Sleepers: A Near Future Science Fiction Short Story, Part One

Updated on February 5, 2019
cam8510 profile image

Chris has written more than 175 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

The Control Room

Source

Authors Note

This story has been published in five parts, each having about 1000 words. Go to my profile to find the next part. Thank you for reading.

Sleepers

Benjie and Chesa lay on two beds in the control room of Progressive Technologies Incorporated, sleeping while PTI used the children's brains to run the company’s production facilities. Once man discovered that the brain did not need to sleep, indeed, never slept but kept on working while the body rejuvenated itself, it was only a matter of time before someone harnessed and exploited this undeveloped potential.

“Whatcha doin’ over there?” At some point, every day, as they slept from 8 am until 4 pm, Benjie would begin his conversation with Chesa in the same way.

“Trying to sleep,” was Chesa’s usual response.

“What do you like best,” Benjie asked one day.

“Best about what?”

“The stuff we’re building.”

“I don’t know. Some of the cars are cool, I guess.”

“I like the drones.” Benjie sighed. “You can go anyplace with one of those drones and never leave home. Some of them have guns. Did you see that, Chesa?”

“I don’t like guns.”

“I do. I like guns a lot.”

The Manila We Aren't Supposed to See

Source

Time passed, and they spent the best eight hours of each day sleeping and serving the company. The money was extremely good, but it didn’t impress two twelve-year-olds who were missing summer vacation.

“Will we do this the rest of our lives?” Chesa asked.

“When we signed those papers, the guy told us we could leave anytime we wanted.”

“Maybe we should leave.”

“And go where?” Benjie considered his own question. “Back to the landfill?”

Chesa and Benjie had lived their whole lives on the border of a landfill outside Manila. Chesa’s parents were killed when the mountain of garbage on which they scavenged collapsed in a rainstorm. Six months after that tragedy, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake shook the city killing hundreds. Benjie’s parents were among the dead.

The two orphans met a year later when PTI hired them—or abducted them according to government prosecutors. The charges were that PTI was guilty of kidnapping children to use in their production facilities. The company insisted they had hired the children who were indeed paid very well.

During a roundup of children living in and around the massive landfill, all were screened for creativity using a divergent thinking test and a High Resolution Magnetoencephalography Imager. Scientists had discovered that creative minds displayed the most connectivity between three important control centers in the brain. Chesa and Benjie had scored the highest in all of PTI’s searches in the area.

"Smokey Mountain" Landfill, Manila

Source

# [Four years later]

“Isn’t it cool that our birthdays are in the same month?” Chesa let her sixteen year old body sleep while she talked with Benjie.

“I guess, but you’ve had four years to get used to our birthdays.”

“Do you love me, Ben?”

“Of course I love you, Ches. You’re my whole world.”

“Our world isn’t very big, is it? This room, our apartments, walks in the company park.”

“It’ll get better, Ches. Just wait. You’ll see.”

PTI fought court battles regarding their treatment of children, and violations of US immigration laws. Part of the company’s defense was they were not in violation of child labor laws because the children continued their schooling. They had a tougher time defending themselves against the laws that dealt with endangering a child’s health during their employment.

Even as the court heard these cases, Chesa and Benjie were being surgically fitted with Brain-Computer Interfaces, known as BCIs and Brain-Brain Interfaces known as BBIs. The risks of infection and general anesthesia were enough to alarm the court. The legal matters dragged on for years through a series of appeals.

The results of the wire implants were three wireless, external pathways. One fed information into the brains of the children. Another enabled the paired brains to communicate and cooperatively solve problems. The third relayed information back into the facility’s network so that the automated system could build PTI’s advanced electric automobiles. All this occurred as the children slept for eight hours every day. Sleepers, the company called them.

The Brain in Chains

Source

# [Four more years later]

“Hey, Ben. Aren’t you going to ask me what I’m doing over here? You ask me that question every day.”

“I’m tired, Ches. I just want to sleep.”

“What are you so depressed about? You sound like you just lost your best friend, which I hope is still me.”

“Your still my best friend, but it just seems like life is passing us by.”

