It was a little warm for a letter jacket but Terry wanted everyone to see him wearing it before he handed it over to Debbie. Everyone already knew they were going steady, and everyone was so jealous. She wanted to wear the jacket to the concert but hadn’t said so, and Terry wanted her to ask. He wanted her to ask him to take it off, and he was going to, but she had to let him take her shirt off first. Debbie had been very firm up until last night about letting him touch her but last night… Today, however, ARS was playing here, in Dothan Alabama, and Terry had great seats. Coach Riverdale had somehow gotten four tickets and so he, the backup quarterback Michael and his girl, Cill, and Debbie were off to their first trip in Terry’s father’s car. Man, was this great or what? He was the youngest starting quarterback ever at Hopkins High. His driver’s license wasn’t a month old and he was already at a ARS concert with Debbie. But right now he had to pee.
He used the bathroom and washed his hands and something was all over them. Something came out of the water faucet and…Terry looked up and there was a monster in the mirror. He screamed, fell, and scrambled to get up but nearly fell again. His legs…his..oh God. Where was he? Terry looked around and he was not in Dories Auditorium. He was in a tiny stinking bathroom and it was incredibly cold. He stood up and the monster looked back at him from the mirror. Terry took a step back and fell again. His legs didn’t work at all. He hurt his arm and when he looked at his hands he screamed again. They were covered with sores and they were wrinkled, shriveled, and veins bugled out.
“Oh God” Terry whimpered.
He pulled himself up and looked in the mirror. The monster was him. His hair was long, greasy, and matted. His face was wrinkled too, and his teeth were yellow and crooked. There was a couple missing. PAIN! Suddenly his body was racked with pain. His knees hurt, his back hurt, his mouth hurt, and Terry moaned out loud. What the hell was this? He pulled at the hair and it hurt, too, the hair was real. He shuffled to the door, crying, and when he opened it a blast of cold air hit him. Snow fluttered around him and Terry walked out into the freezing cold. What had happened? Where was he? Terry staggered back into the bathroom and stared at the mirror. He was a million years old, at least. How could this be? Terry tried to remember something, anything, but his last memory was of going to the bathroom in Dothan. Was this Dothan? Did he get amnesia and…? Terry doubled over and threw up. Blood. There was blood in his puke. Oh Jesus. Pain racked his body and Terry fell into the puke. He tried to get up and fell again. His legs, his legs didn’t work right, his back hurt, his hips were on fire, and…
“Okay, Kevin, get the hell out of there dammit, Jesus you’re bleeding, just get the hell out will you?” A policeman stood in the doorway.
“Please, Officer, please help me, my name isn’t Kevin, I’m…, “ Terry tried to explain but the cop grabbed him and flung him out of the door.
“I’ll Taz the hell out of you, you stupid jerk, now get the hell out before I start cracking some ribs.” The cop advanced on Terry and before he could stand up the cop kicked him. “Go on, get the hell out of here, dammit.”
Terry half crawled and was half kicked away from the bathroom. He was at a gas station but there were a lot of pumps, and the cars… Terry stood up and stared. None of the cars looked right. They were smaller than his dad’s Monte Carlo by far, and no one had a Trans Am or… Terry stumbled towards the parking lot and nothing seemed real. There were tall buildings, snow, and small cars. Where was he? Almost everyone he saw was talking to the palm of their hands held up to their heads, or poking at something in their hands. What were they doing? He stumbled away from the gas station and down the street. There was a bar of some sort and they had the biggest television terry had ever seen in his life. The thing was enormous. Wait! The giant televisions were everywhere! The bar had one on every wall.
“Hey!” a man said to him, “Beat it!”
