Published Monthly



Days Confused
by Thomas J. Misuraca

It was Monday again. Fred wouldn't have minded it so much if it weren't just Monday yesterday.

In the late 2020’s, mankind decided that if they could master time travel, then they could fix what was wrong with the planet. Scientists attempted to break into the space-time continuum. It is still uncertain what they did, but somehow, they fractured time.

The result: people no longer lived linearly. There still existed a physical timeline of minutes, days and hours, but people lived them like a CD player on random play.

People’s consciousness remained linear through these time slips. There was no telling what period of your life you would be living from one moment to the next, and what mental age you would be when you got there. In one second you could go from pimply-faced teenager to a shriveled up geriatric, while having the mentality of a middle-aged person.

It changed the way people lived. Cars and planes ran on remote control, in fear that drivers might slip into a pre-licensed mentality while driving. And at hospitals, two surgeons now worked on each operation, in case one time slipped during the surgery to their pre-medical school days consciousness.

Even the most minor jobs were made more difficult by time slipping. For Fred Kern, who wrote the obituaries for a local newspaper, it was difficult to keep track of who was dead in his present timeline.

For instance, while writing the obituary for local rich widow Emma Scrunch, he could slip five years into the past, where both Emma and her husband were still alive.

Like most people, Fred survived by using a great number of clocks and calendars.

“Good morning, Fred,” the receptionist, Nancy, greeted that morning. “How are you?”

“Okay for a Monday,” was the same reply Fred used yesterday, to Claire, a different receptionist. They newspaper went through them pretty quickly.

“Friday will be here soon enough,” Nancy said.

“With any luck, it'll be here by noon.”

“Tell me about it. I haven't had a Sunday in over two months now. I feel guilty for not going to church in so long.”

“I wouldn't worry about that,” Fred told her. “I doubt God could get any more pissed off at us.”

“Good point.”

From there, Fred went to his editor's office to see if anything major was going on in the world. Charlie Rogers had been in the business for over forty years. But Fred never knew if he was going to get experienced or novice Charlie that day.

“What's up, chief?” Fred asked as he entered the office.

“I have no clue what I'm doing,” Charlie said. “Two minutes ago I was working in the mail room, now I'm running the place. AND I have hair growing out of my ears. That's disgusting!”

On hearing that, Fred automatically put his hand to his head. His hair was growing thin at this point in time. Yesterday, he was almost completely bald, and hated the way his skinless skull protruded through his remaining hair.

“Let me know if you need anything,” Fred offered.

“I need the last forty years back,” Charles complained, as many often did.

“I hope you get them back by the ten o'clock production meeting,” Fred said.

He walked to his office and found the list of those who died over the weekend. It was a slow death day, but he rushed to get things done. You never knew when you were going to run out of time.

The phone rang about an hour into the day. Instinctively, Fred looked at the calendar. He knew who would be calling at this time of day and year.

His girlfriend Jodi.

“Hi, lover boy,” she said to him.

“Oh, hi,” Fred replied.

“Uh-oh,” Jodi exclaimed. “Somebody's having a bad day.”

“A bad few days actually,” Fred told her. “I've been jumping into the future a great deal.”

“Oh,” Jodi sounded guilty. “Really?”

“Yes.”

“So, uhm, are we going to have dinner tonight?”

Fred looked again at his day planner. The date was scheduled.

“I don't know,” Fred said, trying to think if he’d already lived though that night. “It depends on how I feel when and if I get to tonight.”

“What's wrong?”

“You’re going to cheat on my next year,” Fred told her. “And I think you already know that.”

“But that's the future,” Jodi said. “We need to live for today.”

Fred repressed his urge to scream. “Live for today” was the slogan politicians had attached to the problems of time slippage. And as usual, the mass public ate it up.

“And now that I know it’ll hurt you so much,” Jodi continued, “maybe I won’t.”

Fred doubted that. Though people knew their future, most were rarely able to change it. Yes, they could change certain details, but when you weren't living linearly, you never knew when you would slip into a situation or when you would slip out of it.

“Yesterday was the first Monday after you hit me with that info, so I'm a little bitter right now,” Fred explained. “I'll call you when I get to tonight. Maybe that’ll be so long from now, I’ll want to see you again.”

