Stories No. 68 – Nancy Stohlman

The Awakening
By Nancy Stohlman

After the Rapture, the people were waking up, but I’m not sure what that meant, and I’m not even sure they knew what it meant, and I never trusted anyone who claimed to have woken up. My friend claimed to have woken up a few months ago, but she still seemed like a bitch to me. And, even at Starbucks, they would stare at you, and if you weren’t awake they wouldn’t draw a heart in your latte foam.

I started to see someone about it privately because I was getting worried that I should have woken up by now—if my neighbor, who loves NASCAR, was now awake as he had claimed when we were both at the mailbox on Thursday—hey, guess what, I woke up! he said—then surely I should be awake.

But then a new movement started to discredit those who were awake, claiming there was no science behind it, after all, and “awake” was subjective, and by the way what is wrong with sleep?—sleep is scientifically proven to be good for you—and pretty soon everyone claimed that lucid dreaming was more evolved, and people started sleeping 18 hours a day and taking classes where they would try to meet each other inside of dreams and a new café called Asleep opened next to the Awake café and they served chamomile and valerian drinks and everything was cushioned and comfy and if you fell asleep anywhere, in class, on the train, people would assume that you were on some spiritual path.

And of course, I talked to my guy again because I didn’t know if I should be awake or asleep now, and he said to become asleep while waking was the true goal.

Pretty soon a rock shattered the front glass of Asleep café, and everyone assumed it was the awake folks, and some people thought it was a provocateur, an asleep person who wanted to frame the awakes and turn public opinion against them. Splinter groups further divided–those who claimed to be both asleep and awake as well as radical groups that never slept or never woke. And people had no idea who was awake and who was asleep and so people were afraid to interact at all.

The government, or what was left of it, called a state of emergency. Pretty soon all the awake people decided they should leave. So they all got on boats and trains and buses and left. And the asleep people felt sad they had no one to fight with and some of them wondered if maybe the awakes had been right all along and they tried it and woke up. While the people on the boats and trains, free from the pressure of always having to be awake, finally fell asleep.

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Nancy Stohlman is the author of the flash collection The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories (2014), the flash novels The Monster Opera (2013) and Searching for Suzi: a flash novel (2009), and three anthologies of flash fiction including Fast Forward: The Mix Tape (2010), which was a finalist for a 2011 Colorado Book Award. She is the creator and curator of The Fbomb Flash Fiction Reading Series, the creator of FlashNano in November, a founding member of Fast Forward Press, and her work has been published in over 100 journals and anthologies including the forthcoming Norton anthology New Microfictions (2018). She lives in Denver and teaches at the University of Colorado Boulder. Find out more at www.nancystohlman.com

Art by C. Alvarez

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