Paul opened his eyes, tried sitting up and promptly fell back on the bed. His head was in a carousel, and while it seemed to be enjoying the ride, he wanted off. Once the room had stopped spinning, Paul tried sitting up again. It was a little easier this time, but the ceiling was already tilting at an angle again.
After a third attempt, Paul finally got to his feet, taking shaky steps. He was wearing only a pair of tight white briefs, which was odd, as he didn’t own any. He was in his bedroom, thankfully, but he was surprised to see how tidy it was. The carpet had been vacuumed just recently. He didn’t own a vacuum cleaner.
Paul sat down again. Something was wrong. Was this his room? He looked around carefully. It was. Or one very like it. What happened? How’d he get here anyway? Last thing he remembered, he was on the way to Adam’s 21st birthday celebration. It was going to be a night of drunkenness and debauchery. Paul glanced down at his briefs. Maybe it was.
He also remembered breaking up with Holly at the party. Or rather, she had broken up with him. She was tired of his drunken escapades and the late nights he so enjoyed. For God’s sake, she had told him, he was pushing thirty and he still hung out with college kids! When would he put all that behind him? She couldn’t contemplate spending her life with a drunk, so maybe it was best to end things before they got really ugly. Of course, she was breaking up with him at a friend’s party and he was trying, unsuccessfully, to hold back tears, so it was a little too late to avoid ugly. Once Holly had walked away, Paul tried to put her out of his mind the only way he knew how: with a lot of alcohol.
As Paul attempted to sort out the details of the previous night, he could feel someone tapping away at the top of his skull, quite insistently. He rubbed his temples, hunched over on the bed, trying to focus. He needed coffee. That would help. Paul shuffled to his feet and slowly made his way to the little bathroom attached to the corner of his room. Coffee could wait. First, he had to pee. And maybe throw up.
On the way to the bathroom, Paul looked out the window. The sunlight had felt odd to him when he got up, but now was the first time he really noticed it. It was much too white. He stopped mid-shuffle. Something was definitely wrong. There were people outside his window. He lived on the third floor of a run-down apartment, so that was impossible. Yet there they were. Staring at him. They were also the strangest people Paul had ever seen, and he was sure that the one on the right wasn’t really human. Maybe it was the purple skin, or the dozens of yellow eyes perched on its head. He wasn’t sure which.
Paul edged closer toward the window, and saw that there were a lot of people outside, walking all over the place. Some looked human, some looked partially human, and others didn’t appear to be human at all, much like the purple-skinned creature that was gawking at him. They appeared to be in some sort of large white auditorium, and he could see all sorts of houses and apartment blocks placed around the room and cordoned off. People would stand around and observe the goings-on in one house, then move on to the next.
Paul rubbed his eyes in disbelief. Just what the hell happened last night, and where the hell did he end up? Was he still drunk? Or wait, was he stoned? Was he on acid? This was a bad trip, wasn’t it? He had dropped a few tabs of acid, and now he was tripping out of his mind. He laughed out loud at the thought, scaring the spectators outside his window away. What appeared to be a shiny chrome street light reassured them in a soothing voice that Paul was completely harmless. He opened his mouth to say something, then thought better of it. He didn’t like being called ‘harmless’, but who was he to argue with a street light?
A bright sign caught Paul’s attention. He was surprised he hadn’t seen it before, given that it was hovering just outside his window. It was a revolving hologram that mimicked the sort of placard they used to have in museums. As it rotated to face him, Paul managed to read what it said:
Living Exhibit from the 21st Century: The Typical Drunk
Paul blinked in disbelief and read the sign again, then slumped against the window sill.
Maybe, just maybe, Holly had a point.