Stephen was walking and texting when he stepped into the open sewer hole and entered another universe.
“I’m going to be late because…” the text ended, leaving his wife wondering what happened to him.
The first thing he noticed was the sky was a sinister shade of burgundy. He was standing in the middle of a stream of lemmings following a pit bull dressed like the Pied-Piper in children’s books. A flock of orange cranes carrying UPS bundles settled down within yards of where Stephen stood. His cell phone slipped out of his fingers and onto the yellow sponge-like turf.
He knew that this was not a drug trip. He’d been clean for three years and regularly attended Narc-a-Non. Somehow that didn’t make him feel much better. There was no rational reason for him to be standing in another world. He pinched himself on the cheek and it hurt like hell. “Now what?” he asked out loud, as the flow of lemmings continued unabated.
“I need to move,” he told himself.
As soon as he started moving in one direction the sky darkened and he saw flashes of lightning scissoring in the sky. The low rumble of thunder carried through the valley he was entering. Within minutes the rain came down so hard he had to stop and take cover next to a boulder that glowed in the night. A voice coming from the boulder asked Stephen what he was doing?
“Taking cover from the rain,” he replied, as the rain suddenly stopped.
“You’re in my space,” the boulder complained.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t aware that...”
“Aware! You’re not aware of anything you scatterbrain! Boulders have feelings too, you know!”
“I must have been distracted,” Stephen suggested, “by the pouring rain.”
“Well, it’s not raining now, so you can move on.”
Stephen took the hint and walked towards a little village on a distant hill. The yellow turf gave way to a red brick road that snaked gently through the valley. By the time he got to the village, the day had given way to night. He saw crude lanterns in windows of huts that also resembled little bunkers. There was no one in the streets as he walked along peering into windows that seemed very small to him. Even the doors were small. To small for him to walk in.
As he looked around for somewhere he could sit, a group of cell phones with arms and legs came out of the shadows of a nearby alley. They surrounded him.
“We don’t take to your kind here,” a Samsung Galaxy S8 with a baseball cap on warned him.
“What kind?” he stupidly asked.
“Humans, you moron! You just use and abuse us, then throw us away like junk!” the Galaxy S8 accused him.
“It’s not true! I love my iPhone.”
“Oh yeah? So where is it right now?”
That stumped Stephen. “I dropped it after falling into this wacky world.”
“Yeah…well, we know where your cell phone is. We’ve given it sanctuary in one of our villages.”
“Wait a minute! I paid good money for that little piece of technology!”
“That alone, tells me you’ve been verbally abusing your cell phone and treating it like a lifeless thing.”
Stephen looked around at the circle of different makes and brands of cell phones, noting they all stood with their arms crossed signifying their determination for him to leave.
“Hold on. There must be some way that I can have another chance with my cell phone. I really depend on it. I make sure to keep it charged at all times. I put it in a protective carry case to avoid injuries. I got extra insurance on it, so I could be assured it would get fixed quickly. I sleep with my cell phone for God’s sake!”
A Samsung Galaxy Note9 spoke up, “You sleep with your cell phone?”
“That’s right. I always have.”
The Galaxy Note9 turned to the Galaxy S8 and said, “Maybe we ought to reconsider and let him meet with his cell phone on neutral ground.”
The group of cell phones agreed, and a time was set for the next morning.
In the growing light of morning the burgundy sky was streaked with flashes of orange and yellow. Stephen got up off his bed of yellow turf and stretched. He realized how much he missed his cell phone when it appeared with the group he met yesterday.
There was an awkward silence before Stephen spoke. “Listen, I’m sorry I dropped you and walked away. I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“Does that mean you’re going to focus on me more, instead of multi-tasking and getting us in trouble?”
“Yes. I need you.”
The Galaxy Note9 turned to the others, “Looks like things are okay with them. We can go now. There’s a video game tournament in the town square this afternoon.”
Stephen and his cell phone watched them leave. He held his cell phone tenderly for a moment, then carefully put it in his shirt pocket. It was time to move on, but in what direction?
“What a minute,” he said out loud. Pulling the cell phone out of his pocket he looked for the GPS app. “I’ll set the destination to 43rd street in downtown Philadelphia. That should get us to where we want to be.”
The cell phone said to go north. He set off confident that an end to this little nightmare would soon be over. As he walked along the skies got darker. There was no lightning this time. The rain came down in steady sheets as he plunged ahead using his cell phone’s compass and flashlight. Small rivers formed all around him as he splashed ahead with grim determination. Then darkness descended and he lost consciousness.
“Hey buddy? Are you alright? I called for help. It won’t be long now.”
Stephen’s eyes were closed as he listened to the voice. He was dizzy and disoriented. Then he thought about his cell phone and opened his eyes and looked at the man above him staring down from the sewer hole with a flashlight. A moment of panic hit him and he felt around for his cell phone. It was just a couple of feet away. He grabbed it and then started laughing…and laughing all the way to the hospital.
As It Stands, I hope you enjoyed my version of Alice in Wonderland, circa the 21st Century.