HOLE IN THE WALL • by Lauren Triola

A rabbit stood in a field. There wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about the rabbit, or the field for that matter. The rabbit was an unremarkable gray with an unremarkable white puff of cotton for a tail, unremarkably twitching its nose as it stood on its hind legs to look over the tall grass. The field itself was typical in that it looked exactly like a field, with a large open area free of trees and covered in long green grass, which swayed slightly in the cool spring breeze. Since rabbits often stand in fields, and fields often have rabbits stand in them, there was really nothing particularly remarkable about the scene at all. Except for the fact that Roger was fairly certain he had not fallen asleep next to a field with a rabbit in it the night before, but rather in the bedroom of his New York apartment, far from any fields or the rabbits that stand in them.

Now that he thought about it, Roger didn’t think he’d ever seen a field before, other than those in movies or commercials for drugs that cure embarrassing personal problems. It was actually a bit disappointing. He felt no sudden urge to run through it or do any sort of frolicking. Though he might have felt more inclined to frolic if he had been wearing pants. Instead, he had only the boxers he’d worn to bed the night before. If he had known he would inexplicably be transported to a field overnight, he might have considered wearing a few more layers.

It took half an hour to find a road, and then another hour for a car to stop. For some reason, people seemed reluctant to pick up a man in his underpants.

“Where am I?” Roger asked the elderly truck driver as he climbed into the passenger seat.

“’Round Geneseo.”

Roger had to think for a moment. He didn’t get out of the city much. Or his apartment in general. “That’s in western New York, right?”

The driver spit a wad of tobacco out the window in acknowledgement.

When he entered his shoebox apartment, the door sticking, Roger noticed the astronomy poster over his bed had fallen. He’d bought it yesterday in an attempt at finding a hobby. He needed something to do outside work, and staring at stars didn’t sound too strenuous. As for work… well, call centers weren’t exactly mentally stimulating.

Roger pinned the poster back up, got dressed, and called his boss, Enrico, using the old “I slept through my alarm” excuse.

The next morning he woke up in Greenland. Luckily, he had worn pants this time. It took him a week to get home, hitching a ride to the airport with some climatologists. They were nice enough to lend him a coat before his nipples suffered necrosis and let him use a camera when he saw a reindeer.

***

His astronomy poster had fallen again. The pinholes had become too stretched out. He didn’t know how, though he wouldn’t put it past this rat-hole to have termites. Roger shifted the poster to the left then called his boss with the only excuse he could think of: unexpected coma.

The silence on the other end of the line wasn’t encouraging.

“I don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into,” Enrico said finally, “but no more days off and you can stay.”

“Thank you, sir! Never again, I promise!”

Roger hung up and breathed in deeply. He would go to work, he promised himself. His life would go back to normal. He triple-checked his alarm before going to bed. He wouldn’t be late, he wouldn’t be late.

Roger woke up in the Sahara. He was going to be late.

***

Normal, dammit, normal. He was going to get his boring old life back if it killed him. Furious, Roger kicked opened his door only to see his poster had fallen again. The old pinholes looked larger than before, which didn’t make sense because he had moved the poster and made new holes… which also looked larger than before…

Roger tossed his Sphinx postcards aside, stomped onto his bed, and prodded one of the pinholes with his finger.

Suddenly he stood on the Great Wall of China, his finger prodding thin air.

***

The landlord told him that putting holes in the wall violated his lease, gave him a warning, and offered no help. The electrician couldn’t explain it either, though she did suggest a very good psychiatrist. The construction company told him to consult a quantum physicist and hung up.

Quantum physicist wasn’t listed in the phone book, and he couldn’t get a straight answer from Princeton, so Roger went out and bought some spackle. He patched up the holes and stored his poster in the closet.

That night he lay in bed, wondering where he would wake up. Would the spackle work or would he forever jump from place to place in a strange sort of traveling roulette? Where would he end up next? Australia? Though, that wouldn’t be bad… He always wanted to play the didgeridoo. Or maybe Mount Everest. He’d wanted to climb that as a kid…

The next morning Roger woke up in his own bed for the first time in months. He sat up, staring at the patches of dried spackle. It felt nice to not wake up shivering in the snow or spitting out sand. He could go back to work at the call center. Or find a job that didn’t suck (though in this economy…). He could stay put at home… his dingy, dilapidated closet of an apartment with mouse droppings and a spatial anomaly. At least he’d stop waking up in random countries, surprised by each new destination. He could stay in one place, returning to a normal, predictable life…

Roger grabbed a tack from his desk and stuck it into the wall.


Lauren Triola grew up reading books and writing stories, then went on to college where she read more books and wrote more stories. Now she spends her free time writing and trying not to get crushed by the mountain of books in her room. You can follow her on Twitter, @3FollowsSo, or bother her at her blog, laurentriolawrites.wordpress.com.


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