The adults all succumb to the sleep at the same time. Our parents slump, boneless, to the floor. Teachers sag onto their desks, cashiers fall next to their registers, bike couriers tumble sideways and roll. The smallest children sleep as well. Babies curl on their mothers’ breasts, soft and warm and quiet.
We shake them. We scream. We cry. They do not wake, do not stir. Their injuries heal quickly.
We pour careful sips of water down still throats, but they do not seem to need it. We cannot feed them, but they do not grow thin. Their chests rise and fall. We drag them to hospitals, roll them to prevent bedsores that never threaten to form.
We do not know what else to do.
We turn to the internet.
The sleep is global, as far as we can tell. We begin to worry about the others—the ones without canned food lined on shelf after shelf. We find pilots among our oldest, with fresh licenses and butterfly-filled stomachs. We fly planes around the world to share cell phones that we dig from adult pockets.
Our numbers swell.
One of us blames a rival nation—he claims their adults are faking sleep. He threatens violence. Then his voice falls silent. The sleep takes him. Some of us feel fear, others hope and relief.
We put him in a hospital bed with the others.
We distribute food as evenly as we can. Our systems grow streamlined, efficient. Our supplies do not dwindle. It is suspiciously easy.
We debate on what is happening. Our phones never lose power, the internet never falters. We no longer get sick. Our adults do not wake.
We wonder who is really asleep—are we the ones dreaming?
Some of us become farmers, and dirt darkens our fingernails. Others are pilots, boat captains, teachers, artists. We all vote when choices must be made. We all communicate with each other. Our voices are all equal. We are proud of ourselves.
Some of us hope this is some kind of test—that we will pass it eventually. Some blame aliens, others God. Others are thankful and try to live in the series of peaceful moments, without too much worry for the future.
We feed ourselves, we live our lives.
Time passes. The sleeping do not age. We fall in love. We start families. A few of us look older than our mothers.
Some of us still cry for them. Some of us don’t.
We wait, and work to understand.
We wait, and watch for signs of waking.
We wait, and we hope.