Terry stumbled away and sat down on the curb of the street. He hurt all over. His ribs ached. Terry looked through his pockets and found nothing at all worth anything at all. A newspaper rolled like tumbleweed past him and he grabbed it. The print was small, and blurry, but he could make out the date; 4 February, 2011. Terry stopped breathing for a few seconds. 2011? 2011? Oh God he was..fifty? No. No. He couldn’t be fifty! He looked at his hands. His body ached. Where was he? The paper was from Las Vegas, Nevada. What was he doing here?
Terry found another gas station and watched the cars. He saw one every once in a while that looked familiar but mostly they were alien. The people were talking and pushing buttons and he saw tiny television screen in odd looking vans. The billboards were giant televisions too, and the people looked weird. Some of them had bits of metal stuck in their faces. Terry couldn’t figure it out. How did this happen? What had happened to him?
“Are you okay, sir?” There was a woman standing there, with a bible.
“My name is Terry Sirmans, “Terry said, “and I am lost.”
The woman took him to a shelter and they fed him, and gave him some new clothes. “I want to call my mom, “ Terry said, and they explained to him how a “cell phone” worked. Terry punched in his parents’ number and waited. The thought hit him like a hammer. They were likely dead by now. What if they had moved?
“Hello?” it was a woman’s voice, but she sounded very young.
“My name is Terry Sirmans, “ Terry blurted out.
“I’m sorry you have the wrong number,” the woman said and hung up.
Was his parents dead? Terry felt his eyes water and he wondered what the hell had happened to him. When did they die? What had happened? Did they know where he was? Has he been…? What? What had he been?
“Would you like to look for your family on the Internet?” The bible woman suggested. Terry couldn’t remember her name.
“The Internet?” The woman asked again. “Face Book, maybe?”
Terry still couldn’t get over the “lap top” which looked like a tv had mated with a typewriter. But the bible woman had found his old address, and they had looked at the house he felt was still his home. They couldn’t find his parents.
“Debbie Smitheart.” Terry blurted out, and the woman began to type. They found a Debbie Smitheart Collins in his hometown and the bible woman sent this woman an “instant message”. The woman led Terry to a room with a cot and he fell asleep almost immediately. It was a dream. He would be back home in his own bed when he woke up.
“Mr. Sirmans?” It was the woman. Terry looked around and it was light again. He hurt all over. The woman handed him a tiny phone.
“Hello?” he spoke into the phone.
“Who is this?” a woman asked.
“My name is Terry Sirmans” Terry said.
“What year did you graduate from High School?” the woman asked.
“I didn’t,” Terry said, “I went to a concert one night and suddenly I was here. I don’t remember anything past that night, Who is this?”
“This is Debbie.” And suddenly it sounded like her.
“Debbie?” Terry tried to remember what she looked like.
“Terry, your folks moved to Montgomery. They’re still alive. Oh god is it really you?”
Terry sat on the edge of the bed in the hotel room and stared at the television. It was huge, and flat as a pancake. His brother, Richard was flying up to get him and take him home. But Terry wondered what home would be like. What had happened to him? Why was he so old? He had spent hours talking to doctors and looking at their internet and so much had happened to the world since that night. What had happened? It was time. He walked down to the hotel lobby and waited. A man was walking towards him, Richard? And there was a much younger man with him, was this Richard’s son, they looks so much alike. Suddenly Terry realized how much time was gone.
“Did you do this to someone?” Colleen asked. “Why? Why would you, why would any one of you, do this to someone?”
“Why did you take the life of the animal that you took for breakfast, Colleen?” Rhiannon asked. “You think it cruel to use a human being in this manner? How many animals spend their lives in a cage for your amusement, or tied to a tree until they die of old age?”
“You stole his life.” Colleen was furious.”You ruined the lives of everyone who loved him.”
“This is still kinder than how you treat those animals you use. I needed a host. He was a host. It’s the same way you use animals. ” Rhiannon said simply. “And I do not like your tone.”
“I apologize.” Colleen said. She looked down.”It won’t happen again.”
“See that it does not.” Rhiannon told her. “Regal cannot protect you from me, and you know it.”