You have followed the same morning routine for the past 8 years of your life, but one day you wake up and suddenly the routine seems wrong. It’s as if your muscle memory doesn’t fit anymore. [Link to post]
“I turned right instead of left. I think that was the first sign.” He rubbed his forehead, as he remembered the loud “thud” he’d made when his head hit the wall. The young man was sitting in his living room. He was sitting uncomfortable and alone in a brown suede loveseat. Across from him, on the other side of a small dark wood coffee table sat the woman who knocked on his door minutes ago. The bright daylight streaming in through the blinds illuminated her, while her companions somehow managed to stay in shadow.
“Tell me everything about it.” She encouraged him, seemingly sincere. “You can trust me.” She was sitting upright, with her legs crossed at the ankle. Her hands rested delicately on her knees. The young man wasn’t afraid of her. It was the two large men that accompanied her that concerned him. He had seen a flash of a gun when they entered his house, but they didn’t seem to be threatening him. He wondered if they were failing at politely concealing their weapon, or excelling at giving him a subtle show of force.
“When I woke up this morning. It took longer than usual for my head to clear. Even as I left my room, my mind wasn’t completely awake and my body was on autopilot. Force of habit, I turned right instead of left.” The young man’s hand wandered up and began to stroke his dark brown goatee, as he remembered the day he had. He realized he was growing hungry. There was a faint scent of vanilla in the air, it reminded him of cookies.
“And that was… different?” She chose her words carefully as she interviewed him.
“Well,.. I mean yeah! Look, that’s my room over there.” He stood up slowly, not wanting to alert her companions. He pointed down the hall to the left of the living room. There was a door there at the end, on one side of the narrow hall.
“And you turned right as you exited that room? But, there’s a wall there.” Her tone was clinical. She wasn’t accusing him, or worse, mocking him.
“I KNOW!” He let himself fall back into the chair, exasperated. “I’ve lived here 10 years. I know there’s a wall there…”
“You said you thought that, that was the first sign. What else happened?” Her sharp green eyes held his. She was a beautiful woman with delicate features. She wore her dark brown hair in tight bun. She was beautiful. He would have liked to get her know better, but her demeanor left no doubt that she was completely focused on her work.
“Well.. I laughed that off and went about starting my day. I had some errands to run today, so when I was ready I hopped into my car. Then my music started.” He paused here, waiting to see if she said anything. He knew he was getting close to the point that began her involvement. He just didn’t know where exactly that point was.
She stared at him with emerald eyes, but gave nothing away. “I pulled out of the driveway, and began singing along to the music. You know how when you sing along with a song you know and love, you dance? Maybe not all out dancing, but your body moves with the music. You tap your thumbs on the steering wheel with the beat. Just little things like that. I didn’t do any of that. I was singing the words..but my body refused to accept it. I just sat there, limp, while I sang. It was so disconcerting, I had to turn off the music altogether. “ He paused, gathering his thoughts some more. His body fidgeted around as he remembered the uncomfortable feeling.
She waited patiently for him to continue. “I pulled into a parking lot, and just sat there for a few minutes. I turned the music back up, and tried to focus on what was happening. I let myself sing along. I felt like the lyrics were being shoved into my mind, but my body still didn’t recognize the music. There was no feeling in my words. I felt like I was just reading something aloud, and very monotone. I grew severely uncomfortable, so I turned it off again. The moment I turned it off, a name whispered in my mind, briefly. It seemed like something familiar, so I held onto it. The memory tried to fade, it was slippery, but I grabbed on to it and pulled it to the forefront of my mind. I focused on it, burned it into my mind so it wouldn’t fade anymore.” The young man was leaning back now, and had his eyes closed as he related the story.
“I grabbed my phone, and texted a friend of mine. I’ve known her for about 15 years, so we’re pretty good at reading each other. She would know I wasn’t trying to pull her leg. So I sent off a text. I asked her where I could find music by -”
“That’s what caught our attention. You don’t need to say the name. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. But, that’s why we’re here. That single text lit up a non-trivial amount of red flags for us. I was already on my way here within 20 minutes of you sending that text. I just wanted you to know where we stepped in. Please, continue.” She was quiet again, as quickly as she interrupted.
“Well. Yeah, I sent that text. She asked me who I was talking about.. and.. well I’m sure you know the entirety of that exchange, so I don’t need to go into it.” The woman lightly nodded.
“I forgot about the errands I had set out to do, and just raced home. I got to my computer and searched for… well, that name. There was nothing. Like he never existed. I was sitting in my chair, dazed. That’s when I heard the doorbell ring, and that was you.”
“You’re not the first one. I just want you to know that. You’re not alone.” The beautiful young woman rose from her seat. This meeting was drawing to a close.
“You’ve fallen through the cracks, somehow. You’ve ended up somewhere you don’t belong.” She gestured to her armed companions, and the young homeowner panicked slightly.
“Wh- what happens now? Are you going to kill me?” His eyes watered slightly at the thought of not getting to do things he wanted to do. He wanted to see and experience new things.
She smiled. Her eyes softened slightly, and she shook her head. “No. We can’t do that.”
“Can’t? As in.. you don’t have permission, yet?” He rose quickly from his seat with as much defiance as he could muster.
The young woman covered the distance between them, and took his hand in hers. Her pale skin was soft. Being close to her, the beautiful vanilla scent grew stronger. “Can’t. As in.. we lack the ability. You don’t belong here, Mr. Monroe. I said that just a moment ago, but do you completely understand what’s happened here?” Her eyes were warm, and he felt sympathy in her hands. “This entire universe is rejecting you. It will refuse to grant you rest.” She let his hand go, and made her way to the front door. “We don’t know how, we might never know how. But it’s happened, and like I said, you’re not the first. You have two choices. Come with me, join us and add your knowledge to our system. Help us be ready to find others like you, when it happens.” She left an extended pause here. Mr. Monroe felt like she was giving him time to jump on the first option right away.
“…Or you may stay here. Live the rest of your eternal life like a prisoner. All your communications, travels, everything will be closely monitored. We can’t have you spreading knowledge not native to this universe. It would only make it harder for us to identify genuine incidents, if everyone was searching for.. say, your pop star for example. Or any other criteria we use that you might spread accidentally. If you become too much of a nuisance, we won’t hesitate to make you an actual prisoner. Eternal life in a cell.. that’s enough to drive you mad. Trust me.”