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The lights are buzzing like fluorescent hives. The air drips with sour sweat. In front of me there are tall rectangular rows made of plastic with tall thin numbered doors. Who could fit into such doors? Perhaps some gangly fantastical species of creature; that open these doors to descend dinghy steps into an unknown darkness. Like behind my eyes. I reach to open door number 39, and in doing so, realize that I have hands.
They are wide and broad, ridged with blue veins. Long growths of fingers, four on the end and one on the side, protrude from each. I find that I can flex and turn these hands with my mind. Incredible.
But I am searching for something. That is the one thing that remains. The one thing that (I?) know. I have to find it or the red organ in my chest will sink down like lead and I will wind down forever. I open the door. Inside is no mystical passageway to an underground realm, but instead a stick attached to a net, and a musty piece of clothing that reads “JV LAX” in bold white letters—female, by the look of it. From the subterranean, vanished depths of my mind a word is dragged up—“locker room”. For an instant I recall a glimpse bouncing blond ponytail, fresh fall air, the crisp crunch of brown leaves beneath brown loafers. Then it is gone with the rest of my memories.
I root through the bottom of the locker with my hands, turning up water bottles and pink combs and chapstick but I cannot find it. I only have an hour. Then I start new again. Every memory built up in sixty minutes will be gone, and back to the beginning; void. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know how I got here. I continue my search. I have to be faster. This time I will be faster.
The thing I now know is my heart is double-thumping inside me. These hands and fingers have turned slippery. I open door after door—38, 37, 36, counting down to nothing, and behind every door, nothing, nothing, nothing. I slam the last door shut and realize that there is a man standing across from me.
He has brown hair and wide brown eyes. His clothes are tattered and covered in filth. His long brown beard straggles down in front. The man’s hands are empty and ridged with blue veins.
I advance and so does he. “Who are you?” I shout, but he only mocks me, repeating my words in a fading tone uncannily similar to my own—“You, you, you.” I raise a hand to strike him and he does the same. Our hands meet in the middle with the cold smack of glass. The man is me.
My name is Garret Thompson. I live in the suburbs with my wife Eleanor and two children, Luke and Lizzy. We also have a dog called Jerry. In our backyard is a birdbath.
Every day I go to work in the city. I work at a firm and carry a briefcase. Every morning I drive into the city, until my car gets hit by another
Car, and so my memory is gone. I want my wife. I want my children. How did I get here? How far have I gone?
But time is up. The room melts and objects lose their names. I close my eyes and there is unknown darkness.
I open my eyes and see a man looking back at me. He has brown hair and wide brown eyes. His empty hands are ridged with blue veins.
We both start to scream.