TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM
"It is curious that Dr. Ydro would make such an erroneous assumption. The androids of Mudd's World are really quite primative. The entire colony functions only as a group and except for the central Norman unit, none of them are capable of acting independently. Collectively, they really can only be considered to be a form of simulated sentience. Their whole system itself is prone to breakdown from the most trivial logic dilemmas for which my algorithms . . . .
"Thank-you, Mr Data," Picard, sitting in the co-pilot's seat next to the android, cut him off and reached for his book.
Data stopped, closed his mouth and turned back to the shuttle controls.
Picard sighed and opened his copy of J'sakee's Moonless Glow to the bookmark at its center. The yellow chlo-cellophane flowers on it glinted under the reading light from above. He slid the bookmark to the back of the book and began reading.
"Have some more zesf, Spore of Mine?"
"No, I shall not. My lower pouch is as if it should burst, but . . . . . perhaps if you might. . . . ."
Goshchibi's grandsire burst another pod. Quickly the servants rushed up and began to scoop up the gobs of orange mucus into delicately carved crystaline goblets. It would be heated and served with desert later.
"Zood," Maven's cook hissed from her seat at the end of the table. "When your offspring come of age . . . . . you do plan on having offspring, Zood, do you not?"
Picard peeked under a corner to see how many more pages were left in the chapter he was reading. There were fourty-five. The dinner party had been going on for fifteen pages and he was already bored with it. He plowed on, but his mind wandered. Minutes went by and he realized he'd been staring at the printed pages in front of him and he hadn't absorbed a single word of it.
He tried concentrating a little harder. Moonless Glow had been lying around his ready room for weeks and he was determined to finish it. It had had a terrific beginning and he was told that it had a terrific ending. But getting through the middle seemed to be something like reading the Moby Dick of P'Thollian social ettiquette.
He turned the page and read the next paragraph. Then he read it again. There were now forty four pages until the end of the chapter. His mind wandered.
Picard jerked his head back. He glanced at Data, but he was busy studying a star chart, the glow from the colored displays reflecting off the adnroid's white-gold face in the dim shuttle lighting. He didn't seem to have noticed his captain dozing off. Picard sighed and replaced the bookmark and lowered the volume to his lap, balancing it with one hand.
Picard supposed that he should go lie down in back. He'd been up since 0430, it was 0230 the next day and they had six more hours before the shuttle reached the Enterprise. But he didn't feel like getting up; he felt perfectly content to stay where he was. He could feel the gentle hum of the shuttle engines through the back and headrest of the chair and through the floor plates. He looked down at the the book lying on his lap in the shadows. Picard sincerely regretted that it was the only book that he'd taken with him on this trip. The stars outside the viewport drifted by and he picked out a few familiar ones. He closed his eyes. Perhaps he would find something more interesting to read in the shuttle's libraray computer.
Data scanned the readings on the shuttle displays. Out of the corner of his eye he surrepticiously observed Captain Picard as well.
He had discerned the Captain's fatigue. Data was certain that the human had been up for at least twenty hours or more and it was inevitable that his need for rest would require tending. The commander's sensative android hearing noted Picard's breathing and heart rate slowing to what was customary for normal human sleep. Another few minutes passed.
"Captain?" Data queried cautiously.
Data touched a control to turn off the overhead spot light that Picard had been reading by.
Again, no response.
It occurred to Data that he might wake the captain so he could go lie down. But he didn't look uncomfortable where he was and Data was reluctant to disturb him. Picard had not seemed happy with the forced detour to his conference with Admiral Aych. But it was unclear to Data as to whether his displeasure was caused by anything the Admiral had said or just a dislike for the Admiral.
Data had come along at the request of a cyberneticist on the Admiral's staff. Neither errand seemed to have been very productive and nothing irritated Picard more than wasted time. He'd been quite annoyed with having to leave the Enterprise in the first place and his mood had not improved when they embarked on the return trip.
The phrase 'leave sleeping dogs where they lay' seemed approprite for the situation.
But Data had other reasons for not disturbing the Captain. He was curious about sleep itself. Sleep and dreaming were very human activities that Data had never been able to either emulate or understand. And he very much wanted to. Dreaming especially was crucial to the human condition, an essential step toward his goal of achieving humanity.
