When Frederic W. H. Myers, prominent member of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), read Mrs. Cassel’s monograph “Paranormal Waters”, where she gives an account of the paranormal activity that happens in the spas, he was fascinated by the variety and scope of the phenomena presented in the book. Eager to do the test himself, he arrange a fifteen-day stay at a famous English spa, but nothing remarkable happens to him (except the loss of all his pants, which he attribute to no paranormal power but to the incompetence of his valet). Frustrated, he arrange an interview with Mrs. Cassel herself at her home in Clermont. There he unleash his disappointment claiming that his stay at the spa has been the most boring fortnight of his life (with the possible exception of the fifteen days that he spent hidden in a barrel). Besides, as a consequence of spending so much time submerged in water, he has become all wrinkled like a raisin, not to mention the loss of all his pants that now forces him to wear a kilt while his tailor makes him new ones. Mrs. Cassel listens attentively. And, when Myers finishes complaining, she explains that he has overlooked a detail of her book, namely that her paranormal experiences did not occur in the waking state.
Faced with this revelation, Myers is baffled and it’s necessary to use a bottle of smelling salts to revive him. Then Mrs. Cassel asks him if the SPR has been concerned with analyzing the states of somnambulism. Myers tells her in confidence that, one night, he was awakened by the police when he was delivering a speech in Hyde Park in a state of somnambulism. Mrs. Cassel shows an interest in the subject of the speech, but Myers doesn’t remember anything except that in it the word “weasel” abounded. Immediately, Mrs. Cassel realizes the complexity of Myers’ sleepy nights and invites him to spend the night in the guest room so that eventually both of them can witness their respective altered state of consciousness during sleep. Myers accepts the proposal and, after dinner, the two retire to their respective rooms.
It’s hard for Myers to fall asleep. He continually gets out of bed to peek into the corridor being alert in case Mrs. Cassel appears sleepwalking. While he is sticking his head through the half-open door, suddenly he hears noises at his back and flinches. He turns around and see Mrs. Cassel penetrating into the room through the open window. She is wearing her nightgown and walks with eyes closed and arms outstretched. Myers gets out of her way and watches her as she opens the door and goes out into the corridor. He dresses hastily to follow her… But, in the rush, he puts on the kilt over his head, and the plaid skirt gets stuck at the height of his shoulders immobilizing his arms. Even so, he goes out into the corridor and, with the kilt covering the upper part of the body and with the lower part uncovered, runs after Mrs. Cassel. But in the semi-darkness he stumbles and falls flat on his face. The bang awakens Mrs. Cassel, who, startled, stops and turns around and glimpses what seems to be an unshaped monster that pursues her. Before Myers can open his mouth to reassure her, she lets out a squeak and locks herself in her room slamming the door. Embarrassed, Myers returns to his room muttering a complaint under his breath and, after struggling hard to get rid of the kilt, collapses exhausted in the bed and falls asleep.
A couple of hours later, both Mrs. Cassel and Myers have succumbed to a state of somnambulism, and each on their own wanders with arms outstretched through the dimly lit house but without stumbling. In their wanderings they cross each other repeatedly without saying hello. However, after much wandering, the both of them end up in the same bed deeply asleep. And that’s when the unthinkable happens:
Suddenly they wake up in a hotel room in the spa town of Baden-Baden, where both are registered as husband and wife, and behave as if they had been married for twenty years. They take the waters at the established times following the doctor’s instructions: a bath at noon, another at dusk, and drink mineral water non-stop. Then, they play whist with other patients. All normal and predictable. Until that same evening, while walking arm in arm through the porticoed gallery, they see a being from another planet drinking from the mineral-water fountain. How do they know that it is a being from another planet? Because he has a sign on his chest announcing it. Besides, he is green and from the top of his head comes a long antenna that emits a beep. Mrs. Cassel (now Mrs. Myers) asks another passer-by about the stranger. “Oh, it’s just Fghsdfkjr”, he responds, “he comes from the Andromeda galaxy each year at this time to take the waters”, and continues on his way. Shocked, the Myers immediately pack and return to their home in Clermont, where they wake up the next morning, flinch when they notice that they share a bed, and break up embarrassed.

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1 thought on ““THE SLEEPWALKERS”

  1. Recently I discovered the humorist S. J. Perelman, and you know what? I think my sense of humor is similar to his. If you like my sense of humor (absurd, surrealistic), you will like still more that of S. J. Perelman.


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