"F___." [A Short Story I Wrote in Downtown Denver]
In 2017, I took a trip by myself to Colorado. I stayed in a hostel in downtown where I met some fascinating people. One guy was from New Zealand, one from England, and another from New Mexico. One an adventurer, one a scientist in town for a lecture, and another in the U.S. Air Force. We all went out and got drunk and I faked a British accent.
I was only in town for 2 days and on the second day I had time to kill, so I checked out of the hostel and walked to a Starbucks. The writer of the James Bond books, Ian Fleming, once said he wrote best in places that weren’t his home. There’s a lot more to Ian’s thought there, but I only need that snippet of the story to tell you I took his advice and sat in a Starbucks and wrote.
I didn’t know what I was going to write until my fingers reached the keyboard. I threw my headphones on my head and put the first words on the screen that came to mind.
…and off I went. Today, I’d like to show you the short story that came out of this solo trip to Denver. Enjoy.
By Eric J. Kuhns
How did we get here? Good question. I’m not altogether certain. I can tell you when I first spotted the change.
I was sitting in my room watching an online video. Everything seemed routine initially and then the sound un-synchronized with the picture. It was irritating. I refreshed the video, but the same phenomenon took place again. I studied the most recent comments and I wasn’t the only person.
“The uploader must have messed up when editing or rendering the video,” I felt.
I recall getting up from my chair and wandering towards the kitchen. I needed caffeine, and I had purchased a cold brew the night before. This is when things became interesting.
I opened the fridge and grabbed the coffee. The liquid rushed to the opposite side of the bottle. It looked like a magnetic field or something was around my hand that afflicted only... liquid?
I jerked my hand back and leaned in once more. It happened again. I gripped the bottle into my shaking hands and swiftly threw the drink aside. I was not about to consume something that was demanding to run away from me.
My stomach felt uneasy and my head weightless. Was I about to faint? I refrained and gathered my thoughts while slapping my face. My mind insisted that there must be an explanation.
I heard a deafening screech outside. Not of a car tire, but of some sort of large creature, or at least that’s what I thought it sounded like. When I peeked outside, something profoundly different revealed itself.
The bark on the tree in my front yard and my neighbors were moaning. You could see holes that gyrated. The air outside became dense and oscillated between a moderate, caramel brown color and a fuzzy gray. There was a light in the sky, but no sun. Life outside seemed anarchic.
I dashed towards my room. Each step felt harder and heavier. I was suffocating in space looking down on Earth and suddenly... I wasn’t. I was back in my kitchen enjoying the drink I had thrown away. The liquid was no longer distant from my hand.
I’d love to tell you that this was all a dream and that I woke up or that this was me experimenting with an unfamiliar drug, but no. These were true experiences.
This all took place a fortnight ago. (I’ve always wanted to use that word.)
Each night that I fall asleep, I hope to wake up in an ordinary world again. After the first few hours, the news began to report on the phenomenon. This made me feel better. At least I wasn’t crazy, or if I was, so was the rest of the world.
The mad thing about reality falling apart or changing at a particular pace than we’re comfortable with is that our mortal minds were largely unaffected; unless you count the teleportations. From my experiences and others I’ve conversed with, when we return to a familiar place or we’re cosmically traveling, we invariably come back without even one neuron out of place, (from what we can tell.)
It looks as if animals are just as puzzled.
They’ve established a human death toll on all the major news channels that continuously climbs. Any day could be anyone’s last. The death toll changes names occasionally on the screen while numbers creepily turn to symbols and objects, known and unknown. Things are becoming more and more unreliable.
I’ve seen some horrific deaths.
One lady, or what was left of her, lay spread across 5th street in downtown. Half of her body parts were normal, but the other half had been flattened into newspapers. They became the pictures in the articles. Full articles were written in different languages. Some words didn’t even exist, I don’t think. I should perhaps mention that each day it’s been getting worse. Wait, did I mention that already?
I haven’t heard from my family in a while. They live in California and I’m stuck here in Denver. Each time that I pick up my phone to call someone, it feels like something scratches the inside of my skull and generates a noise like a fork being scraped across a dinner plate. I’ve learned to avoid trying.
When I’m not attempting to do anything or I’m not teleporting, I wonder who or what is behind this.
My only interpretation of the situation is that things are somehow correlated to one another. For instance: my phone calls. Each time I attempt one, I get the same result: my left ear melts halfway and my cat explodes. It’s a mess to clean up. After a few hours, I discover my cat sleeping inside of the sink or closet, alive and well.
One of the most renowned scientists of quantum mechanics died two days ago. His suggestion was that we might have collided with a neighboring universe. She explained that this new reality contained very different properties than our own. He also hypothesized that maybe the warning signs were there the entire time. Wait, was this scientist a male or female? Either the universe is fluctuating, or my mind is degrading; possibly both.
They asserted that galaxies are flying away from each other rather than falling into one another and that this universal separation could be at fault. A strong gravitational force from the universe we later collided with was what we all were experiencing when the scientific community would mention dark matter and dark energy. The other universe finally reached us, maybe? No one knows. I fear we won’t survive long enough to figure it out.
So, anyhow, now that you’re caught up, I hope someone will hear this. That’s assuming it doesn’t randomly pop out of existence or turn into a rotary phone that only makes calls to the 1600s where candy wrappers rule the world. Will it all really become turtles all the way down?
I’ll end thi- by sa---g my theory is t--t life f--ally evolved --t- - new st-te or mayb- it’s all -- my --ad.
Th-n-s a-e g-in- a-ry.