Sadly, Jodi hung up the phone. Fred made another note on his calendar to call Jodi at the end of the day. He knew he would probably have dinner with her, regardless if that night were a few hours or a few years away.

Fred ate lunch alone at the local diner. After biting into his roast beef sandwich, he found himself standing in a crowded elevator. He instinctively began to chew, but only ended up biting his tongue.

He sighed, turned to the man next to him and asked, “When’d I slip to?”

Strangers were used to being asked and asking this question. You never knew when the person next to you would slip, or when you yourself would. Instead of letting each other wander around aimlessly until they got to a calendar, people were quick to help.

“Monday,” the man said, then added the time, month and year.

“Of all the rotten luck,” Fred said. Again, people were accustomed to strangers being upset that they slipped to that time and place.

Fred thought the worst thing was when he slipped in his sleep. It was always nice to be in the middle of a busy day, then to find yourself in bed in the middle of the night (though sometimes it could cause insomnia). But when you were sound asleep, then find yourself in the middle of a busy day– that was not at all fun.

“Good morning, Fred,” Claire greeted. “How are you?”

“Okay for a Monday,” Fred replied.

“Friday will be here soon enough,”

“With any luck, it'll be here by noon.”

“So, how's Jodi?” she asked.

“I really don't know,” he said. “I have no idea where I landed in that relationship.”

“You celebrated your five year this weekend,” she informed him. “You went away to the Hamptons. Look... you're tan.”

His secretary held up her cosmetic mirror. Saw his older, tanned face in the reflection, along with his bald head. He had to turn away.

“Well, she's going to dump me on Saturday.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

“She’ll be sorry if she calls me today.”

“You could have an affair with your secretary.”

“No,” Fred knew Claire was going to die in about three months. “I won't.”

That was another good/bad thing about time slipping. You knew when some of your friends were going to die. One may think this knowledge could help people live longer, but it was the same as dating, it was very rare that you would slip there in enough time to prevent anything.

Some people found themselves at the point of their own death, and believed that they time slipped at the moment they died. They were pretty shaky when they arrived at their next time spot. Support groups were created for those who had discovered their mortality.

But everybody knows when he or she dies. Usually friends and family are the ones to reveal the event.

Fred remembered the time his sister called and said, “Guess whose funeral I attended yesterday!”

“How did I look?” he asked her.

“You were a beautiful corpse.”

As Fred wrote out the great number of obituaries that awaited him that morning, he couldn't recall much of his weekend away in the Hamptons. All he could think about was the Monday before last.

Charles came into his office, which was unusual.

“Do you know when I'm going to die?” he asked Fred.

Fred shook his head. He did indeed know, but he dealt enough with deaths that already happened, he never liked telling others when theirs would take place.

“I spent the last few days in a hospital. I was so weak I couldn't ask what was wrong with me. Do you know what was wrong with me?”

Fred shook his head, but he knew the truth. Lung cancer.

Fred got up and put his hand on Charles' shoulder, “Why don't you take the day off and do something fun. Go out to Coney Island or something.”

“Is Coney Island still there?”

“I think so,” Fred wasn't really sure. Then he reluctantly added, “Live for today.”

Charles smiled. “Thanks Fred, that’s a good idea.”

Fred knew it was.

A few minutes after Charles left Fred’s office, his phone rang.

He picked up the phone. “Hello.”

“Hi sweetie,” Jodi’s playful voice sung through the phone. “I had to call you and tell you what a wonderful weekend I had.”

“Well, sadly, I have not had a weekend in a very long time,” Fred informed her.

“Oh baby, I’m sorry to hear that.”

“I don’t think you are,” he told her. “Because the last weekend I lived, was the one you told me you were seeing another man. And I’m pretty sure that will be next weekend.”

“But that hasn’t happened yet,” she sounded as if she were pleading. “You’ve got to live f–”

“Did you sleep with him before this weekend?” Fred asked her.

Only silence came from the other end.

“That’s what I thought,” Fred said and hung up on her.

He wondered if Jodi already lived this day before she dumped him, but kept quiet about it. Not that it mattered; it was over. Fred hoped he would soon slip somewhere far away from the five years he’d spent with Jodi.

