By Jason Ropp

TimeMarcus blinked back to reality. “Such a lovely dream,” he said as he leaned to the left and mashed the snooze, inciting five light puffs of air that struck his face. Thirty seconds later he opened his eyes yet again and yawned, sprawling his arms as wide as the sleep-eaze would allow. “Now that’s more like it.”

The glass door, framed in a bright polished stainless steel opened with a hiss as the airlock released. Marcus glanced at the clock on the opposite wall, which glowed 9:01 in neon. “One of these hours I’m going to stop sleeping in so much.” He slipped out of his red friction-free velvet, sleep-eaze compatible jumpsuit and into his tailored three piece suit, a steal he had picked up the other day for only $2,395.99 from the body scan seamstress booth down the street. This would catch Murphy’s eye. He grabbed his tablet off the bureau, folded it to the size of a wallet and tucked it in his breast pocket.

Since he was in a bit of a hurry, Marcus grabbed a light second dinner. A 10-ounce New York strip with a side of steamed shrimp lightly buttered with a touch of basil, and garlic mashed potatoes. “Perfect,” he said to himself, “and perfectly lonely.” He poked at the steak with his fork. “Bah! Pull yourself together.” He set the plate, still half covered with second dinner, and the silverware into the dishwasher, which whirred to life with a soft hum, ejecting the now spotless plate onto a side tray with a ding. The silverware dispensed like change just below. He set them on the shelf next to his cup and headed for the door.

During his commute, Marcus turned on the auto-drive, unfolded his tablet and eased into the dark unit by responding to a few emails as he made his way down the 429. “Send message to Diana Marton, Same-Unit Shipping Solutions. Begin:

Diana, thank you for the update on the overseas costs. I know I’ve been pushing you pretty hard on this one, but I promise I’ll make it worth your while. Maybe an all expenses two unit, double stop vacay to Antarctica, and that new inland Congo river resort that just opened up. I heard they give the staff access to the sleep-eaze, so it’s not one of those nasty shut down for dark hours places you hear about outside post sleep countries. I don’t have any promises, but Murphy has been upping incentives lately.

But that all depends on what we can do with shipping. I mean 51.5 hours to get 45.8 tons from St. Louis to Beijing? Really? We’ve got a waking economy here, which you know means double income, double consumption, double demand, which means we need the surplus inventory, before this all goes down. Remember what happened when Australia switched over? The strike by sleep lovers, the infamous 35.25 hour shutdown in Sydney’s port? Pandemonium, riots, disruption in global economy growth. Do you really want to be responsible for economic chaos in the world’s most important emerging market? Beijing is only the beginning. They’re predicting the first billion will be on half-sleep masks by the end of this decade.

In summary: if you value the wonderful relationship our companies have had for the last 25 meta-units, you know what to do.

End message.

Marcus looked up just in time to see a billboard for a new casino lighting up the rolling underside of the ever- present charcoal clouds. A debonair billionaire surrounded by other celebrity types, a slender blonde on his left arm as he rolled the dice. Marcus sighed. “If only there were more hours in a unit.”