"They've promised that dreams can come true - but forget to
mention that nightmares are dreams, too."
I was woken up by the sharp beeping of my alarm clock on the desk
next to my head. Looking back that should've given me the first
clue that something was wrong, seeing as I didn't remember going
to sleep the night before. Everything seemed normal at this point
though so I got up and went through my usual Pre-Work routine.
First thing I did was go downstairs and put a couple of slices of
bread in the toaster. Then, still half asleep, I poured myself
out a glass of orange juice. I casually raised the glass to my
lips and drank but a second later spat it out. For some reason it
tasted revolting, although it had tasted fine yesterday morning.
To make sure I took a sip from the carton, but to no avail.
Wondering if something had somehow gotten mixed in with it I
threw the carton in the bin and waited for my toast. As it popped
up, I quickly grabbed it and buttered it. Sitting down at my
kitchen table to eat my toast I cast my eye over a newspaper
lying nearby. It was dated almost a month ago and my face was
plastered all over the front page. The story it told was of my
release from jail after having been found innocent on charges of
murder. I finished off my toast and dumped the plate in the sink
before rushing upstairs to get dressed.
After getting changed into my usual jacket, shirt, trousers and
tie I went on a hunt for my badge. Work insisted that we had to
all wear name badges or risk getting fired. After a quick search
I located my badge and pinned it to the front of my jacket. I
grabbed my keys and left my house. As I left I saw a dog playing
in my neighbour's garden. I thought this rather odd, as they
already had a cat. In the process of locking my door I saw my
neighbour, Mark, come out of his house carrying a pair of shears.
He wished me Good Morning and I returned the favour. "Nice Dog",
I said, "How's your Cat?" There was a short pause during which
Mark's face adopted a look of confusion. "What Cat?" He said,
giving me a strange look. Now it was my turn to look confused,
but before I could say anything more Mark had turned away and
begun to trim his hedge. I stared back at his dog for a little
while before locking my door and continuing on my way to work. A
quick look at my watch told me I'd have to hurry if I didn't want
to miss my train.
After a pretty uneventful train journey I arrived at my place of
work. It was supposed to be a temporary job, some desk job at a
faceless insurance company, but that didn't stop it being boring.
I got through the front doors and was just about to get into the
lift when I hear someone calling my name. "Eric!" the voice
called and, turning, I found it belonged to my manager. I never
remembered my manager's name; he was always 'The Manager' in my
mind. He went on about how I'd been late a few days before and
how I'd need to step up my game if I wanted to continue being a
part of this company. Secretly I would've loved to have been
fired but I needed the money, so I kept my mouth shut. He soon
finished with me and went away to do his own work so I took the
lift up to my floor. I walked to my office at the end of a nearby
hallway but stopped, just as I was reaching out for the door
handle. My name wasn't on the front of the office door.
Instead, it read: Rosemary Davies. I paused for a while looking
at the name embossed in bronze letters. I looked around at the
other office doors and spotted one on my left which bore the
name: Eric Fielding. My name. My office had always been the one
at the end of the hallway though, since I'd started working here.
I knocked on the door bearing Rosemary's name and opened it. Sure
enough Rosemary was sitting at her desk. She looked up as I
entered and, not knowing quite how to phrase it, I asked "Why
have our offices been swapped?" She raised one of her eyebrows to
indicate her bemusement. "Excuse me?" She said, in her haughty
voice, "My office has always been here." She returned to her
work, obviously a signal for me to leave. I slowly closed the
door and gazed for a while at her name on the front of it. I
shook myself and pushed open the door to what was now my office.
It was laid out just like my office had been. It even has as many
screwed up bits of paper in the bin. I slowly went over and sat
behind my desk and, with a moment's hesitation, began to work.
On my lunch break I decided to get out of here and go to a local
fast-food place to grab a burger. I never liked eating lunch in
my office, it was much nicer to go out and get something to eat.
I left work by a back door, they always complained when I went
out through the front door for lunch, and went across the street
to the shop. It was some small company, but they did great food
there. I was just about to enter when someone bumped into me,
almost knocking me off my feet. "Watch it!" I said angrily but
the guy didn't even turn. He was dressed strangely, wearing the
white coat of a doctor. I watched him until he turned a corner
and disappeared from sight. Wondering if this day could get any
weirder, I went inside.
I went there everyday, at the same time, so they already had my
usual laid out for me. I paid them, thanked them and then went to
the park to eat it. I glanced around the park for a while before
unwrapping my burger and taking a bite. It tasted a bit strange,
but then there were often days where their burgers tasted
different. It wasn't unpleasant tasting so I finished the rest of
it and chucked the wrapper in the bin. I got up and brushed
myself down, scattering a few crumbs on to the ground. It was at
this point that I realised something. There were no birds in the
park at all. This was really weird; they'd usually be trying to
snatch the burger from out of my hands. This day seemed to be
getting odder and odder. I pushed it to the back of my mind and,
after a quick straighten of my tie, went back in to work.
I packed away all the things I had been working on into my desk
and locked it. Today hadn't been a very productive day for me,
too many interruptions. My Ceiling Fan, which is the companies
alternative to Air Conditioning, had broken once again so most of
my time was spent staring hatefully at the thermometer. Anyway I
got my stuff all packed away and left the building. I began to
walk towards the train station. My train left at Six so I wasn't
in any particular hurry.
I began walking down the nearby street. It was still fairly
light, it was in the middle of summer after all, but no one
seemed to be on the pavement. It was very hot though and most
people were probably still stuck inside, worshipping their fans.
I wiped a few beads of sweat from my forehead and sighed. I
hadn't got the money to spare to go out and buy a fan so I had to
make do with opening every window in my house. I glanced down at
my watch and it told me it was Quarter-to. I was going to be a
bit early for my train so I decided to buy a drink from a vending
machine I knew was around here. I just decided that, in this
heat, I'd like a bottle of water when I noticed that they had put
the price up again. Grumbling, I counted out my change. I quickly
opened the lid of the bottle and drank half of it in one go. I
shoved the bottle in my pocket, intending to save it for later.
I reached the station with almost ten minutes to spare. I found
my platform, sat down, and waited. The minutes ticked by and
before I knew it the time was ten past six. My train still hadn't
come. I waited another five minutes before going and talking to
the man selling the tickets. I asked how come the train hadn't
arrived but he didn't seem to know what I was talking about. I
said that the train usually arrived at Six, but it hadn't got
here yet. He said there wasn't a train that arrived at Six, only
one that arrived at Half Five. Confused I showed him my ticket.
He still maintained that the train came at Half Five and, what's
more, had already come and left. There weren't any more trains
going my way until early in the morning so I had to face up to
the prospect of sleeping in the station. I found myself a
relatively clean bench and awkwardly laid down on it. I figured
that I had nothing else to do now and, as the train was coming
quite early in the morning, I might as well try and get some
sleep. I sat up and took off my jacket, draping it over me,
before closing my eyes. It took me a while but I finally drifted
off to sleep.