“Where should I leave the box, sir?”
“On the table.”
The deliveryman placed the black box on the table and left without a word, closing the door quietly without being a nuisance. I didn’t get up to open it since I had better things to do. Like watch TV. There was only one channel, but I didn’t mind. There was always something good to watch, without the pain of having to choose.
The screen flickered to life, revealing my favorite reality TV show. A group of philosophers and academics were about to challenge an obstacle course, but first, they had to design the course together.
“Let’s keep it easy so everyone can finish,” said an old man with a grey beard. “If we can reduce pain and maximize pleasure, that is the best course of action.” The old man chuckled while everyone else groaned.
“Your ideas are as terrible as your jokes, old man, and nearly as ancient as your utilitarian reasoning,” said a young man in an apron. “I say we make it as difficult as possible so only the best and most physically qualified amongst us will win.”
“I agree with the idea of making it challenging, but testing physique among a group like ours seems like a missed opportunity,” said a middle-aged woman in a pink dress. “We are, first and foremost, a group of intellectuals, so I suggest we make an intellectually challenging course.”
“How would we even begin to test each other’s intellectual abilities, considering the diversity of fields we represent?” asked a lady wearing a monocle.
“A test of logic!” proposed a woman in a leather jacket.
“What kind of test and what kind of logic?” asked the old man with a beard.
“A written test testing empirical logic,” suggested the young man in an apron.
“Peer reviewed theses,” said the middle-aged woman in a pink dress.
“A debate!” said the professor.
“A debate?” echoed the woman in a leather jacket. “The idea is intriguing but who would be the judge?”
“Get a few people from the organizers. Maybe the producer of the show and his assistants?” suggested the bearded guy.
“What qualifications do they have to judge us? Besides, there’s a clear conflict of interest there. Their decision will ultimately hinge on what they deem will get them the best ratings,” said Pink-dress.
“How about leaving it to the public? And to pre-empt any concerns over the stupidity of the masses, I say what is the point of what we do if it isn’t useful to the layman?” said Monocle.
“No, the masses are fickle and easy to manipulate with rhetorical flourishes and theatrics. Content matters not in a debate judged by the average joe because he relishes logical fallacies instead of abhorring them,” said Apron. “Besides, they are barely capable of understanding the light discourse we are having right now, how will they fare once we shift to denser vocabulary and more complex concepts?”
“Well, how about we judge each other then?” said Leather-jacket.
“A jury of our peers. I like that.”
“Seems we have consensus on the means of judging,” said Leather-jacket. “But what about the topic?”
“Mathematics is the root of everything, so let us debate whether the Collatz conjecture can be disproven,” said Apron.
“That question seems to have more to do with philosophy and logic than with mathematics,” said Monocles. “I say we choose a philosophical dilemma, but one with a clearer, less abstract solution. The producer is signaling that we need to keep our debate brief.”
“I know!” said Pink-dress. “Let’s talk about society. Isn’t it fitting that our ideal obstacle course be a debate about our vision for an ideal world?”
“Yes! It’s nearly a veil of ignorance!”
I turned off the TV. Enough dilly dallying, time to get to work. I opened a door to the side.
My office was empty, save for a chair, fireplace, and desk. No silly portraits adorned the walls nor were there any useless rugs covering the mahogany floorboards. The telephone on my desk rang as I sat.
“Morning,” I said.
“Morning sir,” said my secretary over the phone. “Your schedule is empty again once again. All macro and micro economic indicators are in your favor. The people are happy and the world is perfect.”
“Thank you, Debby.”
“Have a good day sir.”
I hung up. My feet were on the desk. I pulled open a drawer, took out a video game controller, and pressed a button. A screen materialized in front of me. I proceeded to shoot zombies for the rest of the day. After finishing the game, I left things as they were – I had people to clean up after me – and left the office.
I smiled as I entered the living room. “Welcome home!”
We kissed. She put down her bags, and lay on the sofa. I sat beside her.
“How was your day?” she asked.
“Good,” said Lily as she moved closer. The sofa became a bed as we made love.
Later in the night, Lily’s head on my arm, and her sleeping face next to mine, I turned the TV on to see how far the intellectuals had gotten.
“A world based on empathy is a perfect world,” said Beard. “If everyone avoids doing what will harm others simply because it will cause harm, there will be no more conflict.”
“What if harm is inevitable? Who bears it if everyone is trying to take it upon themselves?” asked Pink-dress.
