Oliver Zarandi

Explanation

Two days ago, my job went missing. Yesterday, my house went missing. And then I went missing too.

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For some reason, I can’t stop moving. I would like to stop moving and settle down.

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My job is a three-dimensional rectangle with four floors and is mostly filled with people I do not care about. But two days ago, when I cycled to work, it had been replaced with a hole. I looked down into the hole and saw fire.

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Upon walking home a day later, my house was gone. My house was a warehouse unit with a car garage next to it. That, too, had been replaced. But this time, it had been replaced with a mass grave. Everybody inside of the grave was naked and pink.

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And today, I woke up but when I opened my eyes everything was red. As if my eyes were closed. Around me, the sound of traffic but the sound was muffled as if two pillows were cushioning my ears.

*

My vision slowly came back. I was on the floor. I couldn’t get up. My legs had been replaced with walking sticks.

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This couch is uncomfortable.

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Things got better for a while. I came back. I was conscious and my legs were legs, my arms were arms and my head was still intact. This is the way life should be, with everything in place, where years go forward and minutes die in seconds.

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Suddenly, everything was worse. I was sitting in a chair at the top of a Georgian townhouse in 1765. Samuel Johnson, writer of the first English dictionary, and other artists, were taking turns kissing me all over my body and I didn’t say no.

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And then they taped my eyes open and my glued my hands to a Nintendo Entertainment System controller. Johnson laughed at me and I asked: why me? No answer. I was forced to play Duck Hunt. Duck Hunt is a two-player game. Player 1 controls the ducks.

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Back to reality, I decided to go and buy a flute of bread to satiate my hunger.

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Outside, the weather blinded me and I couldn’t see again. All I wanted was to go back to work and resume life as it was.

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I woke up in a field. Cows surrounded me. I was thirsty so I grabbed an udder and sucked. No milk came out.

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Upon returning home, three of my high school friends were sitting in my sitting room. I asked why and they said they wanted to talk about my absence. Theodore remarked that my drug abuse was ‘pronounced’ and I said: please leave.

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My job came back to work. So I went back to work.

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My colleagues commented on my shaking.

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Upon returning home, I had a shower and all my skin came off. I went to dry myself. An elderly gentleman called Fellows told me that’d be a bad idea. I went up to the roof of my apartment block and dried off my skeleton.

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Don’t worry, they told me.

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I was told that I could take a two-week holiday. My boss said I looked thin. His assistant said I looked like a skeleton. I told them that I was a skeleton. I told them I was trying to find my skin again.

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They fired me. Now what?

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My house didn’t want me either. It told me to leave. I asked if we could talk this over and my house said nothing.

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I asked my friends for help: could you help me out/have you got a couch I can sleep on/Just until I get back on my feet. The answer was no. They said they didn’t feel safe around me.

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I went to the library and found a small opening behind a bookshelf. I now lived behind a collection of medical journals. I would travel out every day to bring provisions for my new home. I had a pillow, a yoga mat for my back and some tarp for a cover.

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I learned many things in my new house. But there are only so many times you can read about Central African lymphomas and ambiguous genitals.
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An artist named Koonig said I could stay at his place. He picked me up because he liked my legs. He said to me: “do you like my apartment?” I said: “Sure.” And I did. He laughed and patted me on the back. My jaw fell off. He said: “the ceilings are high. Don’t hang yourself in here!”

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The weeks passed by. I liked Koonig and he liked me. I was not sure whether I was coming or going most of the time. I asked Koonig just to check. “Koonig, am I coming or going?” He said neither and this didn’t really help.

*

Koonig got me back on my feet. He gave me some new skin. I wasn’t moving around all the time anymore. People weren’t forcing me to play games I didn’t want to play. People weren’t kissing me on my body against my will. Time was suddenly finite and organized.

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Koonig sat me down and stroked my legs. I looked at one of his paintings. It was of a man sitting down having his legs stroked by Koonig. I struck Koonig aside the head with a tire iron.

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I left the house. I ran far away to a mountain and looked out on the city. The lights were moving. I had a headache because I felt every single person in the city moving. I just wanted to stop moving and be surrounded by silence and a black blanket of darkness.

*

And that’s all I remember: how pretty the world looked when it wasn’t there.

Bio: Oliver Zarandi is a writer. His work has recently appeared in Hobart, Electric Cereal, theNewerYork and The Boiler Journal. He’s working on a collection of short stories and a novel. Find him on twitter: @zarandi.