutched the 2 pills tight into a fist and walked towards the old man, “This is how it goes okay? We all take one of these pills. The name is SLP-23, or ‘nighty nights’ as some people call it. They have a bitter taste but they’re easy to swallow.”

The old man nodded a few times while staring at Doyle’s tight fist, “Mhm, mhm.”

“If we all take it, James and I can enter your consciousness and figure out what’s wrong. We’re trained as Sleepers and have been certified by the IRB. James, show the man your I.D.”

James took out his wallet and flipped it open. A white card showing a picture of James’s face and his full name: James D. Teller and a certified sticker saying ‘Sleeper in Training’.

The old man looked at it closely, “In training?”

“Don’t worry. James is with me.” Doyle showed the old man his I.D. and it read ‘Doyle Parker, Veteran Sleeper’. “I’ve been doing this for 7 years now. James here is under my wing, my command. I won’t let him hurt you, you can trust me.”

James clutched his head again and groaned. The sensation of needles slicing through his temple was overwhelming. The old man looked over at him and so did Doyle, “You okay there partner? Don’t go queasy on me just yet boy. I know it’s your first time, don’t overthink it.”

“I know Doyle I know. It’s just….I’ve been having these strange short migraines. Really intense stuff but I’ll be good for now. We can start.”

Doyle looked back at the old man, “Take note that we may or may not make it back out alive considering your violent history. Your dreams may consist of dangerous things, what we call ‘images’. If these images are the source of your…killing mood, lack for better words, then we’ll eliminate them. There is also a rare chance that we might attack the wrong image. If it’s a peaceful image of let’s say, the family dog, this may cause a fracture in your psyche and may make you worse. These things are extremely rare, but it’s protocol as Sleepers to inform our customers of the various dangers.” Doyle lifted his right hand which was the one that was squeezing the pills and the same one that was covered in gauze wrappings, “This here is one such case where dangerous images got the better of me. I was alone in a prostitute’s mind and a hostile image of a pimp took me by surprise and whacked me with a steel bat. I protected my face with my hands and this is the result. Shattered a lot of bones in this one.”

The old man stood there with a look of bewilderment.

“I think you scared him,” James said.

“Oh nah. I haven’t done this before that’s why. I’m just intrigued in the whole process, that’s all. Big guy seems to know his stuff. Anyway, when you’re done, then what?”

“When we think we’re finished, James and I will take a swig of this stuff here,” Doyle took out a small plastic container containing a clear liquid, “This substance is called AWK-23. It’s used as an ingredient in smelling salts but it’s been made into liquid form. It’s safe to drink, just hard to swallow. This stuff will withdraw our own consciousness from yours and our bodies will automatically awake. We’ll then force feed you the same stuff, don’t worry we’ll be gentle.”

The old man still had a puzzled look on his face, “Hold on a moment. If we all are taking the same pill around the same time, why can’t I hop into your dreams? What makes you so special huh?”

Doyle turned around and bent his down, looking at the floor. A small circular piece of metal that looked more like an inked in tattoo, was located at the base of his neck above his spine. “This thing is called a ‘Jack’. Every certified Sleeper agent has this implanted into them after they complete their training. They activate as soon as they detect the SLP pill. It strips our consciousness away and we are able to enter your dreams. Anything else you wanna know? By the time I finish explaining everything it’ll be morning.”

Doyle and James both looked impatient and have had enough. They were wet, tired and agitated and the old man’s questions weren’t helping and James’s anxiety was beginning to rise due to how dangerous this man was. 

“Start it up then,” The old man said. He sat down on top the cold, stone table

“Right now? Right now?” James said in amazement.

“Yes, right now.”

James and Doyle both looked at each other and nodded in agreement. Doyle gave the old man one of the pills and James put his in his mouth. The old man soon followed and Doyle was the last one. Doyle counted down using his finger from his mouth and at 1, everybody swallowed.

“Open your mouth sir,” Doyle said. “We need to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

The old man opened his mouth wide and moved his tongue in circles to showcase there was nothing to hide.

“Good. Now we wait approximately another 20 seconds. The effect will be almost immediate so get into position and make sure you don’t stand up.”

All 3 of them took their positions. The old man laid back on the stone table, James sat to the right of him on the floor and Doyle sat to the left of him on the floor, both were hugging their legs.

A sudden storm of sleepiness overcame everyone in the room. Their eyes became heavy and hazy and soon enough, they closed. Total darkness and stillness, as if they were all ready to be born anew like a fetus ready to tackle the air outside the womb. James and Doyle both experienced a sudden rush of colors. They were flying through a seemingly endless stream of various colors that were whooshing past them at tremendous speed. For James, this is his third time experiencing this out of body sensation, and he hated it. It made him feel sick. But that was all training. This is now the real deal.  

The tunnel of colors seem to be going on forever until they approached the white light at the end. The flash of light overcame them then it dissipated and it revealed the same room they were sleeping in. James and Doyle were floating above their own bodies, looking at themselves sleeping. They both floated over to the old man and were sucked into his head like a black hole. Again, another tunnel of bright colors that would make anyone have a seizure. They sped past the colors and into another bright light.

This was it: the old man’s dream. A vast, empty space of gray ashes. Mounds on top of mounds of the stuff as far as the eye can see. The sky was a light red with no moon or sun in sight but the open space was light enough so that you can see the horizon. From where James and Doyle were floating, they could see a couple. They were walking slowly in the distant holding hands.

“That must be them. Probably Heather and her boyfriend,” James said looking over to Doyle.

“Right, come on.”

