“Tell me something interesting,” she said.
“About what?” he asked.
“About me,” she giggled.
He set the phone on speaker and put it on the desk and slumped in his chair and then stared at his hands. A spider walked across his palm and then onto the other side of his hand and he turned his hands over and on both of them dozens of spiders marched around appearing like they’d hatched from the pores of his skin.
He chuckled and smiled.
“What’s so funny?” she asked.
“I see spiders.”
His mouth hung open mesmerized by the sight.
“Oh?” she asked.
He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes for a few seconds and when he opened them the spiders were gone. He sat up and checked his hands flipping them back and forth palm and backhand. He looked in his lap.
“What the fuck,” he said.
He got on the ground and laid flat on his back looked up at the bottom of his desk. Nothing.
“Where’d they go?” he asked.
“Who? The spiders?”
“Yeah, they were here and then…huh.”
He stood up and looked around the room. The white walls turned pink, then violet, then white, then pink and shimmered and vibrated, the color reverberating like something from beyond reality was trying to shake the color out of its shape and into something wholly distinct. His mouth hung open and he touched the wall and the color seeped off and onto his hand like goop leaving a smear of ivory white on the wall where his hand had been.
“No way,” he said.
He looked at the lights. They didn’t change colors. He ran his hands across the drywall feeling the grooves and edges of the texture and leaving a colorless streak in its wake. He hoped there’d be some secret and as his palms caressed the wall it sent sensations into his body causing him to cringe and shudder with it as if the grooves and ridges were a type of brail scribed and detailed in some way not meant for humans to understand and his mere act of trying incited punishment.
He backed away from the wall and went to his bookshelf searching for something– some type of explanation as to what is happening. Maybe it was a glitch. Something went awry. Now everything was coming down.
Was he prepared? When the machine collapsed was he ready to wake up on the other side? Was this how it was supposed to end? Hallucinations and disappearances? Or was he trapped in this place? Trapped in the twilight of waking and sleeping, cursed in the algorithm of the machine where no whole number dared to enter, where only fractions of reality existed. Forever kept in a looped sequence of 0.111E onward and forever. Too much to be zero too little to be one. It will never end because it never began.
They’re probably screaming on the other side for me to wake up. Shaking me and beating me but I’ll never leave this place to return.
It racked his brain too much and he couldn’t concentrate on anything.
He backed away from the bookcase and sat on the edge of the bed breathing deeply. Sweat poured out from his head and his palms became soaked and he rubbed them on his jeans then through his hair and then cradled his head in his hands.
“Fuck,” he said. “Fucking FUCK.”
The ground swirled ebbing and bobbing gently like it were water. He closed his eyes tight but patterns shot out behind his eyelids like curtains with mandala patterns took place behind his eyelids, shimmering and waving like banners. He gasped and fell back onto his bed.
“Babe,” she said. “Are you ok?”
“I don’t know,” he said gasping. “I really don’t know. Is it happening to you too?”
“No,” she sighed. “You know why?”
“I didn’t eat fucking mushrooms.”