“We distribute it equally.”
“Assume that is not possible. That only one toe may be stubbed.”
“Then we randomize it.”
“Why not stub everyone’s toes? That’s more in line with your egalitarianism.”
“But that increases the overall pain in society.”
“Okay, but then why randomize it?”
“What do you mean?”
“If someone’s toe is larger and will therefore hurt more, should they be as likely to get a stubbed toe as someone with a sturdier but less plump toe? It would reduce the overall pain in society if we had that person take it,” finished Pink-dress. Beard went silent, stroking his facial hair in contemplation.
“My ideal world is better,” said Apron. “Because in my world, we would stub the toe of the one who feels the least pain. My world wouldn’t be based on empathy but on rationality. Cold, emotionless, logic. Let reason drive everything, I say!”
I turned off the TV and went to sleep. Dreaming of boxes and statues, I pulled myself out of my dreams once they became too absurd. Lily’s smiling face greeted me as I awoke.
“Morning,” she said.
“Morning,” I replied.
Back at the office, I picked up the phone that rang as I sat. “Morning.”
“Morning sir,” said Debby. “Your schedule is empty and everything is perfectly rational, once again. The economy is growing just as you predicted. People’s lives are functioning the way you said they would.”
“Thank you, Debby,” I said. I was about to hang up but a thought came to mind. “How is Zoe?”
“Your daughter is performing well in school. She is on track to achieve all the standards you set for her by the end of the semester.”
“I see.” I nodded my head lightly and listened to the noise of my own breath echoing over the phone.
“Will that be all sir?”
“Is everything really perfect?”
“Yes sir, everyone is sensible and everything is orderly.”
“I know it is, but… never mind. Thank you, Debby.”
“Have a good day, sir.”
I swiveled on my chair and looked out the windows. The sky was blue and the grass was green. The hedges were trimmed so well they lined the edges of the yard like a green brick wall. The lawn was mowed evenly. The fountains flowed without a splash, every drop hitting the walls of the marble bowls at just the right angle. I mulled Debby’s words; everyone is sensible and everything is orderly.
A robot flew into an apple tree. It harvested all the fruit and whizzed away, slicing them en route to the kitchens. I turned on the TV. The intellectuals were still debating.
“But a world of rationality would lack the human experience that only irrationality can provide,” said Leather-jacket.
“No, we would simple redefine the human experience. One where surprises aren’t welcome and logic takes precedence over feelings. That is not to say that emotions would no longer exist, just that when faced with the decision of doing what was right and what felt right, people would choose the former,” said Apron.
“But how would they define what was right, if not from their subjective opinions and emotions?”
“You’re a child,” said Pink-dress. “Logic functions between premises but those premises need to exist in the first place for logic to function. We need to make a subjective evaluation of right and wrong before we can even begin to apply logic.”
“Sure,” said Apron. “Which is why we need to just go ahead and pick one.”
“Pick one?” said Monocle.
“How? If you agree that morals are subjective that means we won’t be choosing which morals to use as the basis of our reasoning, but whose.”
“Exactly!” exclaimed Apron. “We choose one conception of morality and make it apply to everyone! And deciding whose morality to apply is the easiest part.”
I turned off the TV. I needed to get some fresh air. Take my thoughts for a walk. I jumped out the window. My guards looked at me but didn’t move. I landed on the path, nodded to them, clasped my hands behind my back, and walked.
The weather was just right. The sun was shining brightly but not too brightly. A few wispy clouds hovered in the sky, granting shade in stripes along the ground. Birds flew in V’s heading in the same direction, the direction I was walking in.
There was a pond in the backyard, where we kept some fish. I stopped, not because of the fish popping out to swallow insects, but because of the sand on the banks. There was a deep hole in the sand, with specks trailing away from the pond. Someone was stealing sand? Odd target. Made no sense. Irrational, even.
I followed the trail of sand out of the lawn. A guard stared at me for a while but said nothing. The sand piled up outside my front door. I opened it, sending the pile of sand flying into the wind. The clouds thickened overhead.
There was no sand inside. That made no sense, the trail had been growing thicker, how could it vanish so suddenly? I searched the room, checking under the rugs and between the sofas. I couldn’t find a speck of sand or dust; the place had been cleaned meticulously. A robot whirred to life behind me, sweeping up the dirt I’d dragged in.
I grabbed the robot and checked its memory banks. It had recorded the last three spots it had stopped at to recharge. From the corner by the fireside it went to the socket beside the door before plugging itself under the table in the front of the room, which is where it had been before it came to wipe my footsteps. I released the robot.
