The lobby of the building was tiny. The size of a small bedroom. There were no chairs for anyone to wait in. No magazines to pass the time. The only furniture was a desk crammed in the corner. A young woman was sitting behind it with a neat stack of papers in front of her. There were no pens. There was no phone.
“Michael?” She asked without looking up from her stack of papers.
“No. I’m sorry. I came here with Thomas.”
I turned around for direction from Thomas but he wasn’t behind me. He wasn’t anywhere. I didn’t see or hear him leave and I swore that he followed me inside. I must have been wrong.
The woman looked up at me. Her eyes were the biggest I had ever seen. They were an amazing dark brown. I swooned.
“If you came with Thomas then you MUST be Michael,” she insisted. “Are you really NOT Michael?”
“I…I don’t really know,” I stammered. “Maybe I am Michael.”
“Good. Then you are running late, Michael. Please meet with Dr. Pilsen in the next room.” She pointed to a door to my left that I hadn’t noticed before.
“Why am I here? I don’t exactly understand?”
It wasn’t just the confusion of names or the way I seemed to be anonymously important but something was getting to me. Something inside of me was off. I noticed my left arm was tingling and for some reason, unknown to me, I had accepted a name that was not my own. Who was Michael? I wasn’t really Michael, was I?
“Please, Dr. Pilsen is waiting for you…and you’re late.” The woman had the same sharp tone that Thomas had when I talked to him on the street.
I turned toward the door. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be any trouble.”
I opened the door. Beyond it’s threshold there was only darkness but still everything seemed very defined.
I glanced at the young woman once more. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” She smiled. “Have a nice day.”
As we walked the few short blocks to his office, Thomas told me about the organization he worked for.
They were a small collective of scientists and free-thinkers who were trying to understand the chaos that seemed to run our world. They had done comprehensive studies on a wide array of topics. Studies such as why people’s favorite colors are their favorite colors or what possible reasons there could be for a creature like the Duck-Billed Platypus to evolve as ridiculously it did. These were seemingly pointless studies.
“It probably has something to do with what color they associated with most as a child,” I offered as we walked past a colorful daycare center.
“That has nothing to do with anything,” Thomas said to me sharply and then stopped.
He stared at the children playing in the small, enclosed yard.”There is no such thing as nurture.”
We walked the rest of the short distance in silence. The streets seemed uncharacteristically vacant and still.
As we walked, I tried to understand what he had meant. Of course there was nurture. My mother nurtured me when I was growing up. Everyone was a product of their environment. At least to some extent. But the way he said it. I couldn’t help but believe him.
Eventually, Thomas gestured ahead to a large stucco building at the end of the block.
“That is my office. If you understand what I am about to show you, it will change your life. It will change the way you understand EVERYTHING.”
“What does that even mean? Like learning Calculus or Chemistry or something?” I asked.
“No,” he said, again in that sharp tone. “Not like Calculus. Not like Chemistry…”
Thomas paused. “…like Fiction.”
He held the large, glass door open for me and I stepped inside.
A man tapped me on the shoulder in the cookie and cracker aisle of the supermarket.
This is the beginning of the deconstruction of everything I know. Everything WE know. The deconstruction of EVERYTHING.
The man said his name was Thomas. His name wasn’t Thomas.
The man told me he was a Philosophical Scientist. I didn’t know what that meant but that didn’t matter because he wasn’t one.
Thomas explained that he didn’t know who I was but that it was important for me to come with him to his office a few blocks away. He assured me I wouldn’t be harmed. His frail frame convinced me this was true. He told me I needn’t be alarmed of any theft or foul-play. He simply needed to explain something that he couldn’t discuss in public.
I followed him.
I don’t know why I followed him.
Perhaps it was the sterile smell of his soft colored clothes that convinced me he really was a man of science. Maybe it was the way he spoke so vaguely succinct about this situation he felt so strongly about. Or maybe it was simply because I had nothing better to do.
Either way, I set down my basket of produce and milk in the middle of the aisle and I followed him out the sliding doors of the supermarket and into the auburn rays of the evening sun.
One important note: None of this actually happened.