The town was in chaos. Full, mad, literal chaos. Nothing was the same twice. We would tie our shoelaces, or try to, and end up barefoot, in the loft, with a straw hat on our head. Or we would try and spoon cereal into our mouths and end up in the bathroom, trying to fix the toilet. Neither of these cases were anything special. They were part of the scenery, really. Nothing ever happened the same way twice in our town, and nothing ever happened according to logic.
We were losing our minds.
Then, one day, a man came to town. A stranger. I went up to him and tried to explain what was happening, but I ended up unfolding a map and pointing to Paris. It didn’t matter, he seemed to understand anyway. He looked at me with kindness.
“Your heart isn’t beating,” he said. And then he walked away. I saw him sidle up to others in the town and speak to them, too. Later, much later, I heard reports of what he’d said. Weird things. Nonsensical things. Lies. “My mother is from space,” he’d declare. “The Great Wall of China is made of sponge cake.”
For days, he did this. I didn’t pay much attention to him, not at first. But then I started to notice that sometimes when I went to do something — brush my teeth, for instance — it actually happened. Others noticed too.
As weeks went by, I saw more and more order return to our lives. I was able to sleep when I closed my eyes, able to run when I moved my legs. One day, the stranger came up to me and said “I’m going to stay here forever.”
And then he left town. And the chaos slowly returned.
I cursed the stranger’s absence, and tried to get him back. I called the police, and they managed to get out to their cruiser to go look for him. They made it half-way down the road before they found themselves plucking chickens at Worgret Farm.
I didn’t know what to do, so I copied the stranger, and told a lie. I walked over to the mirror, looked myself right in the eye, and I said “Everything is going to be okay.”