“I remember you telling me once a few years ago that it would get better. Well, I’m telling you now. Just wait. You’ll see.”

Scientists reported that nearly as many synapses fired during sleep as when the person was awake. The brain, they discovered, oversaw and used the time of sleep to rid itself of toxins and to sift through memories, deciding which to keep and which to discard.

But could the human brain take on more than those fundamental tasks while the body slept or would an additional workload compromise these much needed functions? As it turned out, the brain snatched up the new challenge like a dog digging up its favorite bone. Rather than computers running factories, human brains were performing the functions of microprocessors and programs much faster, even while the bodies slept. Companies researched and tested until they knew the kind of brains that would work best for industry.

And that was the kicker. The prime brains for the task were those with the least amount of prior programming. The ideal profile for a Sleeper was that of a creative minded 12-year-old boy or girl, gender didn’t matter, with little or no schooling. Modern education methods seemed to interfere with the brain’s natural processes. High tech industry didn’t need brains with a lot of stored knowledge; they needed highly connective pathways that led to unusually active brain centers.

# [And finally, four more years later]

“I’ve had it, Ches. This place is killing me. Remember, the man said we could leave whenever we want?”

“You’ve been feeling this way for years, Ben. I’m with you a hundred percent. It’s time for us to go.”

Unchained

Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Chris Mills

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 months ago from Lowell, MA through the end of May, 2019.

        Shauna, Welcome to my strange little tale of corporations gone wild. Others have mentioned a show called Black Mirror which I had not heard of. Manifest is another I'm not familiar with. I hope my story doesn't parallel that one too closely.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        3 months ago from Central Florida

        I'm curious to see if the kids are really allowed to leave. This story reminds me somewhat of a new show I've been watching called "Manifest". However, the show hasn't gotten far enough into the season for us to see what the government is doing with the people they've put to sleep.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 months ago from Lowell, MA through the end of May, 2019.

        Venkatachari M, You are right. Science Fiction has challenged scientists to develop new technology. Space travel is probably the most obvious example. Thanks for visiting.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 months ago from Lowell, MA through the end of May, 2019.

        Rodric, I'll have to look at that story. I had no idea someone else had used the same approach as I had. I just did some reading on brain research and went from there. Even the magnetoencepholography imager is something being developed now. I appreciate your interest and your thoughts. Thanks.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 months ago from Lowell, MA through the end of May, 2019.

        Ricka, I tried to take a slightly different approach than what normally happens in these kinds of stories. Often, it is the government that is suppressing the people. I chose to go with a corporation. I believe that a more realistic view of the future. Thanks for reading and for your comment.

      • Venkatachari M profile image

        Venkatachari M 

        3 months ago from Hyderabad, India

        Quite an innovative piece of a plot for your wonderful story. Science fictions can take us to limitless boundaries and thereby aid the scientists also in discovering new fields of technology and power resources. I appreciate Chris, your amazing talents in using these wonderful ideas in the writings.

      • Rodric29 profile image

        Rodric Anthony 

        3 months ago from Peoria, Arizona

        This is a great start. It puts me in the mind of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card in that it was children with active synapses and fewer pathway connections that were able to fight the wars in that book. I look forward to the rest.

      • profile image

        Ricka Long 

        4 months ago

        Looks like you have tapped into a real fear for the future. Exciting piece so far. Kept my attention. I am sure the ending will not disappoint us. Thanks for sharing!

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        4 months ago from Lowell, MA through the end of May, 2019.

        Thanks John, it's good to know the story caught your imagination and attention.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        4 months ago from Lowell, MA through the end of May, 2019.

        Thank you, Ann. Who knows what the future, even the near future, might bring with just the "right" technological breakthroughs.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        4 months ago from Queensland Australia

        Wow, what an original and gripping tale. Onto read part two. Good work Chris.

      • annart profile image

        Ann Carr 

        4 months ago from SW England

        Chilling! You have such an imagination, Chris! Though I'm worried that it could be based on fact and that wouldn't surprise me - there is no end to what could happen in this world. I hope it's not this!

        Well-written and so gripping.

        Ann

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, letterpile.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://letterpile.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)