Outside the Pale

The old man dissolved as he stared at his reflection in the mirror.  It started in the center of his body and moved outward, a slow disintegration.  His name was David — his life was not particularly noteworthy.  He was just a number among seven billion other numbers.  He worked, ate, and slept like everyone else. David spent a large portion of his life in the bathroom getting rid of bodily waste.  He knew his life would continue in the same way until the day he died … but then he got old and everything changed.  At first there were the visions (or hallucinations).  He saw peculiar landscapes as if he peered through a window that wasn’t there: purple skies with trees instead of clouds that floated like feathers.  Sometimes he saw odd animals in his visions: red monkeys with three eyes wearing leisure suits.  He tried to resist the visions by knocking them out of his head with alcohol and drugs, but that only made him sick and the visions became more pronounced and even weirder.  He went to a therapist, but his time kept running out and all he gained was a very large bill.  At night, David dreamed about being someone else.  He knew his imagination was working over time — pushing possibilities like candy.  He did not believe any of  it.  David had always been practical and rather timid … afraid to take risks for fear of accidents.  It seemed his imagination was far more adventurous.  Now that David was old,  he saw no possibility for change of any sort — the visions only caused confusion and doubt.  Disappointment set in as David’s mind continued to play tricks.   Nothing really mattered in his life — he simply accepted the mundane quality of everyday existence.   Perhaps nothing further would have occurred, but then he began to disintegrate.  As he disappeared he saw flashes of himself working in a lab as a scientist.  He couldn’t tell if it was a real memory or another trick of the mind.  He was a physicist testing mathematical theorems that explained the nature of the universe.  David invented a machine that collapsed reality and opened a door into parallel worlds.  Too late, David discovered that the universe would not allow for quantum disruptions – He paid the price.  His life was replaced with another David who was just a number among billions.  As he disintegrated, it all became clear.  David discovered the truth that could never be revealed.  Now, he was on an eternal and infernal ride moving between parallel worlds, an outsider with no life of his own.

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