Dan sat up covered in cold sweat. His eyes wide and bloodshot.
“Darice! Darice? Oh god, Darice.” Dan’s eyes lurched around the room. He felt his body start to rock back and forth. His breathing sharpened. It all seemed familiar; the yar-pod racing poster, the visiscreen mounted on the wall, the helio lantern, the shelf full of micro biblios, right down to the soft epidurisheets he sat upon.
The polished metallic door at the end of the room door slid open. Dan watched and tried to sit still. A knot had formed in his stomach as his mind raced.
Where the hell am I? Where is Darice? How did I get here? We were just in the intersection, we dropped Maddy off at school. Darice was running her hand through my hair the way she does. The light went green and we went. Was there a honk? I can’t remember. Just a flying feeling. And. Darice screamed.
Dan snapped to. A being with an elongated face was eye to eye with him. Dan felt a scream climbing up his throat.
God it’s eyes were huge and sickly. Like someone took pink eye and stretched it out over dinner plates.
“Hey man,” it said. “What’s a Darice?”
Dan swallowed the scream. This thing knew his wife’s name. “Er,” Dan said. “Where-where am I?”
It cracked a smile. “We’re in your room dude. Are you, like, okay? You look a little out of it.” It waved a gray three fingered hand in Dan’s face. “I walked in and you were rocking back and forth mumbling ‘Darice.’” The thing backed up and plopped down into the levi-seat a few feet away from the bed.
“Er, no I’m not okay. I’m actually definitely bad.” Dan paused and tried to remember the crash. “The last thing I remember, I was in a car with my wife and we c-crashed. And now I here and so are you and I don’t know who you are or where I am like where is my room and why does this all seem so familiar am I. Dead?”
The thing paused and raised it’s hand and lowered them again. “Dude, chill. You’re freaking me out.”
It reached down and picked up the glass bong that had been on the floor. It took a hit and exhaled a cloud of bluish smoke.
“Okay, well.” It said, rubbing its chin. “You’ve been here the whole time, in your room, in your parents house. Last time I checked you weren’t married. You’re Snoo and I’m Ecci.”
Dan, or Snoo, took shaky breath. He felt tears coming on. Not sad tears, but this-is-so-much-information-that-my-head-might-explode tears.
“But,” Snoo began.
Ecci cut him off. “Wait. Who do you think you are?”
“Dan Polinsky. I’m 29. I’m from Chicago. My wife is…was Darice and my daughter is Maddy.”
“How big of a rip did you take my dude?” Ecci said.
Ecci held up the bong. “Dude, I told you this new shit was fire. My connect called it Death.” Another wave of high awe fell over Ecci’s face. “He said that it can make you hallucinate and travel to different timelines. Didn’t think he was being serious.” Ecci paused and looked Snoo up and down. “Cool.”
“Cool?” Snoo’s face twisted. “I lost everything. And you think that’s cool?”
“Well, I mean, that part’s a bummer man, but check this.” Ecci raised the bong to his mouth and lit the bowl piece until embers flew down the shaft.
Ecci slowly sunk into his chair. His face bulged and he coughed. In his last seconds of conscience he handed the bong to Snoo who took it and placed it on the table next to the bed. In the proceeding silence, Snoo cried softly and mourned the loss of Darice. Of himself. Of the life that he would have to begin anew here.
A few minutes passed when Ecci coughed his way back to life. He hawked a glob of phlegm across the room and shot up.
“Shit, shit. Er.” Ecci’s head darted around taking in his surroundings. “You’re not Betsy.”
Snoo picked his head up. “What?”
Ecci looked crazed. “You freak.”
Ecci dove over the bed onto Snoo and his fingers wrapped around Snoo’s neck.
“Where the fuck is Betsy?” Ecci said, gnashing his teeth. He shook all over. “What did you do with her you filthy fuck.”
Slowly Snoo’s world began to fade. He neither struggled nor hated Ecci for it. He felt only relief, longing for Darice, and then nothing.