[10] Coding Humans: Dr. Quasar’s Nightmare; Snowfall

CODING HUMANS
CODING HUMANS
[10] Coding Humans: Dr. Quasar’s Nightmare; Snowfall
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[10 | Snowfall] Download or Read PDF

12/09/16 Journal: The semester is over, and I have successfully completed my course’s first teachings. I sit here looking out my window, wondering what the future will bring. Now that class is over, I can get back to my research. I was able to access some of the labs on campus during the semester and develop a prototype of my tranoquart mechanism. I am calling it the T.S.D. apparatus—that is, ‘Tranoquartian Space Detection.’ My only problem is inputting the correct equation. For the life of me, I cannot seem to figure out what the right formula is to make it work. I know that my experiment will work; I just need the correct equation. 

The snow begins to fall today. I hear that the city used to be blanketed with snow by thanksgiving, but nowadays, it seems rare to even see snow by New Year’s Eve. Such a sad turn in the weather. I really do love the snow. The two lakes here must be a sight to see when frozen over. I wonder what kind of physics they could be used for. My home is right on the isthmus wedged between them. The thin strip of land separating the lakes could act as an insulator between them when they freeze over. I imagine Nikola Tesla was looking into this when he was visiting Madison. Perhaps, the static electricity generated by the frozen lakes could be used in my experiments.

It has been an exciting ride. I remember back in my early twenties, just trying to scrape by. A high school dropout with a prestigious G.E.D. mixing up drinks at the local Chili’s. Now, a world-renowned physicist on the verge of winning a Nobel prize. That part may be a bit exaggerated but nevertheless, a doctorate in physics. In my own discovered field—something to be proud of. Since the semester is now over, I am debating a reward of drink. I have not been drunk since I moved in. I don’t know if I should risk it, but I do have a good month until the spring semester. Now is the time, if I am going to binge. On the other hand, I can use this time to work on my device. I could do it while drinking, but how often do I actually get anything done when drunk. I don’t know; some of my best work was amid drunken inebriation. When I got home last night, I noticed there is a bottle of scotch in the freezer. Also, my fridge is completely empty. I don’t recall ever buying any groceries since I have lived here. In fact, I don’t remember much at all. I must have been so busy my brain is having trouble latching on to daily memories. I did accomplish a lot with my device, but I don’t remember much else. 

Saturday 10:00 am

Journal 12/10/16 

To Drink or Not to Drink. That is not the question!

Yes, I am weighing the options. Last night I was too exhausted after I finished grading finals to take that scotch out of the freezer. Maybe because I know that the dark stuff is not the best choice for me. It was too late to get some Tanqueray. I have the next month or so free. I can drink if I want. I have nothing else to do except the work I want to do on my own time. I really shouldn’t drink; I know what the result will be. The snow on the ground is so inviting to the drink, though.  Overnight, the city has been covered with snow, which has yet to be removed by the plows. What a wonderfully beautiful sight to see. 

Saturday 10:30 am

This coffee is so delicious. If I drink, I won’t be having coffee like this for a while. Every time I drink, I cannot have caffeine. It feels like a spike in my brain when I do. The extreme fatigue of hangover mixed with the punch of caffeine makes for a terrible attempt to nap. No, I don’t think I will drink that scotch. I should just empty it out in the sink. Yes, but if I do, I may want to sip it. I don’t know. What else am I going to do today? I don’t have a snowsuit. I don’t really know anyone here either except for some students I cannot remember. No, I don’t think I will drink. This coffee is too good to ruin, and I want to enjoy my food as well.

Saturday 10:31 am

I think I want to drink. Should I wait until noon, at least? A Scotch on the rocks sounds really good, and there is nothing quite like that first sip in the morning after three months of sobriety. No-no-no. Don’t do it, man, you know what will happen. You will be blacked out by 3:00 pm and wake up days from now with an empty bank account and half the people you know freaked out. Good thing I don’t know too many people. Well, if you do so, you better delete all the contacts on your phone. The last thing you need is the dean calling you in, asking you the meaning behind the sexually provocative messages you sent to your students. That doesn’t sound fun. No, I don’t think I will drink then.

Saturday 10:32 am

(The snowflakes and Christmas just make my skin tingle with excitement for a drink. I will clean the kitchen a little and see how I feel.)

J.F. begins cleaning his kitchen. He starts with the fridge. And it is as empty as he remembered, right down to the bottle of scotch and a bag of ice he did not recall. “Hmmmmm”

(Hmmm, must be my lucky day. When did I put this ice in here?)

