It's been a grim week, each day filled with the non-stop replays of an early Monday morning. Shaldon looked out the window - the outside was not much better. The sky resembled a skin of a newly-born rat, but even the usually noticeable rats in the basement of the building turned quiet, fearing the storm outside.
How ironic, he thought - there's a village with the same name as mine. And they sell the tickets to stay there for a weekend. If I could sell the tickets to stay inside my mind for a weekend, would anyone bother ? But only during the summer time. All the other time of the year he'd want to be left alone. In the pursuit of that, he went as far as not having a permanent job. The seasonal jobs paid enough to save up and hide for the winter, sleeping a lot more than one would consider healthy, and crawling out only to get a couple of sandwiches in a automatic drive-in.
But now, with this weather, it's time for a nap. He decided. The old-fashioned mechanic clock was the only thing on the headboard shelf, ticking quietly but relentlessly. The heads were open like a beak of some exotic bird, opened to an extreme - it was just after five. He felt sufficiently dizzy, so the only thing he took off were the shoes. It will be just a short nap, after all. The storm should be gone soon.
The air of downtown Singapore was hot and heavy. He liked this feeling - you can almost take it in your hands and shape the little funny figures out of it - much like the clowns do by twisting the long and thin balloons - but without. He made himself an imaginary dog to fly by his side and started to walk towards the shopping mall - figures or not, it was seriously hot, an airco would have been a relief. No, not the rain. He had enough of it. Besides, it would destroy his newly made silent and unseen friend. Instead he took a bus and rode a few stops. Now's the time to get off.
Approaching the entrance of the mall, he saw a girl of some nine years of age, standing near the entrance. She had a backpack, and was holding a plate of Thin Mints in her hands. In any other time of the year he'd wonder what she is doing in Singapore - but today he was not inclined to. He pulled a five dollar note out of the pocket, and bought a box. He did not wait for the change she was trying to give. Nor he wondered why he'd buy them in the first place. He wanted to get a breath of fresh air.
The mall indeed had an airco, but it was one of those filled with myriads of the small outlets that sell the counterfeit electronics, sometimes per pack, sometimes by weight, almost like cookies. It was a great place to be in - the building internally was multi-storied and circular, every little business trying to grab a bigger share of attention by winning the competition for the strangest signage. He felt like he was a visitor in a beehive - and all this activity around him was filling him with the sense of activity. He'd even walk faster - without any reason to hurry at all.
A small and boring outlet caught his attention. The sign said "mind uploading". What the hell, he thought - it's obviously impossible. But the old man with the face he could not read by all means did not think so. The old man's smile was friendly, but at a distance. Several people came in, passed the money to him, and disappeared behind the back door. No one came out. Time to try out those cookies. He took a bite - which turned the cookie into a moon-like shape, when the old man looked at him and said: "It's only 50 dollars, sir. Full refund if not satisfied".
Walk away ? This is much stranger than his imaginary dog, still hanging around, or the scout selling the cookies. No way. He automatically put the cookie into his back pocket, and reached for the wallet. Only a hundred. "Make me two copies" - he muttered. "Sorry sir, no animals allowed and you can not take this cookie box inside" - politely, but firmly answered the old man. Well. If this works out it will be much better than both combined - so Shaldon put the box upright on the ground near the wall, and walked towards the back door with no signs of hesitation.
The old-fashioned mechanic clock was the only thing on the headboard shelf of an empty bed, ticking quietly but relentlessly. The heads were open like a beak of some exotic bird, opened in an attempt to catch something. And indeed - the exotic bird was not alone. It was trying to catch a moon-shaped piece of cookie that was just beside it, flat on the shelf. Someone must have started eating it and forgotten it down here - or they were teasing the exotic bird out of their sheer evilness - we do not know.
But we can say with full certainty that it was just after five.
Somewhat unexpectedly, continued here. Warning(spoiler): blatant violations of laws of life and universe and everything is ahead.