CHAPTER I : side
Sam knew something was odd with his old TV.
Well actually, it hadn’t been his for very long; he had found it in the trash, walking down Empty Street near the 5th avenue on his way home.
He remembered that because it was one of the first things he had done when he had arrived in this world, after waking up on the beach.
Months had passed since then.
He remembered he was on a trip with his friend Mog: they had established a camp near the river, drank too much of what seemed to be whiskey they had gotten from a giant bearded man sleeping in the grass, and then things got weird.
Although extraordinary might be a better word for it.
A sort of Indian girl had come out of nowhere, put paint on their faces and just ran off.
And so, they followed her, running through the woods, even though it was nighttime and there was a good chance they might stumble on a root somewhere and just fall head first into the ground.
But luckily that did not happen.
Instead, the girl led them to a place near a lake where all her companions were having a party.
The Indian girl poured them a strong drink in a wooden cup, and after that everything got hazy.
They woke up in the same place.
Well, Mog woke up floating on the lake; and all the Indians were gone.
They called out but in vain, no one replied.
And so, they walked; a long, long way from the lake to a beach, exhausted.
The last thing Sam remembered was them lying on the sand, and then he woke up.
In a different world.
He didn’t notice at first; sure, Mog wasn’t there but he was probably somewhere.
He searched the beach all day long, thought maybe Mog had gone back to town, sleepwalking (he would always wake up in the most preposterous places).
So, he went back to the city, but everything felt…different.
The buildings were not the same, people’s clothes were from a trend he had never seen before; and neither Mog nor his friends lived where they were supposed to.
It felt strange, but he was sure it was his city; even the road signs said so.
His keys wouldn’t fit in the lock and he got kicked out by the alleged lodger of his own flat.
Since then, he had found an abandoned loft in an empty neglected building uptown, and had brought back that old TV on a Sunday evening.
But there were still no signs of his friends or family.
The TV was even more insane than the new world he lived in, as if it was broadcasting things from different universes.
The people in there were human, but he never saw anything like it before.
Flying cars, renaissance-like interiors with all kinds of technology, cow-boy duel tournaments on international display, incredibly real looking cartoon characters who almost seemed alive, the news talking about super-heroes saving the day as if it were absolutely normal, magical cities, and so on.
There were so many channels he still hadn’t found where it ended.
Sometimes, well, most of the time, the TV changed channels on its own.
There was no remote control anyway, and the buttons would never work the same every time he tried to change anything, so it came in handy.
Smoking a rolled cigarette and drinking tea on his old sofa, which had already lived plenty of lives when he had found it in an alley full of garbage (and what a nightmare it had been taking that up to the apartment), Sam noticed something strange on the screen: there they were, his friends.
Although they seemed slightly different than usual (maybe had he started to forget how they looked), he was sure it was them.
They were all there, in a park; dancing, smiling, dressed in 1970s clothes with some weird technology in their hands, projecting images and stars and colors into the air all around them.
It was really a wonderful thing to see.
But sadly there was no sound on the old TV, and he couldn’t tell what they were saying.
It was nice at first, watching them there, but it pinched a string in his heart, bringing him down a bit, like he was already an old man looking at dusty pictures of an age that was long gone.
Why show that to him?
Now of all time?
It had been months since he had been estranged in this weird new world, and just as he was coming to terms with the fact that he may never go back to his previous life, there it was.
Sam threw his ashtray at the poor screen, breaking the glass.
There was no image anymore, only the silence and the stupidity left of his act.
He felt really stupid about it: this old TV was one of the only things connecting him to all these outsides worlds, and he had broken it like a 6-year-old would have broken his favorite toy in a tantrum.
This certainly wasn’t the day to make things any worse, so he decided to take a walk, rather than stay with his lonely thoughts.
As he opened the door, it felt like gravity itself had changed its center, sucked him into thin air, and thrown him against the concrete.
It came as a bit of a shock.