“Weeeeellllll, if that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is!” “Yes, never argue with God’s will, I always say.”

J.F. pours his coffee out of the mug, the only dish he has in the house. He fills it with ice and then tops it off with the scotch. Before taking a sip, he grabs his journal and settles into his rocking chair, angling it at the window to get the best view of the snow. He then puts the cup up to his nose, takes in a subtle whiff of the woody fumes, and sips the first sip.

Saturday 7:02 pm

Guess I need to get some more hooch. The day has gone by so fast already. They still haven’t plowed the streets. I wonder why that is. Maybe because it isn’t done snowing yet?

Saturday 7:03 pm

“I think I’ll go for a walk through the hallways to help clear my mind. I’ll go before making my way to the liquor store.  Or maybe I’ll go to a restaurant or perhaps both. I will start at the penthouse. Then I will walk the halls going to the end of each—taking the staircase down.” “Wouldn’t it be a better exercise to start on the ground floor and walk up the stairs?” “Perhaps, but I don’t really feel like doing that in this state.” “Let’s go to the elevator and go up to the penthouse.” “I wonder what the guys from the A.A. meeting are doing? They probably wouldn’t be happy to know I am drinking. What do they care, though? All they do is sit in that damn room telling the same stories over-and-over again.” “Seriously, if I have to hear Larry speak about Spooky old Alice, his kraut wife again—actually, I could listen to that old fart tell that story every day.” “He has perfected it over the years.” “Let’s see, he has probably mentioned that story at least three hundred times per year for some forty-some odd years now.” “Yea, a bona fide expert at telling that story.” “How does it go: Hell? Yea. That is how he started it” “Hell. Should we have a meeting? I’m Larry; I’m an alcoholic. Welcome to the senior downtown center – non-smoking – A.A. Let’s start with a moment of silence.” “No, that is how he starts the meetings. How does he tell his story? Something about being over 400 lbs. Oh, friend’s wife: oh yea, I cannot remember his name, but he called.” “No, Larry tells him that the bartender called him to say tell him what he said to his friends’ wife. Yea, Larry, the Manhattan double drinker who used to be over 400 lbs and said something to his friend’s wife. Then he fell asleep in the middle of Mifflin St., or was it, Henry? Spooky old Alice was a saint for sticking with him. He should have been dead a hundred times over, but here he is, 42 or 44 years sober, telling the same story every single day over-and-over again. I miss that guy.” “When was the last time we went to a meeting anyway? Didn’t he pass away?” “I don’t know. Doesn’t matter now. We are back on the drink.”

[10.1 | Later on]

J.F. finds himself walking like a monk with his right hand, gripping the wrist of his left behind his back. He has been walking the hallways pondering gibberish when he remembers he is out of alcohol.

(I need to get to the liquor store. What time is it? Why didn’t they put any windows in these fucking hallways? I feel like I have been walking this hall for eternity. When did I even go down a flight of stairs? What floor am I on anyway? I don’t remember taking the stairs or elevator to another level. Shit, I must have left my phone on the windowsill. I hope the cold air doesn’t ruin it.)

Just as J.F. needs to know the time, he looks up to see an elderly lady slowly walking down the hall. 

“Excuse me.” “Why, yes. Oh, you must be that young professor that just moved in. James, is it?” “Yes, that’s me, well, a few months back, I guess.” (Professor?) “How do you like it so far? Have you settled in, alright?” “As much as I can, I guess. I mostly work all the time, so I don’t really pay attention to it.” “That’s good. Keep your mind off it.” “Do you have the time, mam?” “Call me Marlene, sweety.” “My apologies, Marlene: do you have the time?” “Oh, you’re such a sweetheart, James.” 

The little old lady looks at her wristwatch. 

(What does she mean, keep my mind off it?)

“It looks like it’s about half-past nine, sweety.” “Shit.” “Something the matter, Hun?” “Oh, I must have lost track of time; I meant to get to the liquor store before nine.” “Not to worry. My former husband left me with an arsenal of liquor. You can help yourself to whatever you like.” “Really? That would be great!” “Come with me, sweetheart. I am on the ninth floor, unit 9630.”  

(What floor are we on? Wait, I left my place at 7ish. I had been walking this whole time? But I never left my floor, did I? How could I have been out here this long?)

Saturday 9:36 pm

(Have I been standing next to the elevators this whole time?)

One of the elevator doors opens instantly when Marlene hits the up button. They move towards it to enter. 

“Ladies first.” Says J.F. while putting his hand out to usher her in.

