That morning, when I headed off to work, I had a smile on my face.
Seated at my desk, however, I couldn’t focus on my work. All I could think about was Muriel’s face, staring straight ahead as she unraveled. My fingers, always anxious for something to occupy themselves, found a string somewhere on my desk and began tugging. I sat and replayed the memory in my head, while my fingers tugged and teased at the string. When I finally shook myself out of my trance, it was nearly time for lunch, and I had unraveled my keyboard, reducing it to nothing but a black pile of thread. Before I left for my mandated half-hour break, I stopped by a neighbor’s cubicle to liberate another keyboard. I dumped the black string into the garbage.
By the time I was headed home, I had already unraveled two computers, one of the two fridges in the break room, and my boss. Of the items, I was most upset about the fridge; my lunch leftovers had still been inside. Oddly enough, after I had tugged on a string emerging from the bottom of my boss’s pantsuit and watched her collapse into a pile of string, nobody else in the office seemed to notice her absence. Indeed, no one even acknowledged that we had a boss at all during the afternoon. Any mention of her to my fellow office drones was met with nothing but blank stares and shrugs.
One of my neighbors was outside when I pulled into the driveway. I waved back to him, nervous that he would mention my missing wife. Fortunately, he did nothing of the sort. He did make some comment about how sad it was that I lived alone. His statement confused me; I had always thought that Muriel was the more noticeable one. Still, I was nervous. Fortunately, I was able to spot the piece of string hanging from his gardening jacket.
The next morning, after a sound night’s sleep, I noticed that there was a large “For Sale” sign planted in my neighbor’s front yard. It unraveled nicely, coming apart with a single pull. As it broke down into white thread, I saw that the end of the thread continued backward, towards the house. One good yank, and the entire house collapsed into a tangle. I spent several minutes trying in vain to coil the string into a skein before giving up and pushing the entire pile off into some bushes.
Things went downhill from there. Wandering through the downtown area, I left several city blocks free of buildings. When I turned around and started my walk back, there were already trees and grass covering the empty holes where skyscrapers had previously stood. People who had worked in the unraveled buildings were milling about in the street, looking vaguely confused about why they were downtown. I wondered what had happened to the people who had been working inside.
As I was getting into my car, a black string coming out of the road caught my eye. Hmm, I thought, as the highway came apart into a mess of tiny black lines. I’m going to have to take the back route to get home.
This story is definitely escalating. Stay tuned!