They both sped over to the couple at high speed. Their bodies were translucent and the air was nonexistent making the place have absolutely no air friction. They approached the couple from behind. A woman and a man both in gray clothing and barefooted. Shirts and pants torn apart in some places but they kept steadily walking in almost slow motion, not caring about anything around them or how they look like. Real ghosts. The man had numerous wounds on his chest.

Doyle went ahead of them a few feet and look at their faces. They had no eyes. Their eye sockets were as black as night and they were both smiling.

“James, get over here.”

James complied and floated towards Doyle and hovered beside him. James clutched his head with both hands and let a small shriek.

“Okay there?” Doyle placed his hand on his shoulder.

“It’s happening again…” James went down to his knees still clutching his head. The top half of his head was ready to explode. The ghostly couple were still walking towards them.

“Stay calm. Might be a side effect of the images in front of us. Weird it hasn’t happen to me yet.”

“The pain! Make it stop Doyle! It’s worse than before and it doesn’t want to go away! Make it stop Make it stop! Make it stop!” James fell down on the ash floor, his elbows propping up his head.

“I need you to listen James, can you do that?” James groaned loudly while flailing his legs, “Look up, do you recognize her?”

“Why!? What?”

“Look at her!”

James winced his eyes in the crippling pain he was experiencing and slowly but surely, started to focus his gaze onto the woman.

“Describe her before they come any closer!”

James’s eyes flickered and he groaned even louder. “It’s-It’s her! What is she doing here?”

“Who? Who’s her? Details! James details!”

“What the…..fuck? Helen? What is she doing here?” The pain got even worse and it was devastating him. Crushing every bone in his body, extinguishing his soul, draining his energy.


“My……My,” James paused squeezed his head because of the pain. He squirmed and squirmed, trying to release the words that he was trying to force out with his last remaining energy, “My….wife!” He screamed it out like he was possessed and was trying to send a message to the demon who was inside of him.

Everything collapsed at that moment, the pain and the shrieking fell quiet. James, still laying on the ashes, looked up at the couple and they were gone. Traces of floating ashes replaced the couple’s last known position.

“Atta boy James!”

James bent his head back and looked at him, confused, sweaty, nervous, “Where they did they go? They-they were right there!”

“They’re gone James, they’re gone forever. You can stop remembering her now. You can sleep easy. My work here is done.”

James was stared at him with a black face, “Wha-what do you mean?”

Suddenly, the tunnel of colors came back. The world of ashes was gone and now James was zipping through the dizzying tunnel once again. The colors, then the bright light consumed everything. The light faded and James woke up. He was in a hospital.

A white, stainless room. James was laying on the bed with white orderly clothes on. Everything was blurry and his head was spinning and his throat hoarse.

“Go……” a muffled sound came from his right. “Good morning.”

It took James a couple of seconds to realize that there was a man sitting next to him wearing doctor’s fatigues.

“How was your rest?”

“Where….am I..?”

“A resting place. You’re in good hands.”

“My boss, my partner Doyle, where is he?”

“Doyle doesn’t exist James.”

James tried to swallow but couldn’t, it was too painful, “What?”

“We went over this already James. Doyle is in your head. He’s not real.”

“The fuck you mean he’s not real?” James tried to lift himself up but his body and arms were tried down to the bed. He didn’t notice that either.

The doctor showed him a picture of a woman, “Do you know her? Her name’s Helen.”

James looked at it and shook his head, “I don’t know any Helens, nope. Why do you have me tied up?”

“For your own sake and our safety. Just sit tight.” The doctor got up and exited the room and he closed the door behind him. A man was outside wearing a black suit.

“So? doc?”

The doctor looked at his notes, “Mission was a success. He doesn’t remember Helen at all. The Sleeper agent we hired stated that there were two images. One of the man James stabbed 17 times and one of Helen. He destroyed both images.”

“So he wouldn’t remember them.”

“Right. What about the migraines?"

"Probably a side effect from the SLP pill. He had an allergic reaction and it leaked into his dream."

“Who’s Doyle? He was saying his name in his sleep.”

“No one. Just a persona James created, probably some fantasy of becoming a hardened Sleeper agent. The persona leaked into his dream and our own Sleeper agent used it to get close to James. Our agent called himself Doyle and made James follow him in his own dream.”

“How clever.” The man in the suit looked through the window and James was squirming on his bed, “Poor guy doesn’t even remember he had a wife.”

“But now he won’t remember that he killed her. That was our plan. He should sleep easier now.”

The man in the suit looked back at the doctor, “Anyone else that was in his dream?”

“Aside from Helen and the victim, an old man appeared. It was his father. He got run over by a train. He suffered from schizophrenia and was a heavy drinker. Probably thinks of him a lot. We didn’t destroy that image however.”

“Good. At least he’ll remember someone. Okay. Send him into general population with our other patients. If he doesn’t remember Helen or the victim, then we should be good to go.”

“On it.” The doctor walked away.

The man in the suit stood there looking through the window noticed that James was still and asleep, and walked away.

Submitted: April 27, 2017

© Copyright 2021 Manolo. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Chris Green

Graet stuff, Manolo. Creative, mindbending scifi at its best. I hope this gets a few more comments on booksie, so readers, if you are passing and like to read the comments before reading a story, take note. This is a good one.

Wed, May 3rd, 2017 1:28pm


Appreciate it Chris!

Wed, May 3rd, 2017 4:53pm

Oleg Roschin

What a superbly plotted, suspenseful story! It's like a variation on the movie "Inception", though with a unique twist of its own. Great work, Manolo!

Sun, August 13th, 2017 6:03pm

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