Sometimes in life you come across a big sparkly humming open void in the middle of your living room and you decide to walk through it. Sometimes in life you come across a big sparkly humming open void in the middle of your living room and you decide to walk around it and get a cup of coffee and a bagel. This morning was more of a coffee and bagel kind of morning. After pouring the first cup of the day, mixing in three spoonfuls of sugar and a healthy amount of pumpkin spice creamer, I turned and walked back toward the hole so that I could see where the edge of my normal life met the edge of this hole. Then from the blackness of the void appeared, in pops and flashes, colors that slowly melted into one another and beckoned me to drag my body into the terrifyingly exciting open space. I was both horrified and excited, and, unsure of what to do, I sipped my coffee, hoping that the heat and caffeine would provide a jolt to the senses to help me figure out what my move should be. Upon taking a first sampling of my morning coffee, it turned out that I had used too little pumpkin spice creamer, so I headed back to the kitchen to correct that mistake. I have never had a good day in my adult life without the proper blend of coffee, sugar and creamer. Too little and the coffee is too bitter; when it’s too bitter I can’t finish it; when I can’t finish it the rest of my day may as well be wasted. Too much has never been a problem. I can handle too much. With my coffee situation sorted, I turned back to the living room, closed my eyes tight, and opened them again.
The hole was still there. It appeared no bigger or smaller than before, but it seemed slightly louder. For a moment I wondered if the hole in my room wasn’t in fact a space but the lack of space, something that was meant not to exist but somehow managed to work its way into the place where my dog’s bed normally is. But it had to be a space otherwise it most likely would have caused destruction to everything around it, sucking everything into the vacuum of its existence until nothing was left but that which was immovable. Aside from a few pieces of hair which fell off of my head when I got too close to the hole, I was still intact when I came near the hole so I decided to tread lightly but steadily around it — but not yet into it. As I moved closer to it, hoping to see something on the other side, the sparkling mass, which used to be black and apparently motionless, appeared to fade into darker, emptier space, but with a swirling motion now visible. It was quite intriguing in its simplicity and I might have entered at that moment, except that I feared I might disintegrate if I stepped inside what appeared to be a tiny black hole. This swirling must have all occurred in only a matter of minutes, or maybe only seconds, and I wondered what it might be leading up to, and whether when it was finished doing whatever it was doing if I would still be able to enjoy my bacon and eggs and coffee with pumpkin-spice creamer.
My dog Barkley was looking through it but he was more skeptical of the hole than I had been; he sniffed at it for a moment, looked at me, wagged his tail, but ultimately walked back over to the kitchen to get a drink of water then went through the doggy door which led into the back yard. As I saw him successfully enter the back yard (sometimes he got halfway through the door, panicked, and returned to the safety of the indoors) I took a look inside the other world, imagining what wonders or terrors might exist there if only I would take a step through it. Instead, since I had guests coming over that night for dinner, I decided I better not enter into another dimension until at least later in the night. It would be awful form of me to just simply disappear without any notice. Then it struck me: how in the hell could I hide this hole from everyone? I had always been good at making up stories to get into or out of just about any situation, but this? This was something entirely impossible to explain. Would they be frightened if they saw it? Excited by it? Would they call the police, and have the FBI or CIA take over my house? Why was I acting on any or all of those thoughts? At that moment I imagined I must be in a dream and only now realizing that I’m in a dream. Any sane person would not be more concerned with their pumpkin spice coffee than an interdimensional gateway lighting up their living room… unless they were mentally unstable, dreaming, or a professional ghost hunter. I am none of those things; I’m a college drop out with a 40 hour a week job making $42,000 a year and who plays racket ball on the weekends. I closed my eyes, felt my way over to the couch, and went to sleep. Or re-entered the sleep that I was currently in, since I was obviously dreaming right now.
Re-sleep came quickly, and I entered into another dream about my dog Barkley being able to talk to me. This had been a recurring dream that I had had almost ever since my uncle gave me the dog, 3 years ago. As a child I always wanted a dog but was never allowed to get one since my parents were both allergic. When I got my first apartment, my uncle gave me Barkley as a moving in present. My aunt paid the pet deposit. Barkley just stood there, not sure what to do, and I took off his leash and let him look around the place. That apartment was a dump so I didn’t much care if Barkley made a mess of the place, but he didn’t. He was and continues to be a laid back dog. Whenever I was smiling, he would smile, the way that dogs do where you’re not sure if they’re smiling of if they’re just nervously showing a little bit of their teeth. Whenever I was upset about something, he would be there to give me support (or to have me pet him, but I liked to believe he was there for support). I often thought about what he must think about, and that must have made its way into my subconscious because I began having dreams in which he would tell me what it was like to be a dog. When we moved from the apartment to this house, he would tell me, in my dreams, about how much nicer it was to have his own back yard, where he didn’t have to share territory with any of the other apartment dogs. In this dream, he asked me to leave the TV on when I went to work so he could catch up on Days of our Lives.
