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  • Writer's pictureJérémy Bernard

Sleepy Animals

a short story by Jérémy Bernard

TW: graphic sexual content, use of a homophobic slur


On my way to my lab partner’s house I had spotted a pile of sleeping animals, in harmony with each other, as though their survival instincts had made way for the comfort of sleep. They weren’t dead mind you, no hunter would be this far out at this time of day. My lab partner (his name is Walker, by the way) was isolated in his farm and there hadn’t been a single neighbor in sight. The talk of the lab was that he had inherited a tenth of all the farmable land in Tennessee. On my way there I saw the ghost houses of thousands of people who were forced to go work in the big cities and that’s not even counting the native Indians who had suffered a much worse fate. Walker rarely ever addressed the rumors. He insisted on making himself as self-sustainable as possible and would only talk about the here and now or the future he was building towards. I have to admit despite his quirks he was a truly admirable scientist: an incredible memory, innovative, rigorous and charismatic. Truly the whole package. I had been preparing mental notes, topics I could bring up without being out of my depth or putting myself in hot waters, the two-hour ride was like cramming for an exam I had imposed on myself.

When I made it to the front porch I heard multiple locks being undone before I was greeted by my good friend. Tugging at his legs were two adorable little kids peeking their heads out from his trousers to catch a glimpse of the intruder.

Walker gave me a big hug. “Waaaassssssuuuuup! God it’s so great to finally have you visit!”

Once he released me I made a point to look around, showing him how much I admire his fields, then crouching down I said, “It’s been too long since we’ve been talking about this. Last time I was about to come here I remember the little ones were still in their mother’s stomach!”

Walker laughed in a way that made me feel like he hadn’t even really registered how fast the time had passed since then. He began, “Well they’re a lot bigger now that’s for sure!” He put his hands behind their back and lightly pushed them forward. “Come on, don’t be shy, introduce yourselves!” They didn’t budge.

The distress was beginning to build in their eyes as the silence accentuated their shyness so I butt in, “That’s not necessary. If only you two knew how much your father had struggled to decide your names! He would come to work and be like, twins! How am I gonna find two unique beautiful names! And I have to admit Emily and Arthur are very lucky names! My name was Schmuck before I got it legally changed.”

Walker laughed heartily, “no way! Why didn’t you ever tell me!”

“Please don’t tell our coworkers!” The kids had relaxed at the sight of us laughing.

Eda’s voice was muffled but it was clear she was yelling at us to come in. With their mother’s order the children grabbed at our hands and led us to the living room. First though they quickly undid all the locks of the living room door. I could see that the locks were making Walker a bit uncomfortable and he explained to me that they hadn’t used the living room in a while. Eda unlocked the door between the kitchen and living room. The twins went to their mom before she could greet me, whispered something in her ear, got an “ok” and then scurried back to their room.

“Oh Lucas, we’re so glad to host you here.” She undid the child lock over the alcohol.

“I gotta say I’m impressed by how safe this place is. I couldn’t even stub my toe if I tried.” I take the glass.

“Oh yeah we try to keep this house under lock and key. The little ones grew up with it so at least it was easy for them to handle.”

“Wait, so it was like that before them?”

Walker interrupted, “Oh no, not at all, this whole place was made child proof for the kids. Anyways, cheers!”

We clink glasses and I make sure to bring up the topics I prepared for the night. A safe topic I had chosen was shitting on Elon Musk because I’ve seen people from all walks of life agree that he was a hilarious manchild. So by the time we all concluded that the Boring company is an incredibly dumb transport idea the kids came back demanding dinner.

We make our way to the dining room which requires its own set of locks to be detached. The kids started setting the table and Walker had made a point to carry all the produce to the table himself.

He boasted, “Believe it or not these are actually all from our own farm! I’ve genetically modified every last one of them myself.”

We began gorging ourselves on ratatouille and an endless flow of alcohol. I vaguely remember Eda trying to put Walker’s glass away without him noticing while he was saying how much he wished he could genetically modify our brains with the same accuracy as a tomato. By the time we were properly plastered I had made the unfortunate mistake of asking where I was going to sleep. A topic I hadn’t prepped. The one topic I thought couldn’t possibly cause a stir. And yet the whole room had become tense. The kids had already been sent upstairs by then (thank God) and Eda had looked in horror at her husband.

She was the first to break the silence and looked at me as I darted my eyes away, “You… you were planning to stay the night?”

Walker laughed uncomfortably, “Yeah, I told him he could stay over cause it’s a long drive and I didn’t want him to miss out on your family’s Vișinată!”

I quickly opened Uber to see if there was anything. I would’ve paid a fortune. “Do you know a taxi service I could call? Nothing’s showing up on Uber.”

