I have a day job. In my day job I work in a 31 story office building with a large lobby. I get to work every day at around 7AM, and every day at around 7AM in the lobby I see the same faces I see every other day at 7AM in the lobby.
Except for today. This morning I didn’t recognize anybody in the lobby at 7AM; they were all new to me. I have some theories as to why this happened.
1 – Coincidence. There just happened to be different people there than I am used to seeing. While the most likely, this is the most boring theory, so I am going to leave it to die.
2 – I am in another universe. At some point during the night I slipped from my own reality into this one. While this theory is a bit more interesting, I think it is also a bit tired. How many times has “The Twilight Zone” done that one? Alice in Wonderland was built on this premise. I want something new.
3 – Aliens have kidnapped me and placed me in what they hoped to be a perfect replica of my natural environment. The only flaw thus far in their scheme is the fact that they couldn’t tell our faces apart, so they populated this menagerie with random people. That was a big mistake on their part. Still, this idea is also a bit done to death, so no.
4 – Cybernetic reality. Maybe I’ve been kidnapped (kidnapping seems to factor a bit in this line of thought) and hard wired into a computer system that feeds these images into my brain a la “The Matrix”. This would fit into my Locked and Loaded series, or even a Singularity Age story. This idea, though, as also been ridden into the dirt. I like me some originality.
5 – Drugs. I’ve been kidnapped (again) and a constant stream of hallucinogins is being fed directly into my system as I float in a sensory deprivation tank. All of this, including writing about it, is the result of chemical cocktail induced fever dreams. This is an interesting idea, but I would assume that things would seem less real. The surreality of this situation is key, and important to that surreality is the stark juxtaposition of the real and unreal. Drugs just kind of make everything unreal across the board, not just in people’s faces. Still, this theory is a step in the right direction.
6 – I am dreaming. It isn’t glamorous or all that exciting, but there is a very distinct possibility that this is all a straight dream. so what would make it interesting? Throw in some Lovecraftian Dream Cycle stuff. I am about to embark on a long and terrifying journey through the dream world for whatever reason. I will at some point turn a corner, walk through a door, or answer my cubicle phone, and find myself wandering through an alien world. Anything can happen!
7 – Reality has shifted. Something has happened to make a massive alteration to all of reality. Maybe aliens or angels have shuffled everybody around and scrambled our memories, similar to that classic of noir science fiction, Dark City, or the surreal horror of Jacob’s Ladder. Wouldn’t that be exciting? Maybe this happens all the time, and nobody remembers. Maybe I remember this time what reality used to look like. Yes, I like it. It’s a shame this has also been done a few times.
OK, I’m done with this for now. While there are a lot of other avenues to explore, I still have that day job to worry about.