CHAPTER VI : i feel like shit
For the fifth time – or maybe sixth, he felt all hazy again – Sam opened up his eyes to a new scenery.
It was raining, that he could tell, and bright and shiny lights were hurting his eyes, reminding him of his last night on the island.
Loud and confused noises came from behind him, and as he turned around to see where they were coming from, his vision started to focus again: a man out of his car was yelling at him.
His hearing was not fully operational, but he was almost certain the man uttered the words “jackass” and “weirdo”.
After realizing he was standing in the middle of the road, Sam made his way to the sidewalk nearby.
Everywhere smelled of gas and wet concrete, cars were queuing up, sirens blaring, people shouting at each other.
This time, he had no doubts on his destination: he was home.
“Finally” he thought, “now I have to find my friends.
Can’t wait to see the look on their faces, it’s almost been a year since I’ve been gone, I think.”
The street looked familiar.
He just had to continue a little bit further, turn right and he would arrive at Ju’s place.
Suddenly a thought overwhelmed him, shaking his confidence: what if even more time had passed?
What if everyone had moved out? He was starting to panic when a hand tapped his shoulder.
He recognized the voice and turned to it.
Mog looked pissed; he hadn’t changed a bit since he last saw him – the real Mog from his world.
”Man I’ve been looking for you all over town! I tried your apartment and you weren’t there either. Where the hell have you been? You could have at least woken me up when you came back from the beach, I was worried sick, where the hell have you been?!”
He was starting to get angry so Sam tried to calm him down.
”It’s a long story.” Not a great way to reassure people looking for answers, he thought and continued: “I couldn’t find you either, I was lost in other worlds! I’ve got so much to tell you about, God it feels good being back here!”
”WHAT?” His friend shouted, “I’ve spent the last two days looking for you everywhere, I was on my way to the police, and you were just probably high, wandering about in other worlds?”
He was about to yell again when Sam ticked:
”Two days? It’s only been two days for you? I’ve passed almost a year, maybe more, looking for a way to come back!”
”Come back to what? To being sober?”, he said sarcastically.
”No! Here! To this place!”
”Okay man, sorry I shouted. I got a little carried away with this whole “you’ve gone missing” thing. I know you can be a little disoriented after parties like that.”
”For the last time, I am not high! I’ve been thrown into some parallel dimensions! And now I realize I sound completely delusional.”
Sam finished bitterly.
Mog was still looking at him like he was nuts.
This was not how he had pictured their reunion.
”Come on let’s get inside, it’s pouring out here. There’s this new bar which opened recently, it’s supposed to be all calm and chill so let’s go get you a cup of coffee, and I mean only coffee. I’ll hear your side of the story once we’re inside.”
They walked to the bar in silence, which wasn’t really far from where they were, each pondering their side of the story.
Sam was still wondering why so little time had gone by when something else crossed his mind: the guitar Eze had made him was gone, he was back in the clothes he had been wearing on his trip with Mog; plus the beard he had was back to its original size.
For a brief moment, he thought that maybe Mog was right, maybe he had made the whole thing up in his imagination.
But he knew he had lived those moments; he just had to find a way to convince his friend, but how? If he failed to explain it properly, he was surely going to rehab this time.
He had spent months dreaming of coming back and now that he had, the reality of his world wasn’t very appealing.
Mog noticed something was bothering him, but he didn’t say a word.
They finally got to the door, opened it, and oddly enough found themselves in an early twentieth century elevator.
”That’s innovative for sure” Mog said, “but how do we know on which floor the bar is?” They laughed, and thought they might as well try all of them.
The shaft started ascending with the noise an old elevator would make, and a funny music started playing.
The machine stopped soon enough, and the door opened on an odd atmosphere.
This was definitely a bar, but the words “calm” and “chill” didn’t really apply to it.
It looked like a saloon in the far-west with a bit of an early 80s upgrade.
Everyone was wearing a hat, had cowboy boots and ugly shirts on, and some old TVs were hanging on the walls.
The folks there were so busy drinking and shouting at each other they didn’t really notice the two newcomers.
“Is this some kind of a theme bar?”
Sam asked his friend, trying not to look frightened by what looked to be one of the worlds he had seen on his old TV.
”I didn’t think so. Anyway, let’s dry ourselves a little in here; I’m tired from all that walk.”
Sam was pretty sure they had switched worlds, but he wouldn’t say it until he was sure.
Mog already thought he was crazy.
They sat next to what Mog thought was a much more advanced TV used as a window, and which showed a view completely different to the one they had just come from.
There were only yellow meadows behind the glass.
