“Think,” he told himself as he desperately looked for clues, “how did I get here?”
He could vaguely piece together his path as a disgusted shopper unknowingly kicked his sock under a duvet display. He feebly covered himself with a nearby pillow promising this would be the last time he drank on Christmas.
Deep in space, somewhere between Ornok’s Nebula and Gnorlem’s Blazar, sat a dismal excuse for a ship. Stretching no longer than a short ranged cruiser, and built by blind gelatinous orbs, it loosely resembled a decomposing whale; both inside and out. It was here Brian sat, in the captain’s chair, waiting for anything to happen.
It had been 748 hours since his ship last moved, confirmed by a horrid grandfather like clock hanging from what could only be described as the vessel’s blow hole. As Brian sat in his large, lumpy chair he pondered some of his larger decisions in life. Was he happy with his choices in life? Did he do the best he could? Did the police enjoy his lunch? Should he have told his wife and kids he was leaving? Was that a ping?
He stopped, mid sentence, knowing completely what he had been looking for his whole life. It wasn’t love or companionship, having or not. It wasn’t his sense of being, or knowing, or privacy, or lust. It wasn’t feeling welcome, or home, or having fancy things. It was what he had always taken for granted while it was slowly being drained away. It was plain and simple and absolute; Joy.
After another long day of disgruntled employees and angry customers, Charlie wanted nothing more than to sink into his very old, acquired couch and dive into some nondescript video streaming. Unfortunately, upon arriving in his living room, the couch had somehow vanished.
A little history on the acquisition of the couch: it had appeared the morning after Charlie moved into his place, lodged vertically between his bedroom and the living room. After an almost fruitless struggle, he had managed to position it right side up and paralleled to his tv. Figuring no one with sinister intentions would bother smuggling a couch into a strangers apartment, Charlie took full advantage of his resting place.
Charlie had become rather found of his old couch. Although not pleasing to the eye, it’s comfort surpassed all expectation. So, like losing a beloved pet, he hit the pavement. Charlie didn’t really know where to start looking, so he just walked. He also didn’t know if he should call for it, so he didn’t. He did, however, ask all who he passed if they had seen his couch, which made him feel slightly awkward.
Charlie eventually found it at the intersection of Main and 1st. Once a busy intersection, it was rarely used due to a failed attempt at making it more pedestrian friendly. The local municipality decided it was a good idea to extend the cross walk to a cross square, encompassing the entire intersection for a good 5 minutes; it was not. Everyone (especially pedestrians) made this point very clear. Most avoided it at all cost as a silent protest.
As Charlie stood on the corner, waiting for the walking man, he noticed that the traffic lights were green in all directions. A definite problem for even a modestly busy intersection, but due to the protest he wasn’t too worried. What happened next seemed to flash before his eyes: 4 identical cars driving at blinding speeds drove head first into Charlie’s beloved couch.
All that was left after the fire and smoke was 4 identical men, 7 tires, and a couch sized burn mark on the pavement. The men, appearing to be inexplicably unscathed, began arguing over who was at fault while Charlie tried to properly process his loss. Figuring the 4 men could witness themselves, and not wanting to get wrapped in another lengthy insurance investigation, he left.
Mr. Johnson sat at his desk eager for someone to open his squeaky door. It had been a rather boring day and the thought of a young intern or, better yet, a valued employee disturbing his taskless day with a meaningless problem was irresistible.
It was Johnson’s job to fix problems, both before and after they happened. He did this quite effectively; which was subsequently reflected in his pay. These problems were fixed by first yelling, then screaming, followed closely behind by unforgivable name calling. Once the initial verbal assault was over, he would get to work and find the best solution.
Johnson figured that by instilling fear on all entering his room, no one would make mistakes in the first place. So, borrowing from Pavlov, he never oiled the door. Every time his underlings heard the squeak they would work like meticulous animals in hopes not to be the next prey. He was, of course, entirely correct with his theory and the door had been an effective tool.
Which is why Johnson sat alone and bored at his desk.
Susan finished pouring herself a cup of coffee when she heard a knock at the door. She opened it to find a smartly dressed police officer standing at attention.
“Susan O’Harrison?” he asked in his most polite yet official voice.
“I’m going to need you to come with me. Your husband has been involved in an accident. We need you to come claim him.”
“He’s dead?” Susan gasped.
“No, he’s fine.”
“Then why do I need to claim him?” She asked. “And why do I need to “claim him”? Why didn’t you just drop him off?”
“That’s kind of the problem. You see, we don’t really know how the accident happened. It’s just… inconceivable. All four cars, or at least we think there were four, have somewhat disintegrated. We only think there were four from the four people who are all claiming to have driven. That and we found seven tires.”
“Are the other drivers ok?
“Yes, like we said he’s fine.”
“I know about my husband,” Susan replied, “I meant the other drivers.”
“Well, that’s what makes this… inconceivable. They were all your husband.”
Susan took a sip of her coffee, wondering how rude it would be to just go back to her paper. She figured this was another one of her husband’s sick jokes.
“I realize you probably don’t believe me. Trust me, I didn’t believe it either. But they are all your husband. Same look, same clothes, same identification. We were just hoping you could come down and see for yourself. Maybe you can find the real one, and if not… just take one off our hands.”
Susan grabbed her purse and her mug and hopped into the front seat of the police cruiser. They drove in relative silence to the crash. It was there Susan was forced to believe the cop. Four men, who looked exactly like her husband, stood around what appeared to be sofa sized burn mark on the road.
Susan realized this was not going to be easy, nor end quickly. She looked over at the officer.
“Do you have any donuts?”