Dazzle
rating: +3+x

I'll have to sleep on the bed again tonight, but I'm afraid to. Yet, there's no one else here to do it because they're all too busy enjoying their newfound riches.

Why me? I ask. Why does it seem like I'm the only one whom the bed doesn't respond to? I had thought it was simple. Get on the bed. Fall asleep. Have a strange man with the head of a wasp offer you money, then wake up. Those were the steps, and it doesn't work for me. I know the bed doesn't select its lucky recipients of gold and diamonds. Morals, social status, age, ethnicity, bloodline; everyone gets rich.

It seems that every day, more and more people in this site are 'magically' granted access into the storage chamber and allowed to use the bed. How in the world is Command allowing this? I'm Gamma, but even I'm restricted to the front desk. What the Site Director is doing is dumb, and she knows it, but every time I go to her receptionist, he would simply nod at me and tell me 'to come back the next day.'

Not even the people at the cafeteria or break room would agree with me. 'Free reign over the bed's a major violation in management and personnel trust', I would say, to be met by the eye-rolling of my fellow colleagues, who had also used the bed to get rich. They brushed me aside, saying I was merely jealous I hadn't gotten rich as well yet. Of course, by that time, I didn't try the bed yet. I know my place here, and I'm certainly not joining the crowd. It's strange, now that I think of it. I never wanted to sleep on the bed, or even get rich, until everyone was carrying around bags of money.

Hell, I wonder who started this money craze in the first place.

The very first day I became the Bed's handler, we got one or two subjects a day. Occasionally, there would be an Alpha of some command. But now, I recall that earlier this month, another clerk from Retrievals wound up requesting usage, citing he had financial problems and a terrible migraine to boot. I felt sorry for him, phoned IRUC, and gave him a free pass. He slept soundly, vanished, and woke up, money bag in hand and thanked me as he left. Perhaps it was a trick of the long night, but just as he left, I saw something dusty and black speckle his head and arms, like how you get sand on your skin at the beach.

I recall the clerk very clearly because the day after, at the same time in the evening as before, I got two more guests asking for clearance to use the bed. Again, they told me they were having a hard day, and this time they complained to me about week-long insomnia. I told IRUC and got them, a young assistant engineer and a Delta agent, one slip. Their brows furrowed. When the engineer asked why only one slip was given, I sighed, pointed to usage policy, and told them they could share the bed. They went red, but took the slip and went in. Honestly, I've never seen two people sleep so peacefully. I felt happy for them.

It was only when I did the rounds for cleaning the storage unit that night that I noticed that dusty stuff from yesterday on the bed. The stuff was spread under the sheets. I emailed IRUC, but I didn't receive a reply.

As the week went by, I got more unassigned personnel coming to the desk for requests. Naturally, I could only fulfill Delta IV and up for clearance, but on the second week, when I entered a deny form for a Delta I, I saw an alert pop up that said the Director was overriding all restrictions for Bed of Wealth use. I scowled and thought it was a system error, and told the Lower-Delta to go out, but he mouthed me off and yelled that he had appropriate clearance. I sighed and let him in, along with the thirteen others or so that day. It was Saturday of the last week when the bed's customers finally lessened. Half of the site had handfuls of gemstones in their accounts by then. And more and more of the black sand started to show up, not just at the unit, but now around the site.

I decided to sleep on the bed the next Monday. No one was on duty but the replacement clerk. I gave myself clearance, went into the unit, laid down and shut my eyes.

Sleep didn't come easily, but I managed to sink into the REMs soon enough. Uneasiness settled on my unconscious self as I, asleep, of course, waited for the dream to occur. And sure enough, it all started to fade into reality: Purple, roiling patches of clouds on a sky that was deep violet. It was sunrise or sunset. The sunlight was soft red, like peach. And the sand - as my sense of recognition awakened, I found myself lying on the dirt - I felt powdery, smoky sand. Blacker than ash and finer than silk. Just like in the report.

I stayed there lying down for about a minute when I saw the man with the wasp head. I stood myself up, and, as he came near, I got a good look at him. He had the face of a wasp, alright, but the colors were darker and more alien, all wrong. He was taller than I was. Other than that, it was difficult remembering the rest. His body from the head down seemed fuzzy and indistinct, almost like a…

Yeah, I really don't have the mental power to describe it. I stared at him and waited for him to give me the small bag. But he didn't have one. Instead, he moved closer, just one foot forward every minute, until he was about three steps from me. I heard him whisper something. Then he let loose a shrill, droning cry. He shoved me back into the ground and I felt myself sink. Sinking into that black sand.

I woke up seeing the replacement clerk standing over me, his face either awestruck or disquieted at something I couldn't see. I felt around the bed to find it was empty. No bag. When I asked why he was there, the clerk told me I was asleep for nine hours.

I don't know what the dream exactly meant; why I haven't read anything about the man pushing you back down into the sand before you wake up; or why I didn't receive anything from him.

Yesterday, I overheard a conversation in the cafeteria. Some staff members were talking about dreams they had that started weeks ago. In it, the wasp man would appear next to them in bed and talk in its strange language while the room slowly filled with black sand. When asked if it was possibly a cognitohazard, they smiled nervously and left without saying a word. There are also rumors lately about a glowing violet figure appearing beside lonely officers working overtime in Workstation B.

And more and more people are coming in. Some aren't even from this site.

Just a few hours ago, I realized the Director had also 'slept'. It became clear to me that she was responsible for allowing so many people access to the bed. What's disheveling me is that no one seems to ask why, or even try not to sleep there. They're all too happy to become rich.

She can't be reasoned with anymore. Keeps on citing the statistics from Financing showing the sharp spike in available resources for the region thanks to the item. Everyone is living luxuriously. And I think she is right. And then she asks me, 'why haven't you become rich yet?'. I tell her about when I slept on the bed, and had the dream, and woke up with nothing. She told me my faith was weak. I still don't know what she meant.

It's been a week now. Everything seems normal at first glance. The staff personnel are still here. So is everyone else. Working. Talking. Generally being normal, everyday people.

I just can't let the feeling go that somehow, allowing so many people to use the Bed of Wealth was a grave mistake. Nothing remarkably notable has happened yet, but… the dreams? The black sand that seems to be everywhere? They must mean something.

It feels like they've all sold their souls to the Devil. Which begs the question…

Where's mine?

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