Conrad had set a pot of what Michael assumed was a kettle of tea on a contraption similar to a stove, except it was clearly not a stove. For this contraption unleashed a small army of creatures which looked strikingly similar to prunes onto the tea kettle. All at once, the started shrinking down and vibrating, with each movement producing more and more energy until they all disintegrated simultaneously into ashes back into the stove-like machine. In their place floated small magenta balls of apparently extraordinarily powerful energy, for when they pelted the tea kettle, they caused a combustion-like reaction, making the kettle heat up and jump. From start to finish, the entire process took approximately thirty seconds. Whatever sort of self-sustaining energy this was, it certainly made the tea heat up quickly.
Conrad placed two tea cups in front of them on a parlor table, and poured out a vibrantly blue liquid which glowed in the dark and had a meniscus considerably thicker than tea. Michael just stared at the cup in disbelief, still unable to coherently form a complete thought.
“Well drink up,” Conrad snapped, clearly annoyed that his guest refused to drink what he had made. “Surely you like the essence of quagmire,” he stated sarcastically.
“I’m sorry, but what is the essence of quagmire?” he asked, finally coming to the realization that even in his dreams he was required to follow social delicacies like making conversation when someone invites you into their home after yours burns to the ground in the middle of the night.
“Really? I figured you would have tried it at one point or another. We take quagmires by the dozen and use beams given off by the golden feathers to harvest their essence. Then we drink it like any other tea or potion and its delicious.”
Michael did not even bother asking what a quagmire was; it was probably best left to his imagination, which was pulling one hell of a number on him at the moment.
“I think I will be fine without the quagmire, but I appreciate the offer,” Michael said, making more of an attempt to accept the truth around him and remain cordial until he could figure out what was going on.
“Very well. Since your home burned to the ground, you may stay with my family and myself if you’d like. We have a place for you to recharge for the rest of the night.”
“Thank you,” he replied, knowing it was likely the best offer he was going to get tonight. Perhaps going to sleep in this dream would cause him to wake up in reality. It still had not crossed his mind that this life may actually be his new reality.
As it happened, Conrad had quite literally meant that he could recharge in their home. In one room, which remained almost completely isolated and undecorated compared to the rest of the house, there stood a row of seven cylindrical containers with some sort of opaque white plasma inside. Suspended in each of the first four containers was an alligator, presumably a member of Conrad’s family. The fifth container had a door ajar, presumably for Conrad. Remarkably, none of the gel leaked out of the open door from the container. Despite being closer to a liquid than a solid, it stayed firmly in place and did not cross the barrier.
The last two pods were darkened, almost as if the lights were out on them. Michael did not find any comfort in the idea of climbing into a large charging station, yet he did not see as much point arguing in a dream. He felt as if he did not have much choice in the matter. In this dream, his life seemed tethered to a track and it was his job to follow the track. At least he could take comfort that a track provided a sense of normalcy and routine—in spite of the fact that nothing at the moment felt normal or routine.
Conrad stepped forward and tapped on the sixth pod, which immediately illuminated. Sensing Michael’s hesitance, he took a guiding tone to help his neighbor. “I would suggest getting in, that way you will be ready for the day tomorrow. Traditionally, fauna need to recharge every now and again, and these domestic charging pods are some of the best on this Earth.”
He opened the door for Michael, and motioned for him to step in. Michael cautiously stepped closer to the pod, and reached inside. He was surprised to not feel anything. It was as if whatever substance he could see on the inside was made of nothingness. The lack of a foreign feeling on his body was an instant psychological comfort to him, and he found himself climbing in without much of a fuss.
“I will open your door when you’re ready to come out. I will be the one to determine when you are ready to come out. “
Before Michael could protest, Conrad had already sealed the pod, and the recharging began. While Michael could still see, feel, hear, smell, and touch; he no longer felt the need to use any of his five senses, and they automatically ceased to express their prominence. The recharging station almost felt like a conscious, lucid form of dreaming.
After approximately twenty seconds, Conrad opened the door to his pod once more, and jolted Michael back to full consciousness.
“Yes?” Michael asked, clearly disturbed to be bothered again tonight.
“You’re ready to come out,” Conrad responded, making an effort to be pleasant towards his difficult neighbor.
“What do you mean? It’s been twenty seconds.” In spite of this, Michael could feel himself climbing out of the pod, happy to be obedient to some sort of order.
“Actually it’s been two hours. Don’t forget, time slows down in these pods.”
Michael noticed all of the other pods had already darkened, with their doors shut. The rest of the family must have already been up and about for the day. He wondered how awkward it would be to meet an entire family of upright alligators. More importantly, why was he put in this position to begin with? Shouldn’t he have woken up from this absurdity by now?
“You know this new world of yours is a permanent change?” Conrad stated, orating Michael’s thoughts. “I know something of which you are currently unaware.”
Michael’s eyes nearly popped out of his head at these words. This was a lot to take in before morning coffee, though apparently the concept of time was warped in this world, and there’s no telling whether or not coffee exists. Nevertheless, he refused to give up the notion that this was nothing more than a dream. There was no reason for him to take the word of a talking alligator that this was any sort of reality, yet for some reason, he couldn’t bring himself to entirely falsify the notion either.
About the Creator
Hello world! My name is Joe and I absolutely love to write. My first book, titled "The Illusion of Clarity" came out in 2016, and hopefully my sophomore novel will be out later in 2018, titled "Out of Time". I have lived everywhere.