Johnny sat there with his head in his hands wondering just exactly how to tell the detective why he was holding an arm in his hand. Johnny had been picked up on the side of the road and was still trying to find his voice. He had not yet said anything to the police who picked him up or to the detective. He was still trying to come to grips with what had just happened to him. The detective was leaning forward with his arms on his desk. A desk that was full of all the usual things, a computer, many files, pens, pencils, notebooks, a phone and all the other things the detective required to do his job. He had his pencil in his hands and was trying to get Johnny to at least give him his name, and at best explain why Johnny was holding his arm. Every time the detective moved his chair would squeak. The squeaking from the chair, the smell of burnt coffee, the low hum and flickering of the fluorescent lights were all contributing to the headache that Johnny felt coming on, nevertheless he began recounting his tale.
“You see” Johnny said, I was out taking a walk and as I rounded the corner, I tripped on something. When I looked down to see what it was, I noticed an arm laying there on the sidewalk. Thinking that it was beyond odd to see just an arm on the sidewalk I assumed it must be fake, some sort of prosthetic arm. There was no blood on the ground, and it was an entire arm from the shoulder joint down. I just assumed that it somehow got separated from its owner. As I bent down to look, I noticed that it was not a prosthetic arm, but I was still not convinced that it was a real arm. There was no blood and it did not look like it had been cut off but simply detached. There were tattoos down the inside of the bicep. A bunch of little circles that were all different colors. And it looked like the arm had a watch on it, but it too was a tattoo. A very realistic one, but a tattoo, nonetheless. I picked it up and that was maybe the biggest mistake I have ever made in my life.
When I touched the arm it felt warm, and soft, smooth like real skin, not some sort of strange biomaterial. I was careful not to touch any of the tattoos and held it just below the elbow. The arm kept its shape, it did not flop around, it was stiff, but not hard. As I looked closer at the tattoos on the bicep, I noticed that there were tiny symbols written around each circle. I had no idea at the time what they meant, but I could now see that they were starting to glow and get brighter. My eyes would have been glued to them if not for the beeping that started. Softly at first then getting louder every second. This naturally drew my attention away and I glanced at the watch tattoo on the wrist just in time to see it flash 0:01 and then 0:00 and then everything went dark.
The detective, who had stopped taking notes several minutes ago put down his pencil and leaned back in his chair. Put his feet up on his desk, his arms behind his head and began to rock in his chair ever so slightly. Johnny cringed at the noise. Squeak-squeak. Squeak-squeak. Johnny expected the detective to stop him, but he never did. Instead his mouth hung slightly open and his eyes were wide with intrigue, disbelief, and wonder, but he kept silent, so Johnny continued.
Slowly, and in the distance, I saw a light getting brighter and brighter, heading right for me. I started to panic but could not move, and I could not see anything but the light coming towards me. As it got closer, I could see dark purples and blues. Bright oranges and yellows. Vibrant colors, like something right out of a comic book. Finally, I found myself standing on what can only be called a sidewalk as I have no other name for it, with this arm in my hand. I looked down and saw a body lying on the ground right next to me. The body is missing an arm, presumably the one that I am still holding. However, the body and the arm are different colors. The arm is a light tan color, like it had spent too much time at the beach working on its tan. Whereas the body that lay on the ground at my feet was orange. Not orange like a bad spray tan but orange, bright and vibrant. The body had blue hair and red fingernails. Its clothes could only be described as something akin to an old roman toga, a white robe wrapped around the body hanging from only one shoulder. Other than the strange colors the body looked like a human male.
As I began to take in my surroundings, I noticed that the body was not the only strangely colored thing. Everything was colored in a vastly different color scheme than I was used to. The sky was a deep purple almost like our night sky, but it was bright, around midday. The trees were blue and yellow, very tall and very sparse. Rocks were everywhere, giant boulders of red and orange, soon I realized that these were not rocks but rather they were houses. The ground was pink and purple spikes that twinkled as the light hit them. The sidewalk was black and fuzzy.
As I surveyed the scene even further it was more than I could handle. Strange wonderful things were everywhere. My mind had a hard time processing everything that I was seeing. The air smelled like it had just rained, but nothing was wet. Then the beeping was back, and I looked down at the watch tattoo on the arm I realized I was still holding, and it flashed 0:02…0:01…0:00 and then a light shot up out of the arm and a holographic image appeared. As I studied it closely, I could see the person that was now laying beside me, except he was walking through what looked like a garden. Then from out of nowhere he began to clutch his chest and start to stumble. I could see him look around frantically, but it did not look like he saw anything. Then he looked down and his eyes got wide and he began to run. Out of the garden down the street and as it became clear that he was not going to make it to wherever he was going he stopped. He pressed a few times on the tattoos on his arm and then he began doing something with his watch tattoo and suddenly, his arm vanished.
As I stood there it began to sink in that this was a video of his murder. Not knowing what to do and as I was still holding the man’s arm, I decided to retrace his steps back to the garden and see if I could find out what happened to him. If I could find out then maybe just maybe when this guy was found dead and I was holding his arm, which by the way I could not seem to let go of, I would not be implicated in his murder. However, I had yet to see anyone else.