”That’s funny how they use technology to immerge people in the theme, this looks so realistic.” Mog said.
A waitress who looked like a lady version of Billy the Kid came to take their order, nodded vigorously and came back with the strongest coffee they had ever tasted.
”So, how about you tell me what really happened now?”
”Okay but it’s going to take a while. Don’t interrupt me please, even if it sounds completely crazy to you.”
Sam then told him everything, from the beginning when he had woken up alone to a different city, how he fell in the cartoon world, sailed away to an island covered in theme park attractions, sank all his friends except himself, had ended up playing in the park for (judging by the size of his beard) half a year, turned all the lights and machines to a maximum, how he then had disappeared to re-appear in a weird white room with holograms of his friends, drank the tea, had woken up on a blue brick road and found a strange man who helped him with magic to get back to this world.
”Wow. That’s crazy. Sorry but I don’t have any other word. Are you sure this couldn’t have all been a dream? You always have some really weird ones.”
As a matter of fact, Mog wasn’t wrong; Sam always had a lot of complicated and fantasy-like dreams, but he knew this was not one of them.
How could he prove that he was right?
Before he had time to think of something convincing, he saw two familiar individuals hopping on stage: Mog and Sam with cowboy hats.
He laughed and told Mog:
”Maybe these two here will convince you.”
“Who?” He stopped as he noticed the Sam and Mog look-alikes. “How is that…Who are these people? You didn’t pull this whole thing to prank me, did you?”
“No, I’m pretty sure these two are real. And I don’t think these are televisions.” Sam whispered pointing at the windows.
Mog was confused.
He took a look around, searching for some kind of proof that they hadn’t gone anywhere like Sam was saying.
But he wasn’t sure anymore.
Looking thoroughly, the people here felt somewhat different than the usual people of his city.
Just as he was about to reject this crazy idea and talk some sense into Sam, the song started.
It sounded like a folky-country song and the cowboy-hat-and-mustache-wearing Sam had the exact same voice than the one he knew.
Keeping in mind for later that his friend should never grow those kinds of whiskers, he also noticed that he probably should never adopt his doppelganger’s style either: he looked depressing.
Long hair, staring at the ground, sadly tapping on his drums.
Mog thought his real self wasn’t so bad after all.
“Ok, explain…Please?” he demanded feverishly.
“Like I told you, I think we just stepped into a sort of a parallel dimension when we entered the bar. Or the elevator, I’m not sure.”
“That doesn’t matter, who the heck are these people?” Why do they look like us? Apart from the weird farmer trend?”
“Well, each time I fell into another world - please don’t wince - it was always a different one. Like I told you, sometimes it looked like it was coming straight out of a children’s book. I didn’t always find our other selves, but I think this time we did. I can’t explain how, but this is proof I’m not delusional. Although this world is a bit weird, I admit.”
“Ok. Let’s say you’re right about this, that’s us?” He pointed to the musicians on stage.
“I think so, yeah.”
Mog was trying to make sense of what he had just learned when the other Sam playing at the bar bumped into the other Mog playing drums.
In fact, he began to understand that the Sam with the cowboy hat was pretty drunk, and drummer Mog wasn’t happy about it.
Mustache Sam let his microphone fall on the floor in a loud bang, drunkenly moving around with his guitar, and the real party everyone was waiting for started.
Long haired Mog calmly put his drumsticks away, stood up, took one of his drums and threw it at his singer’s face.
This was the turning point of the event.
The entire audience cheered as they started throwing stuff at each other’s faces.
Plates full of food, half empty drinks, chairs, bottles of ketchup, hamburgers and fists flew across the room.
Even the waitresses gave in.
The real Sam and Mog were stunned; they had never seen a bar fight like this one before.
Laughing at first, they soon stopped when Mog was hit by an elderly woman’s cane right in the nose.
The old lady was full of life and was about to join in the big tournament when they decided it would be best to leave now and avoid being dragged into this happy-go-lucky-madness.
They started running for the elevator, ducked when a glass of whisky was thrown in their direction, jumped over folks fighting on the floor, used a table to push others standing in the way, and finally reached the lift.
Closing it at last, they caught a glimpse of the almighty drunk cowboy Sam waking up on stage to jump in the middle of the battle.
“The hell was that?” Mog asked to no one in particular, trying to catch his breath.
“Thought we’d never make it.” Sam added tiredly.
The lift started its descent, and they laughed at how crazy the whole thing was.
They laughed so hard their cheeks hurt, and thought they would never stop; until the elevator blacked out and dropped.
Rushing them to the ground below.