Name one thing you wish your cell phone did for you that it currently does not.
Paul glanced down at his cellphone and realized that he was late. Very late. Questioning whether he should bother going in late. The type of late that you call in and invent a story about a Nyquil haze due to a temperature in three digits late.
Laying on his side, looking with bleary eyes at his phone, he startled when he felt the bed shift behind him. He didn’t have a pet and he didn’t bring anyone home last night… but…
yes he did.
His mind raced trying to piece together the missing block of time. He had gone out to have a drink to.. why? Why did he decide to go out and have a drink? This was the first question that was plaguing his mind. He wasn’t the ‘go out and drink’ type, but he definitely would if there was a good reason. He went to his text messages and there was nothing. His emails, his social media. Both nothing. There were two calls to the same number at around 9, but they weren’t connected to any contacts.
“…mmpaul?” a mumbling feminine voice came from behind him. “…dwanna get breakfast?”
His stomach gave out a pleasing yelp. He did want breakfast. This lead him to the weird consideration that he wasn’t hung over. If for some reason last night, he had gone out and gotten drunk, and then brought a random woman home with him with a missing block of time, why the hell wasn’t his head just pounding? The further this situation went, the harder it was for him to comprehend and the harder it was for him to not turn around and see whether drunk him had made a smart move or a drunk one.
He had one last idea and tapped Tindr. Bingo. His recent messages included a conversation from last night with a woman by the name of ‘ProzConz’. Her picture was cute too, and was exactly the type of woman Paul would swipe right on. They typed at each other for a half hour and the conversation stops with them agreeing to go meet at a local bar for the potential of a late night hook-up.
With the first part of the mystery solved, Paul rolled over and looked at ProzConz and just like her picture, she gave him a charming lopsided smile. “Thanks for a good night…” she said, still half asleep.
He nodded, picking his words carefully. “I’d love to get breakfast, but I’m already late for work, so I’m going to have to get dressed and go.” Without knowing how well they had hit it off the night before, he was hoping she would get the message that she would have to go too.
She nodded, ‘Mmkay. Let me just get myself together.” She sat up, and quickly got to her feet striking a very nice naked profile against the incoming sunlight. He watched as she moved around his bedroom like she knew it well. Before he even had slipped on a pair of boxers, she was dressed, long hair bundled up in a messy bun, and slipping on her shoes. The more he watched, the more annoyed he was that he didn’t remember the previous night at all. Between the grace in which she moved and the fact that he definitely was attracted to her, he had no doubt they had a good time.
“So..” he said as she was getting ready to walk out of the bedroom with no further conversation of prodding on his part, “can I call you again?”
She grinned, stray auburn hairs falling in front of her eyes. “Of course. Any time next week would be fantastic.” She walked up to him, kissed him on the forehead. Before he could even fathom what the next sentence should be, the door to his apartment banged shut and she was gone.
The sequence of events was the most ideal outcome. He had time to figure out who she was, and hopefully get back whatever weird drunk time he was missing. Now though, he had to figure out what to do with his work situation, which was still a huge ordeal left in the day. He stepped into the bathroom and his phone rang before he could even prepare his toothbrush.
The phone number showed as his bank. Odd. He put it on speaker, the automated message loudly echoing through his tiled bathroom.
“This is a courtesy message for, PAUL R ANDERS, concerning unusual activity on his, checking account ending in 7544. If this is PAUL R ANDERS, please stay on the line to speak with a representative.”
He held, taking his phone into the bedroom and sitting back down. A cold chill started to touch in Paul’s stomach. He was very responsible with his money, and had never had a late payment let alone unusual activity. When he finally heard a human voice on the other side of the phone, he was starting to actually feel sick versus having to pretend for work.
The woman’s voice on the phone verified his name, his birth date, his address, and each question felt more and more excruciating than the last. After all of that she asked quite plainly, as if it was a common occurrence, “Mr. Anders, last night did you withdraw the entirety of your checking account from an ATM on Sycamore Drive?”
The cold chill was now a full blown hailstorm in his gut. “No.” he whispered quietly.
“Hmm.. I see that Sycamore Drive is just under a mile from your home. Did you lose your card at all? Have your wallet stolen?” And then asked, still with the chipper voice of a woman who was completely oblivious to the fact that she was about to make him vomit. “Do you have your card now, Mr. Anders?”
Paul looked around his floor and found his pants in a heap at the foot of his bed, and wasn’t surprised at all to not see his wallet there. “..looking..” he whimpered into the phone as he stood up and left his bedroom for the first time since waking.
He dropped the phone leaving his customer service representative saying ‘hello’ loud enough for him to hear her. He didn’t hear her though, or at least he didn’t respond to her. Paul was too busy looking at his completely empty apartment. An apartment where he had lived for the past few years was now empty like the day he had moved in. There was clutter around. Piles of papers, books scattered around, garbage strewn about the kitchen floor, but the entirety of the apartment was gone. Couches. Television. Kitchen appliances. Bookshelves. DVDs. All of it.
He bent down and picked up his phone slowly.
“i’m…. gonna have to call you back…”
He hung up before the customer service rep could get a word in edgewise.
There was only one thing he could think to do. His mind was a mix of dread and his stomach was moments away from expelling everything. ProzConz… Pro-Con.. how could he have been so stupid? He had been had. Drugged and taken for every single thing he was worth. Tears were falling down his cheeks, and he was doing his best to not just scream. The police would be here soon enough to take a report from him, he didn’t want them showing up before he could call them.
He began to move, ever so slowly through his apartment. His phone was blinking for some reason, but he didn’t pay attention. He was too busy remembering the way his apartment looked the day before, recognizing everything he lost. His laptop. His Ikea kitchen stand with all of the spices. The sound system…..
The sound system. He had, when installing it, hammered just a little too hard and left a quarter sized hole in the drywall. The spot was gone and looked just like regular wall. Did whomever ProzConz was working with fix his wall before they left? It seemed impossible, especially since that means they would have had to paint over the whole so well that it looked like it never happened.
His phone let out a noise that sounded like a submarine was about to dive. When Paul turned his head, he could also see the screen blinking red.
“What the hell..” Picking it up revealed one word and a button.
Paul couldn’t help but wonder if somehow they had done something to his phone, too. The noise was getting louder, as if the phone insisted on being rebooted.
Paul was scared and unsure if doing what his phone insisted was the right idea. The fear was that it might make his situation worse, which was the ultimate catalyst to him hitting the button. A clear-minded part of him, somewhere secreted away bubbled up briefly to point out that there was very little that could happen that would be worse than what had already transpired.
Just as his finger brushed the screen, the klaxon stopped his screen blanked.
Paul woke up with his head drenched in sweat. His stomach felt like he had done a hundred sit-ups. He sat up and felt his head being weighed down, only to realize he was wearing his giant noise canceling headphones.
“Fear Dream Sequence, Completed.” A chipper computer voice spoke to him.
He followed the headphone cord to his phone which was hidden beneath a pile of blankets. The screen showed a timer which seemed to have counted down from 60 minutes. Hitting back he came to the first screen.
Binary Creations Emotional Dream Simulator
Paul sighed. He had hit the wrong button. He seriously wished there was a way to get a more precision click on his damn cell phone.