What would you do if you suddenly stepped into a world that wasn't your own? What if reality itself became--twisted?
This idea has been boucing around inside my brain for several weeks now, trying so hard to get out that I finally had to let it! It's probably going to be a short story, only a few chapters. But I had to get it written, so it would leave me alone. It is vaguely similar to "The Man Who Was Not Jasper", but not too much. Read and enjoy!
1. Chapter 1: A Lot Of Talk ABout Coffee
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3138 Review this Chapter
“Bye dad!” my daughter yelled as she and her friends rushed out the door. They were off to see that movie for the…let me see, 10th time? Whatever. I waved my hand absently as they left. Well, at least I’d have the house to myself for the next few hours. There was a show on the History Channel that I’d been waiting to see. Yeah, the History Channel—what do you want? I’m a dad, and I’m old.
But it wasn’t on yet. So I sat down, leaned back on the couch, and tried to think. Something had been bothering me for the last couple of hours, and I wasn’t sure what it was. And for some reason, my thoughts seemed to be jumbled. This was odd for me. My mind was usually very sharp.
I spent several minutes trying to clear my head, when I seemed to detect a slight change in the air. The familiar noise and smells of the house were still there, but had somehow changed subtly. I hadn’t noticed anything else, and wasn’t even sure how long ago the change had occurred. The air had grown more humid, too, but I didn’t pay much attention to that. Out of the blue, a voice called out, “Dad! I thought you were going fishing? Get up! You must have over slept! It’s after 8!”
I frowned. Was the movie canceled or something? There’s no way it could be over already. After 8? How could that be…it had been 6:45 just a couple minutes ago. And I hadn’t even heard the door open. “Fishing? Why in the world would I go fishing? I never fish, I…” I opened my eyes and saw who was speaking to me. I sat there, frozen into stunned silence for a moment, then screamed, and jumped over the back of the couch, ducking down behind it. The voice, noticeably shaken, called, “D-Dad? A-are you ok? What’s wrong?”
I slowly peeked over the top of the couch. Yep, she was still there. What in the world was going on? Then, it dawned on me. A slow smile spread across my face, and I stood. “Ok, I get it now!” I said loudly, still staring at the stranger who was not a stranger. “This is like ‘Scare tactics’ or something, right? My daughter put you up to this, didn’t she? All right, guys, you got me! Good job! Laugh at the old man diving behind the couch! So where are the cameras? Come on, where are they?” I glanced at the girl standing there, and laughed again. “Man, they even got the same actress from the movie? Whoa, this must have cost a bundle! But seriously, where are the cam…eras?”
My voice trailed off as I looked around the living room—which wasn’t mine. None of my things were there at all. Everything was strange, and yet disturbingly familiar. I frowned. Then I realized—it was just like in the movie! I had taken Elizabeth to see it the first three times, so I was able to recognize the set. The only thing that bothered me was how’d they been able to do this without me realizing it? I glanced back at the girl. She was staring at me open mouthed and wide-eyed, a look of real fear on her face. “Dad? Are you ok? What’s wrong?”
“Um…” was my oh-so-intelligent come back. I started looking around again, nearly in a panic, still trying to find hidden cameras somewhere. Anywhere, in fact! This couldn’t really be happening, could it? I flipped couch cushions onto the floor, I knocked books off bookcases, I grabbed a broom and smacked the ceiling looking for secret panels. Anywhere a camera could possibly be hidden. But I found nothing. And the whole time, the girl just stood there, eyes full of fear, hand clapped over her mouth. Wow, she was good! She really looked scared.
Finally I stopped my fruitless search, and turned to the girl. “Look, ahh, Kristen, isn’t it?” I asked. “Kristen, I really need to know what’s going on here, ok? This is way freaky!”
“Y-You’re telling me? Dad—it’s me—Bella! Not ‘Kristen’! Dad, what’s wrong?” Her voice indicated that she was close to hysterics.
