In Which Frank Wakes Up


Frank sat up in bed, blinking furiously. There was a taste like old milk in his mouth. No, that wasn't right - it was more like the rush of air from the cooler that the milk was stored in. He licked his lips to get the taste out, and came away with raspberries. No again. This was the artificial raspberry flavoring they used in candy, or lip balm. Frank felt like he should look to his left.

He did so, and found a girl there. "Huh," he thought, "that's not normally there."

The girl who was not normally there was very alert for having been just discovered.

"No, I'm not normally here," she said.

"Can you..."

"Read minds?" she asked, squinting meaningfully.

Frank found that, as ironic as it was, he was totally unprepared to deal with a psychic while wearing a shirt that had Batman on it. He properly thought the shirt should have conferred some sort of bonus. Before he could stammer anything more, she said, "No, you dummy. You said that first bit out loud. Also, something about spiders."

"I had a dream about spiders," Frank said, shivering at the memory. They had been everywhere.

"I know."

"Because you're a psychic?" He was trying very hard, but besides his Batman shirt, he only had on boxer shorts, and this girl was very pretty. When Frank was a kid, they taught him his numbers by making them into people. This girl looked like Ms. Eight, whom he had always had a crush on. The drafty milk cooler taste was terrible in his mouth, and the raspberry lip balm had only done so much.

At this comment the girl only pressed her presumably raspberry flavored lips together and considered Frank. He felt like a few minutes under that stare would be the equivalent of doing his taxes, and maybe getting his license renewed, or possibly both at the same time while wearing SCUBA gear above water. Thankfully, she stopped after a few seconds and let her head plop back down on the pillow. She rolled over, nestling under the blankets.

"Get a drink of water and go back to sleep, Frank," was all she said.

He sat there for a moment too long.

She sighed. "You keep sticking your tongue out and making a face like you're changing a cat's litter box. I'm not a psychic," she said, her emphasis on the second word so pointed sportsmen could attach it to their guns and use it to hunt deer at night.

"Okay," he told her, throwing his feet over the edge and looking for his rabbit slippers. He could only find one, but figured that was enough.

The floor was icy, so he hopped as gently as he could on one foot down the hall to the bathroom. Halfway down the hall, he encountered another sleeping girl who wasn't supposed to be there. He paused to cover her exposed leg with the blanket she had harvested from his closet and continued his determined hop to the bathroom.

Somewhere in the back of his mind was a little voice telling him that he was going to have to figure all of this out in the morning. There was also a voice saying that he would get to eat Cocoa Puffs in the morning, and it was to that voice he ultimately chose to listen.

In the bathroom, there were no strange women. He made a quick sweep just in case, even looking behind the spare toilet paper under the sink. When he was sure he was alone, Frank brushed his teeth on one foot while arcing a stream of urine into the toilet. He knew Batman would be proud.

Batman would not have been proud of what happened when someone knocked on the bathroom door in the middle of Frank's moment of Zen. There was a yelp, some cursing, and the sound of water running. Frank answered the door wearing a towel instead of his boxer shorts.

"Yes?" he asked the naked man he found standing in the sliver of light from the bathroom. The man's skin was dark, his head was bald, and he was wearing Frank's other bunny slipper. The two slippers looked at one another across the threshold, even as Frank and the man looked at one another.

"You awake?" the man asked.

Frank considered for a moment if he was or not.

"Yes," he answered, trying to be nonchalant. A quick glance told him that the man he was looking at was still naked, and probably spent a lot of time at the gym.

"Cool," the man said, nodding slightly. He looked to the left and the right before leaning in. "Things downstairs got a little out of hand," he said, rocking back on his heels. There was a grin on his face at that, and it showed off his impressively white teeth.

Frank was going to need a new toothbrush if his smile was ever going to look like that. He started to glance over his shoulder, but stopped himself; that way lied madness. He smiled back at the man, and motioned that he was coming out.

The man stepped back, and Frank emerged in his impromptu white cotton kilt, Batman still standing up top, albeit slightly less proud. He closed the bathroom door softly, and they stood in the dim hallway. "Downstairs?" Frank whispered.

"Yeah," the man whispered back, getting closer in a way neither Frank nor the Dark Knight were entirely comfortable with. Something might have...brushed. "But don't worry," he said, "you know I'll help with the clean up."

