Ignatius Inuus wakes up on Monday and finds his New York apartment has changed in subtle ways. It’s cleaner than it should be. The milk is in a glass bottle instead of a carton. His new red sofa has faded. At work, his colleagues all look as if they’ve had the weekend from hell. The Internet is down and his iPhone is dead. A replacement phone sits on his desk: a nineties-style brick. When a text arrives with a bizarre instruction Ignatius sends a rude reply and throws the phone out of the window. Horrified co-workers flee in panic. Seconds later the building is stormed by armed police.
Ignatius runs into the streets and notices for the first time that it’s not just his office and apartment that have changed. The billboards of Times Square no longer shine brightly. The musicals have closed. Broadway is unlit. Checkpoints have replaced traffic lights. He gets in line to go through one of them, and asks what they are checking: state-issued phones which must be carried at all times. He turns and runs. A mysterious young woman, Tania, shelters him from the pursuing police. She tells Ignatius she has been expecting him, but before she can explain anything the officers return and she murders them in cold blood.
Memories start to return to Ignatius. Doctors. Pain. Drips. Sickness. Nightmares. Nothing makes sense. Tania says there are others waiting to help him. What has happened to his world? Tania explains that the government randomly sends everyone a unique instruction by text message. Immediate compliance is obligatory. Punishment for non-compliance is swift and lethal. Before she can reveal more they become separated. Alone in an alien culture, Ignatius begins a quest to understand the world and to discover whether his life can ever return to how it was before.
The brutality around him is like an omnipotent force punishing people in real time instead of in the afterlife, Orwell’s Big Brother teamed up with God Himself, society tailored mercilessly towards the survival of the fittest, Darwinism in overdrive. With no functioning Internet, only one television channel, intermittent power and a depleted population too afraid to speak the truth, finding answers is not easy. But as his shattered memories begin to heal, it becomes clear that he has been sick.
And so has much of the planet. . .
Published by Headline Accent, Oversleeper is available in eBook and paperback.
('Matt Mountebank' is a character in The Sphinx Scrolls. Oversleeper is his first novel.)
Copyright © 2020 Stewart Ferris - All Rights Reserved.