Chapter 2:

Time is up

Acroamatic Security: Pocket Reference

Reality check time!

Wristwatch, analog: 08:15.
Wall clock, digital: 08:15.
Hourglass for five minutes: 00:00.

I flipped the hourglass over and sipped my coffee. Grains of sand are falling down from the top to bottom. The amount of sand increases at the bottom and decreases at the top. The wristwatch ticks and the second hand moves. The wall clock blinks. All the reality check tools are working.

Yet again, I've managed to make disgusting coffee. I guess I should get a wife. Or a secretary. Or a coffee machine. I'm leaning more toward the coffee machine. Although a secretary also seems like a good choice: she can make a sandwich and keep me posted with plans for a day. I'll have to look online for prices on those things.

Time's up!

Wristwatch, analog: 08:21.
Wall clock, digital: 08:21.
Hourglass for five minutes: 00:00.

So, this is reality.

I sipped my awful coffee again and looked outside. The piece of the sky still looks like a distorted digital video: a bright green rectangle with plenty of blurry squares. Neither the high school nor college prepared me for this. It is fair to say that they did not prepare me for anything at all. I had to acquire the knowledge and skills as I went along.

Oh, well.

Back to the outside world. There are no signs of mass hysteria on the streets: cars move, people walk. Although, from the 14th floor you can't see a damn thing. I have to check social networks and news sites, I'm sure that an event like that did not go unnoticed.

I got my phone out. No connection. Unfortunate.

Okay, I'll take some pictures and post them later when I can go online. If this phenomenon is exclusive to me, there will be accusations of photoshop and references to the all-forgotten "Matrix".

Reality check time!

I compared photos of the sky with the actual sky. Match. More or less.

So, this is reality.

I finished my coffee. Disgusting as always. Glitches are glitches, but I still have work to do and bills to pay. I put my jacket on and went to the front door of my small apartment.

Oh, well. Time to go to work, I guess.

A shiver ran down my spine.
Sweat broke out on my forehead.
I almost fell into total panic.

There was no stairway beyond the opened door.
Just a blank concrete wall.


I closed the door. I opened the door. The concrete.
I touched the concrete. Yeah. Concrete it is.
I closed the door, looked at my watch: 8:41.
I opened the door, looked at my watch: 8:41.
I closed the door.

I found out my hands are shaking.
I sat on the floor and tried to smoke. The cigarette fell out of my hands. The next one broke in my hands. And another one. The fifth attempt to light a cigarette was successful.

"WHAT. THE. FUCK", I yelled and choked on a cigarette.

Stop doing things and stop thinking. Stay put and get a grip.

Breath in. Breath out. Feel the nicotine. Don't think. Just get a bloody grip.

Ok. Got a grip? Not really. But hands are not that shaky.

Let's check the door again.

Yeah, there is definitely a concrete wall behind the door.
Yeah, that didn't make any sense.

I definitely need a drink. I went back to the room and grabbed a bottle of gin. Totally inappropriate nor for the mood, nor for the time. Well, whatever. I need a drink and I will get one! And I will drink straight from the bottle, and nobody will stop me.

Despite trembling hands and an almost panicked state, I managed to drink. Just spilled a little all over me.

So, I need to do something.

I started walking around my room, still holding the bottle in hand. Let's summarize things up: I have no internet connection, I have no connections to the outside world whatsoever, I'm low on food and water. Well, to put it bluntly, I must get out of here for sure.

But how I can do it?

I looked outside the window: yep, still 14th floor. I don't have enough stuff to create a makeshift rope. There are not some climbing-friendly features on the outside walls either. The jump will certainly end with death. Ok, now I have plan-B.

Ok, what else?

I took a hammer out of the closet and went to the door. Still concrete wall on the other side. I hit it a couple of times with the hammer. Behaves like concrete - small pieces break off, but I can poke at it like that until the end of time.

Well, in times like this you can always use any portal-ready surface
Well, no shit Sherlock.

Wait a minute! I've just had a very weird thought.
Not a thought, you dense motherfucker, it was a retrospective memory.

Ok, fair enough. So, better hurry up and look for a portal-ready surface, overwise they'll come after me the turns of the events become even more unfortunate.

Ok, so, what do I have?

A Tokyo subway map, maybe? Nah, I don't know the right signals and permissions.
An opening of some sorts? I've glanced over the small apartment - no luck. Well, I can try to hide inside the closet, but I died last time I did it.
A mirror? I walked over to the mirror, a big one, almost as high as I am. It scared me a couple of times in the night. Well, it's a mirror, it looks like a mirror, it acts as a mirror. I look like scared shit. Also, I must fix my tie it's... I'm not wearing a tie. The reflection smiled and scattered into pieces and faded away.

I collapsed on the floor but didn't lose a grip on the bottle of gin. In case of emergency, always save the most valuable thing. The most valuable thing right now is my sanity.

I crawled over to the mirror. Everything but me was reflected in it. The surface is smooth and cool and resilient. I touched the mirror; my hand went through.

Oh wow. Not another great adventure of my life. Not this shit again.

I think it's time to throw a tantrum and...

I heard a light and gentle knocking on the window.

Ah, great.

The bastard child of the angler and spider was pocking at my windows from the outside. I think it was smiling.

Ok. It is fascinating and stuff but fuck it. I'm out of here.

And I stepped into the mirror.