I woke up to the sound of Barkley barking at someone outside. Worried that I had slept too late and had guests arriving, I bolted up and saw that it was only 9:30 in the morning. I rubbed my eyes and looked over to the middle of the living room and saw that the hole was in fact still there, and that I was not dreaming. I clumsily pulled myself off of the couch, still groggy from a slightly caffeinated thus restless sleep, and approached the hole. It still hummed like an old television set, but appeared slightly larger than before, and brighter. The majority of what I could see was still black, but colors were beginning to form from within the center of the space. Maybe it would soon fill with an ever changing mix of purples and reds and greens, and I could call it a light display for the party. A creepy, terrifying light display that threatened to suck all of my friends into a hell dimension. Or I could throw a blanket over it and just hope for it to go away, like I did with my SATs.
From behind me I heard another noise that sounded similar to the humming of the hole, and feared that another had popped its way into my life. When I turned around, however, I saw no other hole. I looked behind some furniture in case one may have appeared behind a bookshelf or a blanket rack and saw nothing except the wall and some tufts of dog fur, and a few dead bugs. I stepped back to the middle of the living room and listened again for the buzz but it had stopped. I thought maybe I was hearing things that weren’t there, but then it started again. I listened more closely and located the sound: it was coming from the couch. I dug my hands inside the cushions and found my phone, buzzing on vibrate, and a message on the screen that I had three missed calls from my girlfriend Alison. She also left a text message saying that she had locked her keys in her car and was stuck at the grocery store. I listened through the latest message, sent after her text, in which she said that since she could not reach me, she had to pay for a locksmith to come out and unlock her car for her. She did not tell me it was my fault, but her tone implied that had I been there I would have been able to have fixed this problem for her without the need of a locksmith fee. She would obviously be upset with me when she showed up later in the afternoon to help set up for the party and that did not even include the knowledge of the hiccup that is the portal in my living room.
Now driven to get rid of the hole simply to avoid having to explain it to Ali, I thought I might try interacting with it somehow. I still did not want to enter it, nor did I want to toss Barkley in there, but what could I do? What would the Doctor do? He was always thinking of something interesting in these types of situations; then again, he’s an alien with hundreds of years of experience, and I’m a young man with no experience with anything other than bullshitting my way through a clerical job. For three years I’ve worked my way up from a receptionist to an administrator at a toy manufacturing company. I don’t have any emotional stake in the business, but I know how to handle customers over the phone and keep records well enough to impress my boss. Much of the time at work is spent running reports, following up on accounts, organizing files, and taking calls. Since I’ve always been well organized, most of my job takes me only a couple hours out of my 8 hour days, and I have to create other things to do that both keep my mind healthy and make myself look busy. Quite frankly, I doubt my boss would mind if I slacked off most of the day, so long as I had my work done, but I’ve never liked doing that so openly. Typically I’ll have a notebook open and fill it with half-baked story ideas or character journals, but other times I’ll make the rounds in the office and catch up on what everyone else is doing. The former relaxes me and makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile with my life; the latter entertains some co-workers and annoys the others (the ones who are not well-organized thus always struggling to keep up with their jobs).
Jerry, who works a few desks away from me, and I like to take non-smoking smoke breaks and play darts in the lounge. Neither of us know the actual rules of darts so we decide who wins by who gets the closest to the bulls eye, along with who gets the most darts on the colored sections. Usually Jerry wins, because most of my darts hit entirely outside of the dart board. Jerry would be over for the party, and I was sure that he would be impressed with the recent addition to my living room. He reads pulp science fiction and fantasy books like there’s no tomorrow, despite being quite a large, fit, sports-playing average kind of guy. Nerd-ism knows no bounds these days, not like it did when I was in high school. I thought about calling him to come over early, and thought about what he might suggest we do in this situation. Throwing darts in the hole may be a possibility, but I had no darts at home. Throwing something into it, though, could be a worthwhile experiment.
I picked up my phone and hit Jerry’s number. The phone rang a few times, and he picked up, apparently having just woken up.
“Jerry, hey, it’s Sam.”
“Uh-huh. What’s going on man?”
“Ahhh… well, something’s going on. I don’t quite know what though. Would you mind coming over this morning to help me out with… it?” I said, not knowing whether I should tell him what ‘it’ was or just let him experience it.
“It? What the hell are you talking about?”
“I have no idea.”
“You’re weird, man,” Jerry said, sounding both annoyed and amused at the same time.
“No shit. So you’ll come over?”
“Is this like, are you having problems with Alison again, or… feeling, things?”
“Huh? Uh, no, nothing like that. I don’t need you to Dr. Phil me or anything. There’s just a problem, thing, in my living room. I thought you could, you know, help me with.”
“Well, I’m no handy man but… you’re less of one than I am, so, sure. Give me like an hour and I’ll be over.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it… you have no idea. See ya.”
“Yeah, sure, see ya,” Jerry said, then he clicked off.