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It mostly felt like a normal day, but something was definitely off. It was right around his lunch break that he realized exactly how. He’d had the inexplicable feeling of weirdness all day, but it wasn’t until he was walking down the street to his favorite sandwich shop that he could pinpoint it. He felt a delay between every thought and its subsequent action. He’d decide to turn his head to look at the cop car speeding by, but it wouldn’t happen right away; no, there was an almost imperceptible lag before it actually happened. Okay, he thought. No need to panic, just yet. Probably not getting enough sleep, that’s all.

The problem was that it was becoming gradually less imperceptible. In fact, it got to the point that it was about all he could perceive.

Walking instantly became a challenge. It had been driven entirely by reflex until now, until he actually thought about it and how each step he took was just barely behind his conscious effort to take it. Only about three steps after he started paying attention, he tripped over his own foot and fell face first into the concrete. His hands shot up to break the fall at just about the same time his face was colliding with the sidewalk. He decided that it was probably time to panic.

With a considerable, careful effort, he managed to lift himself up on his palms into a push-up position. Progress, this is progress. Very slowly and deliberately, he brought one foot underneath himself and put his weight onto it, then, with all the even carefulness of a gymnast about to step onto the balance beam, he performed the mighty feat of standing up.

The whole street seemed to be deserted, which he was completely fine with. He slowly brought a hand up to his nose, even though he already knew blood was dripping from it. The weird thing was, he suddenly realized now that he wasn’t focused on getting his own feet underneath him anymore, the blood wasn’t dripping down to the earth. It was dripping straight out in front of him. He had missed a lot of physics classes in high school, but he was pretty sure gravity didn’t operate at perfect right angles to the ground. The drops were forming a small pool of blood in mid air about two feet away from his face. It was perpendicular to the sidewalk below.

So, this. This is a dream. I’m dreaming. I’ll probably wake up now. He tried to take his arm away from his nose, but it wouldn’t budge. Please, tell me I’m about to wake up. In fact, nothing would move. He was totally frozen. Even the drops weren’t “falling” anymore, if you could call it that. One hung just above the pool, suspended by nothing. He wanted to scream, but his mouth wouldn’t open, his vocal cords wouldn’t vibrate, his lungs wouldn’t provide the air. He was utterly, completely, stuck in his own body.

Just as his utterly panicked mind was about to dissociate itself from reality and slip into darkness, something appeared directly in front of him. It was a floating rectangle filled with text.

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An introduction to yourself, yet again.
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