I think I noticed the problem a few weeks ago, but I could be wrong. What I noticed was the price of gasoline. $1.99. Not bad, right? The thing is, that’s the price it was yesterday, and the yesterday before that, and all the yesterdays for, probably, a couple of months at least. I’m sure that will be the price tomorrow too. See, the problem is either me, which I have to consider a distinct possibility, or the problem is we are stuck. Nothing changes from one day to the next, or at least we—maybe just me?—can’t track the changes because they are too small to notice. I have these vague impressions that gas used to cost way more, although that seems wrong. Don’t prices go up over time? That’s another thing. I’m pretty sure that I spent some time in a class where we talked about economics and how there were these forces that kept prices up or pushed them down. Some kind of supply and demand thing. But if I always have what I have right now, then there is no demand. Right?
So here’s the thing. Since nothing changes, or changes too slowly to tell the difference what do I have to complain about? Don’t I have everything I’ll ever need? But then there’s this idea that maybe some people don’t have everything, and if nothing ever changes, doesn’t that mean that they’ll never have what they need? Doesn’t the idea of me having enough mean that there has to be someone who doesn’t have enough? Did my idea create the lack of change, the supply for me and the demand for someone else?
Anyway, that’s the problem. And I can’t do anything about it because tomorrow is the same as today and the same as yesterday. No matter what, all of or tomorrows are the same as today.
I don’t know which is worse, the nights filled with sirens blaring or night when nothing moves and I fear that everyone else has succumbed and I’m alone. The sirens run all the time now, a calling like the roster before sunrise, a reminder to pray if your god is still alive, as we eat our meals, bathe our bodies if the water is running, and mingled in our dreams at night. One house after another is struck down, set ablaze in hopes of curtailing the contagion, a futile response but some people are compelled to do something besides wait for the rot that transforms. Perhaps that is what I fear the most, the transition and permanent silence, no more words, no language, no music or laughter, not even the cries of a mother for her children. There is no return from that void, that night that dawn neglects.
Another boring meeting, not enough coffee to keep awake, no one knows where the agenda is, Google drive is so cluttered, why is this room so warm? Shit! What was that? Did I see that? Wings and scales and bright eyes and claws and those teeth must be razor sharp. Crap, where did it go? Did anyone else see it? Just caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye, over there by the waste basket, a freaking little dragon! Oh my God! Take a deep breath, don’t freak out. Shit, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who saw it. Am I hallucinating? Jeez, it’s been years since those mushrooms in college. Why would it start up now? What am I going to do? There it goes again! I swear I saw it duck behind the chair next to me. Carol thinks I’m creeping or something by checking out her chair. Okay, knock it off. It’s obviously only happening to me. No one else can see it. Bloody hell there it is, right on the table, sitting there staring at me.
“What? No, sorry. I don’t have those numbers for you. I’m not feeling well. This room is too hot. I think I should step out and get some fresh air for a bit. Be right back.”
The fog crept closer each day, rendering bits of the outside world more obscure; some of his memories evaporated completely, leaving only small bits of disconnected tissues or vague emptiness in the shape of some forgotten impression or emotion. The mirror fog claimed most of him, erasing his past.
He stepped onto the sidewalk outside his tenement building and joined the commuting masses on their way to work. Each step adding incremental momentum, guiding his steps like a rollercoaster with its terrible slow rise to the top and inevitable mad rushing fall with a promise to throw him from side to side until he could exit to the platform, shaky legged and unable to cope with the growing nausea and the realization that this ride would never end, the initial plunge would never stop, and he’d fall, fall through the floor to some darkened abyss to be swallowed by the earth.