Just before the doors come together, he gets a look at the unit number adjacent to the elevators. The unit should read 6060, but J.F. reads 0606. (Must be my dyslexia kicking in.)

9th Floor

“Follow me, sweety. Down this way.” 

J.F. starts following the little old lady to the hall. When he comes out of the elevator area, he turns his head to the left and right, looking both ways as if to cross a street. (I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this hall or any other hall in this building. If I didn’t look at the floor numbers coming off the elevator, I’d never know which floor I am on. Wait. Where did she go?)

The lady disappeared from sight. 

J.F. recalls her unit number is 9630. He looks at the doors for the direction it is in. The first door in front of him reads 3000, then the doors to the left and right of it read 6000 and then 9000. The numbering of the doors then repeats in order, 3000 – 6000 – 9000, 3000 – 6000 – 9000, 3000 – 6000 – 9000. This goes on for as far as he can see. 

While trying to read the door numbers further down the hall, he notices the synchronized entries all have lamps perfectly spaced out between them, but one light is out. He figures this must be the lady’s place. 

When he starts walking towards the light that is out, something moves on the ceiling. He looks up to see a large trapezoid and the line that draws it breaking up into distinct shapes. The individual shapes morph into a series of rhombuses. They order themselves in size—spiraling outward—from smaller to bigger. 

The sight of the altering shapes makes him feel a bit dizzy, so he tilts his head and looks at the ground to try and recalibrate himself. On the carpet is another large trapezoid paralleling the one directly above it. He stares at it, waiting for it to do the same as the other, but it remains unchanged. 

After he stabilizes, he then heads back to the door with the light that is out. He only makes it a step past the trapezoid when he sees that the doors appear to go on forever, converging into nothingness. They come together like two mirrors reflecting an image off one another when placed in front of the other. 

J.F. again reads the numbers on the doors seeing that they are still repeating in succession, 3000 – 6000 – 9000, 3000 – 6000 – 9000, 0416, 3000 – 6000 – 9000. They all repeat the same, except for the door with the light out. This door is labeled 0416.

He had a faint reminiscence of this number. He wouldn’t knock on this door. He simply began fleeting down the hall, watching the door numbers switch 3000 – 6000 – 9000, 3000 – 6000 – 9000, 3000 – 6000 – 9000. 

While racing down the hall, he recalls a quote by Nikola Tesla, (The power of the numbers 3,6, and 9 would give one the ability to rule the world or something.” He wonders if this is related to the numbering when he trips on a half-empty champagne bottle. “There are still a couple glasses worth inside it. Wow, the bottle is so fat that almost half the wine can be held in it while on its side. Must be really old. Bottoms up. Fuck it, I’m gonna drink this. I don’t even know where I am right now. What happened to that lady?)

He pushes himself up off the floor on his knees and then moves to the wall and leans up against it. He then takes a slug of the champagne, and the bubbles expand in his mouth, puffing his cheeks out. (Thank God, it’s still cold and bubbly.)

After a few more swigs, he looks back up and down the halls, and everything seems to look normal. He then sees that he is sitting across from the door with the light out. When he looks at the unit number, it reads 6140. (What the?)

Waking Up

Eve and Eden find J.F. passed out across from his door, and Eden asks, “Hey. J.F., you ok?” while nudging him with her foot. He twitches a little and then looks up to her, still half asleep. “Rough night?” “You know how I roll, babe.” 

The moment he sees the girl and looks at her face, he begins fantasizing about what their kids would look like and how a family vacation would be together. (You can tell that no matter how many kids she has, her body will always be trim and worthy of every sexual act known to man.)

“Alright. Well, have a good day. I think your door is unlocked, by the way. You left it open all night.” 

The girls head off down the hall towards the elevators. J.F. can’t help but fix his eyes on their hindlegs while watching them walk away. (Wow. Their walk is as elegant as some wild animal frolicking through its natural habitat.)

A glimpse of the past

The night or nights had disappeared on J.F.; he isn’t quite sure what day it is. He pushes himself off the floor and then falls into his door landing in his unit. 

When he gets to the kitchen, he finds an entire case of Tanqueray gin resting on the floor next to the counter. The top had been cut open with one of the flaps bent to the side. He can see that there are twelve full bottles neatly packed between thin sheets of cardboard. (Where did this Gin come from? Why do I keep finding myself drunk, and what day is it? Crap. What the hell happened last night?)

J.F. pulls out his watch. He no longer has a phone and has no concept of this. There isn’t even a device in his place that uses electricity. The floor is cement, and the counters are littered with candles. 