There was nothing we could do at this time of night and I was in no state to drive though I had seriously considered it. They went to the next room and from the muffled argument I could tell I had made a massive mistake coming here. The only thing I got to hear was her screaming in exasperation “BUT YOU’RE DRUNK!” and it wasn’t long after till they came back.

Once again Eda was the first to speak as if giving a press release from the obvious embarrassment of not being told beforehand, “Sadly we haven’t set up any of the guest rooms yet but that’s ok. Why don’t you and Walker have a lil’ fireside chat while I get your room ready.”

“Hey it’s no sweat, I really don’t mind sleeping on the couch.”

Walker interjected nervously, “You can’t!”

Eda picks up from there, “It wouldn’t be proper, and anyways it’s no biggie. We’re happy to have guests over!” She bolted out of there before I could double down on the couch offer.

With just the two of us I felt more nervous than ever. Wondering how a few glasses of incredibly sweet cherry liquor could make him so dangerous. Was she referencing that one office party? We both acted like it had never happened so I doubt she knew about it. How could they even stay together if she did know? We were both wasted that night anyways. Just a drunken act of love to be discarded with my other mistakes.

He sat me down with another glass of vici. “Say we could manipulate our brains like a tomato, what would you do?”

“I’d get rid of anything harmful to us. OCD, depression, addiction, suicidal thoughts...”

He interrupts me, “What about sleepwalking?”

“I guess…. It’s not exactly as bad though, right?”

“Well I’d get rid of it too. Anything that takes away your agency terrifies me.”

“Don’t worry, you have enough land to last yourself multiple generations. I doubt you’ll be losing agency anytime soon.”

“You might envy this wealth. But it’s barren land. I carry with me the burden of having to make this whole place come to life, in a sustainable way too! I want to create a paradise here, one I can hand over to my children so they don’t get the same bad check I got.”

“Well it wasn’t always barren was it?”

He ignores that remark, “If you gave me the power to change everyone’s genes, I’d probably make them more like me. Of course there are some things about myself I’m afraid I passed onto my kids but god damnit if we aren’t close to perfection here.”

“Woah there, you’re starting to sound a bit like a eugenicist right now.”

“So? You telling me a family that secured a tenth of an entire state through their superior intellect shouldn’t pass that intellect on?”

“Well, you’re not wrong if that were possible. But I don’t think we have the resources or capability to get even close to what you’re talking about. Besides, we need people to be a bit dull, you know? Otherwise who’s cleaning the lab when we’re done?”

He chuckles then continues, “You’re right, there are definitely shades of gray for gray matter.”

I made a mental note to save that for the next cranial conference we go to.

Eda had come back down at this point, “It’s all ready! If you want to get some shut eye I can show you to your room.”

When I heard that, my heart sank a little. I had just realized no one had bothered showing me around the house or any of the grounds. I wanted to escape our light hearted chat and had left Walker behind to follow Eda to my room.

She started to explain, “Every room has a restroom, shower and drinkable water inside. I also gave you a towel, some things to brush your teeth with and a little device you can use to talk to us from your room.”

“You mean a walkie-talkie?”

“Ah yes, that’s the one! The service can get spotty upstairs so this might be faster in case of an emergency.”

“I’m sure I have nothing to worry about.”

Her awkward laughter should’ve tipped me off but I seriously thought she was just playing it cool since my surprise sleepover had been sprung up on her. “This is a very old house so you might hear noises at night. That could be a million things, from twigs to the boiler to the creaky wood so please try your best to ignore. Oh and please please please don’t leave your room until someone comes to get you in the morning.”

“How come?”

“We really don’t want to wake up the children before they get a good night’s sleep. Here we are! I’ll let you get comfortable and if you have any more questions the talkie machine is on the nightstand. Make sure to set up all the locks after I go. I have to go put Walker to bed now but it was such a lovely dinner!”

I was genuinely bummed that I couldn't say good night to Walker. I bolted the door shut and my fingers were a bit sore from the five different rusty locks. How did the kids do it so fast?

My phone was buffering on every video and the letters of the Marquis de Sade book I bought were floating around on the page making me feel queasy. I hadn’t bothered properly undressing myself and was lying over the covers with half my body floating over the edge. I rolled myself a cigarette and after unlocking the window I started gazing out into the stars. There were so many compared to back home. I could count the ones back home on one hand so these constellations felt endless. I was getting nauseated by the cigarette and blasted by the fresh air, feeling small and insignificant so I looked down at the farmland. Once again I saw the pile of animals that had been sleeping on the side of the road. They were now making their way towards us at a snail’s pace. Their movements were erratic and they were incredibly silent. I had an entire animal kingdom coming and I was beginning to feel like I was losing my mind. So I threw out my cigarette and quickly locked myself back inside, closing my eyes and doing the best I could to at least pretend like I was falling asleep.

