The Program woman gave me a patronizing smile. She was used to dealing with parents like me by now. “Now, Mr. Brody, I can understand your concerns, but it isn’t like that at all. She will be perfectly safe. In fact, she’ll be well cared for in one of our finest medical establishments.”
“Uh huh…” I pretended to study the paperwork she expected me to sign, and then I glanced around the tidy government office. There were posters on the walls about doing our civic duty to help defeat the Dreaker menace, warnings about sleeping only during the mandated times, and even cartoons for the kids about the importance of taking their issued sleeping pills. The Program woman watched me with her cloying fake sympathy the whole time. A robotic security guard was standing directly behind my chair. That made sense. Some parents were bound to react violently when given the news that their child was being drafted to fight in the Dream War.
She must have gotten tired of waiting for me to sign, so she tried again. “We instituted mandatory blood testing for specifically this reason. There are so few people who can do what she can. She has a wonderful but rare gift. Maximizing that gift will benefit not only the city of Baltimore, but the entire human race. She’s a very lucky girl. A very special girl.”
I didn’t like how this know-it-all bitch kept referring to my daughter. “She has a name.”
“Of course!” But then the Program woman froze when she couldn’t immediately recall what it was. My child was just another asset to these people to use up and throw away. Trying to play it cool, she glanced down at her data pad. “Wendy… And Wendy will be very happy living in the Safe Zone.”
“You’re going to make her into a vegetable.”
“Somastasis is nothing like that,” she lied right to my face. No compunction, no hesitation, just the party line.
“What is it, then?”
“When the invasion began, Dreamers were the only reason mankind survived at all. Less than one percent of the surviving human population has the genetic capability to fight off a Dreaker attack during REM sleep. On their own, a Dreamer can only protect a small area, and only for short periods of time. The Public Safety Program developed somastasis so that special individuals—like your daughter—could share their gift with the whole community.”
“You didn’t answer my question. I know damn good and well what somastasis does. It’s a medically induced coma. You can lie all you want, but everyone knows what really happens.”
“It’s a medically induced coma, because sleeping all night isn’t enough for you. Oh no, once you figured out how the Dreamers worked, you put them on drugs and forced them to sleep ten, fifteen, even twenty hours a day. For the public good, you said, but that still wasn’t enough for you parasites. You need them to fight twenty-four seven, and you don’t give a shit about what it does to them.”
From the look on her face, I was beginning to get on her nerves. “It’s a sacrifice for the good of mankind….”
Read the rest of this story and eleven more nightmare-inspired tales in Shared Nightmares, coming soon!