Chapter 16: Sleep Walk

We’re performing a little scientific experiment in the Rex household. It’s a rigorous study of a rare sleeping disorder we call inverse narcolepsy. Subject with this condition cannot sleep, ever, and spend their days shambling around as mindless zombies.

Virus, Bacteria, or Fungus? Unknown.

The carrier of this disorder is a small, mostly immobile organism known as B.Rex. The pathogen which prevents sleep is dispersed by B.Rex via soundwaves using a mechanism that we do not fully understand. Somehow, this tiny thing is capable of producing sounds at a decibel level theoretically impossible given its size and limited lung capacity. When B.Rex determines it is lacking what it needs, be it a bottle, affection, or a bottom that’s not covered in baby crap, it emits an audio signal, extremely high in both frequency and volume, which causes any human within a rather wide radius to bolt upright in bed and immediately get up to tend to the organism’s needs. This signal cannot be ignored, or the creature simply maintains its sonic attack. It appears to be able to do this indefinitely.

What is your bidding, master?

What makes the B.Rex organism particularly dangerous, however, is that it has many needs, and it is completely incapable of communicating which it wants met. It may need food. It may be dirty. It might have gotten lonely in its crib alone, and wants to communicate (which, as mentioned previously, it can’t actually do). We’re sure this creature has many other needs as well, but we’ll be damned if we can figure out what they are. As a countermeasure, whenever this thing screeches, we tend to just throw food, cuddles, and a diaper change at it in rapid succession, in hopes that one of those things is what it wants. It seems to work a fair amount of the time, and can increase the quiet time between its sonic outbursts, but it took several sleepless nights to discover and perfect the maneuver.

Another hazard presented by the B.Rex organism is that it feeds on money. This feeding is done indirectly, in the form of diapers, food, clothing, toys, and miscellaneous supplies. Additional expenses may be incurred if, like us, you need to increase the interior size of your dwelling to accommodate B.Rex. The amount of money a thing as long as a human forearm can chew through daily is quite staggering, and I wouldn’t believe it myself if I hadn’t seen the overdraft charges with my own eyes.

Don’t Let Its Small Size Fool You

Even with all we’ve stated to this point, there is one characteristic of this organism which has us wondering if maybe we’ve gotten in over our heads. B.Rex behaves much like a parasite, eating all of the food, money, attention, and sleep Nalani and I can throw at it, but this thing we call Byrd (or Byrdie, Dirty Byrdie, Turdy Byrdie, and occasionally elaborately-forged chains of profanity) has one truly nefarious defense mechanism that prevents us from heaving her out with the garbage.

It can be several days since either of us last slept, and we’ve just gotten up for the third time in a night to tend to its every whim, and we’ll just be starting to wonder if, knowing what we now know, and coming to terms with the fact that we may never sleep again, was this maybe a bad idea? Then Byrd will make a cute little noise and smile, and we’ll suddenly ooh and aah and forget she’s made our lives nigh-unlivable on a constant basis since the night she arrived.

She’s making us love her against our will. I think she might be evil.

She may also be magnetic. All kinds of people have been attracted to our little home to meet the new addition to the family. Remember Akira, the guy I met in the park in Oasis Springs, who saved my life with a plate of grilled beef? We’ve become great friends, and he was one of the first people who got introduced to Byrd. This time it was my turn to feed him.

The tables have turned. Which reminds me we need a table.

Most of the visitors have been Nalani’s friends. No surprise there; she’s far better at the whole social thing than I am. If it were up to me, dropping by uninvited would be punishable by flogging, but she’s always happy to welcome in anyone who shows up at the front door. In just the last 24 hours we’ve had a doctor from the hospital pop in to make sure everyone was doing well, as well as some guy who was apparently an old high school pal of Nalani’s… or whatever the mer-person equivalent of high school is, anyway. Nalani told me her word for it, but I’m pretty sure it’s unpronounceable if you don’t have gills.

Sorry, but you’ll have to excuse me. Byrd’s crying about something again, so I have to run and try to figure out what the problem is this time. I know, it’s futile, but as the person who created this monster, I’m obligated to make the attempt.

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