The following is the extended* edit of an essay I read at Chicago’s The Paper Machete, a live magazine which takes place every Saturday at 3pm at The Green Mill. I was lucky enough to be selected to read for the 12/20/14 edition of the show. My essay is based on something entirely real from that week’s news.
Just 445 km south of the nation’s capital, the village of Kalachi, Kazakhstan, has earned the nickname “Sleepy Hollow,” but not for the reason you think! Pumpkin-based murders are out; falling asleep mysteriously, suddenly, and seemingly for no reason whatsoever, is in!
That sounds insane, but you heard correctly: Residents and visitors of Kalachi, which has a population of fewer than 700 people, are spontaneously falling asleep. This, of course, is followed by falling down, being discovered and taken to a hospital, failing to be woken up by anything, and just as spontaneously waking up several days later without remembering anything. This occurs so often that those it effects are referred to as “sleepers,” and some villagers have started carrying packed bags with them in case they suddenly wake up somewhere else and in the future.
Involuntary sleep could strike anywhere—in one’s home, at work, at school. There are reports of children just “falling down in the streets,” which medically speaking, is pretty funny.
Don’t worry, though, no one has died from these somniferous surprises. Well except for maybe one guy, but not exactly from the sleep sickness. Locals fear that before the epidemic was regularly diagnosed, they may have at one point accidentally buried a sleeping old man. Which, whoa, that’s some Edgar Alan Poe shit. Do they not remember if he was breathing or not? Anyway, they are too spooked to go dig him up again.