I woke up to the sun on my face and realized I had overslept. When I looked over to my alarm clock it was frozen on the numbers 9:27am. It wasn’t blinking like the power had gone out so I assumed it was just broken. As I pulled the covers off I noticed that they felt heavier. I thought this was a little odd until I tried to pull my legs out. It felt like I had done a 1000 squats. What the hell is going on? I don’t need this shit right now I’m already late for work. I found a shirt and a pair of pants and quickly made my way downstairs to grab my car keys and whatever food was closest to the door.
When I stepped outside it was quiet. The kind of quiet you hear in the forest when animals are scared of something bigger or when the slasher in a horror flick is about to strike. The lack of noise was odd because I live in a busy intersection and there is always something or someone moving. I quickly dismissed it as the panic of being late set in. I got in the car and put the key in the ignition and turned. Nothing. Not even a little crank. Great, just great. The universe is really shitting on me this morning. At least I have the excuse that my car won’t start, even though I’m going to call over an hour late.
I walked back inside and threw my keys on the counter and pulled out my cell phone. I pushed the small button but it didn’t light up. Did I not charge it last night? Whatever, the land line should work. I tried that too but there was no dial tone. What the fuck is going on? Am I in a Twilight Zone episode or something? I looked over to the floor where the cat dish was and saw my cat Desmond standing over the tray. Maybe he knew a mouse was there and was hunting.
“You see a mouse Dez? Dez?” I said moving closer as he just sat there.
I bent down to pet him and he was stiff as a board. All his muscles were tensed. I tried to pick him up but he felt like 500lbs. I couldn’t even get his paws off the floor. Ok, something is really wrong here. No car and no phone to call the vet so I guess I’ll have to walk down there and see if they could make a house call. Luckily his vet is only a few blocks down the street. As I grabbed my keys and stepped back outside I noticed the air felt thicker. Not humid but thick. I started to walk down the street and noticed all the sidewalks were cracked. I mean not just cracked but smashed like someone had dropped a massive invisible object onto them. The squares looked like mashed up Saltine crackers.
It was only a 10 minute walk but I noticed I was already winded. It felt as if I were scaling a mountain. When I walked around the corner there were cars just parked in the middle of the road. There were people standing still like mannequins. Some were in their yard others were stuck in mid stride on the sidewalk. It looks like someone pressed pause on a video. When I walked up to one of bodies standing in place I waved. It was a man in his mid-thirties wearing a suit. It looked like he was in a hurry for a big meeting.
“Hello? Are you ok?” I said knowing it was a stupid thing to say because obviously everything was not alright.
The man didn’t move but when I looked at his eyes they moved just a little, it was so subtle if I had blinked in that moment I would have missed it, as a tear streamed down his cheek. Ok, I am definitely in some weird ass movie shit. When I looked around I started to hear little pieces of the buildings hitting the pavement and that’s when I noticed the roofs of the buildings had all collapsed. There was a sudden pressure in my ears as a sound boomed from the sky and a force came down like a heavy wind and the building shook and crumbled. It pushed me down to a knee as I braced myself with both hands on the ground. It lasted only a few seconds and when I could finally stand up it felt as my body had went through a rigorous work out. The air became thicker and I was having trouble trying to breathe.
What is going on? This is like some weird science fiction story. It feels like a messed up version of Groundhog Day except the whole time loop thing. What if this was a time loop that got stuck and time was literally crushing us? Yeah, I’m going with that. I have to rationalize this somehow. I remember talking about this in one of my college classes. They were talking about time and how if it were to fold on itself it would create a loop. What if that loop got stuck? But time doesn’t just stop. Does it? Maybe a time loop that freezes would create a pocket where time stands still? And why am I the only one who can move? Does it matter? Do I really care how or why? I’ll never really find out I suppose. I’m not a scientist and I’m probably going to be crushed so what’s the point of thinking about it other than to make myself feel better. I might as well stop thinking and try to make it to the vet. At least it gives me a goal to move forward. What would Bill Murray do?