When he looks at the chain-linked pocket watch, its small hand points a quarter past noon. He then slips it back in his pocket.

Without thinking, he pulls a bottle of gin from the cardboard case and walks to the window. He stands in front of it, gazing at the city from the sixth floor. He sees mostly flat land and small businesses about the lake. (If it weren’t for the man-made structures on the lake, one wouldn’t know where it starts or begins after a snowfall. It is beautiful to see the city under a fresh snowfall. Helps take my mind off of this awful feeling of dehydration.)

After admiring the winter beauty of Madison, he sits in his rocking chair and takes a sip of the gin straight from the bottle. The moment the alcohol hits his stomach, he becomes drained. He sets the bottle on the windowsill, between some half-melted candles, and then falls asleep in the rocking chair.

Circle of Time

Months go by, and the case of gin slowly depletes but never empties. Even though he is drinking close to a liter per day, there always seems to be at least one full bottle left in the case. Due to his constant state of drunkenness, he doesn’t notice that he has never left the building to get more alcohol and that the gin is continuously being replenished.

J.F. stumbles his way out of the room, hoping to run into the twins. He finds himself staring at himself in the hallway mirror. He has such admiration for his beauty in this drunken state. He gracefully stumbles over to the elevators while daydreaming of the girls across the hall. He fantasizes about them coming up to him and telling him how perfect he is and how they want, no need to have his babies inside them as soon as possible. 

He abruptly stops thinking when he realizes he is on the elevator and is no longer looking at himself in the hallway mirror. He is now staring at himself in the elevator’s mirror. He does not recognize himself. He appears to be much older and with facial hair. Still, he says to himself, “No kids. No relationships. Happiness lies within one’s ability to accept the unacceptable.” He hates that that had to be the truth for him—accepting the unacceptable. 

Reality

J.F. blinks his eyes and then sharply opens them as wide as he can. His mind is turned on as if a switch were flipped, and he wakes up from a deep sleep. He looks around the room and realizes he is not in his home; instead, he is in someone else’s home within the building.

An uneasiness comes over him. He doesn’t recall the day or year and can tell he is the only one in the place. He realizes that he is in his unit, but everything is backward like a reflection in a mirror. (Am I hallucinating? Where did that lady go? She was right there and then gone. Something about 3, 6, and 9. I don’t know.)

J.F. props himself off the mattress. He is still dressed from the night before. He checks his pockets, looking for his keys, hoping he didn’t lose them, but they are not there. He then looks about his condo and finds them sitting on the counter. He reads the unit number on the big one. “0416, not 6140.” (Are these intentionally reversed?)

He walks to the windowsill and looks out to see a winter wonderland filling the streets.

Reset

J.F. goes and gets on the elevator to head to the lobby. He notices an extra button B for basement that wasn’t there before. 

B   1 2 3 4 5 6

7 8 9 10 11 12

He doesn’t remember there being a basement in the building but, at the same time, feels as though he does. 

The elevator opens and rings, ding-ding-ding, ding-ding-ding. 

J.F. gets into the elevator. The doors shut, and he hears a ding, “Ding.” Then it starts moving downward without him hitting a button. He sees his reflection in the mirror while standing in the elevator. He thinks he looks old but then thinks maybe his vision is just a bit blurry. 

He walks out of the elevator and into the lobby. When he sees the lobby, a tremendous feeling of déjà vu comes over him. He then walks to Lena’s office, and a sickening pit in his stomach overwhelms him. He knows what she is about to say just as she asks, “How may I help you? Are you James, the James moving in today?” He doesn’t respond right away. He thinks he must be going crazy. He says, “Hold on a sec.”, and he walks to the vestibule and steps outside into the snow. 

It is daylight now, and J.F. doesn’t recall there being snow outside when he first came into the building. He realizes that this is not in his head. He did not imagine this repetition. (I wonder where JIM is. Perhaps he has the answers to this riddle. Only another drunkard could understand the situation at hand.)

Distraught and confused, J.F. decides to go for a walk around the city block to ponder what could be going on and how he ended up in such a situation.

He thinks he had gone for a light stroll when the sun starts to disappear, and he finds himself still in front of the vestibule, looking at his feet in the snow with no other footprints to be seen. He hadn’t moved at all; he had just been standing in the same spot for hours. He tries to take a step further but can’t. Seeing as there is no other option, he turns around and goes back into the vestibule and then into the lobby. He decides he will investigate the situation. He reaches for his phone to search the internet, but his phone is not there.

