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Our hapless friend –let us call her Alice – has a prisoner – Bob – and a problem.

Here's the situation: for reasons that are too long to detail here, she must bring the prisoner to a distant location. Using the means of transit currently available to her, that will take at least 12 days. Given that's she's a black belt champion in martial arts and talented in many ways, while her prisoner is bound and not quite so talented, that would normally be a straightforward, even boring task.

As Alice's infamous luck would have it however, the prisoner --Bob-- is capable of entering people's dreams when both he and the victim are asleep. Under normal circumstances, Bob can fall asleep on command. While in the dreamworld, he has enormous power over his victims. It's unclear how vast the powers are, but they can certainly induce a state of confusion that lasts for days, a coma-like long-lasting stupor and maybe even death.

Needless to say, Alice would prefer not to be subjected to any of the aforementioned effects. While the effect seems to be tied to REM sleep, Alice believes that even a 2 minute nap or perhaps even a particularly vivid daydream could put her in grave peril. It is unclear what the physical range of the effect is. While Bob claims that he can enter the dreams of anyone he's ever met, Alice has reasons to doubt that. Alice's current best potential solution will be to tie him to a tree and walk a long way off and take the chance and sleep. This still leaves her with a lingering sense of unease, and she has asked us to try to come up with a solution.

She's already been on the road for 2 days without sleep, so a solution is needed FAST.

How does one travel for 12 days with a prisoner, when your prisoner can probably kill you in your sleep - IF you fall asleep?

EDIT: Alice can be assumed to be generally nice, and it would rather defeat the purpose of her latest adventure if her prisoner stood likely to die on the way back.

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Did you go with 12 days to intentionally break Randy Gardner's record of 11? Also, can Bob enter Alice's head if she isn't dreaming? – HDE 226868 Feb 18 at 21:52
Does "coma" or "unconscious" count as "asleep"? – Frostfyre Feb 18 at 22:09
So in short, Alice doesn't want to risk ever being unconscious at the same time as Bob, because even though there are possibly ways in which it could be safe she doesn't know what they are? – Rob Watts Feb 18 at 22:14
@RobWatts, Alice has prior successful experience with dream combat, but against something more like a machine rather than a full blown at-least-human-level intelligence. She would prefer to avoid the risk if she can. – Serban Tanasa Feb 18 at 22:16
I'm totally down for this challenge, but until I get a chance to brainstorm, I leave you with the solution: "I grab the guy in my dream. You see me struggling so you wake me up. We both come out, you whack the ----er and we got him. " / "Are you crazy, hit him with what?" / "You're the jock. You have a baseball bat or something." – Cort Ammon Feb 18 at 23:19
up vote 11 down vote accepted

If Bob arriving alive is merely desirable instead of required, you can put Bob in a situation that requires him to stay awake in order to stay alive.

For example, have him hold a grenade with a dead man's switch. If he falls asleep, boom. Something like a taser might work as a less-lethal version of this, with intense pain replacing the boom.

One way that this could work without actually endangering Bob is for Alice to find some non-lethal scorpions in the area and place them on Bob. Then, she tells him that this particular type of scorpion won't sting, unless you're asleep that is. After warning him that getting stung is so agonizingly painful that he'd likely be unable to sleep for days, she bids him good night.

She also has to make sure that she takes visible measures to keep herself away from the scorpions, and that the scorpions either won't want to or won't be able to crawl away from Bob.

Another thing she can use to her advantage is the fact that there aren't other people around. If there were other people around, she could hire someone to watch Bob while she slept. Because this is not the case, if she were to leave Bob tied up to a tree out of shouting distance of the road, chances are nobody would ever find him.

So she tells Bob the plan—he's going to be tied up to a tree out of shouting distance of the road. If anything happens to Alice, he's bear bait. She's going to sleep in the tree, allowing her to be close enough to help him if an animal comes by. Additionally she's going to secure herself in the tree by some method that she's not going to tell Bob. This means that she needs to wake up clear-headed in order to get herself down safely. So if Bob tries to make her confused so that she'll release him, she's not going to be able to get free of her securing mechanism without falling. The sensation of falling does wonders for immediately snapping you into alertness.