Fred buried himself in his work that day, and before he knew it, it was time to go home.

When he got down to the parking garage, he forgot that he recently bought a brand new car, so it took a moment for him to find it. As he drove home, he remembered how happy he was during this time period: new car, new house, and a potential new wife. He was ready to propose to Jodi. And within a week, that was all destroyed when he discovered she was cheating on him.

Fred was aware that his life would continue. After Jodi, there were a few more girls and eventually a wife. But he’d been spending so much time in the Jodi period, it was difficult to focus on anything else. Especially since this was the first he had heard of her cheating on him. So living for the moment meant he was pretty angry about it right now.

As he drifted off to sleep, he thought of Cheryl, his future wife. They would have two beautiful children together. How he hoped he would see them running around his large house soon.

Fred awoke in a different bed.

He sat up. His eyes adjusted to the darkness, his tried to grasp his bearings. And when he did, he groaned. He was in his old studio apartment.

He switched on the television to the Time & Date channel (it replaced the Weather Channel, since predicting the weather was one thing the time slips did allow). Not only was it another Monday, but it was also four years earlier than yesterday.

He hoped this run of Mondays would end soon. He hated when he got stuck in the same days for so long. At one point, he got into a run of Fridays. Yes, Fridays were great when you knew a weekend would follow, but when you weren't quite sure what the next day would be, it made them all anti-climactic.

Though it was an hour before Fred had to get up for work, he knew he would not fall back asleep. He went into the bathroom to wash up. As he flipped on the light switch, a cockroach scurried behind the sink. Fred forgot how tiny that bathroom was, and how he never seemed to be able to get it clean.

Fred saw himself in the mirror and was surprised by how different he looked only four years earlier than yesterday. His hair was all there and full-bodied. He had not yet gained the weight he did while dating Jodi, and he must have been going to the gym at that time, because his body was in good shape. And to think, things were even worse by the time he met Cheryl.

Fred was glad he got out early, because his old, broken down car would not start. It took him a moment to recall the bus route, and he ended up stepping off the elevator right on time.

“Good morning, Fred,” Bill, their only male receptionist greeted. “How are you?”

“Okay for a Monday,” Fred replied.

“Friday will be here soon enough,”

“With any luck, it'll be here by noon.”

Fred went into his office, and stopped for a moment, feeling something was wrong.

“Get out of my office, Kern,” his former boss shouted, standing behind him at the doorway. “Stop trying to dance on my grave.”

At this time, Fred was only the assistant obituary writer. Gavin was his boss, and what a jerk he was. He’d be fired in less than two years, and Fred would take his place. But in the meantime he had to put up with his cruelty.

“I said get out of here,” Gavin said as he strode through his office. “Or I’ll dock your pay for doing nothing but standing about.”

Fred left his future office to find his old cubical. It was in the area where all assistances sat, like the kids’ table at Thanksgiving dinner.

He passed Charles in the hall, but Charles did not acknowledge him. And he would not do so until Fred was promoted, regardless of his mental time state.

When Fred reached the cubicles, he was surprised to see all the faces he had not seen in a very long time. None of these people had stayed with the paper very long. He was the only one who stuck it out.

A few hours into his day, the phone rang. It was Jodi.

“I just wanted to thank you for a lovely weekend,” she said.

She sounded so young and full of energy, not as defeated and going through the motions as she had the last few times he’d spoken with her. And he was sure they didn’t do anything big that weekend, maybe just dinner and a movie.

But still, the thought of her future cheating hung at the front of his thoughts. He wanted to give her hell as he did the day before. Especially since he now saw that they were once really happy, and she had to go ruin it.

“Let's have lunch today,” she suggested. “And live for today.”

Fred heard Gavin come up behind him and tap his foot impatiently.

“Sure,” Fred said. “Why the hell not?”

Besides, he might slip into a better Monday before then. These days, anything was possible.


Tom Misuraca is a Boston native currently living in Los Angeles. Over seventy of his short stories have been accepted for publication in literary magazines all over the world, including Byline, Thema and Spoiled Ink. He has also written and edited young adult books for Angel Gate Press. Last summer, Midnight Times profiled him on their website. When he's not writing, he works as a graphic designer.

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