He is now standing in the lobby, wondering where he really is and what is actually happening. He has a faint recollection of a Christmas party that occurred the night before or possibly a few nights earlier but isn’t even sure what day it is. So, he says under his breath, “When in Rome.”, and walks to the mailroom to see if he has any mail. 

He slips the key into the hole, turns it, and pulls open the mailbox door. When he looks inside, he finds it is free from letters, except for a package delivery notification. He takes the small notecard, crumples it up and tosses it in the garbage, and then heads over and into the package room. 

Inside the package room are poorly constructed wood shelves dividing up the different floors. The shelves are all but empty. He quickly finds a fancy wrapped box labeled with his name. He impatiently rips the paper off. Inside is a wooden crate holding a bottle of scotch and two tumblers, accompanied by a note:

Dearest James Francis, 

I take great delight in sharing this fine bottle of 30-year-old scotch with you. Please find yourself present in the lobby after midnight to kindly share. 

Sincerely, 

J.I.M.

J.F. wads up the wrapping paper and tosses it in a trash can placed under the outgoing packages. He then tucks the wooden case up under his arm and heads out of the package room through the empty lobby, gets on the elevator, and makes it back to his condo.

Almost midnight

After napping for many hours, J.F. wakes up and prepares to head to the lobby. He is anticipating talking with JIM but wary about drinking the scotch after everything that has happened. 

He still has a faint reminiscence of drunkenness in him, which triggers him to want to drink. He thinks to himself, (It’s either get back on the horse or fall off it. Either way, it’s going to be a rough ride.)

11:52 pm

Ding, “Going down.” 

J.F. stands on the elevator, looking at the unit number on his key, reading 0416. He sees his reflection in the mirror. It is himself but older with pale, flaky skin as if he hasn’t had a drink of water in weeks. He then looks down at his hand, gripping the tumblers and scotch. His fingers are evenly dispersed inside each glass, with his thumb gripping the neck of the bottle. He sees his hands are also dry and flaky, and his nails haven’t been trimmed for some time.

The elevator begins moving without him selecting a floor. He figures it must be going to the lobby, since it is going down, but when the doors open, they expose a large room that looks like a retail clothing store. Racks of wardrobes stretch across the place. There are all kinds of strange outfits, from fine suits to opera clothing, top hats, and fur coats. (Weird. I must be in the Twilight Zone.)

He stands still in the elevator, not knowing what to do. Eventually, the doors slide back shut. As the doors come together, J.F. gets a glimpse of a tall spindly man walking around one of the racks of clothing. When the man sees J.F., he shouts out, “Wait, don’t let that door close!” but it is too late; the elevator is already heading back up to the lobby.

J.F. realizes he was just in the basement of the building.

12:00 am

Ding “Lobby.”

J.F. walks out of the elevator into the lobby. (There he is, sitting with his two little dogs.) 

JIM says, “Took you long enough. I have been sitting here all day.” J.F. looks at the clock on the wall to read it is a stroke past midnight, then chuckles a little. “Let’s crack open that bottle and have a drink. I am sure you have figured out something strange is going on by now. I should know; I was there when it happened.” “You were there?” “Let’s drink first. I will explain to you some things.” 

2:03 am

After close to half the bottle is gone, JIM brings up something about J.F.’s timewave device. He asks, “How is your device coming along?” “I am not sure; I don’t even know if I still have it?” “Oh, you have it. You just have to see it in the right reflection.” 

J.F. thinks to himself, (The right reflection.), and JIM responds as if he is reading J.F.’s thoughts.“Yes, the décor of this building was coordinated by a half-whacked doctor who theorized mirrors contain alternate dimensions and permit access to them. However, he was also a mass-murderer—something you won’t learn of until, well, just now, I guess. He used, or I should say, uses optics to hide the bodies—depending on what timewave one is on. I think you have met him by now or maybe not. Anyways, he goes by the name of Lyle sometimes.” “What?” “You don’t realize this, but you have been here for what could be considered an eternity. I am your older self, you see. Every year I’ve been here, I have aged one day, whereas you just keep getting bounced around in a circle of sorts. I have been waiting to see you. Well, me—for how long? I couldn’t say. You had created the timewave device and were successful but have no recollection of what you did because you were blackout drunk during the experiment. I have been waiting here for you to show back up. I figure the measurements of how long you have been gone would give us some idea of when you or I created this thing.”  “I see. I don’t know what you are talking about.” 

