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The Sleeper – Part 7

Outside the small, abandoned cottage that had become their home the sun was shining. Jeremy was sitting at the window, staring into the cloudless sky. Daniel looked over at him, frowned and shook his head. He reached over to the small, wind-up radio and picked it up as he moved to leave the room.

“Do you want me to leave it?” He asked but the boy didn’t respond in any way. Sighing, he walked back into the room and set the radio down on the floor beside Jeremy’s chair. He sat down close to his son and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Go to bed, please. This isn’t doing anyone any good.” Jeremy remained motionless, staring silently at the sky. Daniel stayed with him for a few minutes, gently massaging his shoulders. He tried a couple of times to start a conversation but Jeremy simply sat, lost in his own mind. Eventually Daniel got up and, moving like an old man, he collected the radio and left.

When he returned the sun was lower in the sky but Jeremy was still sitting, monitoring it’s progress through the window. Daniel ignored the fact that his son had not moved and bustled into the centre of the room with a big, old-fashioned oil tray and some stones. He set the tray in the middle of the room and hauled over one of the old, worn out seats. He wrestled with it apparently unnoticed by his son, until finally it fell into position on the tray. Grasping the stones, Daniel snuggled down into the seat as though he was sleeping, and allowed them to fall from his hand with a clatter that made even Jeremy flinch. The boy looked round, watching as he repeated the action.

“Jeremy, come try this!” Daniel cried out when he turned back to the window. “There was a man on the radio talking about Salvador Dali. Apparently he used to go to sleep in an armchair on a hard floor. When he lost consciousness and fell into deep sleep the stones, or whatever he had, would drop and wake him up. The theory is that all you really need is the 20 minutes or so before you lose consciousness altogether and that’s enough. On the radio they’re suggesting everyone tries it. They think we could start to function properly if we all started sleeping like this, but I think that if you did it…” He stopped talking. His son hadn’t moved, was still staring aimlessly out of the window. “Jeremy, if you do it, the rest of us might not have to.” He smiled glassily, framing the chair with his arms as though it was a prize on a TV game show and he was looking gorgeous in a low-cut dress. Jeremy stared out of the window.

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