To Another Place

Sperry drapes his towel on the closed toilet lid. There’s a stench in the air like he forgot to flush, but he never forgets to flush before a shower. Tainting his favorite cleaning ritual would be a foolish self-betrayal. His chest releases tension once the locks are secure, finally feeling comfortable enough to twist the shower knob with the memorized set of revolutions learned after years and years of the routine. It’s the best routine he has.

He stands in front of the water, zoning out in anticipation of an endless shower.

“Ha ha, you think those locks will do you any good?”

There’s a booming presence in the room and Sperry snaps out of his trance by falling out of the shower, bringing the curtain down with him. He’s frozen, or at least as frozen as someone nearing a seizure could be. All of a sudden, the booming presence becomes a gigantic hand that rips through the ceiling and picks Sperry up between thumb and finger. Sperry begs for a towel to keep his decency, but his pleas are ignored. The hand plucks him out of the locked bathroom and into the air above his broken roof, the naked Sperry wiggling like an aborted caterpillar.

Sperry’s protests prove so unsuccessful that he wound up wiggling himself into a mini coma. The hand carries the exposed shower-goer over power lines, asbestos-laced schools, bullies putting their wet fingers into defenseless ears, corporate complexes, bigger bullies putting their arms around new employees, hospitals, screaming ER patients on stretchers, shaky bridges, stolen kites, and trees, before dropping him on a sandy bank sandwiched between a forest and a lake. Sperry is unresponsive, so the giant finger nudges him awake.

Sperry’s eyes dart back and forth in a hurried daze trying to get his bearings and when he finally does, realizing he’s underneath a mammoth hand-shadow, he loses them again. He bolts from the ground and runs away from the shadow. Faster and faster this confused nakedness runs. Faster and faster until his foot glimpses a spiky object on the ground, tripping him into a forward roll. Once inert, Sperry slowly crawls deeper into the water with more concern for his privates than his pain.

The giant hand floats over to this pathetic neo-nudist.

“Here you are” The booming presence is back again. Sperry looks around.

“Where am I? This is nowhere near my show- Oh no! The water’s still running! That’s going to cost a fortune.” Sperry gives the water a backhanded smack.

“Sometimes when people ask for things…we listen.” The voice sounds as powerful as a unified chorus of motorcycle engines.

“I can’t afford to leave the water running that long! You know, I’ve budgeted everything out weeks in advance and my showers are supposed to last no longer than 10 minutes.” Sperry’s mind is still back at his newly-destroyed cleansing closet.

The hand picks Sperry up so easily it would make bullies of all size jealous. It gently puts him down with his head facing the middle of the lake.

“Do you know where you are?” calls the voice beyond the hand. Sperry gives a timid horizontal head shake.

“You should. You asked for this.”

“When did I ask to be brought to a secluded lake? Why am I naked? Or is it because I didn’t ask to be dressed before I was kidnapped? When would I ever ask anyone or anything to interrupt my quiet time,” Sperry is incredulous, “Who would I ask to ruin my roof? Why would I carefully lock the door if I wanted a big, cruddy hand barging in?” Sperry is agitated, you can tell by his neck strains.

“Before you went into the room…you mentioned this.” The voice beyond the hand replies.

“I don’t even know what this is.”

“It’s the Untouchable Lake. That’s what…it is called. None of your kind has been here.”

Sperry’s eyes widen to test the validity of this claimed name. “So there aren’t any animals?  No fish, or shellfish? Or bugs? It’s completely free of contaminants? Free of nasty invisibles?”

The hand is unresponsive. It waits a while- dead air. Then it swipes it’s cupped self into the lake, bringing up hundreds of hidden creatures. They all get flung into the treetops.

“Now there is nothing.”

Sperry wades into the water, his head bobbing enough to keep him alive but apparently not well in the head, since he’s still avoiding the biggest question.

“Where is this?” He’s still not well.

“…I don’t really know.” The voice beyond admits.

“I refuse to believe that.”

“…”

“”Of course not. You can break my house, my routine, and bring me to a place that you don’t know?” His neck strain is larger and his wits have recovered. “What are you? You’re not God. Clearly you’re more impotent than omnipotent. You’re not even close to a god or even a deep-voiced goddess. You get to just do what you want to. Is this some sort of elaborate prank? You know you’d have to get me to sign a release before this goes on TV. And you’d need to blur out my privates, you sicko. What kind of sacrifice am I for this abnormal ritual?”

The gigantic hand floats away.

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING!?!?” Sperry fakes a quick chase but still can’t reveal himself in this secluded place.

“Our voice and hearing are still here. We hear the calls and respond. You asked to leave. To go to another place. To bathe somewhere clean. So we helped.”

“Where’s your giant hand?”

“That’s our brother. Our hand has gone off to another place.”

“How can your hand be gone and you’re still here? Aren’t you one thing like me?” Sperry crosses his arms tightly, his pointer and middle fingers nervously itching just above the elbow.

“Our hand is the youngest and does the lifting, carrying. Our middle brother is the ears, does the listening. Our oldest is the voice and does the talking.”

Sperry looks around for clues of where he is.

“We are one thing just like you. But our hearing doesn’t catch it all. Our hand goes and does what it wants. Our voice can only say what it knows. We’re not connected like the water within that lake, but we are one thing.”

“Can I have soap?”

“We are not a genie.”

“What am I supposed to do?” Sperry flares his nostrils.

“We don’t know. Our ear heard a call for a clean place. Our hand brought you here. And our voice did what it could to explain.”

“My name is Sperry. What is yours? Do you have one name or three? What do I even call you?”

“You already called us. Stop asking questions.”

Sperry keeps talking, but his shaky voice echoes in his shallow outdoor chamber. The lake finally fulfills its sterile name. No animals, no giant hand, no voice, and nothing to listen. Sperry gets out of the water, only because his own hand holds his privates. He walks to where he was dropped and notices a piece of curtain came along for the journey. What a terrible final line of defense for a shower. If the locked door and roof did nothing to secure him, then how could this flimsy piece of fiber ever keep him safe?

Except now it can. Sperry wraps the remaining cloth around himself to salvage his remaining dignity. He’s covered and ready to venture. He feels he can’t be too far from civilization, so he begins walking into the trees, feeling protected by his polyester loincloth. He’s sure if he walks long enough he’ll hit a street in no time.

Although he forgets about his four hour coma.

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