Mechanical sounds from the street rouse me from my sleep. I blearily look at the clock, but can’t quite make it out. Then I realize that the sounds are the trash truck coming down the street, and I haven’t put the bins out yet. I scramble out of bed, displacing the cats, and rush to find some clothes worthy of the frigid morning air.
As I run out I see the trash truck pulling further down the street, and I’ve missed my chance. Then they pull into the neighbor’s driveway to turn around. I’m a bit amazed that they could pull off a turn there without hitting the garage, until I notice that the garage isn’t there. The house isn’t there. None of the houses are. The houses and the green grass and trees are all gone. All I can see is pavement, large holes in the red earth, and some scattered orange construction.
This isn’t right.
I vigorously snap my head back and forth to reset everything.
I’m standing outside, having just put the bins out. The trash truck is headed down the road towards me. I think “Phew, that was a close call, I almost missed them this week.” And as that thought fades from my mind, something else tugs at the back of my conscience. I shake it off and trudge back to the garage.
The reflections in the car seem off. I can’t quite figure it out, but they’re not what I expect. Maybe a little too red?
No, there’s the neighbor’s house. And their big tree, bare of leaves. I must need more sleep.
Something Else lets out a polite cough in the back of my mind. I freeze in the middle of the driveway, and slowly start to turn around.
Please stand still while we recalibrate the system. This will only take a second.
Before I can respond, the world in front of my eyes goes static. I can’t count how many worlds ripple in front of me, but I don’t dare move. And in the span of a couple heart beats, I’m staring at the neighbors carefully groomed lawn once again. The trash truck continues its crawl down the street.
Someone starts walking up my driveway, from where I don’t know. I can’t tell their gender, but they vaguely remind me of someone. No, they vaguely remind me of everyone. They speak, at least they seem to — although their mouth doesn’t move from its courteous smile.
I’m terribly sorry about that. These things almost never happen. Some of your existences experienced a bit of temporal unwinding. We’ve recalibrated, but we may need your help to get everything properly aligned again. Shall we take a brief walk?