It turned out that the garden was just around the corner. There were bushes framing the entrance and as I passed between them hundreds of tiny butterflies with giant eyes took off from them. It was unsettling to say the least. As I made my way through the garden to the point where the man had looked, I spotted something on the ground. Not sure what it was I reached down and picked it up to take a closer look. As I examined it, I realized I had no idea what it was. But there was blood on it and as soon as I touched it a little holograph popped up and flashed some of the same symbols that I saw on the man’s arm. I had seen these symbols in a few other places as I walked from where I found the body to the garden. Just putting two and two together I assumed that they had to be their language, or more precisely their alphabet. Just as I came to that realization the tiny device got hot causing me to drop it on the ground. As soon as it hit the ground it took off out of the garden. As it did, I began to run after it. I ran for what seemed like forever, but it was probably no more that 15 minutes, when the tiny device came to a stop just outside one of the giant rocks that I had already determined must be buildings. It then sprouted a key-like appendage and slipped it into a hole that I could have sworn was not there just a second before, a tiny door opened, and the device went inside. I walked up to the door and started to knock, but before I could I was scanned, and some strange noise came out of nowhere, and a larger door swung inward, so in I went.
Not sure what to expect I walked inside slowly. There were tiny little devices, like the one I had followed, all over the place. Some were rolling on the floor, others were climbing the walls, they were hovering in midair and buzzing all over the room. There was a woman sitting at a table with her back to me. She had Long silver hair, which to my way of thinking meant that she had to be old. She was wearing the same brightly colored clothes as the man who’s arm I was still carrying. Her tanned shoulders were exposed, they did not have the wrinkles that I normally associated with old people.
I said “Excuse me ma’am. I was wondering if you could.” At that moment she held up a hand, causing me to stop what I was saying. She stood up and when she turned around, I noticed that she was not old but in fact she looked quite young. No older than 30 by my estimation. But what did I know I had only been in this place for a very short time and she was only the second person I had seen and the first female at that, for all I knew she could have been 100? She had deep purple eyes, and her cheeks shimmered silver. She was not wearing any shoes and her toenails were bright red. She came over to me and touched my face, ever so gently. My breath caught, and the smell of metal and oil wafted past my nostrils. There was something very calming and reassuring about her touch. She had something in her hand, it was flat and there was a cord attached to it. She pressed it to my neck and then reached around and tied it tightly to my neck. She then said something; I had no idea what it was.
She spoke again, “do you understand me know?” she asked. It took me a couple seconds to understand what I just heard but I nodded and said, “yes I do.” “Good.” She said, then nodded and walked back to her workbench, where she took her seat again. She motioned to a chair next to her and I took a seat as well.
She began to weave a story that was so amazing I was scared to even open my mouth. She told me that this world was all her creation. Everything in it was made by her. From the buildings to the plants, the trees, the roads, the sky, the sun, everything. Even the arm that I was holding was made by her.
As I looked more closely at her workshop, I noticed more and more things. I saw the wings from the moths I saw in the garden. I saw containers of eyes that had to be mechanical as they were moving on their own. I saw what looked like human fingers and toes, in all different colors. I saw arms and legs, not just human legs but animals as well. There were what looked like dog legs and cat legs and insect legs. There were circuit boards and wire everywhere. There were all different kinds of rolled metals to make coverings for her creations. In fact, she was working on one on her table as she talked. It looked like the arm I was still holding in my hand.
She said that being the only person in this world got very lonely and that she needed companionship. So, she created this arm that would come into our world. Once there, someone would find it and they would be transported back to her world. The unknowing person would be unable to put down the arm. You see she said “I have it programmed to show you the death of the person it previously belonged to and to guide you, to control you, to compel you to go to the garden and to see the tiny device that killed him, and to follow it here. Once here I have you.”
“I have you, what a strange thing to say. How do you have me?” I commented mostly to myself, but she heard it and asked, “where do you think that I get my companions?”
“I assume that there are other people here and you get them just like anyone would?” I said. At that she raised her hand up and looked me in the eyes. Her eyes looked sad and then I finally understood. I was not leaving this place. I was to be her next companion. By picking up the arm I had unknowingly accepted her contract. A contract that said I was to become her companion for the next 50 years or until she got tired of me, at which point I would presumably end up like the guy who’s arm I was still holding.
The detective closed his mouth, then opened it again and asked, “Since you are here, she apparently did not kill you so how is it that you spent 50 years with her, and it looks like you have not aged a day?”
With that Johnny’s focus came back to this world, to the here and now. Back to the burnt smell of coffee, the squeak of the detective’s chair, and the hum of the lights, and he said reverently, “You are right, I did spend the last 50 years with her. And it was amazing. Her world is incredible, so completely different that it was easy to spend that time with her. Did I miss other people? Absolutely! But once she sent me back here, it was like I did not age a day. I can’t explain it, but I know it to be true.”
“Then, why are you still holding the arm?” The detective inquired.
“Because I am supposed to place it somewhere for someone else to stumble across like I did.” Johnny explained.
And with that the arm fell out of Johnny’s hand and hit the floor. Both Johnny and the detective stared at it for a moment, then the detective bent down reached for the arm and vanished. Johnny rubbed his eyes, looked around, stood up and walked calmly out of the police station.