I took a step back, hoping it would calm her down. “Bella…right, yeah. “ MAN, she was really playing this up! “Alright, Bella,” I said, barely suppressing a giggle, “I’m not really sure what’s going on around here, but if you’d please just…” My voice trailed off for the second time in a very few minutes, as I caught sight of myself in a mirror across the room. I stumbled closer, and a strange, strangled sort of sound, kind of like a cross between a laugh and a whimper, escaped my mouth. The face looking out at me from the mirror…it looked just like the guy who played the dad in the movie!! I stood gaping at the reflection in the mirror for over a minute, while “Bella” slowly approached.
I reached for the mirror and took it down, looking behind it. “I so hope this is one of those trick mirrors like they have in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, where it superimposes someone else over you.” But again, I found nothing. Shakily, I hung the mirror back up, and stared at it again. “Bella” was standing right next to me now, and her reflection looked the same. “Well, so much for the trick mirror idea,” I muttered. “No, it’s like that one ‘Twilight Zone’, where the guy ended up in the TV show. Wait—‘Twilight Zone’? Oh, how appropriate! ‘Twilight Zone’! Oh, that says it perfectly! Well, I guess it could be worse—at least they didn’t make me Edward!” My voice had been rising steadily as I’d talked, and now I broke into a fit of laughter.
“Bella” put one of her arms around me, and put her other hand on my arm. “Come on, Dad, come sit down on the couch.” She said it with what sounded like genuine concern, as she guided me back, across the living room. She fixed the cushions I’d upended, and gently pushed me onto the couch. She did it with such love and care that I was again astounded by her acting ability. I leaned forward and buried my face in my hands. “I would be inclined to think this was all some sort of in credibly real, bizarrely intense dream,” I muttered. “If it weren’t for the fact that I never dream!”
“You just rest here, Dad, and I’ll go make you some coffee, ok?” The concern was still in her voice.
“Yeah, coffee, sure. That’d be great. That’ll fix everything.” If she noticed the sarcasm in my voice, she didn’t react to it. I heard her walk out of the room and into what I assumed was the kitchen. I heard her opening cupboards, heard the water running, and the click of the coffee maker as she switched it on. But then she didn’t come back, and I heard her talking to someone. I figured that she must be on the phone with someone. I was still clinging to the wild (and rapidly fading) hope that it was all some sort of ‘Candid Camera’ type thing, but how did they do the whole “make-me-look-like-the-guy-who-played-Charlie” thing? And as I listened to Bella talking on the phone, my last hope went out the window.
Of course, I could only hear her side of the conversation. But what she was saying, especially since she didn’t know I could hear her, dashed any idea I still might have had that this all a hoax. “I don’t know, when I woke him up he just started acting crazy! Yeah, when he woke up…yes…no, I—he didn’t hit his head…ok, thanks Esme…fifteen minutes? No, that’s fine…please tell Edward to come with, ok? You too, bye.”
She hung up the phone, and went back into the kitchen. A few minutes she brought a mug filled with coffee to me. Handing it to me, she said, “Dad, Carlisle and Edward are coming over for a bit. Carlisle wants to talk to you. Is that ok?”
“Yeah, yeah…whatever,” I murmured, my head still in my hands. I took the mug and looked at it, then set it down on the table…
A few minutes later, there was a soft knock on the door. Bella jumped up from her spot next to me on the couch and ran to get it. She’d been sitting with her arm around my shoulders, vainly trying to engage me in conversation. This was difficult for her, since my responses consisted of non-committal grunts.
I heard Bella whisper something, and then suddenly they were there, looking just like they had in the movie. I glanced at them, and then groaned, putting my head back in my hands. “Great,” I muttered. “More actors.”
“Hello, Charlie,” Carlisle said in that voice everyone described as “beautiful”. To me, there was just something disconcerting about guys being called “beautiful”. But as I sat there and he spoke, I almost had to agree with them. He DID have a beautiful voice! It was the same as in the movie, yet…different. I glanced back up at them. Carlisle looked concerned, Bella—who was clinging to Edward’s arm—looked sacred, and Edward was frowning, staring at me with a puzzled look on his face.
