Sometimes, days are just plain sailing. Up early(ish), breakfasted, dressed, and out and on with the rest of the day, and in what seems like a flash the day is coming to an end once again.
Most days, it could be said, are generally like that.
Some days, however, are so far removed from the truth, they are, well, unbelievable.
Take the other morning, for example.
Here was I, merrily minding my own business, getting myself ready for the day at large, when fate intervened and completely changed the known Universe all around me. A man by the name of Walpole E. Epstein also had a hand in fate’s plan, it would seem.
He’d managed to open up a black hole in my bathroom, of all places, and in the process of closing it he’d gotten himself swallowed up by it, and caused random parts of the country to be in places where they shouldn’t be.
I was exploring this brand new world the other morning, and discovered that a part of Somerset had appeared next to Cheshire. And a town by the name of Meringue was somewhere along the road I was now travelling.
I’d taken a shortcut, as directed from a road sign opposite the place where I had filled my car with petrol, and I had begun to think that maybe the sign was more than misleading. The road was straight and boring; fields on either side of the road, and no sign of a town anywhere. No houses or buildings. Not even a bus stop or shelter: Nothing. Just open countryside.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the countryside, but when I’m heading somewhere I’d also like to see a sign that I’m actually heading there. I drove onwards regardless, anyway. The road ahead started to rise up, and I realised that I was now, finally, starting to drive over the hill that I had seen in the distance when I started along this ‘shortcut’. I thought that I would see the first sign of Meringue when I reached the top of the hill.
Six or seven minutes later, the road started to level off, and it also curved around a bend. I couldn’t see what was around the bend, until I drove round it… and it was not what I was expecting at all.
A United States Border Control roadblock to be exact.
A United States Border Control roadblock in Somerset.
A heavy looking gate blocked the road, and there were British flags flying on my side of the gate, and American flags on the other side. The gate was closed. And a man stood in the middle of the road.
He held his hand up, palm facing toward me, in the typical halt pose. I had, actually, already stopped.
The man walked toward my car, and I recognised him instantly. Sort of. It was either Al from the apple cart or Mal from the petrol station.
“Good morning!” He said cheerily, as I opened my window. He didn’t recognise me. “I’m Hal Matthews of British Immigration and Border Control. Do you have your passport?” He smiled.
I don’t normally carry my passport around with me, and this morning was no exception. I told Hal of this, and he looked at me as if to question my motives for being where I was.
“You do know,” he said, “That you need a passport to enter another country?”
“Yes…” I answered, now no longer sure where on Earth I actually was. Other people started to gather at the gate, some armed and some with guard dogs, barking ferociously, and on both sides of the gate. I heard a whirring noise, and noticed that CCTV and video cameras were now turning to point towards me and my car.
A little voice told me that I seemed to have veered slightly from the path I was meant to be on.
Hal’s radio cackled into life, and a metallic and totally inaudible voice from my point of view came from it.
“Ah. I see.” Hal spoke back into the radio.
He looked towards me, his face back to how it was when I first drove up.
“You are a guest of the United States, Tom, with special access rights, including access without a passport. You’re allowed into the country, but will be given a temporary one when you first cross the border. The man in the green suit over there will help you to complete the form. Have a nice stay!”
Hal moved away from the car, and the gate started to part in the middle. Hal gestured for me to drive forward, which I did. I was surprised to feel the car drive over a cattle grid at the point of the gate, as I hadn’t noticed it before. And, as soon as the road was smooth, I was halted once again, this time by the man in the green suit. And this man, I can honestly say, I haven’t seen him before.
So… here I was: Now in another country. I’d driven down the road in my home county, entered another county that should have been miles away, and was now in a different country.
Reality had most definitely been altered. And, as baffling as this is, I was more baffled by the fact that all of these people seemed to know who I was. And as I was starting to wonder who I was myself, I was doubly baffled! I also had the feeling that maybe I wasn’t going to reach Meringue after all…