J.F. Takes off his glasses and looks closer at the man to see the resemblance. 

“Drink up, my boy! You gots to show me how you made this device so I can get out of here.” “What year is it?” “Don’t know. Seems like everyone in this place is on some sort of broken record. If you hadn’t realized it yet, everyone is constantly irritated and doing the same thing over-and-over—democratic behavior. Sometimes people leave the building, and some have been here since we got here. I think it has something to do with acceptance. They all seem to be struggling with accepting something in their life. Still, we are unique—we are not bound by the rules of this place except for, well, the being trapped part, which is directly due to our time-wave device.” “I don’t know what to tell you; I haven’t created anything like that.” (Is he referring to my tranoquartian space detection device?) “Exactly! You won’t even recall it! I only appear here when you are drinking, my boy. I think you got here a few years back. You were asked about moving in today, and then you got stuck outside, right?” “Yes. I thought that was a dream?” “Nope. You cannot leave this place unless there is a fresh snowfall. Even then, the only place you can go is that Tornado restaurant where you will see the same people that live here—that is, depending on what year you land. A lot of messed up shit went down there. You recall seeing the paper about Lyle?” “I don’t.” “When you do, remember that Lyle didn’t accidentally kill his family. That wasn’t even his family at all. His name is actually Larry, and he murdered Lyle and then pretended to be him in this accident. His objective was to collect the insurance money to live on. Now he is stuck in that A.A. meeting, repeating the same story over-and-over. He won’t be released until he accepts what he has done, but I don’t think he has an issue with the murdering part, but rather an issue with drinking that he cannot overcome. I have been here for a long time and have seen how this building works. The people here are attracted to the negative energy that the building conducts per the design you and Nikola had.  This guy Larry worked with you at some point either as Larry or Lyle. I don’t know for sure. I didn’t ever live through it. I am just a peddle to your rose of time. He has some information of yours from one of your notebooks. He kept it after the murder of Lyle’s family. I think you left it with Lyle or Larry at some point. I again am not sure. Just remember what I tell you so when it happens, you can prevent it. The information he has is how you solved the problem and found the correct equation to input into the device. At least I think he does. We need this information to stop this cycle. Drink up, my boy! Drink it all up! You have work to do.”

9:00 am

Waking up, back in his bed, J.F. has little to no recollection of the previous night. He sees the scotch bottle on the counter with about one drink’s worth in it. He thinks to himself, (Should I start the cycle over again?) and, without hesitation, grabs an empty tumbler on the counter, fills it to the brim with ice, and pours the last little bit of scotch into it. It only fills about a fourth of the glass. He needs the alcohol as cold and diluted as possible otherwise, the potent liquor may ignite a vomiting streak. 

He puts the glass to his lips, and the ice tumbles forward to them. He sucks in a few drops of the scotch and then slowly swallows with caution while holding his breath. Once he feels the warmness trickle into his stomach and it soaks in, it is safe for him to finish the rest without worry. 

He begins to recall his conversation with JIM from the night before. He debates in his head on whether or not it was a complete delusion or reality. He then finishes the last few drops of the watery scotch and thinks to himself, (I need some more alcohol A.S.A.P. It is daylight. The liquor stores should still be open.)

J.F. grabs his keys and heads down his condo hall to the exit. He opens the door and walks out right into his office, hearing, “Welcome back!” A young girl greets him with enthusiasm. “You need to get back to work on your research Dr. Q. You have been out sick for some time now. The board is starting to get concerned about whether they made the right decision giving you the job. Oh, and some guy named Larry dropped off these papers. He said you may need them to succeed in your mission.”

In a sort of autopilot trance, J.F. goes about his business without interpreting that he was just in his condo a few miles away. “Ok. Great. Thanks. I appreciate that. I am almost done with the prototype. I just need some time alone to work out the correct equations.” “Okee dokee! Good luck! Dr. Q. I guess I’ll see you when I see you then.” The young girl exits his office while leaving the door open. 

J.F. walks over to a loose brick in his office wall and pulls it out, searching for a secret stash of scotch he keeps in it. He finds a flask leaning up against the back soil resting next to his tranoquartian space device. He pulls the flask out, twists the tiny cap off, letting it dangle on a string connected to the neck just under the threads, and then takes a generous swig. He scrunches his eyes closed anticipating a burning scotch but an unexpected gin floods to the back of his mouth instead. He then opens his eyes while bringing the flask down to the waste level to find he is back in the lobby staring at JIM. “You gonna pass that flask this way, kid?” 

“What the. What’s going on?”

 

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