“So how are things at work, Charlie?” Carlisle continued. “Is everything going well?”
I decided to play along. At least until I could figure out what in the world was going on. “Oh, you know…same old same old. Not much ever goes on in this small town!”
“And you’ve been sleeping well?”
Yeah, right. “Um, sure. No variations in my sleep patterns.”
“Have you been feeling under the weather? Taking any medication?” All three were still staring at me with the same expressions from before.
“Carlisle, you’re my doctor—wouldn’t you know if I was taking any pills? I’m not on drugs, if that’s what you’re getting at! It’d be pretty bad for the police Chief to be taking drugs, now wouldn’t it?”
Carlisle nodded absently, still staring at me. Then he murmured, “Bella, Edward, can we go to the kitchen for a moment, please?” He said it very softly, thinking I wouldn’t hear him. But of course I did, and smiled slightly. “Can I come, too?” I asked. “Or is it a secret?” They were all surprised that I’d heard, and Bella gasped slightly. Carlisle and Edward exchanged a glance. They probably thought I was going crazy, and were having one of those “silent conversations” I’d read about in the books.
“Um, Dad, why don’t you wait here? I’ll bring you some more coffee, and give Carlisle and Edward some in the kitchen.” Bella turned and headed for the kitchen.
“Huh—why would they need any?” I muttered.
Bella spun around. “Wh-what was that Dad?” She asked with an expression of shock on her face. Edward and Carlisle glanced at each other again, and their eyes were wider this time.
“Nothing, nothing! Um…proceed,” I said, waving my hand.
The three of them left the room and went the kitchen. This time, I couldn’t hear anything but whispering. So after a few minutes, I got up and took my coffee cup into the kitchen…after I dumped the contents on a potted plant in the corner of the room. Bella, Edward and Carlisle were standing around the sink, and stopped whispering as soon as they saw I had joined them.
“So what’s taking the coffee so long?” I asked casually. Edward was back to frowning at me, and Bella glanced from him to me, and back again. “Um, Carlisle and Edward drank the last of it, Dad,” she blurted. Oh, sure they did, I thought, and Edward shot his eyes to my face. I just smiled. I’ll have to be careful around him. False thoughts are a great shield against telepathy, even though what Edward possessed wasn’t true telepathy. Real telepaths are extremely formidable.
“Well, that’s ok. I’ll run out to the store and pick some up, ok?” I reached for the coat that was hanging nearby.
Bella looked anxiously at Carlisle, who calmly asked, “Are you sure you feel well enough to drive, Charlie?”
I grinned. “Sure! Why wouldn’t I feel alright? Look, I’ll just run out to the store, get some coffee, and come right back.” I hurried out the door before they could say anything else.
It actually took me several minutes of aimless driving before I was able to find a store. Going in, several people greeted me, but it took me a few moments to realize that the calls of, “Hello, Chief Swan!” were being directed at me. I was in the coffee aisle, looking over the selections, when a voice spoke from right next to me.
“Well, I wondered where you were! I called the house and Bella told me that you’d gone out to get some coffee. What happened? I thought we were going fishing this morning?”
“Gah! How many times do I have to tell you people that I don’t like to fi--” I spun toward the voice, and looked down at a guy in a wheel chair. He was looking at me with the same strange look that Bella had when this whole, weird situation had started. I blinked. OK, wheelchair…an Indian fella. Who was he again? Billy somebody.
“Oh, hey there, Billy! Mr. Billy…” Something with a B. “Uh. Billy...Baxter! No, uh…Billy Benson! No, uh…Billy Bones! No, uh…”
“BLACK, Charlie! Billy BLACK!”
“Ah—BLACK! That was going to be my next guess!” I grinned at him.
He looked at me strangely. “What’s gotten in to you, man? Bella warned me you were acting strangely this morning.. What’s wrong? You feeling ok?”
