There’s this one big family that lives in a modestly sized house. In this house, several young adults live alongside their parents, and also their grandparents. But although this multi-generational family shares the same home, the truth is that these days, they have pretty much ended up living in their own little worlds. Within their own shared place of shelter, this family simply cannot seem to agree on some very important issues. You see, some members of the family see things a certain way. And perplexingly to all, some other members of the same family actually see those very same things quite differently. It wasn’t always like this.
The house this family shares has only two bedrooms. The first room contains the Light Sleepers. There are five members of the family who stay in the Light’s room. The other room contains the Deep Sleepers. There are five family members staying in the Deep’s room. For safety, both rooms are locked from the outside hallway. The people inside either room cannot just open the door and leave. In the event of a household emergency, the only way to unlock each room’s door is for someone in both rooms to press the emergency exit button at the same time. The emergency exit button is inches left of each room’s interior doorframe, at about shoulder level.
One day, out of the blue, one of the Lights thinks they smell smoke. It’s L#1, who’s sitting closest to the door. L#1, startled, asks the rest of the Lights with urgency, “Hey guys! Do you smell smoke? I think I smell smoke!” Two others, also fairly close to the door, agree that they smell it too. They look worried. But the remaining two Lights, sitting farthest away from the door, frown with skepticism. They look at each other, they look back out to the rest of the group, and they flatly state “We don’t smell anything.” They actually sounded slightly irritated. And just then, the smoke detector goes off in the Light’s room. It’s loud and jarring. Now all five of the Lights are standing up, trying to figure out what to do next.
Both the Lights and the Deeps have an air vent near their respective ceilings. It’s high up, but it’s the only way to communicate with the family members who are living in the room next door. The thing is, the vent is so high up you need a ladder to reach it. Each room does have a ladder, but only one person can climb up the ladder to talk through the vent at any given time. Smoke gradually thickening, pretty much all the Lights are starting to freak out by now. Desperate, they want to make sure the Deeps act quickly. So L#2 from the Light’s room grabs the ladder. She sets it up near the vent and climbs up. Immediately, without consulting the rest of the Lights, L#2 starts shouting into the vent, “Bomb! Hey Deeps! There’s a bomb about to go off! Everybody get up! Everybody listen! There’s a bomb about to explode inside the house! Someone over there needs to press the emergency exit button with us NOW!”
L#3, who didn’t smell the smoke at first, chastises L#2, who’s still on top of the latter. “A bomb? What the hell are you talking about?” L#4 snaps back, “Look, this is no time for semantics. We have to all be on the same page here.” But now, L#5, who also didn’t smell the smoke at first, is angry too. Making fierce eye contact with L#2 on top of the ladder, L#5 sneers, “Why did you say it was a bomb? It’s smoke we’re smelling and the smoke detector went off. It’s probably a fire!” “Oh my god!” L#2 from atop the ladder snaps back, “Look, right now is not the time for us to be tearing each other down! This is an emergency. We need the Deeps to hear us loud and clear! We need them to act with urgency!”
Over in the Deep’s room next door, everyone is laying down napping. Well, D#6 is technically just laying down resting, he can’t fall asleep for some reason. All of the sudden, D#6 thinks he may have heard something. Was it one of his roommates faintly sleep talking? That has been known to happen from time to time. D#6 concludes it’s probably nothing, and keeps trying to fall asleep. But, as often happens, he just can’t pull it off. And that odd noise just won’t go away. D#6 stretches in bed, then sits up.
The noise gets just a bit louder. Standing up, D#6 looks directly into the faces of his sound asleep Deep roommates, one by one. None of them, it seems, are sleep talking. Annoyed, D#6 nudges one of the more easy-going Deeps awake. “Hey, sorry to wake you up, but do you hear something weird?” The freshly roused sleeper, D#7, yawns and then stands up. The two of them slowly walk around the edges of the Deep’s room, listening hard. “The vent!” one of them softly exclaims. “It sounds like someone from the Light’s room might be trying to tell us something!” Huh. That would be unusual. You see, the Deeps aren’t really in the habit of listening to the Lights. And that’s true vice-versa as well.
“Well, we should probably get the ladder out and see what this is all about.” Says D#6. But D#7 demurs. “Seriously? The Lights? Whatever it is will probably just be something stupid. You know how they are! Listening to them is probably just going to piss me off.” “You’re right,” L#6 says, “but maybe, just in case, we should see what it is?” After a deep sigh, they both agree to grab the ladder. It’s in a closet on the opposite side of the room from the vent. They carefully walk over, open the closet, and remove the ladder. Walking it back to the vent, D#7 accidentally kicks one of the still napping Deeps. “Hey watch it!” D#8 exclaims. “Shhhhhh! Don’t wake the others!” D#6 says.
As soon as D#8 sits up, from her perch nearest to the door, she scrunches up her face. “Do you guys smell something strange?” “No.” The others say, focused on setting up the ladder. “Ok, whatever.” D#8 responds. “I’m going back to sleep.” Now propped up towards the vent, D#6 climbs the ladder and presses his ear to the vent. There’s a short pause. “Now I don’t hear anything!” D#6 says, annoyed. D#7, holding the ladder steady below, is among the more patient of the Deeps. He says, “Ok, just wait. Give it a minute.” D#6 huffs and mumbles something under his breath, but he stays up on the ladder, trying to force himself to do something that he hates: listening to the Lights.
Finally, D#6 hears something, but it’s hard to make out. “The Lights are definitely trying to tell us something, but I can’t hear exactly what they’re saying.” “Tell them to speak louder!” Suggests D#7 from the bottom of the ladder. D#6 now speaks into the vent, “Lights, are you trying to say something? We can’t hear what you’re saying over here.” Silence. After another long pause, they can hear more faint mumbling through the vent. “Oh my god!” D#6 exclaims. “What the hell do they expect us to do? We’re trying to listen, but they can’t even figure out how to talk loud enough so we can hear them!”