Hours later I heard the noises Eda had described. A sort of creaking that was only coming closer and closer. The doors were being violently thrusted about and I assumed the locks were to stop them from being torn off by the wind or whatever was making this house go wild at night. The static of the walkie-talkie had been a sort of white noise machine until I heard Arthur’s voice. I had barely caught it. Something about something being clear. Nothing followed so I shut it off. I couldn’t sleep with all this noise and went to my private restroom. The light was flickering and the walls were a sterilized white. The whole space was making me feel restless. I needed to go on a walk or something to clear my mind. With a couple extra layers on me I unlocked the door and crept my way past the kids room.

When I was back downstairs I noticed that Walker was still up, alone, in the living room. His cock was out and his pajama top was all scratched up. I had a flashback to the office party and felt a bit erect.

“Wha-what are you doing here?” I whispered, hoping not to wake anyone up.

He turned to face me, mouth agape, hands groping the air. “I want to fuck.”

“Quiet down!” I knew that’s why he hadn’t told Eda I was staying over. Maybe he had reserved a hotel for us or had set up some romantic getaway in a ghost house. I couldn’t believe I had almost ruined it all!

He rushed towards me and I had to wrestle him down because his moves were more aggressive than they were lustful. I was a bit excited at the prospect that he hadn’t gotten any practice since our last affair. He was still clumsy and incurious. He wanted pleasure and power, constantly trying to position me in a way where he could have complete control of my ass.

I’m still stronger it seems. I pushed him down and sucked his dick, lathered his shaft and balls and lubed up my ass with our saliva. He was drooling and his eyes were widening, he could feel himself getting close to cumming. When his muscles tensed up I stopped sucking and got completely naked, his hands grasping for me the whole time I tried to undress, and then floated on top and held onto the tip of his dick. He was desperate to penetrate me and I had to resist him as I slowly inserted him. I let out a little gasp and began to move up and down just as slowly until my asshole was ready. I took some of my precum and started jerking myself off with it. When I relinquished control he pushed me off and started adjusting himself to fuck me doggy style.

I was in too deep. Enjoying it and moaning like no one else was there. He was grunting and repeating “I wanna fuck” over and over again. I hadn’t heard the footsteps or maybe I had mixed them in with all the other weird noises I heard throughout the night.

But Eda’s screech I couldn’t miss. Followed by her screaming, “What the fuck are you fags doing!”

I was the only one to respond. “It’s not what you think.”

When I got up and tried to compose myself Walker tackled me to the ground and my head painlessly bounced off the edge of the living room table. He was matching Eda’s yelling but still insisting on his need to fuck.

Eda came closer and helped me escape his grasp, her hand was tightly gripped around mine and I followed her to the closest room. She quickly reset all the locks and stared at me with daggers that wanted to slice my cock off.

I tried to make up for my actions by blabbering out anything I could think of, “I swear, I would never want to break apart your family and I was just drunk and sleepy…”

“First of all, you have no idea what you’re talking about. My husband is not a fag.”

“Me neither!”

“For Christ's sake! He’s not even awake! He was just sleep fucking you!”


“He suffers from sleep fucking, it’s always worse when he’s wasted. WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE!”

I couldn’t respond. I waited there, hoping that the silence would give me time to say the right thing. The white noise from the walkie-talkie was the only thing I could focus on. We heard the footsteps coming up the stairs and Eda shouted into the walkie-talkie: “EMILY, ARTHUR, DO NOT GET OUT OF YOUR ROOMS, MOMMY IS OK, DADDY IS OUT AND ABOUT, STAY CLEAR, OVER.”

I looked at her, tears flooding my eyes, “I’m so sorry, I had no idea… What can I do? Should I go? I can just go.”

She grabbed onto me before I could get to the first lock, “What so you can go back for seconds? We’re staying here. He becomes way more aggressive if he thinks he’s been teased.” She walks to a secret drawer, opens a safe and takes out a gun.

While she was loading the gun I asked, “Can’t we just wake him up?”

“It’s way more difficult to wake him when he’s drunk. All we can do is wait it out and then you are getting the fuck out of here. I don’t want a word about this to anyone you hear!” She was now pointing the gun in my direction.


She let out a laughing kind of sigh, “don’t worry. It’s not for you.”

When the banging on the door started I almost crapped my pants. Walker was wailing at us about how horny he was and Eda was dry sobbing away the trauma. Exactly an hour and thirteen agonizing minutes later we heard him crumble to the ground, dead tired.

I ran for the locks and had absolutely sobered up enough to drive. Eda refused to say a word and just watched me from the porch as I raced my way out of that hell hole. Walker was assigned a new partner after that (at my request) and I got transferred shortly after. The one time I talked to him he acted like nothing had happened and I doubt he honestly even remembers. The lucky freak.


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