A Kind of Godhood by Russ Bickerstaff

A Kind of Godhood
Russ Bickerstaff

7:15 am

The world dissolved into him. Norm Jones. The name came to him It was his own. There was no doubt about it. Why then was it that the words sounded so very, very strange to him? He shrugged and began to roll out of bed. And somewhere in the back of his mind, Norm Jones knew that it was taking him a lot longer to get our of bed than it normally did. Not because he was necessarily any more or less tired than he had been on any average morning but rather because the bed he was in seemed to be a bit bigger than it was when he had fallen asleep on it.
There was something else that was strange about it.    It took him a while to realize that as he was rolling around the vast expanse of the bed in an effort to get out of bed, he’d noticed that it was a lot more soft than it had been. And there was something else… a girl—woman actually who was sleeping in it. And she seemed to be completely out of it. Long blond hair. Something about a girl named goldilocks passed through his half conscious mind and he began to wonder what else he might find in the soft cushy fold of the bed on his way out of it.

As it came to turn out, Norm Jones did NOT encounter anything else on his way out of bed. On a normal morning, any of what he had experienced on his way out of bed would have been cause for alarm would have jolted him quite rudely awake. It was not to be. He had had a rather rough night and hadn’t had much of a chance to really come to a point where he would be able to fully awaken. He was still too far gone somewhere between dream and wakefulness, so he simply steadied himself on his feet and he began to walk out of his bedroom.
His bedroom too had gotten to be a bit bigger than expected, which would’ve been all too upsetting for him had he not been so vaguely awake. The carpeting beneath his feet would’ve seemed different to him in that it was there. (Somewhere in his memory he may have been aware of the fact that his bedroom had hardwood flooring and some part of his mind would’ve been trying to figure out how hardwood flooring could have grown such a thick pelt of lush carpeting.)

He grabbed his bathrobe, but it felt quite a bit thicker than it had been, but though it bore little resemblance to the thin, chintzy thing his mom had sent him in the mail a little over a decade ago, it hadn’t given him cause to want to wake up any more than he already had. He wrapped it around him and began to walk in the general direction of the door that seemed to be so much bigger than he’d remembered it being the night before. Something somewhere in the back of his mind was trying to figure out the difference in sizes of everything. Like maybe he was that much smaller this morning than he was the previous evening. And so maybe he was shrinking. This was clearly something he was going to have to consider later on.

And he continued to walk out the door and into a hallway that sort of started to wake him up. The reason it started to wake him up may have been its size. The ceiling was suddunly quit tall and there was a warm sense of    echoing that seemed to be reverberating around everything. But as the kitchen was where the kitchen had always been, he scarcely had any reason to second guess any of it at    all. And so he pulled back the door of a refrigerator that seemed positively immense.
He reached back into the refrigerator and pulled out what he might’ve thought was a carton of orange juice. He looked over to see the paper on the kitchen counter. Somewhere in the back of his mind things started jostling around for reasons he didn’t completely understand. Maybe it was the fact that the paper rested on black obsidian that had always been linoleum. Or maybe it was the fact that he hadn’t actually gone out to get the paper in the first place. The paper was thicker than he remembered it being for a week day and there was kind of a strange looking logo on the masthead. He opened the carton of what he thought was orange juice and knocked back a deep wash of the juice as he looked at the headline of the paper which read something familiar in large, end of the world lettering. The words jostled around in Norm’s head as he knocked back a liquid which bore very little resemblance to actual orange juice. Some thick, vaguely glowing neon orange liquid dribbled down the corner of his mouth, down his chin onto the lapel of the bathrobe, where it instantly crystallized.

Between the neon tanginess of the liquid in the carton and the sudden realization of the meaning of the headline, Norm Jones choked against the harsh acidity of the liquid and spit it out, suddenly aware that the apartment that he was in was not his own. He reached out across a living room which bore only a vague resemblance to his, he raised some vague analog to his living room blind and saw an impressive skyline. Exotic-looking buildings out of some made artist’s imagination hang ion the air in what appeared to be impossible angles. Cars rolled across the sky unsupported by any form of highway. Tiny orbs flew around various things. There were giant moving video and holographic billboards. Clearly, this was not Chicago. And he knew exactly where it was.

“Good morning, Gannon.” Norm swiveled around to see the girl who he had crawled past to get out of bed. She was a very, very young woman and she wasn’t really wearing much. She stretched. His jaw dropped. “Still tired?” He nodded at her question, unable to do much more than that just at the moment. He looked back down at the headline “Mago Assassinated!” It read. “Gannon Thorid to take office.” Read a smaller sub-head. He dropped the paper to the ground. “What should we do about breakfast?” She asked.

He looked over at her. She hopped onto a couch. “I guess we can’t go out,” he said looking into her eyes. “You ARE dead, after all.” She smiled and laughed. “Is that today’s Invalid?” Norm nodded, tossing the paper over to her. Mago was sitting on his couch. Gannon would be her successor. Somehow this was all so much less ominous when he’d written about it—back before he woke up and found himself as Gannon. Somehow everything seems so much more intense when it’s not fiction.

This was not happening There was no way in hell this was happening. This was some strange hybrid of… wait a minute. Norm looked straight back out into the skyline. He took a deep breath and sat down. He looked over to the half naked girl on the sofa next to him. And he told her that he needed to take a shower. She asked him about breakfast. He told her to order whatever she wanted from wherever she wanted for delivery. (He figured there must be some place that would do that) and went off to shower in peace.

There was clearly a simple explanation for this. He walked down the hall. The entire apartment looked huge, but it WAS his apartment. When he was writing about the home of the character he had become, he was never terribly specific about what it looked like, but he did NOT picture a more lavish version of his own apartment. And when he was writing about the man he had become, he in no way pictured himself. So what was the deal? There was a ringing. It was evidently the phone. The landline was right in the wall exactly where it had been in his own apartment.

He picked up the phone and said, “Hello.” He didn’t really answer the phone out of anything other than reflex. Had he been thinking about things with any clarity, he would’ve known to keep from answering the phone. Unfortunately, that’s not how this was destined to work. He was to answer the phone and deal with whatever it was that was going to happen as it came.

A Kind of Godhood by Russ Bickerstaff 1

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