The black box lay on the table, untouched since yesterday. Its sides weren’t as smooth as I had assumed, with little markings carved into them. Some sand stuck to the engraving on the side facing the wall. I turned that side toward me and frowned. A triangle, a couple of squares, and a few broken lines. What was that supposed to be? The sand hadn’t filled in all the cracks so I traced it with my hands.
A castle, it was a castle. Something surfaced in my mind but I fought it back. Dreams were irrational, they had no place in a perfect world. I picked up the box. It was heavier than I’d thought it’d be. All its sides had a castle engraved in them except for the top, where there was only an arrow pointing to a flap.
My phone rang. Odd, nobody ever called me. There was never a need to. I reached into my pocket and put the phone against my ear. “What is it?”
“Debby? What’s the matter?”
“Sorry to disturb you sir, but your presence is urgently requested in the Oval office.”
I started walking. “Details, Debby.”
I cursed. “We got rid of those years ago. I made sure of it.”
“It’s Square, sir. They managed to build one from scratch. They’re threatening to blow up –”
The door to my office swung open, revealing a bunch of people in suits and uniforms. They stood, I waved them down.
“– Babel. They’re on the bridge right now, demanding to speak to you,” finished Debby, who stood beside my desk.
“Thank you, Debby. Luna, what have you got for me?”
“Sir, we thought Square had been eradicated but it seems they were hiding in the Wastelands, building this weapon.”
“Are we sure it’s nuclear?”
“Our scouts ran radiation detection magic and all of them came up several times higher than average. Even if it isn’t as powerful as the weapons of old, it is definitely radioactive.”
I cursed. “None of this leaves this room. Suppress the news, detain all the traders on either side, I don’t want the public to panic.”
“It’s too late,” said someone.
“Azoth, don’t tell me…”
My Vice President turned on the TV. Instead of bickering intellectuals, a newsreel greeted me.
“The terrorists have closed off the Bridge of Babel with threats of a nuclear bomb, one they claim to have manufactured themselves from their secret base in the Wastelands. The Black House has yet to respond to the terrorists’ demands but we at ElHydro News have been assured that the President is preparing to deal with the threat.”
“Thank you, Adriella. That was Adriella from the foot of the Bridge of Babel, where terrorists from Square are threatening to detonate a bomb unless the President of Erath concedes to their demands. I’m Opis Lazuli, and you’re watching, ElHydro News.”
Azoth turned off the TV.
“It’s sad that I have to find out about this shit from the television,” I said. “Where are my intelligence reports? How did we miss any sign of this?”
“We aren’t sure, sir, but we believe they snuck into a caravan and rode it straight onto the bridge.”
“And no one checked the caravan?”
“They must have, but no one would have thought to run radiation detection magic on a random caravan.”
“A random caravan? They had a nuclear bomb in their caravan. I’d imagine it would at least look strange enough to contact the intense vetting agents at the borders.”
“Unfortunately, sir,” said Azoth, handing me a piece of paper. “The bomb does not look threatening in any way.”
I eyed the picture in front of me, my mouth frozen agape. “This…”
Silence hung over the room. My phone rang, breaking me from my stupor.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Runir,” said Lily. “They have Zoe!”
I turned on the TV.
“ElHydro News has obtained footage of the terrorists from our airborne drones. There appear to be three terrorists and a hostage. The bomb is housed in a black box the size of a car. The terrorists are wearing the signature Square masks, while the hostage has yet to be identified.”
I knew who it was, could tell with just a glance. “Zoe…” I whispered.
How the hell did she get there? She was home in the morning, she couldn’t have… but was she home in the morning? No, I hadn’t seen her all day, nor the day before, nor the day before. How had I missed this?
“Runir,” cried Lily over the phone. “Please do something!”
“Mr. President,” said Azoth, his words light but grave. I followed his gaze to the TV.
“The terrorists are threatening to kill their hostage if the president does not answer their requests! However, they have yet to attempt to contact ElHydro News or the Black House, raising questions about how they intend to communicate with the president.”
I ran out of the room.
I ignored the cries of alarm behind me and rushed into the living room. There was a quiet buzzing sound in the air, getting louder as I approached the front door. I grabbed the box, wrenched open its top, and pressed the phone inside against my ear.
“President Candela speaking.”
“Mr. President! So glad you could join us,” came a young voice over the phone. “We have your daughter.”
