As the heat crept up his back and into his body, he gradually became aware of the fact that he was eating pepperoni from a plastic package. He heard the crumpling sound of the plastic as his hand, without direction, picked the pieces up and moved them into his mouth. From the taste, and the feeling in his stomach, he knew he had been standing there eating for some time. Like water melting from ice, he remembered getting the pepperoni from the fridge; his hands groping for the opening to the package. Walking to the heater, and turning his back to it.
He continued to eat.
What is that ringing noise? It was a sudden sound. It stopped, and then started again. Oh yeah, the phone. His feet moved, and he turned away from the warm heater and into the bedroom. The phone was on the floor. He bent to pick it up, and his hand clasped the hard plastic shell while his arm brought the receiver to his ear.
Someone was intruding into his world. Another human voice – but was it human? How could he be sure? The sound came from the plastic thing in his hand. He supposed it was someone actually talking to him; this was the sort of thing you were expected to do. Talk to people on the phone. People, humans; other beings with thoughts and feelings of their own. He was aware of his own voice, speaking; his mouth moving, not to eat now, but to form sounds which whatever was listening on the other end of this intangible line would interpret as words, as speech.
When he put the phone down he couldn’t remember what he had said. The sounds – no, the words – he had heard floated in his memory like drops of blood in alcohol, slowly mixing; and slowly dying. Something about coming out after work for a drink, that’s all he could remember. Well, it might be a good idea.
A drink. He had a drink. Or maybe he went and got one after answering the phone. He couldn’t recall; and it wasn’t important anyway. The can was red, but that was only an after-thought. It was the same thing he always drank. Supposedly it had a sweet flavor, but he drank it like it was water, the taste hardly registered. Soon, the caffeine in the drink (the words “Code Red” bubbled to the surface of his mind, but they were lost; disconnected, devoid of meaning without context) would bring more thoughts, more memories to his mind. He’d be awake for a while longer. Best to be as awake as he could. And besides, it was time to go.
Keys in hand, jacket against the cold, he stepped out into the night. Just another day…