D#8, who’d been trying and failing to fall back asleep, is now fully woken up by the noise. “Ok,” she grumbles, standing up now. “What the heck is going on?” The two Deeps with the ladder fill her in. “For Christ’s sake,” D#7 says, “I guess you gotta get louder too then right? If you can’t hear them, they probably can’t hear you.” The three awakened Deeps all look at each other and nod. Really wanting to get this over with as soon as possible, D#6 heartily yells into the vent, “Hey Lights! ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL US SOMETHING?!? IF SO, YOU HAVE TO SPEAK LOUDER!” With all this commotion, the last two Deeps begin to stir from their slumber. Wiping sleep from their eyes, still lying down, they both prop themselves up slightly on one elbow. “What is it?” D#9 asks. “Was someone just yelling?”
Before any of the Deeps say another word, D#6, on top the ladder, extends a hand indicating for everyone else to be quiet. Through the vent, D#6 finally hears the Lights loud and clear, “Hey Deeps! Attention! Hey Deeps! There is a bomb about to go off in the house! This is an emergency! There is a bomb! You need to press they emergency button right now!” “What did they say?” Ask the Deeps who just woke up. “Wait!” Says D#8, standing closest to the door. “I think I smell smoke again.” “Hold on!” Says D#7 from the bottom of the ladder. D#6 turns away from the vent and looks down to the rest of the Deeps below him. “Ahh…they said there is a bomb in the house apparently?”
D#7 immediately bursts out laughing, incredulously. “The Lights say there’s a bomb in the house? Ha! Typical.” D#10 actually looks a bit worried, she timidly asks, “But, what if there really is a bomb?” “That’s absurd!” D#7 scoffs. “Why would there be a bomb in the house? There has never been a bomb in the house before!” D#9 asks, “But why would they say that if there weren’t really a bomb in the house?” “Guys,” interjects D#8, who’s right next to the door, “Guys I smell smoke for real. I think it’s coming from underneath the door.” “D#8, shut up about the fake smoke ok?” Yells D#6 from on top the ladder. “Maybe one of the Lights is putting out fake smoke just to make us panic and think there’s an emergency or something. Did you ever think of that?” “Great point.” Affirms D#7, “We were all just trying to get some rest in here. And you know that the Lights just want to make sure we don’t get any sleep. They hate it when we get good Deep sleep!”
The Deeps all look back and forth to gauge each other’s reactions. They nod their heads. “Yeah, you’re right,” D#8 says, “they’re probably just trying to ruin our sleep.” She moves away from the door, and returns to bed.
Satisfied that Deep consensus had been achieved, D#6 yells back into the vent, this time with pure venom in his tone, “We don’t believe you Lights! And we’re trying to get some rest over here! We know there’s really no bomb in the house! Stop being freaking hysterical!”He looks down and locks eyes with D#7, who quietly gives him a nod. D#6 descends from the ladder. The three other Deeps are all laying down again. They’re awake, but soon to drift back into a Deep sleep. D#6 and D#7 attend to the ladder, collapsing it and quietly returning it to the closet.
Back over in the Light’s room, two of the Lights are now slumped over, oddly contorted, inert, on the ground near the ladder. The first to have climbed the ladder, L#2, the one who had finally gotten through to the Deeps, had started coughing throughout that process. The Light’s room didn’t just smell like smoke now, it was legitimately filled with smoke at this point. And of course, the smoke collects near the ceiling, right at the head level necessary to try to communicate through the vent.
After the Lights finally heard back from the Deeps, L#2, at the top of the ladder, suddenly stopped coughing. And then, she fell off of the top of the ladder. With a sickening thud to the floor, she went silent. The other four Lights screamed when this happened. Three of them started crying. L#1, without saying anything, charged up the ladder, and began screaming into the vent. “Hey Deeps! Hey Deeps! Listen! There’s a fire in the house! Deeps! You’ve got to press the emergency button with us right now! There’s a fire in the house!” Half way through these pleas, L#1 from on top the ladder, also started coughing uncontrollably.
One of the Lights who was still crying on the ground snapped to attention by the imminence of what they were now clearly facing. L#3 shook off her tears and spoke up. “Wait, guys, we should probably all stay off the ladder now, right? It isn’t safe to be up there!” One of the still crying Lights abruptly stopped and stiffened up too. “You’re right. L#1, get down! Get off the ladder!” L#1 from on top the ladder, in a final expulsion of terror-fueled desperation, let out one final cry, “DEEPS!!!” Then, another sickening thud to the floor. Two twisted Light bodies now encircled the base of their ladder.
The three remaining Lights were now all crying again. Through their tears, they were also arguing. Who should go up the ladder next? Actually, should anyone even risk going up the ladder at this point? If someone did go up the ladder, what should they say to the Deeps? Why weren’t they listening?
At this precise moment, all five Deeps were comfortably tucked back into bed. The Deeps were fast asleep. Well, technically, everyone that is but D#6, who was still trying to convince his brain to hush, so that he might peacefully drift back off into the comfort of the absence of consciousness. D#10 softly begins to snore. D#6 gives a small smile that no one is awake to see. Yes, once again, D#6 is finding it difficult to fall asleep. But, he trusts, it will surely catch up to him soon enough.
Back in the Light’s room, the three still on their feet are screaming at the top of their lungs. They’re starting to choke. They’re desperate. They’re terrified. The smoke continues to grow thicker.
Meanwhile on the Deep’s side, D#6 is the only one still awake. He’s awake. And he doesn’t hear a thing.