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. I’m not so sure about this particular day. I don’t know whether it is believable or not now. I’m so confused; even I don’t know what was happening.
The day had begun like any other, when suddenly a stranger had burst into my Mansion, opened a black hole in my bathroom, altered reality and had somehow lured me from Cheshire, through Somerset, into an office building in the United States of America. It took me about an hour or so to get there… and I had driven the whole way.
The stranger was no longer strange. He was a man with a ‘unique’ accent, shall we say. Walpole E. Epstein was his name, and he worked for some organisation called the American Institute for Metaphysical Studies, A.I.F.M.S for short.
And he was about to explain what had actually been going on.
“This morning,” he started, “Do you remember, Tom, when I said that you could help me, and I in fact could help you?”
I vaguely remembered something like that, but said a confident yet enquiring “Yes”.
“Well,” Walpole continued, “This is now me helping you. You helped to get me home, here to the US of A, through the inter-dimensional portal that runs through your bathroom.”
“Yes, I’ve gathered that,” I said. I needed answers, but didn’t want to go through the whole story again.
“However,” Walpole’s face became serious once more. Have you noticed how people become more serious when they say however? Anyway, I digress, moving on…
“However, we altered reality. Bent time and space. Moulded the Universe in ways it shouldn’t have been moulded.”
“Yes, I know that…” I said, remembering the Cheshire-Somerset-USA borders.
“We now need to get you back home.” Walpole’s face was deadpan.
“I was home. I’d left there this morning, and drove a different way that’s all. I know the way home – it’s just back along that road, turn right where the man’s selling apples, and then turn left a little further along. I know the way!”
“You know the altered reality way” Walpole smiled again. “Not the correct way.”
“Oh” I was confused again. Have you ever been lost and not known it? A very weird sensation, I can tell you.
“We had to get you here, at this time, so we can send you through the portal and put things right. We ‘pointed’ you in the right direction with the broken signpost”
I remembered the fork in the road with the signpost, neither of which should have been there. The signpost pointed to Meringue, a place I’d never heard of either. I decided to follow the road and see where it led to, not necessarily to head into Meringue, but curiosity got the better of me.
Walpole was tapping something into his handheld computer.
“We need things to go full circle. We need to send you through the portal, back into your bathroom to this morning. We told you what to do through the signpost. It was meant especially for you. The thing is you didn’t realise.”
“Eh?” I said.
“You still don’t realise. Even when you knocked on this office door, the clues were still there, but you didn’t get them.”
“OK, Walpole. It may be months in the future for you, but it’s still this morning for me. I’m confused enough already, so could you explain the clues for me?” I was actually surprised my sentence made some kind of sense.
“Certainly!” Walpole laughed again. “Please, answer these questions… it’s more fun this way!”
“What begins with an upper case M in your world? A capital letter M?”
I couldn’t think. “My Mansion?” I asked, as I almost always usually use the capital M.
“Well, yes… but something else. Something you use most days, with more than one capital M for that matter.”
I couldn’t get it. “Pass!” I said, pretending I was on a game show.
“Another clue… your blog!” Walpole looked at me as though he had given the whole game away.
“Me?” I asked. “Me! Me! Me me me!” I said for good measure.
“Yes!” Walpole clapped “But only one ‘Me’!”
I imagined the header to my blog with only one ‘Me’ up there, and decided that I wouldn’t change it just yet.
“The next clue,” Walpole was loving this, “What is the phrase when you start something, and then go right the way round, back to the beginning again?”
“Going full circle?” I asked, inspired.
“Correct! What shape is a circle?”
“Er… circular?” I kid you not, he asked that question.
Walpole shouted “THINK!” and then lowered his voice again. “What can you describe as circular?”
“A ball?” I asked.
“No no no no, a ball’s round, not circular. Try again.”
“A ring?” I asked again.
“YES!” Walpole was jumping up and down.
A wind was starting to get up in the office, but the window wasn’t open.
“Ignore the wind – it’s just the portal opening.” Walpole had gone all serious again. “You want to know how we managed to get you here. We left you clues that you followed. You picked up on them without realising, which is brilliant! Me! Ring! And UE. I love that one. We played a blinder with that one. We let you know that everything was a clue by the number to this office.”
I thought back to the sign on the door. CL1. I’d been following signs all morning, not paying any attention to them. CL and UE make the word CLUE. I was very pleased with myself and shouted “CLUE!”
“No, we were playing with that one!” Walpole laughed again, as several sheets of paper swirled around him because of the wind. “Hold your shield in front of you, the portal will be open soon, and it will help you on the way through. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe. You’re the key and that’s the keyhole if you like. You’re about to relock reality back to how it should be.”
“But the clue…” I wanted to know. “If it wasn’t clue, what is it?”
“Ah… UE…” Walpole drummed his fingers together as a stapler narrowly missed his head. “UE is an abbreviation for Urban Exploration… which means investigating the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities… which you did by investigating the reality that shouldn’t exist. We doubted you’d get that, hence the CL on the door for good measure.”
The black hole was now open, and I could feel its pull.
“Just go with the flow!” Walpole shouted. “Once you’re through, none of this would have happened. I won’t exist. I told you that I wasn’t here this morning. Your shield will be the only thing that will connect this reality and yours, so take care of it… it’s our gift to you!”
“But wait – it’s my shield!” I proclaimed as I started to slide along the floor.
“It is now!” Walpole laughed. I could hear his voice gradually fade into the background with all the commotion from the black hole that was going on around me. His last words that I heard were “That’s the nature of a paradox”…
I hurtled out of the other end of the black hole, into the wall of my landing. The shield was on top of me, and something was rather uncomfortably sticking in my stomach. It was a tub of hair gel. I was back home in the Mansion. It was 7am.
There was a strong rapping at the door. I thought for a second, and decided to leave it. A second later I heard a parcel being pushed through the letterbox, with what sounded like some difficulty.
I decided to go back to bed for an hour or so, it had been one very strange morning. I never did get to see Meringue, yet in a roundabout way I almost did. Imagine if I hadn’t followed the sign and taken the shortcut… who knows where I would have ended up…