“We have a bomb too.”
“And we have demands.”
“I accept,” I repeated.
“But you don’t know what they are?”
“It does matter. I want assurances.”
“You have them.”
I could practically hear him scowling on the other end. “You’re lying.”
“No, I’m not. I know what your demands are, they’ve been the same for years, but I just don’t care anymore. Give me my daughter, diffuse your bomb, and you can have what you want. You win.”
“In person. Come give it to us in person.”
I hung up. “Debby!” I fixed my cuffs. “Bring out the airship.”
The airship touched down on the northern end of the bridge. I asked Lily to stay behind but she refused. Azoth and the rest of the cabinet stayed behind in the Black House, just in case. I walked across the bridge, a bitter feeling, and a thumping heart in my chest. The Squares sneered at me as I approached, one of them tugging Zoe forward.
Zoe herself was calm, just as she’d seemed on TV. Her rational mind told her, her father would come rescue her, and he had.
“The item, first,” said the cloaked figure standing on the box. His was the voice I’d heard over the phone.
“Here,” I said, throwing the box at him, casually. He caught it, eyed me nervously, then opened it.
He smiled. “It was an honor doing business with you, Mr. President.”
They released Zoe. Lily ran forward and embraced her. The terrorists pulled out their guns, only to drop them seconds later.
“What?” said the boy on the box.
Several dozen soldiers appeared around us, their guns and staffs pointed at the terrorists. Lily lifted Zoe up and calmly joined my side.
“What is the meaning of this? We have a bomb, a nuclear bomb!”
If I could see under the boy’s mask, I was sure I’d see his eyebrows furrow. “Alright, I’ll show you I wasn’t bluffing. Let’s all get blown to smithereens, together!” He stamped his foot and the box opened. He disappeared inside and screamed.
“You okay?” I said, my tone mocking concern.
“Where is it?” he said, dangling on the edge of a hole in the ground.
“Excavated by a team of Earth magicians and mechanical engineers in the short time we were talking.”
“That can’t be…”
“I’ve wasted enough time here, soldiers, arrest them.”
I turned my back on them, grabbed Lily’s arm, and walked away.
“This isn’t the end!” shouted the boy from Square as the soldiers handcuffed him. “You’ve built your castle, but it won’t last forever! It will crumble, I say. It will crumble piece by piece.”
“That’s okay,” I shouted back, putting on a show for the cameras undoubtedly hovering above. “I’ll just build it up again.”
I turned on the TV that night, Lily snoring lightly by my side. The news was done praising my heroic actions and the intellectuals were back on. It seemed like they’d nearly reached a conclusion.
“We’ve established that some chaos is essential for order to exist. Disorder is the natural state, and order is the artificial one, and although that does not mean that it is the right state, that does mean that we cannot have order without the chaos that is its antithesis,” said Leather-jacket.
“But where do we draw the line?” asked Monocles. “Do we make the obstacle course a random assortment of chaotic ideas and problems? How do we determine just how much chaos is necessary?”
“Just enough to make things fun and unpredictable,” said Pink-dress. “Let the norm be order but the defining points be disorder.”
“How do we translate that into a course for the game?” asked Apron.
“A set of questions, one designed by each of us, administered in a random order and with randomized parameters,” proposed Beard.
The others agreed. I turned off the TV, satisfied by the balance between chaos and order. I could predict everything, run the numbers a million times, but as long as there was the tiniest uncertainty, the faintest hint of an irregularity, life would be worth living. Order must be the norm. Disorder was there to spice things up from time to time.
I went to sleep with a smile on my face.
Your castle will crumble! That’s what the boy from Square had said.
Good, it would be boring if it didn’t.
“Morning,” I said.
“Morning,” said Lily, beaming. I wasn’t usually the first to greet her in the morning.
“Got time for a walk?” I asked.
Her eyebrows went up. “Yes!”
So we went for a walk around the backyard. The lawns were still perfectly trimmed, but I’d told them to cut the hedges into different shapes. Circles, triangles, even squares, they were all there. The fountains splashed loudly but rose higher than before.
“What’s that?” asked Lily, pointing to the pond.
“They haven’t filled it in, yet?” I said. “I’ll tell them to get on it right away.”
It was deeper than before and there was a new trail of sand.
“In fact,” I said, letting go of Lily’s hand. “I think I’ll go tell them right now.”
