A Glitch In The Matrix
Seth had seen these things all his life. Little things that just didn’t add up, minute details changing within a blink. These changes, which he had jokingly started calling glitches in the matrix, had always been smaller things such as a lady’s hair color changing from ginger to brunette. The changes were always so subtle that he brushed them off as his brain playing tricks on him, until one cloudy Friday evening.
He had been sitting in his room after school, talking with his friend. And then, he blinked. His surroundings had changed entirely. Suddenly, he attended Washington High, and sat with a group of what he estimated to be Sophomores. He turned to where his best friend, John, had been sitting seconds ago. A particularly geeky-looking kid half his height sat in John’s place, munching on a ham and cheese sandwich enthusiastically.
“What just happened? Where’s John?” Seth asked, panic beginning to pump adrenaline through his veins.
“You OK Seth? You don’t look like you feel well.” replied the bespectacled kid, mouth full of sandwich.
“How do you know my name? Oh my god, where am I? I’ve gotta get out of here, I’ve gotta get home!” Seth spouted, rushing from his seat to the nearby bathroom. He stared into the mirror, splashing his face with cold water. Except it wasn’t his face. A younger, more baby-faced boy with mousy hair stared back at him, horror contracting his pupils to near pinpoints. His attempt to calm down had failed, and he began to hyperventilate, holding onto the sink with both hands as he tried to ground himself. After five or ten minutes had past, a concerned-looking middle aged man stepped in. Seth assumed he was a teacher.
“Hey, Seth. Your friend asked me to check up on you, he said you started talking like you didn’t know him, and then ran in here. You alright?”
“No, no I’m not alright! I don’t belong here, wherever I am. What happened to Brigmore Prep? How’d I get here?” Seth demanded, staring back at his reflection in the mirror as he mentally begged for his old life back.
“You’ve been enrolled here for two years, Seth. I’ll call the nurse and she can-”
“No!” The unknown teacher’s attempt to console him was interrupted, the man jumping back with a start.
“Something’s... just not right.” He finally turned to the teacher, tears beginning to form in his eyes. Only, the teacher wasn’t there, and neither was the bathroom. He was standing in pitch blackness, unable to see his hands in front of his face. Turning around and running back to the mirror, he realized that everything was slowly fading to black. Tears streamed down his face as he looked back to the mirror. The mirror was gone, not even an outline around it remained. He looked down at his feet, the white and blue tiles of the school’s dingy restroom slowly falling into the black abyss that surrounded him. He knew he would be next. The last few tiles supporting him fell, falling out of sight. He clutched at the sink’s rim, holding onto it like a life raft as his feet dangled above the void. His sweaty fingers began to slide, and the muscles in his arm began to strain as he felt himself growing tired of holding on. Just as he was about to let go, he saw the tiles holding the sink in the air flake off, the sink giving way as he started to fall. At first, he flailed wildly, screaming until his throat went dry, but after what seemed like five minutes of falling through nothingness itself, he relaxed, his heartbeat calming. The stained eggshell-white sink fell a few feet below him, but beyond that there was nothing but blackness and pure silence. Seth wondered how long it had been like this, the rush of wind through his hair becoming calming and lulling him into sleep.
The man sat alone in an unkempt room, typing furiously on his typewriter. He scanned the last few lines, mouthing the words to himself. This was the third time he’d changed the setting in just a day. His brow creased in irritation and disgust at his inability to capture the scene in words, and he tore the paper from the typewriter, smearing the still-wet ink across the paper in the process. The writer balled the paper up, and it joined its previous revisions on the floor. He sighed in vexation, leaning back into his chair. He’d come back to this story another day.