Adventures of the Man Who Was Not Jasper
A scientific experiment goes wrong...or does it?
3. Chapter 3: The Hamburger Made All The Difference
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1238 Review this Chapter
I sat there and stared at the reflection in the mirror for several seconds, while the girl continued to stare at me. Finally I squeezed my eyes shut. "Ok--think, man, think!" I murmured very softly. "You’re a scientist! Concentrate! Analyze! How could this have happened? Come up with a solution!" I felt the girl leaning closer to me. Probably trying to hear what I was mumbling. I opened my eyes and looked in the mirror again. Those strange, nearly black eyes stared out at me. I groaned, and dropped my head to the counter. "I can’t!" I moaned. "There is no solution. Either I’m delusional, or I’m hallucinating!"
The girl touched my shoulder gently. I jumped, my head popping up to catch her eyes on me. They were filled with concern, and sadness, and—love? How could she love me? She didn’t even know who I was! Her golden eyes captivated me, and I just stared into them. Slowly, she smiled. I gulped. I squeezed my eyes shut again, and then opened them. She was still there, staring at me and smiling. Her smile was gorgeous. She was gorgeous. I gulped again, and tried to return her smile. If this was a dream, I could sure get used to it. I shook my head, tearing my gaze from her.
I needed a drink. Normally, I never drank alcohol, but this was not a normal circumstance! Turning, I gestured to the man behind the counter, who’d been not too subtly watching us. When he came over, I said, "Um—give me a double Bourbon!" He frowned and said, "Hey, pal—this ain’t no bar! It’s a diner!"
The girl beside me giggled. Ignoring her, I looked back at the mirror. Yep, same strange face. So I wasn’t awake yet. Then I realized how bloody hungry I was. "Ok, give me a hamburger, then." The man nodded, and turned to the grill. I heard the girl gasp slightly, so I looked at her. She had her tiny hand over her mouth, and was looking at me wide-eyed.
"What?" I asked. "What can I say? I’m starving!" She lowered her hand, and said, "I could tell that when you walked in! Don’t you want to leave? It-it might be better if you were outside. There’s a nice little park nearby that we could go sit in and-and talk, i-if you wanted too." She looked down at her lap shyly.
Oh, Lord, I’d love to go anywhere with you, I thought. But I couldn’t tell her that. I didn’t want to appear too forward. And the diner was rather noisy, which was strange, considering how few people were there. And it stunk worse than any place I’d ever been before. Funny how I hadn’t noticed that before. It had typical diner odors. But there was one odor I couldn’t identify, that had been growing stronger. It was a sweetish odor, and it kind of bothered me for some reason. I sniffed the air and frowned, glancing around the room, trying to figure out what it was and where it was coming from.
I turned back to the girl. Now, her eyes looked almost fearful. Like she was afraid of me. Suddenly, I was afraid, too—afraid that I had done something to offend her, and that she was getting ready to bolt out the door. I couldn’t bear to think of that, so to distract her, I blurted out, "So, uh—what’s you name?"
That calmed her a little. Her eyes brightened, and a small, shy smile crossed her beautiful face. "I’m Mary Alice Brandon!" She replied. "But mostly I go by Alice. What’s your name?"
I opened my mouth to reply, but suddenly I was overcome with a slightly weightless, almost dizzy sensation. I shook my head, then blurted out "Mark Jasper!" Then I frowned again. Mark Jasper? What was that? My name was Mark, but for some reason, the name Jasper had shot into my head also. Another one of those weird, disturbing two-thoughts-at-once things I’d been having.
The girl giggled again. "Pleased to meet you, Mark Jasper. Um, since I use my middle name, can I just call you Jasper?" I shrugged. "I guess, if it makes it easier." It would take some getting used to, but then so would seeing this face and hearing this voice all the time! But I didn’t tell her that part. Then I smiled at her. "Heck, you can call me anything you want." She lowered her eyes and giggled again.
"What’s your last name?" she asked. Stupid double thoughts! Two names came to my mind—Whitman and Lockhart. But what came out my mouth was "Whit—Lock..." Then I frowned again. Which was it? I was confused, but it was too late. The girl looked back up at me and smiled that smile of hers. That gorgeous beyond words smile. "I’m very pleased to meet you, Jasper Whitlock!"
The cook appeared then, and set a plate with a hamburger on it down in front of me. I felt Alice stiffen beside me as I reached out and picked up the burger. Suddenly, a wave of nausea swept over me. The burger smelled horrible! And it looked even worse! My stomach rolled, and I dropped the burger back onto the plate. "Ugh!" I exclaimed. "I feel sick! And yet—I’m still starving!" I looked back down at the plate. What’s going on here? I wondered.
Alice gently touched my shoulder. I turned to her. She smiled, and reached her hand out to me, palm up. Somehow, I knew she was inviting me to go with her. I stared at her hand for a long time. It felt to me like if I took it, I would be crossing a boundary that would change everything I’d ever known. I was scared. I looked into her golden eyes, and she smiled even more. I could see love in her eyes, and for some strange reason, they filled me with a hope I’d never experienced before.
Without looking away from her face, my gaze still locked with hers, I slowly placed my hand on her tiny palm. She sighed, and her smiled widened as she entwined her fingers with mine, looking down at our joined hands. For some reason, it felt like I had come home. I couldn’t explain it. My reason had deserted me. All I felt was that I would die for this absolutely wonderful creature. that I had just met. Good Grief.
I was snapped back to reality by the sudden increase of my hunger. The smell of the burger was encouraging the sick feeling in my gut, while at the same time that sickly sweet odor was driving my hunger to the point of no return. I felt strange, and a bizarre urge that I couldn’t quite give a name to swept over me.
Alice must have noticed it too, because her face suddenly grew fearful, and she hopped off the stool heading for the door. She practically dragged me outside, and hurried down the street. The rain had turned into drizzle. The clouds hung dark and low in the sky. Soon I saw the park she had mentioned come into view, and she quickly headed for it. There were quite a few other people there. Ignoring the first several benches we passed, she led me to the most remote corner of the park, where no other people lingered. Then she finally sat, and gently pulled me down beside her.