I followed the sand trail out of the garden, several guards following me. A few shouted for me to slow down but I didn’t; the trail was getting thicker. I reached a small thicket of pine trees and darted inside without a thought.
“Who is it?” came a voice from inside.
I stopped. That voice was familiar. “Amy?”
A red-haired woman stepped out from behind a tree. “Runir? What are you doing here?”
“I was following this…” I stuttered and continued in a muffled voice. “…trail of sand.”
“A trail of what?”
“It’s not as stupid as it sounds.”
“Never said it was.”
I spotted another pile of sand near a bush beside Amy.
“Right, better get on with it,” I said, brushing past Amy.
“Runir,” she said, her back to me.
“What is it?”
“It’s depressing, isn’t it?”
She walked away without answering, disappearing behind the trees. My guards hadn’t followed me into the thicket for some reason. The sand pile in front of the bush quivered, the wind gently blowing a bit away. I approached the bush and gingerly parted the leaves.
There was another pond behind it, one without fish. On its banks was a sand castle with intricate carvings, tall towers, and ornate battlements. It had been there for a while, since there were cracks everywhere, and sand piles at the base.
“The fuck is with the castles, damn it.”
I stepped behind the bush as a strong wind blew from behind me. It slammed into the castle, making the cracks widen, eroding the battlements, and collapsing one of the towers. It wasn’t going to last for much longer.
My phone rang.
“What is it?” I barked.
“Sir,” said Debby, her voice faltering. “There’s an emergency!”
“I assumed there would be if you’re calling me, tell me what it is?”
I cursed. Really, aliens? God damn it.
“On my way,” I said, rushing out of the thicket. My guards didn’t greet me when I got outside, on account of them not being there. What did greet me, however, was a giant, glowing flying saucer. Just stellar.
“You are the human leader, are you not?” said a stereotypically alien voice.
“President Runir Candela, at your service,” I said.
“This conversation is being broadcast to your human communications networks. We apologize for interrupting the riveting debate you were having over the chaotic nature of giant rubber balls.”
“No, no, don’t mention it. Please.”
“We are here to conquer your planet.”
“Straight to the point, I like that.”
“Will incinerating you give us victory?”
“No, you’d still have to fight the rest of humanity. Although, if you can incinerate me, you’ll probably be able to take over the world fairly easily.”
Bright green lights flared as I shot to the side. A giant hole appeared where the thicket had been, with no trace of trees or sandcastles. The lights flashed again so I ran. Another loud boom and the ground shook. I chanced a glance behind me and saw another hole leading to god knows where, with singed rocks and magma lining the sides.
“Accept your fate, human.”
“Screw fate,” I shouted. I ran towards the spaceship, dodging the green beams of incineration, or whatever they were called. They took forever to charge and couldn’t aim after they began charging; why have a giant green beam of incineration if you could never hit anyone with it?
I reached the ship without incident, jumped on top of it, and poked out the glass eye shooting the lasers. A scream erupted and the spaceship floundered, crashing into the ground, and rolling over like a dog. I hung onto a groove in its skin but it flung open, eliciting more screams. I dragged myself over the flap and jumped inside the ship.
There was no one inside but I already knew that. I grabbed the closest circuitry I could find and pulled it all out. The ship-alien’s screams grew in intensity but I kept pulling. Green goo splattered over me as I shattered glass tubes and spilled canisters. After I pulled out a purple cube, the ship’s screams subsided.
I jumped out of its head and wondered how much of this had been broadcast. My phone rang again. I’d been ignoring it during the fight.
“What is it?” I breathed.
“Sir!” came Debby’s voice. “Look out!”
I jumped to the side as another boom rattled the ground. I rolled over and spit out the dust in my mouth. Hundreds of flying saucer aliens whirred in the air, flashing angry green lights.
I did a backflip, narrowly avoiding another laser. I kept running continuously, glancing behind occasionally to measure where they were aiming. There were holes in all directions, I’d be cut off soon. Where the hell were my guards? Why was my phone still ringing?
I picked it up. “Fuck.”
“Mr. President, they have surrounded all the cities of the world! Please, tell us what to do!”
“Give me intel, we must know something about them?”
“Sir, all we know is that the terrorists from Square have been laughing hysterically for hours. Two of them have already committed suicide.”
“Get me the third one on the phone!” A laser cut off the back of my shirt.
My phone beeped as the call was redirected.
“… with the president, you say?” came a voice over the phone, a voice I remembered.
“You bastard, this is your doing, isn’t it?” I shouted.
