Old friends fit like comfortable shoes

Searching for my old school buddy, Wayne, I moved through the ballroom and the New Year’s Eve party crowd. I hadn’t seen him in twenty years, not since high school graduation.

Then three weeks ago he’d called me out of the blue. Said over the phone that he’d like to see me, had something to tell me, and he’d be here at this party tonight. He’d leave a ticket for me at the front door if I’d come.

I told him I’d be here and hung up. Over the days that followed, I debated. Did I want to see him again? After all, I ‘ve changed a lot since I was no longer that seventeen-year-old kid he’d hung with. We’d both been on the football team. I was a quarterback and he my receiver, and we’d done everything together. Chased the cheerleaders. Cruised in the bright red Mustang we’d fixed up. Fought in the same fights, always standing up for each other. Gone to the best parties, seeing who could out chug-a-lug the other. We were the Boomer Brothers, the toughest dudes around. Everybody said so.

Then high school was over and Wayne left town. I never found out why. I only knew that he was the restless sort, always looking for a change. The last I heard he’d gone off and joined the Army.

Finally New Year’s Eve morning, I decided I’d come to the party tonight. I made my way through the crowd, checking out the features in each face, trying to figure out if it was really him. I looked across the room and saw someone who could be Wayne. I hesitated, then headed towards the guy. A few feet away I realized that it wasn’t him.

He isn’t here. Why don’t I just leave? Though I wanted to see him, I wasn’t sure how he’d take me these days. But, over the phone, he’d sounded like he really wanted to see me. I decided to keep looking. I guess I’ll find out real soon. If he’s here, that is. I’ve looked everywhere. Where could he be?

I started moving through the sea of faces again, glancing at each one, giving each a quick once-over. Still no Wayne. I looked at my watch. It was almost midnight.

Then, a foot or so away, I saw a face, his face. I would recognize those intense, dark blue eyes anywhere. They were his eyes alright. But that couldn’t be Wayne.

I took another look at his face as I got closer to him. It was definitely my old buddy. But what had happened?

Over the phone, I hadn’t recognized his voice at first. It had changed that much. And now I understood why. But how could I ever have guessed that he had gone and done what I had done?

I ran up to him and hugged him.

“Wayne, you’re a woman too,” I said, releasing him from my hug and acknowledging our sex change operations.

“My God, John, these shoes are killing me,” he said. “When I made the change, I never realized how hard it was going to be to get decent shoes.”

Short Story Wednesday: Y2K

Short Story Prompt: “Twilight of the Superheroes” by Deboarh Eisenberg

Y2K. You remember it, don’t you? I know I do. It was before all sorts of hell broke out in the twenty-first century.

One moment, December 31, 1999 at 23:59:59, everything’s a-okay. Next, January 1, 2000 at 00:00:01, it’s not.

At 11:59:59 pm, you’re kissing your wife of thirty years. Then click, the clock turns to midnight, and you were kissing a stranger. She looked the same, sure. She had the same voice, sure. But she was not the kisser your wife was before midnight. Not by a long shot. She was a stranger.

Most of you didn’t try to find out what happened. You were afraid that you might be going over to the dark side or losing your mind. Or maybe you were just afraid. Some of you did ask, “Did this happen to you?” When asked, most people looked at you a little strange. But there were a few that admitted it. Yes, they felt that it did.

The thing is that it happened to almost half of the earth’s population, to both the 99% and the 1%. You would have thought that it would have been on the news since it happened to so many. It wasn’t. Most wanted to ignore it and get on with their lives. They accepted that maybe, just maybe, it was they who were the ones that were off.

Of course, there were those who thought it was a religious experience. That indeed the Messiah had come to claim his people and you weren’t one of them. That Jesus had returned. That Krishna made an appearance.

So what really happened? Were you on drugs or was that a bad case of Hawaiian punch you drank? Or was it the Rapture and you got stuck with some sinner-replacement for that lovely lady you’d fallen in love with at eighteen?

Well, Uncle Bardie has news for you. Now I must tell each and everyone of you that it is a secret, and that is secret with a capital CRET. And, yes, a little se. That’s shhhhh in some language. I am not sure which. So please, oh, pretty please with sugar on it, keep it on the q.t,

I spent a couple of days in the 24th dimension last night and I narrowly escaped. But here I am to reveal the Revelation. To give you the Inside Dope. Are you ready? Of course, you are ready, You wouldn’t be reading this far if you weren’t.

It’s The Immortals. Yep, them guys. Or should I say Guys. You see, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Even further than Darth Vadar Land and the Death Star, it was at the Beginning. Yes, that Beginning. Big Bang and All. At that moment before wrist watches and cuckoo clocks and Big Bens and atomic clocks and grandfather clocks. Even before sun dials. At that moment, The Immortals worried.

What did They worry about? Being immortal, The Immortals worried that they would become extremely bored. There would be a sameness to things. People born. People die. And that was all. They thought about the Sims. You know how you put the Sims on cruise control. You come back a month or so later, they are Sims doing Sims things. They are not doing Halo things or Minecraft things. They are doing Sims things. They are doing exactly the same things they did when you put them on cruise. We all know how boring that can be.

Well, that was what The Immortals were facing. Since this was well before Halo and World of Warcraft and Mine Craft, they had to think outside the Box. They put their Immortal heads together and they thunk and they thunk. Immortals do that a lot. Finally they had a plan. We could call it Plan 9 from Outer Space but I think that has been taken.

So here was The Plan. Once every millennium, millennium is Latin for millennium, you know, once every millennium, they would create a fluctuation in the Time Continuum. As each new millennium comes into existence at 00:00:00, half the souls on earth are zapped from their bodies. They are frozen in limbo for a millennium. Those souls are replaced by souls from a previous millennium. Since the new millennium may need more souls than those of a previous millennium, souls are split into multiples. So you may end up with a partner who is a piece of Cleopatra soul. And it might not even be the sexy Cleo you get. You may get the bossy Cleo, or the suicidal Cleo. Or even worse. The Cleo who likes to play with snakes. I don’t know about you but I don’t care much for snakes.

So there you have it. One moment you’re with your best bud, Al, and the next you’re with Genghis Khan. He wants to rape and pillage, pillage and rape something bad. And you know what that spells. The Music Man said it best. “It spells trouble. That starts with t and rhymes with p and that stands for pool.”

So get out your pool cue. It could be a very long millennium.