Of course, this won't work if Bob is suicidal, or if Bob considers the result of going with Alice to be worse than death or bad enough to risk death.

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A set of flashbang grenades would work fine, it would wake them both up if the "danger event" of Bob falling asleep arises. – Peteris Feb 19 at 11:15

Alternating sleeping patterns is key.

First, let Bob sleep for about 10 hours. Force him to sleep by giving him some sort of drug that makes him sleep. In the 10 hours, Bob is sleeping, Alice should travel as fast as she can. After Bob wakes up, Alice makes sure he is securely tied in place and gives him a drug that forces him to stay awake while she sleeps for 10 hours. Repeat over and over again.

Sure, it's not the fastest way, but it's effective and safe.

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If Alice has some friends in the British Army or DARPA, she can get a non medicinal prescription for drugs like modafinil which is used to treat narcolepsy.

Both the British Army and the Americans have been conducting experiments with these and similar drugs in order to see if soldiers and workers can remain awake for extended periods of time without sleep. As I can tell you from experience, trying to keep going in the field after 72hr without sleep is stressful and frightening, with the soldiers not being able to focus and prone to hallucinations (you really don't want armed and dangerous people wandering around in that condition).

Rather amazingly, treatments with narcolepsy medication allowed test subjects to remain awake and alert for prolonged periods of time, although I confess I can no longer find the links which said "how long". One thing which struck me at the time were suggestions that cognitive functioning actually improved as the experiment went on (perhaps being able to focus on a problem for more than 8 hr/day means your mind is capable of doing more work on the problem(s)), but there were also suggestions that long term usage be broken into a series of 72 hr (?) segments with an unspecified rest period to prevent the immune system from crashing.

There was also no reporting on any other adverse effects on the test subjects, once they were off the medication they resumed sleeping as normal.

For this journey, Alice simply keeps taking the drug and remains awake the entire time, drops off the prisoner and gets some sleep on the return trip via the 3:10 to Yuma.

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Drugs. There are plenty of drugs that can knock someone out into true oblivion. A lot of alcohol might do the trick and it is easy to come by, however, opium might be able to severely inhibit his abilities to function as a dream walker. There is a bit of difference between sleeping and being passed out or in a drugged stupor. Can't think coherently it's hard to attack someone or even think about it.

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Am i mistaken or OP said unconscious has to be counted the same as asleep in the comments above? – Erik vanDoren Feb 18 at 22:44
I wonder what a drugged-up dreamwalker would be capable of. Would they be ineffective, or would the dreams get even more dangerous? – ryanyuyu Feb 18 at 22:54
Either this would work, or make it a lot lot worse. Hard to tell. – PyRulez Feb 19 at 1:16
Presumably REM sleep is a requirement for dream combat as thus keeping someone from getting it could solve the problems. – Vakus Drake Feb 20 at 3:43

She makes him sleep when shes awake and uses whatever device you prefer (brainwaves when sleeping are different than when awake, a device could use that as detection method and zap the prisoner like a dog collar does) to keep him awake while she sleeps. Everybody get their needed nap, just at different times and she remains nice.

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If I were Alice I would hire someone (several if I had the means) and/or get some trusted friends to help. Many hands make light work, after-all.

These individuals would have two jobs:

  1. poking,prodding, and generally annoying Bob to keep him in an 'awake' state for several hours so Alice can sleep and rest.
  2. to wake Alice the INSTANT they can't keep Bob awake.

This comes with some problems, mostly related to the trustworthiness and reliability of the individuals, but after twelve days of sleep deprivation Alice's ability to rely on herself is going to be compromised anyways. She could limit her risk by only needing to truly rely on her assistants a handful of times.

Most other solutions run the risk of running afoul of Bobs particularly vivid daydream method of compromising her.

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Put him in a coma

A coma isn't the same as sleep. Hopefully he can't mind attack people when in a coma.

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I would combine:

  • When she is awake. Forcing Bob to sleep Bob.
  • Measure (EEG?) the sleep stage of Bob, if he falls asleep use a teaser to waking up.

This combinations has the advantages that if he behaves, you don't have to make him any damage.

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