That made Frank feel better, and then worse as he came to grips with what it meant. He felt as if he ought to check this downstairs situation out. What was the proper term? Reckon? Reconnoiter? Reconnaissance? "Maybe you should show me," he said. The other man nodded.

"Cool. But we've gotta be really quiet down there, okay?"

Frank made a the okay sign to show that it was, in fact, okay. The guy nodded again and they made their way down the steps. When they reached the landing, the man placed his finger to his lips, and then pointed down. Frank nodded, and then they carefully tip-toed around the corner to his living room.

It was like someone had made human lasagna with blankets for noodles. He stopped counting at twenty lumps. Frank turned to the man with a question on his lips, but he only shook his head. Frank's shoulders drooped. The man pointed around the corner to the kitchen. Frank's eyes went wide and he was motioned forward.

There were only a few people sleeping in the kitchen, but they had been busy. It looked like the aftermath of Thanksgiving dinner for a dozen different nationalities. Frank thought there was a Chinese man using a half full bag of dried beans as a pillow.

"I..." he said, but the man with his other slipper on instantly had his hand over Frank's mouth. He sternly shook his head. In the corner, someone moved sleepily around. The two men watched and listened with wide eyes, until the person – a chubby woman wearing red heels - settled deeper into her bag of potatoes.

The man took his hand off Frank's mouth. Frank pointed upstairs, made a loose fist, then nodded firmly. They trooped up the steps again, both of them ignoring the flapping sounds of unconstrained male genitalia.

At the top of the steps, both men stood for a moment. Frank leaned against the wall, and the other guy posted up on the opposite side of the hallway. The bunny slippers, oblivious to anything out of the ordinary, were happy to be able to look at one another.

He started to ask "How" and "Why" and "What" all at the same time, so that what he actually asked was, "Howyatt?"

"Conrad," the man responded.

"What?" he asked, his questions deciding to come out single file.

"My name's not Wyatt, it's Conrad. You know that." The other man - Conrad - looked upset that Frank had forgotten his name. Then he looked at him closer. "You do know that, right?"

"Sure I do," Frank said, with an attempt at an easy grin.

Conrad smirked at him. "No you don't," he said, but he didn't seem upset anymore.

"No, I don't."

The house was silent again, or as silent as a house can be with thirty some odd people sleeping and breathing and having dreams in it. Into the not silence, Conrad finally said, "What day is it, man?"

"Ha!" Frank said, "It's not day, it's night." He thought about it. "Well, I'm sure it's AM, not PM, but that's a trick question."

Conrad shook his head, the rest of his anatomy following again. "The calendar date, Frank."

"Oh. When I went to bed, it was the 13th. March 13th. I guess it's the 14th now."

There was a slow chuckle from Conrad. The sound of it crept up Frank's legs, making the hair on them prickle. He shivered. The sound of the laugh wasn't malicious. Under other circumstances, he could hear himself joining along. But in the dark, with something he didn't know hanging over his head? Brrr.

The laugh ended in a sigh. Conrad stared at his feet. "It's not the 14th, man. It's not even the 15th."

Frank felt a little dizzy, but mostly okay. He'd...he'd just had a lot to drink. He'd never blacked out before. Okay, he'd never even been drunk before. But he did go out on Friday night, and he'd had a couple of beers. First time for everything, right?

He could work with this. He'd used up Saturday and Sunday - somehow, didn't matter, don't think about it - and he'd take a sick day on Monday to get things sorted. Conrad was nice, whoever he was. He'd help him get all these people out, maybe even help him get Ms. Eight's number, and scrub away all traces of the It's A Small World Thanksgiving feast.

Come Tuesday morning, everything would be back to normal.

"Okay," he said, "so I got really drunk, and..."

"It's the 17th," Conrad said.

"Whoa, super drunk, not good, but..."

"Of April," Conrad finished with a wince. He had his hands up like he was expecting a pass.

"April?" Frank asked, as if he had never heard of it before and the months went straight from March to May. He was halfway to the floor before he realized he was falling. Conrad caught him.

"It's alright, I gotcha. Deep breaths."

Frank tried, but at that moment someone in the house started screaming.