Inside the vet’s office people and their animals were frozen on their seats. Some had smiles on their faces while their hands were resting on their animals heads. Some of the tongues were hanging out of the pets as they looked up to their owners. Seeing the people like this didn’t bother me but seeing the animals so helpless made me move faster through the lobby and into the back. I don’t know why I thought I was going to find someone to help it just seemed like what I should do. Who knows maybe I’d find someone who wasn’t a statue. Nope. Just more frozen bodies. I found my way into back where they stored the medicine. I didn’t know what most of them were but there was a small bottle of morphine. I grabbed it along with a syringe. If I couldn’t help my cat at least I could make him more comfortable if he was dying. As I made my way back onto the street another pulse, that’s what I’m calling it, struck and this time it was stronger. It flattened me on the pavement. The buildings around me started to crumble. They were collapsing from the pressure coming from above.
I hadn’t noticed it before but as I stood up I looked to the sky. It was an aurora borealis without the color. Just shades of off color whites. It reminded me of when you mixed extra olive oil in a pot of water so the pasta wouldn’t stick or like the thermocline we learned about in scuba diving lessons. In a roundabout way it was beautiful even though it was destroying everything. I guess I’m weird like that. I find the beauty in fucked up things. The pulses started to become more frequent and violent. It took me what felt like an hour to get home. I could no longer walk straight up. The force of the pulses had made me walk like a hunchbacked 80 year old. I managed to get into my place and fall on the floor. I looked over and saw my cat, who was no longer standing up right but had submerged beneath the floor from the pulses. Damn. This shit killed my cat. Not cool. I’m so beat I can’t even be sad. I can barely move my body. Guess I’ll be joining you in a little bit Dez.
I crawl my way back to the door and open it up and drag myself down the front steps. The pulses are increasing, like invisible jackhammers of air that are pulverizing everything around me. I struggle in my pockets and take out the morphine with the syringe. It took all my strength to get the needle out and into the bottle. I drew the syringe with what I thought was enough and then a little more just to be sure. I injected it into my arm as I lay in the middle of the street and looked up to the sky. The pulses were so heavy now that it was as if I was looking up at the most glorious hurricane. I couldn’t tell if the morphine was inducing visions or if I was really seeing what I was seeing but it seemed like a tunnel was forming from all the swirling in the sky. It came closer and I started to feel my body being pulled off the concrete. As I flew into the tunnel the light became brighter and brighter until I had to close my eyes.
“John, John? Can you hear me?” A man I didn’t know was saying sitting in a chair across from me.
“Yeah, I can hear you,” I said realizing I wasn’t dead but lying on a couch.
“You were thrashing around. I had to wake you from our session.”
“That weren’t no session. I wasn’t here but I’m here now. I went through that vacuum that came down from the sky.”
“I think you’re still disoriented from the hypno-therapy. Do you know where you are right now?”
“I know this story sounds crazy but no. I was looking up at the sky high as shit waiting to die and then here I am waking up on this couch.”
“What is the last thing you remember?”
“I remember going back for my cat, Dez. I wanted to help him but I couldn’t. He was already dead.”
“That’s odd,” the man said.
“Why is that odd?”
“You’re deathly allergic to cats. You have been since you were a little kid.”
“Bullshit. I love cats.”
“Another thing that’s odd is that I’ve never heard you swear. It’s as if you came out different. Someone I don’t know.”
“I told you doc, you are a doc aren’t you? I came from somewhere else.”
“That’s impossible. You were on this couch the whole time.”
“Jesus, haven’t you ever watched movies? Don’t you know about parallel universes?”
“Never mind. Can I go now? I have a lot of shit to sort out.”
“Yes. We are done for today.”
“Haven’t you ever watched Sliding Doors? Mr. Nobody? Coherence? Shit, I know you’re old enough to remember Cool World?”
“Are those movies? I have never heard of them.”
“Ok. I’m gonna leave now and figure out the weird shit that comes along with being dumped into an alternate dimension. It’s gonna be awkward and confusing but I have a leg up because I know it’s not my home and it is not a surprise to me that I’ll have to act like someone I’m not until this all resolves itself or if the genre of the movies I’ve described is right will resolve itself with some random cosmic quirk.”
“I don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about,” The doc said looking at me as if I stepped off an alien spaceship.
“Don’t worry about it doc. Catch ya on the flip side.” I said getting up from the couch and walking off into my new alternate life.