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Flash Fiction || Capsule Sleep (Saiful Rahim)

The bullet train had run a little late and thus Mehtab reached Tokyo slightly later than he had initially anticipated. The meeting had been a bigger bore than he was used to and quite naturally, he was sleepier than usual.

The capsule hotel with its crypt-like boxes separated by thin wooden walls, was beckoning him for the first time since he had reached Tokyo three days ago.

The first two nights had been a claustrophobic catastrophe for Mehtab, who could not shake off the fact that the capsules resembled a hospital morgue from his memory more than anything else.

Of course, the morgue in his hometown Dhaka did not come with reading lamps or a cozy bookshelf for the dead but the low ceiling made it impossible for Mehtab to concentrate on relaxing his mind so it could slip into a peaceful state of hibernation.

The third night did not turn out to be as tortuous as the two before. Mehtab flipped through a dark thriller before a series of yawns overtook his senses and he finally drifted into a deep dream-state.

He dreamt of Dhaka – of the unofficial, un-civil war and his only visit to the morgue. In the dream however, he was not there to identify his dead brother; he was there as a patron. The morgue had been turned into a capsule hotel at the very heart of Dhaka.

Mehtab did hear his dead brother, of course. The spectral entity was snoring right beside his capsule all night long. The wooden wall was thin enough for snores to filter through and the noise finally jerked Mehtab out of his reverie.

He could have sworn the snores he had heard were real; the dreaming mind transposing a concrete detail into imagination – it had happened before, Mehtab could recall.

However, he could not recall exactly when the person in the capsule next to him had stopped snoring for good. As morning dawned over the land of the rising sun, Mehtab’s neighbour was presumably taken off to the morgue by the local police.

Unlike Mehtab’s brother, his neighbour had died, peacefully, in his sleep.

Yet, the man was going to rest in a similar steel capsule for the time being. []

First Published: CultureCult Magazine, Issue One: October 2015