Well, dip me in treacle, peg me up on a clothes-line and blast me with sugar-sprinkles, what a week this turned out to be..
Still ferreting about in search of this missing
golf ball of a diamond of mine, it occurred to me maybe the waste disposal unit did actually have good reason for throwing the meltdown it had the other day, perhaps that's where the darn stone landed up?
'Course, ever cautious, I made certain to cut the power switch before sloping my hand down in there for a rummage.. 'cept, I didn't quite realise just how deep this contraption runs - who would have thought? Before I know it, I'm leaning down almost up to my armpit in there, and still with no sign of reaching firm ground.
But if you think that's odd, 'tis NOTHING compared to what happens next - truth be told, even as I type, I'm still doubting my senses.
That darn bowl of the unit only springs into life, grinding and gyrating, and with me, my arm still stuck half-way down there, screaming fit to burst. Instinctively, I yank my arm to free myself, only to find my fingers being grabbed and tugged near out from their very sockets. The unit has taken a fierce purchase on me, and I'm battling on the losing side of a now desperate tug of war. As I'm being fed deeper, sucked in inch by further inch, I hear a high pitch, ear-shatteringly loud wail, hardly registering this is actually coming from ME, yelling my lungs out as I am at the sheer bloody terror of it all.
I guess that must've been around about the time I passed out.
I awoke, disorientated, in pitch dark, to find myself lying on the floor of a dank, cold, metallic-like surface, an irritating splash of water regularly dousing my head. As my eyes slowly adjust, I look up to discern a faint, dim light emanating from a small, circular opening, very faraway up, overhead.
What, is that a dripping tap I see up there?
Uck, I'm completely drenched. Attempting for cover, I scuttle my bum further along, hopeful to scamper out of range. This is where I do a hesitant body-check for missing limbs and digits, and thankfully come up much relieved. However it is I came by this place, at least I appear to have made it in here still fully intact.
I squint around, trying to get a fix on where I've landed, and discover an approaching warm, bright glow appearing around the curved, domed wall to my left. It casts a flickering shadow along the smooth, silvered casings, granting a clearer, solid form to my newly found surroundings.
Looks like I'm only sitting in some kind of sodding, ginormous, monster-type of a pipe..?
How the hell did I get to here????????????
The light source is moving, flooding towards me. Gaping up, I see burning torches, hand-held by a group of people who appear to be alarmingly headed my way.
Sweet Jesus - WTF, Now??
I'm not daft, I know having seen "Frankenstein", crowds of torch-bearing rabble rarely bodes well for those whom they hunt.
But there's nowhere to run.
I watch in panic as they draw closer, noting they are all female, and exceedingly, unnervingly, strikingly familiar..
This is nuts.
They are all ME.
Well, almost. We are all identical.. except.. not totally, completely. It's hard to pinpoint exactly how, but it's clear my twin versions are, subtly, quite different from me, and they are also, peculiarly, obviously unique from one another, too. I'm struggling to absorb this, blindly awestruck, and seriously grappling for my sanity, as one of my Doppelgangers steps up, smiling.
"Hey there, Shrink, we were wondering when you'd stop by!"
Everyone nods at me, grinning.
"Who, what the - ?"
Another Shrinky steps forward, "Och, I know, it's all a bit of a jolt, isn't it? Everyone feels that way first time down. Don't worry, it's all good, you'll see."
Someone helps me to my feet and passes me a torch (suspiciously resembling an over-sized match-stick), "Come on, let's go grab the comfy seats to get better acquainted."
I'm led around the bend (kind of fitting, I've mentally arrived there, anyway) to where a large chamber, lit up by ample burning sconces, awaits. Furnished in an eclectic assortment of various over-stuffed Sofa's and elegant chaise-lounges, it resembles something of a cross between a whore's boudoir and a Sport's Bar. It even has a wall-mounted floor to ceiling flat-screen telly, and a roulette table sitting centre stage.
A wheel-chair bound Shrinky meets me with a cup of hot, sweet tea, "Here, sit down and sip this, it'll help."
Everyone else takes a pew, and she begins to fill me in.
"Welcome to our alternate sump-hole, this is where we all come to visit with each other."
Shrinky-in-the-corner pipes up, "But not all at once, we just pop in here from time to time if we need to swap notes, compare lives or to perhaps offer some useful advice amongst ourselves."
Shrinky-by-the-door sighs, "We are all alternate versions of you. We live the lives you decided against. I'm the one who married your childhood sweetheart."
"Yeah, that's why I'm a little more worn - he really was serious about raising that football team.. we even managed to top it with two reserves and a spare keeper, as well."
Sheesh! I look askance at Shrinky-in-the-wheelchair.
"Oh, I'm the you who DIDN'T give up sky-diving, after starting our family.."
"And you?" I ask of the power-dressed Shrinky.
"I'm the you who stuck by her resolve, after ditching that two-timing fiance of ours - I stayed single, focusing on my career, which, incidentally, flourished."
"You still have the agencies?"
"No daaaarlink, I eventually went public, floated them on the stock market. I'm retired to Marbella now, happily settled in with my delightful new toy-boy."
"How many of you are there?"
They all shrug in unison. Shrinky-by-the-table laughs. "Countless! For every choice you make, another alternative of you takes up the discarded role. We all lead full, complete lives, it's just each of them are completely different."
"I-I had no idea..!"
Shrinky-by-the-door shakes her head, "Most never do."
"What, you mean EVERYONE has alternate selves down their sump-holes?"
"Don't be ridiculous, we don't actually LIVE here, we simply come by to visit from time to time. We all go back to our own lives, just as you will, too. We use this place to confer together, occasionally swap lives with, or to try to prevent any really mega-bad future decisions from fermenting. Um, not that we always succeed, of course." She casts her eye over Comatose-in-the-corner-Shrinky. "She's the you who chose to say yes."
"Everything wonderfully bad."
She flicks on the television, and my world floods the screen. "This is where we keep an eye on you, try to contain the worst of your actions."
"Steady on, sod off! How DARE you spy on me?"
"We're spying on our futures with you, be grateful. See that roulette table? We roll your chances on it, discard as much of your ill-choices as we can. We look after you, silly-one."
Time stands still in the sump-hole, and it turns out we all have one. I stayed for what felt hours, learning all there was to it. I can go back any time I please, and exiting home again isn't as hard with practice (so I'm told).. though I don't think I'll ever feel comfortable arriving back stark-naked in a puddle of sick.
Yours is in it's own special place, not necessarily down the waste-disposal unit, but it's around if you care to look. Not all of us find it, but those who do are truly blessed, indeed. Gone are the "what-ifs", and forget any regrets. I've learned I'm actually living the life that's truly meant for me, and I also now happen to have the bestest set of concerned advisers exclusively on tap (cringe), any time I might ever need commit to a hard decision. It's kinda' comforting, really (I think)..
Though I still can't help but wonder what the Shrinky-who-found-my-diamond is currently up to..
So tell me, what alternative lives do you think YOUR Doppelgangers might be living?