28 May, 2021

Fiction Friday - The Continuum (part 2 of "The Neighborhood")

This story is the continuation of last week's "The Neighborhood". If you have not read that, you can catch up here.

Hank and Ben exchanged a look. Hank went for his scotch while Ben spoke up, "You're right Willis: That sounds crazy. Can you explain?" Ben and Jaime trusted Willis and Colleen with their kids. They were good neighbors, solid upstanding people. He must be joking about a rift in space-time.

Willis rose and paced the floor. "It's something she said last night. Otherwise I wouldn't have thought it." He looked up, pleading with them. "You know I would never leap to that kind of conclusion!"

"I'm glad to hear it," said Ben. He'd been watching Willis closely, not touching the drink he'd been given. Hank had almost drained with his drink.


"Well, sure. I don't think it sounds like you at all."

"Exactly." He sighed and ran his fingers over his head in frustration. "Her words. I don't even really understand myself. She was getting ready for bed and said, 'It feels weird tonight. My routine is all out of order.' Then she laughed and said, 'If I'm gone in the morning, you'll know that breaking my routine warped the space-time continuum.' That's what she said. This morning she was gone, but nothing is missing, not even as if she went to work. And she wasn't at work."

Ben relaxed and took a sip of scotch. He smiled at his friend. "I see. Do you feel like you can sit?" His anxious pacing seemed out of place now that he'd told them what happened. There was clearly an easy explanation.

Hank emptied his glass and walked over to get the scotch from the counter leading to the kitchen. He brought it back and set it on the coffee table between them after filling his glass. "How many of these have you had, Willis?"

"Oh, come on! I'm not drunk!" He looked at each of the men in turn, then answered. "One while I was waiting for you to get here, and this one in my hand. That's it."

"So, do you believe in this space-time continuum?" Asked Ben, ever logical.

He sighed. "We have different interests. The point is, I know SHE believes in it. And before you ask, no we haven't had a fight, yes, everything is good in our marriage. She wouldn't walk out on me."

Hank smirked a little. "That'll be a hard sell to the police. Is that why you asked us over?"

"Kind of. I trust you guys. And now you know everything I know. What do you think?"

Ben looked at Hank, who shrugged. "You know if you get the police involved they'll search your house. Want us to do it now? See if we see something that helps? Since we know you?"

"Be my guest."

They walked through the house together, starting with the front closet, where Willis assured them that all her coats, hats and boots that should be there, were.  Hank frowned. "That purple jacket? Leah always says..." He broke off, knowing that Leah's thoughts about the bright purple jacket were an insult. 

Willis didn't notice the hesitation. "She keeps that in the car, in case of emergency. Good eye!" Willis took a sip of his drink, relaxing. It was weird having neighbors go through your stuff, but it could help.

Ben and Hank both were a little hesitant at first, until a few questions and answers like Hank's put them more at ease. An hour later, after searching the main floor, basement and starting upstairs, Ben's phone rang. "It's Jaime." He excused himself from the guestroom, where they were taking their time, delaying investigating the master bedroom. 

Willis said to Hank, "Shall we start on the bedroom? I know it's uncomfortable, but I appreciate your help."

Hank gave a hefty sigh and nodded once. "Okay. Yeah, let's go." Ben was out in the hall on his cell. "Thanks, honey. I'll be home when I can." He followed the other two in the master suite.

They spent a little longer in here, counting toothbrushes, looking in her jewelry box - Willis appreciated their hesitancy, but encouraged them. "Is there anything I should notice is gone?" Hank had called attention to the purple jacket that wasn't in the hall closet, so it was possible they or their wives had noticed Colleen's jewelry.

After verifying the latches on the window and asking more questions, Hank and Ben were clearly ready to be done. "I don't know what to say, man," said Hank. 

Willis nodded, defeated. "Yeah. Me too. I guess if she's not here in the morning I'll call the police about it."

He stayed downstairs for another hour after the guys left, cleaning the kitchen to a shine, as if doing chores would bring her back. Finally he sat and watched a late night talk show, not really hearing anything that was said. 

During a commercial break, something flickered in his peripheral vision. Willis turned in the direction of the disturbance. Seeing nothing, he watched the commercial. Another flicker. This time he knew it was somewhere by the fluffy chair Colleen habituated. He stared at her chair as the host returned to the desk on TV. 

Like an old TV warming up, he gradually saw a form taking shape in the chair. When Colleen was clear and solid he crossed to her, staring at her. He touched her shoulder, and she turned to him with a jump. "Ah! Finally!" she smiled at him as if nothing had happened.

"You're really here?"

"I have been the whole time. I told you about the problem with the continuum, didn't I?"

"Yes, but..."

"It was just a small warp." She sighed. "I only moved some ... 22 hours? I guess? What time is it?"

Willis' jaw had dropped. If anything he had more questions than before. 

"Maybe we should head to bed early tonight. I won't mix up my routine this time." She rose and reached for his hand. "It really can mess things up. Sorry to cause you any trouble."

He accepted her hand, then pulled her into a tight embrace. "I don't get it."

"Honey, I can't breathe." He didn't relent. "I can't explain if I can't breathe." After he pulled back from the hug she touched his face. "I'm so sorry," she said. "Let's go to bed and I'll tell you all about the fragility of the space-time continuum."

Every Friday, a new flash fiction story, inspired by reader comments (as much as possible). Feel free to leave a prompt for future use in the comments below. This story was actually loosely based on a conversation we actually had at my home. It got me wondering, "what if?"

If you choose to join in for Fiction Fridays, post a link to your story below in the comments. If there's interest or participation, I may start suggesting prompts here for the following week.


  1. I'm so glad she returned. But it's not over yet, is it? Because maybe he'll disappear next? Or the friends will wonder at where she got to. That was just the beginning, right?

    1. You want another installment? I could do that. Probably just to explain my theory of how/why this happens.
      Glad you're enjoying it!

  2. OK. It took me a while to read this, but I get it it.

    YOU are a routine-driven person and a change in routine causes problems for you. It throws off your whole day if you get delayed in sweeping the floor or having your coffee.

    So, you moved your intensity about this to a quantum level.

    1. I like that. And yes, It's just me and my private insanity blowing reality into another dimension.


I enjoy a good debate. Feel free to shake things up. Tell me I'm wrong. Ask me why I have such a weird opinion. ...or, just laugh and tell how this relates to you and your life.