Stranger and Stranger (5-28-18)

[WP]Everyone switches physical location with another random human every 24 hours. [Link to post.]

“Reminder: Global Swap in 30 minutes. Please make the necessary arrangements,” Rothe’s personal node, a thin, small, transparent rectangle of glass reminded him. He dismissed the on-screen notification with a swipe and sighed. 

Just enough time for a shower,” he decided. He forced himself to get out of bed, and took the time to make it up again for the next person. While he showered he tried to plan his day, a challenge in itself. No one knew when the Global Swap began, but Rothe knew the world adapted before he was born.  Rumors abounded about a time before the swap, but that world sounded horrible to him. He finished his shower, and left the bathroom as clean as he could, then dressed himself with enough time to leave something for the next person.  He sat down at the breakfast bar and began to record himself with the community node. 

“Good Morning, stranger! Because you’re in the Central Time Zone now. My name is Rothe Lewis, before me was Astrid Bale. No work to speak of,” Rothe smiled. “So enjoy your day off, stranger.” He glanced at the time: 6:29 a.m. “OH! I’m sorry I didn’t have time. There’s a cat here named Chairman Meow, feed him please.” He set the node down on the breakfast bar, then blinked. 

He opened his eyes seated in front of a small red table at an outdoor cafe. He looked around and smiled at everyone else getting their bearings. He grabbed the node sitting on the table in front of him and hit play. They smiled in return. 

“Afternoon, stranger,” An overweight, balding man said with a smile. “I’m Patrick Garza, before me was Jason Struthers. You’re on your lunch break now. Like always, the node will show you how to get back to the office, and to tonight’s bed after. Work is easy, it’s just data entry. Good luck out there stranger, don’t hesitate to call me or any of the others if you have a question.” Patrick waved and the recording ended. Rothe brought up the contacts menu to see if he recognized any names. He smiled when he saw Astrid Bale’s name at the top of the list.  He decided to call. 

“Hey, stranger,” she answered. “How can I help you?” 

“Hey, Astrid. It’s me, Rothe Lewis, I took your spot yesterday?”

“OH! Hey Rothe, I remember you. Where did you find yourself today?” he looked around and recognized the Eiffel Tower in the distance. 

“France it looks like,” he said. “Hey. I gotta get to work apparently, but I wanted to call you and say hi. Can I call later in the evening? I’d like to chat with you some more and get to know more about you.” 

“Sure! Though fair warning, I’ll be working by then,” she replied with a definite smile in her voice. “It might be kind of hard to talk, but we can text.” 

“Nice, it’s a plan,” Rothe stood from his table to make his way back to work. “I’ll talk to you later, Astrid.”

“Bye, Rothe,” she said. He smiled when she used his name. He hung up the call and used the node to navigate his way back to work, then check in with security.

“Hi stranger,” the guard said. “Node?” he asked for the community node left behind by Patrick. It identified Rothe as his replacement. Rothe handed the node over, and after a quick swipe through a machine the guard handed it back with a second one. “Glad to have you, stranger. Here’s your assignment.” Rothe accepted both nodes then walked to the elevator.  He found his desk, inserted the node into the computer and got right to work. He’d done a lot of data entry over the years, and knew exactly what he was doing. 

After his shift he made his way to his bed for the night. The node guided him to an apartment on the 40th floor, halfway up the tallest building he’d ever been in. He opened the door to find a lush living room with elegant marble floors, wide open spaces, and almost a jungle’s worth of houseplants. 

“It’s gonna be a great night,” Rothe smiled to himself then scouted the kitchen. The large stainless steel fridge was loaded, and all the expiration dates were still weeks away. He grabbed a soda then found the living room to relax. A faint noise from a different room caught his attention. 

Patrick didn’t mention roommates or pets,” he thought. Then he realized he almost forgot about Chairman Meow in the morning. He shrugged and stood to check the apartment for pets. He headed for what he thought might be the master bedroom. As he stepped through he noticed a beautiful woman sitting on the bed, as if waiting for him. He recognized her. 

“Astrid Bale, is that you? What are you doing here?” he asked. She looked up at him with watery eyes. 

“Working,” she said. She stood from the bed and closed the gap between them in two large steps. “We need your help, Rothe. We can stop the G.S,” she said. Rothe stepped back from her. He loved it. Everyone was so friendly, and so community minded, he considered it almost a Utopia.

“What? Why would anyone want to stop it, the G.S.? It’s wonderful,” he said. 

“It’s not REAL,” Astrid replied. 

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