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Something Was Different

by Luc Reid

Something was different; Andy wasn't exactly sure what. There were some different smells, maybe.

Andy rubbed heavily at his eyes. He had a headache, and he realized after a minute that he had been sleeping on the couch in his clothes. He probably shouldn't have done that. He also probably shouldn't have snuck into his brother-in-law's physics lab last night and randomly connected equipment to a ouija board, but what the hell: he'd been really drunk at the time.

He patted himself down for a cigarette, squinting at the somehow-different wallpaper. Nothing. He stumbled down the stairs and into the somehow-different street, spotted the neighborhood store a couple of doors down from where he expected, and shambled over to it.

Inside the different smells were stronger, and he thought now that the air felt a little different on his eyeballs. Hangover.

"Give me a pack of Marlboros," he said to the short, dark-skinned guy behind the counter. He uncrumpled a twenty from his pocket and laid it on the counter.

"You mean Millboros?" said the store guy. Fucking foreigners couldn't even get brand names right.

"Right there--" said Andy. "Not where your hand is, to the left. The hard pack. Thank you."

The store guy slid the cigarettes across the counter, took the twenty, and gave Andy back a fifteen and some change.

Andy stared at the fifteen. "What the fuck is this?" he said.

"It's a fifteen dollar bill, ma slacka," said the store guy. He began to slide the twenty into the cash register and looked at it. "What the fuck is this?" He made a face. "Oh, this suit is ugly! This ain't no money!"

Andy had to admit, Andrew Jackson was not the prettiest president, but he didn't like where the conversation was going. He looked around him, really paying attention for the first time since he'd woken up. There was a jar of tiny fangs on a shelf near him. Further down, the boxes of cereal were cylindrical, and they were whispering. Andy turned and ran out the door and into the street, pursued closely by the store guy.

"Hey, stop! Thief!" yelled the store guy.

"Halt, in the name of the Vizier!" cried an authoritative voice. Andy didn't even turn to look; he just kept running.

Idiot. Nobody can outrun ostrich-mounted police.

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