Chapter 8: Elsewhere and Elsewhen
Two Days Later…
Keith opened the fridge that morning, to find that he was all out of toaster waffles. In fact, he was running out of a lot of things in his fridge. He sighed; he’d have to go to the store today.
This was good; not just because he would be getting more toaster waffles, but because he would get to see the sun once again. Deep down, though, he really wanted to go back to the city to see if he had imagined the moving shadows and spider goat he saw Monday.
He ate some plain toast, then put on his totally-not-suspicious outfit and headed for the door.
Before he went out, though, he looked back at Molly, who was watching another murder movie. He didn’t entirely trust her to be by herself, but it was safer than taking her outside.
“Molly, I’m leaving you here by yourself. What are the three rules I have for you?”
“Don’t mess with Lucy, don’t do anything to get you evicted, and… uh…” she had trouble remembering the last one.
“Don’t burn the place down,” Keith filled in for her.
He opened the door and walked out.
He promptly stepped back in, realizing he forgot something. He glanced around for a bit, looking for the brass color of his keys, but they were nowhere to be seen.
No worries, he thought. He pulled out his phone. He had a special keychain attached to his keys, and there was an app that made it flash and beep whenever the keys were lost.
He opened the app and pressed a button. Sure enough, a beeping sound could be heard right behind him.
He turned his head to look for it, but something strange had happened.
The sound was still behind him.
He turned his head again and again. No matter where he was looking, the sound was always behind him, and he never saw it flash.
“Umm, Molly, do you—”
“Keith!” She jumped up and exclaimed. “Your head! It’s making a flashing light!”
Keith tilted his head to the side. “What do you mean?”
“I mean exactly what I said; your head has a flashing light.”
Hesitantly, he took his hood off. He initially reached into his hood, but there was nothing there.
He hesitated a bit, before putting his hand on the back of his head. To his surprise and subsequent horror, his fingers went way deeper than they should have. He took his hand off of his hair and looked down at his fingers for a second. He wiggled them for extra measure.
He put his hand back on his head, this time purposely digging his fingers into his hair. There was no way it was actually this thick.
He was down to his knuckles now. He definitely should have felt his scalp by now, but he didn’t. All he could feel was hair.
His entire hand was now enveloped in his hair. He touched something cool and jagged. He wrapped his fingers around it and took it out.
Sure enough, it was his keys. He quietly pushed a button to stop the beeping
He just stared down at the keys for a while, then looked over at Molly. “You saw that, right?”
He continued to stare at his keys, thinking about the many strange occurrences that had happened to him recently. He had accidentally flung Molly across the room. His body had distorted based on his emotions. His head had flattened out when things landed on top, but it was perfectly fine when he shook it off. And now, he had an impossibly big pocket of space inside of his hair.
He was starting to piece together this extremely jagged puzzle.
“Molly,” he said, “can I ask you something about your prototype design?”
She paused the TV. “Mmm-hmm.”
“Did… did your prototype design have powers?”
She thought about it. “Umm… yeah, I think so.”
Just as he had suspected.
Keith looked down at his hands, not sure of the power they held. Everything was starting to make sense. He was just like a living cartoon character now!
How had Sullivan done that? How had he done any of this? You can’t just create life, let alone life with physics-breaking abilities, only using materials from Earth. Right?
He remembered the portal that he saw—the one made by the other scientist, F.V. Did they travel into other dimensions to get resources? But how had the portal worked in the first place?
He was currently having a “sit-down-and-eat-some-thin-mints-while-you-sort-this-out” kind of situation, but there was just one problem:
He was out of thin mints.
He would have to go to the store to buy more.
Keith took a deep breath and tightened his grip on his keys. “I’m leaving now,” he said to Molly before walking out the door.
He walked along the sidewalk towards the city. It was going to take a little longer than Monday, but at least he wouldn’t be out of breath. And, besides, he needed the exercise.
He looked up at the sky. Now that he wasn’t on a time crunch, he could actually enjoy the scenery.
He lived in a small community just outside of Mayday City. It had more trees than the city. The sunshine shone through the deep green leaves. He passed by some kids playing basketball on a court, as well as dogs barking from inside houses.
Finally, he had made it to the city. If you went past all the tourist destinations, you’d find normal stores like Walgreens or CVS.
As he made his way there, though, he noticed something odd.
He usually didn’t pay much mind to the people he passed by, but today there were a handful of strange people that stood out of the crowd—and not in a good way. A woman with golden armor and pointed ears; a purple man with a long, fuzzy tail; and even someone with bird wings and legs.
At first glance, they could be mistaken for cosplayers—people who dressed up as fictional characters for fun. Keith was a cosplayer himself; last year, he made an awesome Cloud Dancer costume, with a cardboard guitar to go with it.
He almost stopped one of them to ask for pictures, but he slowed down and took a closer look. He could see that their inhuman features—like elongated ears and tails—were moving and reacting. All of them looked confused and scared, as if they didn’t know where they were.
These weren’t costumes at all; they were real.
He didn’t really know what to do or how to react; he just kept walking. Whether it was for better or for worse, he could not tell.
He also noticed more creatures moving around in alleyways and skittering past trashcans. He was never able to get a good look at them, but he assumed they were the same creatures he saw the other day.
He eventually made it to the store, where absolutely nothing interesting happened. He picked out everything that he needed—thin mints, toaster waffles, and cat food, among other things. He paid for everything and walked out of the store, heading home.
Keith almost dropped his groceries as he saw what was happening outside.
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Next: Chapter 9