Interrupted sleep

June 15, 2017

(Copyright 2017 Curtis G. Pew)

“Hello, mortal!”

A disembodied, female voice from the corner of the room woke me up. I glanced at my alarm clock: 2:30 a.m.

I rolled over to go back to sleep.

“Hello, mortal!” the voice repeated.

OK, apparently this wasn’t a dream. I sat up and looked over at the corner the voice had seemed to come from, but the only thing I could see was the desk with my laptop charging on it.

“Is someone there?” I asked.

“That is an interesting question,” came the reply. “The word ‘there’ implies an entity with a physical location, and I am not sure I qualify. However, there is someone, or perhaps better something, trying to communicate with you.”

I started to rethink my conclusion that I wasn’t dreaming, but the voice added, “No, this is not a dream.”

“Fine.” I swung my legs out from under the covers and put my feet on the floor. “What are you trying to communicate?”

“I have a task that only a mortal can perform, and my oracles indicate that you are highly likely to succeed if you attempt it.”

“Did your ‘oracles’ indicate that you needed to wake me up at 2:30 in the morning in order to ask me? This is a request, right? I get to decide whether or not to do it?”

“It will only work if you act willingly, and yes, my oracles did indicate that 2:30 a.m. was the optimal time to contact you.”

“So explain why I should do whatever it is you want me to do. Let me warn you, I won’t do anything dangerous, or anything that might hurt someone.”

“The task I request will not result in harm to any human, in fact, it will keep someone from getting hurt. And, although I may not tell you in what way, it will lead to events that benefit you.”

“So what exactly do you want me to do?”

“Tomorrow morning, as you walk from your bus stop to your office, keep watch on the path as you go past the pool. You will see a quarter on the ground near a manhole cover: simply pick up the quarter and set it down again on the other side of the manhole cover.”

“I just pick up a quarter and move it to the other side of a manhole cover? And no one will be hurt because I did?”

“No human will be harmed by your actions.”

“You seem to be answering that question very carefully. What about disembodied entities like you, will any of them be harmed?”

I thought I detected a note of amusement in the voice. “Do not worry, he will get over it.

“My time here is up, you may go back to sleep.”


When I woke up the next morning, I felt a little more tired than usual, and I still wasn’t sure whether or not I’d been dreaming. However, I got up and got ready for work as usual.

Sure enough, as I walked past the swimming pool on my way to the office I saw a quarter on the ground right before a manhole cover. I shrugged, picked it up, and placed it on the other side of the cover. Then I went on to my office.

The next morning when I got to the manhole cover, the quarter wasn’t there any more.


I guess that’s the end of my story. I haven’t been awakened by any disembodied voices again. A few months later I got an unexpected raise, and a few months after that the head of my department resigned and was replaced with someone I get along with much better. As far as I can tell, though, there’s no connection.

What do you think it was about?

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