Data had once, when he was at Starfleet Academy, politely asked a roommate of his if he could observe him while he slept and perhaps gain some insight about it. The request itself had caused the man to become so paranoid about Data, who did not need to sleep, watching him, that he'd asked for a room change. Data had never made such a request of another human since then.
Data turned and openly observed the captain. His mouth was slightly open, his face relaxed in a very un-Picard-like experession. But, as he expected, simple observation did not impart any new information. Data accessed his memory about sleep and dreams. He sifted through the scientific and technical details and correlated them with his current situation. No new ideas emerged about how he might better understand or even achieve sleep. He accessed his historical, mythical and philosophical references to sleep with the same result. Captain Picard began to quietly snore.
Finally Data settled on his memory's literary references to sleep. He was certain that he did not fully comprehend most of the allusions and metaphors, but he had stored the information because it was conceivable that they would be clear to him eventually. All the poems, plays, stories, legends, novels and series with significnt references to sleep filed through his conciousness. Data had even once reviewed an 8 hour film made by a twentieth century artist, Andrew Warhol, entitled 'Sleep'. Still nothing came to light.
Data looked back at the captain sihloetted against the starry background of the viewprot. He re-referenced his literary search in relation to Picard's known preferences. It was a much shorter search since he mostly relied on books he'd seen Picard read. Data paused at a soliloqy in King Henry IV, Part II. It seemed particularly significant since it was actually about an absense of sleep. Captain Picard was very fond of Shakespeare and at his encouragement Data had made a special study of the bard's works.
The android scrutinized the text carefully. It was twenty-eight lines long as written. It was the opening solilquy to Act III, Scene 1 and it was spoken by King Henry. And not only was Henry pondering the mysteries of sleep and dream, but his problem paralleled Data's own; lack of.
Data replayed the words in his mind in several hypothetical speaking styles. He was quite capable of internally simulating external input; sights, sounds, smells, textures. It was one of his many design features that distinguished his positronic brain from any other known type of artificial intelligence. His unique construction had gained him the distinction of 'sentience' where the androids like those of Mudd's World were merely considered to be simulated intelligence.
Data 'imagined' how the speech would be delivered and then compared it with recordings he had reviewed. His own interpretation was disappointing. And like so many times in the past when he tried to understand human art he was unable to quantify exactly where he had erred.
Data considered waking Picard and asking his advice, but that would interrupt his inquiry since he was using the sleeping human as his inspiration. Data found this thought quite satisfactory, that he was using inspiration to achieve his goal. He studied Picard and hypothesized what his advice would be if Data did ask him about his interpretation of Henry's speech and its relationship to sleep.
The captain would begin with a recitation of the work. Data simulated that in his mind. It didn't come out right. It was uninspired. He added a visual to the speech and carefully refined the image. In several places he found that he had used his own speaking style and mannerisms for the hypothetical Picard. He removed them and replaced them with ones appropriate to Picard.
Eventually, he was satisfied with the simulation, but not with the results. He percieved he was no closer to his objective than before. He concluded that he was simply going to have to devote his full attention to his ideations.
Data glanced at the shuttle controls: automatic pilot, shuttle velocity, environment were all operating within norms. Data calculated that his reaction time would be slowed by only .854 seconds if he focussed his full attention on the problem, an acceptable delay. So, fixing his gaze forward, Data deliberately focussed his complete attention on his thoughts.
"How many thousand of my poorest subjects . . .," Data's simulated Picard began, alone in the midst of a neutral void, arms straight at his sides. No, that wasn't correct; he looked like he was yelling orders.
" . . . Are at this hour asleep!" Picard continued, gesturing pleadingly. But the setting was wrong; there wasn't any.
"O sleep! O gentle sleep!" the Captain went on, standing at the desk in his office.
Data ran through it several times, forwards and backwards before he realized that Captain Picard would never chose to sleep in his ready room. He switched the scene to the Captain's quarters.
"Nature's soft nurse, how I have frightened thee . . .," Beckoning hand motions.
". . . That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down . . .," Eyes closing and shoulders dropping dramatically.
" . . . And steep my senses in forgetfulness?" The uniform was wrong; instantly, Picard wore a knee-length black nightshirt.
"Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs . . .," Wide, expressive florish with the arms.
" . . . Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee...," Another flourish.
" . . . And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber . . .," Zzzzzzt! A genus Lampyridae buzzed by in a perfectly straight line past Picard's right ear.