I resisted the urge to laugh hysterically, and merely said, “Well, I’ll tell ya, Billy…I’m not really feeling much like myself this morning. HA!” The laugh escaped my mouth before I could stop it, and I started giggling. Billy’s eyes widened, and he rolled his chair back a little. “Are you drunk or something, Charlie?” He asked in a subdued tone of voice.
I shook my head. “No, I never drink…alcohol.”
Billy rolled back another couple of feet. “What do you mean? You and I always have a few beers while we’re fishing! And afterwards, too. And while we’re watching a game on TV! “
I blinked again. “Well, yeah. But I’m trying to cut back on the booze, you know? Well, have fun fishing today!” I hurried from the store. Outside, parked next to the police car I was driving, was a pickup truck with an Indian boy who looked to be around 15 or so. “Hello, Chief Swan! Did you see my dad in there? He was looking for you.”
“Yeah, I saw him. I’m not feeling very well today, so I told him to go fishing without me. How are you, Johnny?”
He looked at me strangely. Yeah, seems everyone was doing that lately. “It’s Jacob, sir. Jacob Black.” He kept looking at me. Well, I was close. I knew it started with J. Wait—this was the kid that was going to save Bella, and then get his heart broken by her. Hmmm. Maybe I could save him all the torture he was going to go through later. I leaned against the truck and said, “Hey kid..um, Jacob. Friendly bit of advice here—don’t waste your time on Bella, ok? It just won’t do any good. I’m sorry…I was rooting for you the whole time, even though I figured she’d end up with…uh, the other guy. I figured that from page one.”
He was leaning away from me. “Um…okay…whatever you say, Mr. Swan!”
He probably wouldn’t listen. Oh well. I shook my head and turned away. I heard him breathe a sigh of relief, and call, “Feel better, Chief! Tell Bella I said hi! I’ll see you later!”
Yeah, you sure will, you poor deluded sap! Well, at least I’d tried. I got in the car, and after more aimless driving (because I couldn’t really remember where the house was), I got back “home”. Carlisle was gone, but Edward was still there, and started frowning at me as soon as I walked in the door. He put an arm protectively around Bella, and I fought down the urge to start giggling again. Another sap. Gah, I’m surrounded by saps!
“Dad, what took you so long?” Bella asked. “And where’s the coffee?” Uh-oh…I hadn’t even realized until she said that that I had forgotten the coffee. “Oh, um, they didn’t have the kind I wanted.” Well, it was basically true. After all, I never drank coffee.
“Um, Dad,” Bella began, glancing at Edward.
I sat down across from them. “Yes?”
“Um, I’m going out with Edward this afternoon to see his family. I’ll be there for dinner, and then we’re playing baseball.” She flinched when she was done speaking.
I stared at her, waiting for the rest of whatever she was going to say. When she didn’t speak after several moments, I said, “Well, have fun!” Edward was still frowning at me, and I said, “Now just cut it out! Quit frowning at me! What’s you deal, anyway?”
The frown instantly vanished form his face. “Sorry Charlie, I didn’t mean anything by it. I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it!” He and Bella exchanged a look.
I stood. “Well, off you go and enjoy yourselves, kids. I’ve got some stuff to do, so I’ll see you later. I turned to leave, when something she’d said stopped me. Baseball…what was it about a baseball game? Darn it, I wish I’d read that book more than once! Then I remembered. That was where the other vampires came and The Cullens had to try and hide Bella.
I was about to turn around and blurt all this to them, when I hesitated. How would they take the news? Would they believe me and listen, or would they call the Funny Farm? The way I had been acting the last hour or so, probably the second one. Besides, I figured I had better just let the book play out the way it was supposed to. I think I’d already changed it enough by just being here.
“Well, I’ll see you later tonight then. Have fun.” I started to leave the room. In the door way, I turned. “Oh and Edward?”
He looked at me expectantly. “Yes, Chief Swan?” He asked.
What could I say? I felt duty bound to tell him something by way of warning. But what? “Watch out for spectators. In my experience, the spectators at baseball games can be…really nasty. Especially when they come in threes.” And with that, I left the room.
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- 19 Feb 09
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