My name is Dr. Mathew Clayton. Together with my research partner and friend, Dr. Declan Mitchell we created the Sleep-Battery, a small device that literally stores up sleep.
When the technology was originally created, much like with early medicine, mistakes were made. There was a lot of trial and error. Eventually though, once all the kinks were worked out, it was revealed to the world. The Sleep-Battery was a revolution in human civilisation. Most of the world’s governments approved and paid the first batch of willing citizens, within the prescribed age, to be fitted with a port that connected to the part of the human brain affiliated with sleep. From there you’d get your little battery and docking station, which you’d put next to your bed, then simply plug in when you went to bed. Once the small computer in the docking station decided that you had reached the optimum rested level, you’d start to charge the battery with sleep. As a child my sister had always talk about how she wished she could store up extra sleep when she was bored, and then use it when more exciting things were happening, and I loved the idea, but the technology was more discovered than invented.
We’d started out trying to create a device that you could download you memories onto. The theory was: we would plug people in while they slept, download their dreams, then try and play it back to them or someone else later. We failed at getting any useful information; occasionally someone would get flashbacks into what they were thinking or dreaming, but they would always be very faint. However, what we did discover was that when we plugged people back in they felt recharged. It took some time and some more testing to fine tune what we’d come to call “swapping sleep”. We also discovered that it worked better with genetic matches. Somehow, the machines imprinted a genetic identity onto the Sleep. This also meant that using your own Sleep, or the Sleep of a close family member, worked more efficiently then if you used the Sleep of someone else. It was like we’d found a door to a whole new world, a new way of living. The potential seemed limitless. My research partner and I won a Nobel Prizes for our findings, and were recruited by what is now called ‘Rest’, the company that would turn Sleep into a marketable commodity. When the CEO of Rest first approached us with the idea of selling Sleep, it all sounded utopian. Coma patients could be turned back into contributing members of society--sleeping for a living. Death row became a thing of the past. Prisoners would get plugged into batteries, and put to sleep. We could change the way the world worked. So we signed on the dotted line and were handed large sums of money to help set up and build Sleep Banks. People would come in, plug in and sleep for a living.
And for a time it was beautiful, the world seemed to speed up and slow down at the same time. Half the world stopped sleeping while the other stopped waking up. But, things wouldn’t stay that idyllic for long. People soon learnt ways to force the machines to overload, causing a sort of ‘high’. Rival companies started and collapsed and regrettably some people died in the process. Press conferences were held debating whether or not it was a blessing or a curse. Eventually governments drew up rules. No children under the age seven could have the operation to have the port installed, and even then recommendations were issued to not allow anyone under ten to use Sleep. People were advised to engage in natural sleep at least once a week. Strict legal safe guards were put in place about who could sleep and how Sleep Banks were run. The common man off the street could no long simply walk into a Sleep Bank and sign up; you had to have a reason to be there. Mostly terminal illness sufferers, coma patients and criminal did all the sleeping. All of the details, all of the business and bureaucracy going on around us and all we ever had to do was sit in the background at TV events and press releases and occasionally answer the same asinine questions, pretending we walked around in pristine white lab coats all the time, because that’s what scientists look like. For years we’d continue to tell the public that it was all right, perfectly fine, no risks, nothing bad was happening. There were small groups of people who didn’t want the ports installed and preferred to sleep naturally, which was fine. No one ever really cared about them; it made no difference to our lives. For the most part it all seemed so surreal. We’d become world famous. Ironically we lived the dream of anybody who wants to grow up to be a scientist, we changed the world. As was expected, we had turned to chemicals to keep the people in the Banks asleep for prolonged periods of time. We first tried to create drugs ourselves but soon found a company that had the answers to our prayers. They promised us dreamless sleep with minimal side effects. For a time everything was perfect, I married my girlfriend Isabelle and we had our first child Jennifer. I was making enough money to support us and then some.
Ultimately, I think it was boredom that made me start poking my nose around. When we started I knew without a doubt that Sleep was as good as we said and we were doing the right thing the right way.