Data stopped the simulation and pondered for some time the merits of using too literal a model for his analysis. He finally concluded that this was an acceptable course to probe the idiomatic nature of the language. After trying several different varieties of insects he continued.
" . . . Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great . . .," Adding suitable floral olfactory input. Sniff.
" . . . Under the canopies of costly state . . .,"
" . . . And lull'd with sounds of sweetest melody?" Hydan piano sonata.
"O, thou dull god! why liest thou with the vile . . .," Picard stepped away from the desk in his quareters and glided toward the chairs and coffee table. He sat down on the sofa and brought his legs up onto the cushions.
" . . . In loathsome beds, and leav'st the kingly couch," He rested his arms on the back of the couch and gazed out at the stars streaking by and uttered the next lines with wistful drama.
"A watch-case or a common 'larum bell? . . .," Bong. " . . . Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast . . .,"
" . . . Seal up the ship-boys eyes, and rock his brains . . .," Closing his eyes and resting his head on his arms.
" . . . In cradle of the rude imperious surge . . .,"
" . . . And in the visitation of the winds . . .," A strong breeze picked up in the room, drowing out the piano sonata; Picard lifted his head.
" . . . Who take the ruffians billows by the top . . .," The wind blows harder and colder.
" . . . Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them . . ." Thunder.
". . . .With deaf'ning clamours in the slippery clouds . . .," Lightning.
" . . . That with the hurly, death itself awakes? . . ." More lightning, louder thunder. It began to rain on the desk.
Suddenly Data felt accutely aware of why King Henry couldn't sleep. How could he with all that going on?
" . . . Canst thou, O partial sleep! give thy repose . . .," Picard flopped back on the sofa and addressed the ceiling.
" . . . To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude . . .;" He flung his arms out and bellowed, " . . . . And in the calmest and most stillest night . . .," The rain and thunder and lightning abruptly ceased.
"With all appliances and means to boot," Picard plucked a fluffy blanket out of the air and hugged it to his chest. "Deny it to a . . . . . . starship captain? Then, happy low, lie down!"
"Uneasy lies the head..."
Data started and automatically checked the shuttle controls. The auto pilot display glowed peacefully. Nothing was amiss. He looked about the dim interior of the shuttle to locate the source of the sound that had broken his reverie. His gaze settled on Picard.
The captain had shifted position. Still asleep in the co-pilot's chair, he was now leaning toward Data, his arm hanging down over the armrest. Data's eyes travelled downward to the book that had slid off Picard's lap and was now lying at his feet. Carefully, without disturbing the human, Data retrieved the offending volume and replaced the flowered bookmark in its pages.
It was three hours and four mniutes since Data had begun his analysis and since the Captain had first fallen asleep. Disturbed by the amount of time that had passed, (it was far longer than he had intended to allow) Data laid the book aside and nudged Picard gently. He would have to admit to his captain that he had left him sleeping in an undecorous posture for three hours.
Picard stirred, opened his eyes and abruptly sat up.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Data. I must be more tired than I thought." Picard mentally kicked himself for not getting up to lie down sooner. He tugged at the waistband of his uniform, straightening it. He deliberately didn't look at the shuttle's chronometer; he didn't want to know how long he'd been dozing. He got up and moved between his and Data's seat towards the back of the shuttle.
"Your book, Captain." Data handed him Moonless Glow. He took it and tucked it under his arm.
"Wake me when we arrive."
Picard turned away and Data passively listened while he opened a cupboard for a blanket, took his boots off and settled down on the bunk in back. The light from the rear of the shuttle faded out.
Data mulled over the outcome of his considerations. They seemed quite unsatisfactory. Instead of coming up with some useful conclusions about the nature of human sleep and dreams he had allowed himself to become embroiled in idle specualtion and the whole process had simply run out of control. He would have to more carefully monitor his methods if he ever hoped to achieve any positive results.
From the back of the shuttle Data heard Captain Picard stir and mutter something. Surprised, Data turned away from the shuttle controls toward the rear.
". . . . mmm mat wears a crown . . . . ."
%%% %%% END %%% %%%
Note: This story was written by me and first printed (under the name 'Anne Davenport') in 1992, in Picard Maneuver 2, a fanzine back in the hard-copy and snail-mail days of fan-fiction, before the internet really took off.
Disclaimer: All Trek characters and the universe belong to Paramount; I'm just playing in that sandbox.