Originally, Karen went along with the idea because she was certain her roommate wouldnâ€™t come through with the goods. True, Jill had befriended (â€œbefriended.â€ Chrissy giggled, her fingers hanging in mock quotation marks) a number of important people in the universityâ€™s psychology program, but the idea of sleep aids seemed like the idea of affixing electrodes to the testicles of rats. Sure, rat-zappers had some historical clinical purpose, but what decent university would still have something like that around?
Staring at the crudely-pressed blue oval in her hand, Karen could have sworn she felt a distinct shudder pass through her non-existent rodent genitalia. The three girls sat cross-legged on their respective beds, and only Jill seemed entirely comfortable.
â€œAre you sure this is safe?â€ Chrissy asked. Their third dorm-mate wore her yellow hair in the conservative braids of a Europan farm girl, and she was prone to fits of irrational giggling. Karen was counting on her to back out.
â€œThe human brain is programmed to sleep,â€ Jill said with the unwavering confidence of a first-year student whoâ€™d never read conflicting e-texts.
â€œNot anymore,â€ Chrissy argued.
â€œOf course it is. Itâ€™s primal. Way deep. You know, in that Freud thing. Your brain has years of sleep to catch up on. No implant can cover that.â€
Karen said nothing, and Chrissy made a quiet sound that should have been the beginning of a chuckle but died somewhere in her throat.
â€œItâ€™s totally safe,â€ Jill continued. â€œYour unconscious mindâ€™s been storing up images for your whole life, and once youâ€™re out,â€ she waved her flattened palm in a gesture that was not at all reassuring, â€œtheyâ€™ll all spill over and youâ€™ll dream. Like a movie all about yourself. And they go, like, an hour per minute because your eyes move so fast.â€
â€œHow do we know to wake up?â€ Karen finally asked. This stopped Jill for an instant.
â€œI donâ€™t know. We just do. Thatâ€™s how it works.â€
â€œWhat if we donâ€™t?â€
â€œWe do,â€ she said forcefully, and threw her hand to her mouth to down the pill without the assistance of water. She smiled, as if daring the other two to follow suit, and Karen and Chrissy locked eyes and nodded before placing their pills on their tongues. â€œSweet dreams,â€ said Jill.
â€œSweet dreams,â€ Karen repeated.