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Shift Work Disorder

Braaiiiiiiins! I need to feed,
I must find some brains to eat.
Are you using yours?

“Do you have a health plan?” Andrea asked, sitting primly, back straight, with her hands folded neatly in the lap of her best (actually only) skirt. 

“Absolutely!” exclaimed her would-be boss, “Once a year we send you through airport security to get a free full-body examination.  The nice TSA man will inform you if he finds any suspicious lumps.”


“If you mention al Qaeda, you can get a free colonoscopy.”

No health plan, thought Andrea, mentally checking that one off her list of things to ask at the interview. 

“Do you have a retirement plan?”

“Absolutely!  Our retirement plan is to work you to death.”

Andrea took about one nanosecond to make her decision.  In this economy, who could be picky?

“I’ll take it!” she exclaimed, feigning enthusiasm, “When do I start?”

“There’s your desk,” said her boss, pointing to a battered gray metal desk with a teetering four-foot-high stack of papers in the IN box, “You’re three days behind already.  Get busy!  What are you doing just sitting there?”

“What you need is some New Vigilance,” Andrea’s boss said, shaking her awake, “works for me!”

“Umm…  Does the company health plan pay for – oh, never mind,” said Andrea, blearily, “let me see that bottle.”

NEW VIGILANCE is a prescription medicine used to improve wakefulness in adults who are very sleepy due to one of the following diagnosed sleep disorders:


obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

shift work disorder (SWD)

NEW VIGILANCE is a federally controlled substance (C-IV), so use NEW VIGILANCE only as directed and keep in a safe place to prevent misuse and abuse.  It is against the law to sell or give NEW VIGILANCE to another person.

“What’s this about it being against the law to sell or give…?”

“Want some?”

“Umm…  Are there any side effects?”

Stop taking NEW VIGILANCE and call your doctor right away or get emergency help if you get any of the following serious side effects:

Mental (psychiatric) symptoms, including: depression, feeling anxious, sensing things that are not really there, increase in activity (mania), thoughts of suicide, aggression, uncontrollable desire to eat people’s brains, other mental problems.

Symptoms of a heart problem, including: chest pain, abnormal heart beats, and trouble breathing.

Common side effects of NEW VIGILANCE are headache, nausea, feeling nervous, stuffy nose, diarrhea, back pain, feeling anxious, trouble sleeping, dizziness, cannibalism, and upset stomach.

“I’ll take it!” exclaimed Andrea, grabbing at the bottle, “this will really help me with my shift work disorder?”

“Absolutely!  SWD is a big concern these days!  I read about it on the internet – it’s increasingly common among salaried workers.”

Andrea’s boss lurched across the office, blood and brains hanging in streamers from his mouth, his shirt stained bright red.  He clutched a dripping office stapler in one hand.

Andrea hid under her desk, hugging her knees.  This was so not what she wanted to be doing!

“Hide, just hide,” she thought.  She hadn’t taken any of the New Vigilance that she had been offered, but that wasn’t a problem now – being attacked by cannibals is remarkably invigorating – sleepiness was just not an issue for her at the moment.

But her co-worker, the nerdy guy with the Coke-bottle glasses and the pocket protector, tried to make a run for it.  Andrea’s boss caught him in mid-stride and dashed his brains out with a single blow from the stapler.  Grunting like a pig, he slurped the splattered brains off the floor and then ran his tongue around the inside of the man’s skull, licking up every last bit.

“Braaiiiiiiins!” he screamed, throwing his head back like a coyote, “I need to feed!”

“Special Agent Braun!” the Special Agent in Charge demanded, “what do you have to report on the – er – incidents?”

“Um…  They’re getting worse.  Incidents of cannibalism and – um – brain eating are occurring throughout America,” Braun reported, popping some New Vigilance pills. 

This was the sort of case that could make – or break – an FBI Agent’s career.  He had to try to stay awake.  There was just so much information to sift through!  He wished for more than 24 hours in a day.  If he could just avoid drifting off to sleep, he was sure that his deductive powers could locate the source of the outbreak.

“Were you able to contact any of the witnesses?”

“Yes… but they wouldn’t speak to me.”

“Why not?”

“The Bureau’s policy of never conducting business through e-mails put them off.  They wanted a paper trail of their contact with us.  I demanded meetings without informing them of the agenda of those meetings, but they wouldn’t come – I guess they are just funny about knowing the agenda of meetings they are expected to attend.”

“Harumph!” the SAC snorted, “I don’t know why anybody would be suspicious of the Bureau!  After the events of Ruby Ridge and Waco, don’t they know that we are from the government and are here to help…”

But his words were cut off as SA Braun struck him in the temple with his Blackberry. 

“Ruff!  Ruff!  Ruff!” SA Braun barked like a dog as he lapped up the SAC’s brains, then threw his head back and howled like a werewolf.

Andrea made her way carefully through the deserted streets, stepping over the rubble.  Her once-beautiful city now looked like Grozny, 1996.  How she had managed to survive the Plague of Zombies was not clear – just luck, apparently.  For a while the zombies had been everywhere.  People throughout the city had sat up at night, a shotgun across their knees, popping New Vigilance pills to stay awake in case of zombie attack.  But, recently, the attacks seemed to have waned.

The last thing Andrea had seen on her TV before the stations stopped broadcasting was the New Vigilance factory on fire, employees running for their lives.  Andrea shook her head in despair.  When even a nice pharmaceutical company, that was just trying to help the people get through this ordeal, came under attack, what hope did humanity have?

But, inexplicably, after that fire, the incidents of cannibalism had slowed and then stopped.  Scientists were mystified.  What had caused the outbreak?  Was it some sort of plague?  Nobody really knew, though everybody had a theory.  Bird flu?  Swine flu?  They just didn’t know.

The scientists were up all night studying the problem.  They might have solved it too, if only there had been drugs available to ward off shift work disorder, which was really cutting into the time they could spend on research.