“So, you’re not going to press the button?”
Jim shrugged. “Nope.”
Cathy pursed her lips. She opened her mouth to say something and then did not. She looked at the red button on the table. They’d woken up to it being there in their kitchen.
“But,” Cathy began, “I feel as though we are supposed to do something with it.”
Jim considered the button again, rubbing his chin. He reached out to touch it, finger by finger, then he pulled away. He too felt the odd presence of someone, or perhaps many people, frowning.
“Will you please just press it!” Cathy snapped. She frowned afterward and touched her mouth.
“You didn’t mean that, did you?” Jim asked, his voice calm. He had a slight smirk on his face.
Cathy looked around, at the corner of the walls, at the ceiling, at the floor. She stared at the camera—then there was no camera.
“I didn’t, no. It just came over me. Like a wave, almost. Do you know what is going on, Jim?”
“No, I don’t. But I’m getting a theory.”
Jim stood up and went to the door. He faltered, for just a second, then turned away from the door—only to spin around and open it wide. The spooky British dude jolted and nearly dove for cover.
“You were waiting for me to press the button, right?” Jim asked.
Before the man could answer, Jim peered outside and determined that, yes, there were no houses out there. Just the single yard, and some cutouts and such that looked plausible from the right angle.
“You haven’t yet?” the man asked, his vampiric teeth looking off in his mouth when he used them in an embarrassed, panicked smile.
“Nope,” Jim said. He looked back at Cathy, who sat, bewildered.
“This is just strange,” she said and rubbed at the top of her head. “What’s even odder is I can’t seem to be able to find it truly odd.”
Something caught her eye, and she looked down at the table and could swear—for just a moment—that a stack of paper was there. Her name was on it too, both of her names.
She had a fake name.
“I have a fake name,” she said. “My name is not Cathy.”
Jim nodded but was not looking back at her anymore. He was giving a piercing gaze to the man. Sweat dripped down the vampire’s forehead, and the white makeup was running down in small streams.
“What’s your name?” Jim said.
The man took a step back, the smile he was putting up not holding in the slightest. “Are you sure you don’t just want to press the button? I would be ever so grateful if you did.”
He added, underneath his breath, “It wouldn’t just be me that would be happy if you did. Ten billion on the line here, asshole.”
Jim pushed the man. No preemptive thought to the action. Just out his hand shot, and over the side of the small stoop the man fell. In a blink of an eye, he did not seem to exist anymore. Jim shut the door.
“So, that was a thing.”
Cathy, also called Charlie, looked at the button and touched it. Not on the top though, and some force, somewhere, seemed immensely disappointed about that. She moved the button around, to look at the two sides of the base opposite to her. At those ends, it was hollow, and just had a small mechanism attached to the button nestled among planks of wood.
Jim sat back down, and pulled it toward him, and looked over the device inside, the simple spring and wire set-up.
“Yeah, it’s a something alright—this little puppy is just cheap wood and luck holding it together.”
“So, then…” Cathy frowned even harder. “Why do they want us to press it so bad?”
“I think if we did something might happen.”
Cathy squirmed in her seat, and, with force, placed her hands behind her back. She bit her lip, hard.
“What?” Jim asked, finally concerned.
“I really want to press the button. It’s not me, though. I can hear this yelling. I—shut the fuck up, Kevin, I am making twice what you earn in a year just being here! You think you can do this better? Where’s your fucking agent, Kevin!? Huh?”
Her yelling echoed in the small room, and Jim nodded. “Okay, I see.”
“You do?” Cathy asked, her arms trying to free themselves. “Because I am so confused.”
Jim nodded again, and, from the bottom up, removed the button piece, popping it out of a socket. Cathy gave a choked sob, obviously in pain, and her hands worked at the last few inches of space holding them back.
Jim did not hesitate, he inverted the plastic of the button with a crack, shattering it and letting the shards pool in his hands.
“Can’t press it now, motherfucker.”
Cathy’s blood vessels in her eyes popped. She jerked in her chair. From her mouth came a golden light, and she faded in color on every other part of her. Her arms flailed up, as if she could grasp salvation, and then popped out of reality.
Jim stifled a panicked shout and looked around for a cause. It could not be the button, could it? He hadn’t pressed it. With sloppy fingers, he tried to force the plastic over the mechanism in a way that might work again. But, as he got one piece to stick to another through sheer interlocking parts and friction, he heard a voice shout out right in his ear.
Jim tipped forward somewhat and let a stream of red come out of his mouth. He glanced at the box, which did not sit on the table anymore. Jim let out a gurgle of some failed word, then fell out of the chair. His eyes popped in his limb body.
In slow motion, the walls of the room collapsed. Invisible hands took the pieces and took them away.
Jim’s body vibrated, going faster and faster until he seemed pixelated. After that, he popped right out of existence. The table he sat at dropped away into the floor, and no sound came from its crash.
For a long time, all there was, was the silence.
It then all popped back into place. Everything the same as it had been.
James sat at the table and hit the button. Smacking the plastic down hard. Kathy covered her mouth and let out a shocked cry when someone knocked on the door. Underneath that panic, though, she also had an odd sense of relief and satisfaction and excitement over an incoming paycheck.
Special thanks to: Bob Gerkin, Collin Pearman, Dylan Alexander, Jerry Banfield, and Michael The Comic Nerd.
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