“No, sir,” I could practically see the smirk on his face. “It’s yours.”
He laughed like a madman and wouldn’t respond to my curses and threats. I had some guards ruffle him up but to no avail. The lasers incinerated the back of my left shoe.
I cursed and flung the phone behind me. All the alien ships aimed at it and sent it to phone heaven. I stopped in place. They flashed back up to me but didn’t fire. They hovered in all directions, looked back at the massive hole where my phone had been, and flew off into the distance.
“They see radio and micro waves,” I said into the public phone.
“Sir, you’re alright!” said Debby.
“Of course, I am. Now forward that intel to the army. They should be able to handle it now.”
“On it, sir.”
I hung up and slumped against the walls of the cubicle. My heart was still racing from all that laser dancing. I still couldn’t wrap my head around those aliens, they’d come completely out of the blue. At least their attributes still made sense. Radio vision and fixed aiming; now that we knew their weaknesses, we’d defeat them in a few days.
Reason wins once again.
I stepped out of the cubicle.
“Hey, you sure took your sweet time in there!” said a tall British man.
“Sorry,” I said, off-handedly. The guy brushed past me, ripping off his shirt to reveal a large S in red. He entered the phonebooth and it began rumbling and twisting. Then it faded away.
I didn’t bother thinking about it.
Something hit me on the head. Something hit me on the head, again. And again, and again. It was raining but the rain wasn’t wet – it was slimy.
“Frogs?” I said, picking up one of the croaking critters. It was green, slimy, and froggy. My phone rang.
“Sir!” said Debby.
“It’s the frogs, right?”
“Yes, sir. They’re terrorizing the world.”
“They’re just frogs.”
“Fine, where are they coming from?”
“We have no idea.”
“Then get the space agency to look into it.”
I hung up as another frog hit me on the head. I ran to a store and bought an umbrella. The umbrella had rainbow swirls and a red clown nose on it. Perfect. I ran down the empty street and reached the Black House at last. There were no guards outside and the gate swung open on its own. Frogs fell like a pile of snow from over the gate as I ran inside.
“Lily.” I hugged her. “Where’s Zoe?”
“In her room. What’s with the frogs?”
I walked into the office and picked up my phone. “Debby, report.”
The call ended. The door to the secretary’s office burst open. A giant goat burst through, roaring a visceral, goaty roar. The corners of my eyes twitched. A goat, really?
The goat charged me. I cursed and dodged. My desk and chair got crushed and the goat’s horns shattered the windows.
“Lily, run!” I shouted, looking at her.
She screeched and pecked at me; neither in a sexual way. Her owl beak went straight for my neck, missing it by a hair. I rolled out of the room.
“I don’t even do drugs, damn it.”
The goat and owl burst through the wall behind me so I ran. A manatee appeared in the fountain in the main hall.
“Let me guess, Zoe?”
It flapped it’s feet aggressively, which I took for a yes. The goat was right behind me and the owl was circling overhead. I jumped out of the window to the side as the two crashed into each other. Pain shot through me as I twisted my ankle. I forced myself up, dragging my leg behind me. I glanced back just in time to see the Black House – my palace – collapse in on itself. The animals were still screaming so I wobbled away as fast as I could. I grunted as my foot hit a rock but bit my lips and carried on.
The lawn was patchy, singed in places, dead in others. The hedges were thorny and amorphous. The stones in the pathways had been crushed, pressed down, or replaced with bubble wrap. I reached the pond where the fish floated dead on the algae covered water surface. But the most surprising thing of all, was that the hole – of all things – was perfect now. It’s sides were chiseled and polished forming a square tunnel that lead into the darkness. As the bleating goat and the screeching owl approached, I cursed and flung myself into the hole.
I woke up in a white room. The walls were squares, I was sure of that even though I couldn’t make out any depth in the place. The ceiling was low and had no hole, I could tell because I’d traced it with my hands while standing on tiptoes. There was no sound, no irregularities, no imperfections. It was a perfect room, isolated from everything. Everything made sense here; no goats, no aliens, no god damned trails of sands. Just me, the walls, and absolute, rational, silence.
I lasted three minutes before I began banging the walls. Let something happen, anything happen. I kicked the walls with my still aching leg, relishing the pain that broke the monotony of the perfect cube.
“Let me out!” I shouted. “Let me out of this damned box!”
This was the part where the walls fell over and I went out to play with my friends. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Instead, the world went black.