I’m standing on a rooftop, in the rain, holding a plastic bag full of fake hundred dollar bills. I’ve got a penknife blade sticking out of my hand, a man who I’m fairly sure is descended from either the gods, giants or Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson following me and somewhere nearby is an ex-leprechaun with a temper and an axe to grind.
I know, just a normal Tuesday, right?
I guess you’re probably wondering how I got here. I mean, I certainly am. Four days ago, I was driving home from work, twenty past six, with some country music blaring and bam!
I’m driving on the same road. Cyndi Lauper is singing to me about Time After Time. Not country. I check the clock and it’s ten past six and seeing as I’m fairly sure that my car isn’t a time travelling Delorean and is a beaten up Ford, something’s gone horribly wrong.
I mean, worse than the lorry headed towards me at high speed. I screamed and swerved, not necessarily in that order, then came to a screeching halt in the lay-by. I’m going to admit it, I felt a cool wetness spreading where I’d pissed myself. Which was a real surprise because by my body clock, I’d gone just before I left work.
I picked up my phone from the passenger seat, staring at the blinking message light. Pressed my finger against the sensor and let the screen bathe me with light while the engine kept ticking over.
‘Dude, what happened to you? Call me. G.’ That was Geoff. Perfectly normal stuff, I think we were supposed to be going for drinks.
Judging by your lack of response to our phone calls, I must assume that you are unwell. Please respond to this email with a projected date that you will be returning.
Miles McEnroe, CTO Alanium Enterprise.’ That one’s the boss. I hadn’t gone to work?
There were more messages in a similar vein, just repeats of the same damn thing. Where are you, what happened to you, on and on ad infinitum. Hannora, Lila, Dave, Dad.
Oh, and one from Mum reminding me that it was Dad’s birthday at the weekend and that I should really call more often.
There were answerphone messages too, more of the same really. Including a second reminder from Mum, I mean, really? I know I forgot last year but still!
And there it was. The only one that meant anything. “Mr Hart, I imagine you’re exceptionally confused right now. I would be happy to explain, but the only way to do so is face to face. Meet me at the Happy Places diner.”
I’d never heard of the place. “If you need a reminder about where that is, check your glove box. Be there at 2000.”
I’ve never heard a voice over a phone line smirk before, but I definitely heard it then. “Stay alive, Mr Hart.”
As I said, I’d never heard of Happy Places. But, who would leave a cryptic voicemail without something to back it up, so I checked the glove box and found a leaflet. In this electronic age, where everything is sent by email, I found a leaflet in my glove box.
THE REAL HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH
That’s what its legend proclaimed in a big, bold typeface.
Just off of Highway 9 at Junction 22. Come in today and experience the magic.
An invitation like that and a cryptic phone call? How could I refuse?
I sure as hell wish I’d refused now, right?
Aha! I have found a possible solution to my sleeping problem. I let the inspiration fairy wake me up from a nap to write! Though I do now have to go back three episodes of this series… Oops.
The Idiot in Tin Foil