"I hate Dick."
My best friend, Senator Nick Ayala, smirks as he subtly nudges the check for lunch closer towards my side of the table. I mean, I have only one functional eyeball, but I'm not blind.
"So stop calling me that. It's Richard. Or Rick, for that matter." I take the hint hidden under flashing lights and exploding fireworks and put my American Express Black card on the bill. "Call me Dick one more time and I'll donate to the Green Party come next election. Or I'll start calling you Lolita Stud at your next press conference."
And that's when I see something weird. A fleeting shadow movement transiting past Nick. An instant migraine announces its arrival, probably because my brain seems to believe that I saw the shadow with my dead eye. Which I know is impossible, since I was born without a pupil or iris in my left eye. Solid white, and pretty creepy to boot.
Nick looks down at his slice of carrot cake with a melting blob of coffee ice cream and his facial expression changes. "What the hell? There's a bite out of my dessert, and it wasn't me."
I follow his gaze and, sure enough, there's a clear missing chunk. You can even see where the teeth impressions had one missing front tooth. "That wasn't there a second ago. I was looking at it with envy."
The shadow went by again. My head throbbed. As I was watching Nick's dessert the shadow made another kamikaze run at the thick frosting.
Senator Ayala started waving his arms around. "Shit, some kinda big-ass fly stealing my grub?"
I like when Nick loses his cool since he falls back on his Rooster Poot, Arkansas accent and choice of verbage. Drops his pretentious artificial Harvard drone.
The waiter comes over, thinking that all that waving was meant for him. He slides the card and bill off of the table and goes off to overcharge me with COVID-enhanced prices.
I'm sitting here, leaning forward a bit because something is poking my brain with an icepick from the inside, wondering what I'm experiencing. Embolism popping? Stroke? The last vestiges of college-year LSD experimentation getting released?
I know what I'm seeing, and feeling. Something is wrong. And then I see that shadow sliding in like marijuana smoke on a slight breeze at a Grateful Dead concert. This time, I make my hand shoot out and intercept whatever it is.
My hand closes on something small and rubbery. It's moving, thrashing around in my grasp, trying to escape. This is so weird. Nick Ayala is staring at me, waiting for an explanation.
"Saw the fly. Have it in my hand. Give me a minute so I can kill it and wash the bug poop off of my fingers."
Nick nods, and I made my way towards the restrooms.
The rubbery thing is still in my hand, and it's trying to gnaw on my knuckles. The closer I look, the more I realize I am really seeing something with my defective eyeball. The right eye only sees my skin moving, but the left one can make out a bulbous body the size of an eggplant, two bat-like wings, and a human face. I can't see colors, just an outline like a light pencil drawing.
This is fucked up. It's real. And it's happening at the end of one of my appendages.
I fumble my way into the restroom and lock the door. As I'm looking at the thing in my mitt, I realize I can hear a squeaky voice.
OK, stroke it is. An embolism would have dropped me on the deck halfway to the toilets.
"Leggo!" the thing squeals.
I shove my hand under the sink faucet and it automatically starts jetting out warm water. Now I can see the water flowing around the creature with my normal eye.
At least it spoke English. "What are you?" I feel dumb conversing with my left hand.
"Demon. Powerful one. You will die!"
Another twenty-second blast of water made it start to gurgle. "What are you," I repeated.
"Demon. Minor one. I steal snacks and car keys."
That isn't helpful either, but I don't give it another round of water torture.
The demon stops thrashing. "You can see and hear me?"
Apparently a not-too-bright demon. "Yes and yes."
I can hear it going through several scenarios inside it's rubbery head. "You got a Dead Eye!"
Yeah, not very situationally aware, this demon. "One eye is blind."
"No, no no. You gots Dead Eye. One sees human world, dead one can see some of my world. If you let me go, I'll help your Dead Eye see clear."
My hand is cramping. My head is splitting. I'm assuming I'm actually lying on the floor and having a seizure. "Fuck it, it's a deal."
I let it go and it zooms away towards the germ dispenser masquerating as a forced-air hand dryer.
The demonite wants to go, but it mutters, "fucking deal rules suck donkey assholes" and it returns, poking me in my bad eye. And when I say poking, I mean it pokes a hole in the sclera. My eyeball doesn't deflate like a balloon pierced by a pin, but some eyeball goop seeps out.
I'm about to kick some demon ass, but now I realize I can actually "see" the demon clearly. I assumed it would be red, but it's a sickly yellow. And sitting on top of the hand dryer is a tiny girl with dragonfly wings. She gives me a sour look and says, "No peep show for Mitzi". Then she flies under the bathroom door, cursing at the demon and complaining about never having any fun.
"OK, we square, human?"
"Huh? Yeah, we're good." I'm really distracted. There's a lot of odd plants and vines growing over everything. But hey, my migraine is gone.
As I unlock the door and head back to say goodbye to Nick, I can now see there are two worlds overlaid on one physical space. Or maybe it's two overlaid dimensions, I don't know.
This is real. And now I have to come to terms with my universe not being what I thought it was.
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|| SciFiQuest 3022 ||