“Good morning, Walter,” Erica smiled at the only person in the elevator. A well-dressed man in a black suit with a full head of neatly combed blond hair. They’d worked in the same building for years but this was the first time she’d ever acknowledged him.
“M-morning, Erica,” Walter returned the greeting, then remained quiet. After riding for a few moments in silence Erica nudged him.
“Hey, are you going to the company luau?” she asked. Walter vaguely remembered the luau being discussed around him, but he never paid attention. Luckily, he managed to remember the date.
“I’m thinking about it, but I don’t know,” Walter shrugged. “It’s not ’till the 30th anyway.” He hoped by sounding non-committal he could gauge her interest in the event. The elevator slowed to a stop, then dinged.
“You make it sound like it’s so far away,” Erica smiled as she stepped out of the elevator. “The 30th is tomorrow. I’ll see you there,” she waved, then disappeared around the corner.
“What? No way,” Walter mumbled to himself then dug into his pocket for his phone.
“‘Morning, Walt,” Henry said as he stepped into the elevator.
“‘Morning, Henry,” Walt replied while staring at the date on his phone: Feb. 29th, 2019. “Hey, Henry. What’s today?”
“You know you’re actually holding your phone, right?” Walter sighed then shoved the phone back into his pocket. He turned toward the short, round man; his friend since before starting at the company.
“Humor me, what’s the date?”
“February 29th. Yesterday was the 28th, tomorrow’s the 30th. That’s how numbers work, remember?” Henry chuckled and patted Walter on the back. “You okay, pal?” Walter started to shake his head, but the side to side motion transitioned into an up and down nod.
“Yeah, yeah. I guess I got confused for a bit,” he lied. He did not know how to explain what was wrong, but he knew no matter how he tried to word it Henry wouldn’t understand. “I was thinking February only had 28 days for some reason.”
“Ha ha,” Henry smiled and patted Walter on the back again. ” Must be nice living in August when the rest of us are still stuck in February.” The elevator slowed to a stop, then dinged. Henry stepped out and Walter realized it was his floor too. As he moved to exit the elevator a person wearing a hoodie and sunglasses blocked his path and joined him in the elevator.
“Excuse me,” Walter tried going around, but the stranger grabbed his arm.
“It’s the wrong day,” the man whispered. Walter stopped.
“What did you say?”
“Today shouldn’t exist.”
“Hey Walt, you gonna get some work done or not?” Henry called from outside the elevator. He had been waiting for his friend to exit. Walter waved him off.
“I forgot something downstairs. I’ll be back,” he shouted as the doors closed. Then he turned his attention to the stranger.
“Who are you? What’s going on?” The figure pulled his hood down and removed his sunglasses. Walter found himself staring at himself.
“I’m you from a different universe. The multiverse is falling apart,” hooded Walter placed both hands on suited Walter’s shoulders and looked him in the eyes. “You’re the only one that can save it.”
“How am I supposed to do that? Why can’t you do it if you’re me?” Hooded Walter sighed.
“Because you’re the one that started it. You don’t know how powerful you really are.”
“Okay. How can I help?” Walter asked. He felt special his whole life; like he wasn’t living up to his full potential. Now he knew he wasn’t and wanted to change as fast as he could. He wanted to help to learn how to use his powers.
“Get naked,” the hooded Walter said.
“You’re so powerful that you’re destroying the multiverse subconsciously. The only way to stop is by knocking you down a peg. We’ve got to embarrass you.” Hooded Walter pulled a clear plastic container from somewhere in his hoodie. There was a viscous brown liquid inside. Walter stopped undressing and took a step back.
“It’s chocolate pudding,” he grinned. “But from a distance, it’ll look like you’ve got poo smeared all over yourself.”
“Is this really the only way…?” Walter asked.
“No. We could force you at gunpoint, but I didn’t think that would be necessary. Is it going to be necessary?” Hooded Walter asked with a raised eyebrow. Walter shook his head and continued to undress. Once he was naked he grabbed the container of pudding and smeared it all over himself.
“Okay, good. When the doors open you need to run out of the elevator screaming “I’m a little teapot” okay? Run out of the elevator, around the office, then back into the elevator. I’ll hold it open for you.” Walter looked at the glowing button for the sixth floor.
“That’s Erica’s floor,”
“The multiverse is in danger and you’re worried about your crush? You’re not even in your universe, she’s not the Erica you know.”
“Will I ever get back?” Walter asked as the elevator slowed down.
“Yes. Once you fix everything you’ll be back in your own universe. Get ready!” The elevator dinged and the door started to open. Hooded Walter pushed Naked Walter out the door. “GO!” Naked Walter immediately took a sharp right turn and started running.
“I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT SHORT AND STOUT!” As his voice grew more distant the elevator doors closed. A black portal appeared next to hooded Walter then an older, bald man stepped out. He looked up at the security camera in one corner and waved.
“Masterful prank! For you folks watching at home, here’s something you might have missed.” The bald man gestured at the elevator door with his thumb. “Walter IS back in his home universe. He’s running around his own office naked, slathered in pudding. Isn’t that hilarious?” He and Hooded Walter chuckled. “Well, that’s it for today’s episode of the Zero Hour! We’ll see you next time.” Another black portal opened and both men walked through it.