HOW CAN YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT?
It's been over a year since insomniac Chrystine Brown got a full night's rest. So she's astounded—and relieved—when her new sleep music app puts her in a sound slumber and keeps her there.
But the app's soothing interface conceals a horrifying secret.
A secret that's become a part of her.
A secret she may never escape...
A tight squinting of the eyes did little to sharpen the orange-tinted lines on her phone. 3:23 AM. And her lying awake in bed since 12:15 AM, not even an hour after shutting her eyes, mistakenly believing this time—with the sleep hygiene and the bedtime yoga and the red light filter, the three trazodones, and nightcap—she was really going to do it, she was really going to fall asleep and stay asleep, waking with her morning alarm at 6 AM sharp.
Shit. Even if she were blessedly struck unconscious this instant, it’d still mean tackling the day on less than three hours of sleep.READ MORE
She rolled up out of bed, threw on her fluffy robe. Pointing the screen downward acted as a lamp unto her feet, letting her proceed down the carpeted hallway to check on Ben, conked out in his dino jammies, sheets dangling precariously off the flank of his bed like a hammock lashed to the side of a cliff, kicked off sometime between the end of How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? and midnight, probably. His dad got him today after school and the carpool would take him to Dodson Elementary in the morning. It was Lauren Stevens’ week to drive. Good. Chrystine hated driving when she felt this fried. Didn’t feel safe. No, she’d fix him Apple Jacks and jellied toast and send him off with Lauren Stevens, then she’d slam a Diet Dr. Pepper and drive herself to work.
She couldn’t go on like this.
She switched on the living room lamp and collapsed onto the couch, the warm halo of lamplight making the glitter hearts on her phone case sparkle. Impatiently she thumbed her phone awake and pulled up the app store.
Sleep apps. Insomnia apps. Sleep meditation apps. Progressive relaxation apps. Most the search results brought up nothing new, but the few apps she hadn’t seen before she immediately downloaded and opened…only to find they were, in fact, crapware, or nothing new, the same solutions wrapped in different user interfaces. She downloaded, deleted them all, getting refunds, too—she’d gotten good at sizing these things up within the one-hour no-questions-asked, hassle-free refund window. ASMR. Nothing new. Sleep music…
Now wait. There was something new. And it was free—not “freemium”—free.
The icon for it was a little red lump encircled by two thin blue circular lines, like a bull’s-eye without the extra rings. Chrystine’s Sleep Solution.
Spelled the same way as her own name. Huh. Must be the creator’s name.
Chrystine downloaded it, yawned, looked up at the ticking wall clock, the bluish pre-sunrise light sneaking in the cracks between the blinds on the windows. It was five thirty now. At least time passed quickly evaluating the apps.
She glanced back at the screen. She scowled. What was taking it so long? She checked the downloads screen, found Chrystine’s Sleep Solution was much bigger than the other apps she’d tried. If it hadn’t been listed on the official store, she might’ve canceled it, thinking it malware. But it should be fine. She could always delete it later.
She dropped the phone in her robe pocket and trudged into the kitchen. Her staring at the screen wouldn’t make it download any faster. She would try it out tonight. In the meantime, a pot of coffee, dry toast for breakfast. Then the rest of the day, starting with getting Ben off to school…
Her mind grinded away, planning the day under the weight of fourteen months of insomnia.
Meanwhile, one digital speck at a time, Chrystine’s Sleep Solution downloaded.COLLAPSE