Jesse Jarnow

looper in the dark, no. 2

(Short fiction, shorter increments.)

Looper in the Dark: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, no. 11, no. 12

In the morning, everything remained flawed. The alarm rang at 6, as usual. It seemed too dark, however. Looper’s coffee was too strong. His toast was too burnt. Even his bootlaces were too short. Walking to the dispatcher’s office, all the world seemed askew. The newspaper headlines were off-center. The traffic signals hesitated before changing.

The time clock punched Looper’s card with an abnormally resounding thud. It echoed through the office. Looper looked around, though neither of the secretaries looked up from her desk. All day, Looper trudged about the neighborhood in the dirtying snow. None of the buildings failed his inspection, though each was wrong, as if it might remove a mask as soon as he was out of sight.

In the dark, later, he held the milk in his mouth. He could taste something else in it, as well. Besides milk. He swallowed it slowly. In his chair, he tried to feel the room around him. He did not want to feel the room. He just wanted to sit. Why should that be difficult?