And the Men Didn’t Sleep

There was a village in which the men didn’t sleep. They hadn’t slept since the first baby had been born many years ago. The babies, as well as their wives, wouldn’t let them sleep.

The noise was constant. Worse than the buzzing of machines. The women had somehow blocked it out, but the men lay sleepless all night. They had tried earplugs, but those hadn’t worked for more than a few minutes. The babies figured out the men couldn’t hear them so they learned to scream louder.

One day, Adam, who’d grown tired of being tired, built a machine. Adam built a device to solve all of the men’s problems—and hopefully cause a few problems for the women.

The device silenced all of the babies. It de-cried them. No matter how hungry or how tired or how lonely a baby was, he or she just couldn’t cry. And Adam became a hero.

Soon men were sleeping all night and well into the morning. Some men slept for days or weeks at a time. One man reportedly slept for a month.

The women, on the other hand, stayed up all the time begging their children to cry so they would know when they were hungry or tired or in need of changing or coddling. But the children didn’t cry, and the mothers tried coddling them when they were hungry and feeding them when they were tired and putting them down to sleep when they wanted to be coddled.

The women were far too tired and too busy trying to figure out what was wrong with their children. The food went uncooked and the homes and clothes went uncleaned. This didn’t bother the men much because they were sleeping all the time anyway. No matter how much the women nagged and complained, the men just rolled over and went to sleep, as if they were sleeping off decades of tiredness.

Finally, a woman called Ava grew tired of being so tired and having a husband who slept so much. Ava decided to build a machine of her own. Her machine was much simpler in design than Adam’s machine, but it did so much more. Whereas Adam’s machine left babies unable to cry, Ava’s machine left men unable to experience pleasure. Coincidentally, the only thing the men did besides sleep these days was engage in pleasures of the flesh. But not after Ava’s machine was finished.

Once the women all knew the effects of Ava’s machine, their libidos became insatiable. They made their husbands please them seven, eight, ten times a day and then ordered the men to take care of the babies as a thank you for their tireless efforts in bed. The men did as they were told because there wasn’t really anything else for them to do anyway.

The children still wouldn’t cry and the men couldn’t figure out what to do with them, but the women were so exhausted from the sex that they didn’t care much. The men were tired as well because they had stopped sleeping to care for the babies and for want of pleasure they just couldn’t achieve.

One night, Adam set out to break Ava’s machine. On the same night, Ava set out to break Adam’s machine. Babies started to cry and men started to howl in delight. There was so much crying and so much sex over the next ten hours that soon everyone in the whole village was just so tired that they all went down for a nap that lasted weeks. And when they woke up, everything seemed at peace.

NATHANIEL TOWER writes fiction, teaches English, and manages the online literary magazine Bartleby Snopes. His fiction has appeared in almost 200 online and print journals, and he has a novel and novella out through MuseItUp Publishing. When he isn’t writing or doing any of the other standard things writers do, he can be found joggling (running while juggling) through the streets. Visit him at