Ryan didn’t believe it.
That was not unusual in itself. There were a good many things Ryan didn’t believe in, such as astrology, healing crystals, ideologies, Gaia, religions, politics, ghosts, reality television, fate and several other things he was too busy not to believe in at the moment.
However, he did believe in an external reality… until now.
Ryan had always liked those stories; novels, films, TV programmes, that played around with reality, altering perceptions, questioning what is and what isn’t real. Are we all living inside some god’s dream, inside a computer programme?
Is this a dream?
Are we awake?
All that sort of thing was all well and good in fiction. Ryan liked the stuff that made him think like that.
Except that now he was late for work.
Now he was late for work and that external reality he relied on, and not just for getting to work on time, had vanished.
Here he was alone in a blank whiteness, with only the clothes he stood up in, his mobile phone and a small glass, half-full of orange juice.
He remembered he was thirsty and sipped at the juice. He looked around for somewhere to put the glass down, but there was nothing. He felt around himself with a tentative tip of his left shoe.
He was standing on something, something that was just as white and featureless as the rest of his surroundings, but beyond that, there was nothing. No matter how far he bent his one leg and felt with the other, there was nothing to stand on.
He quickly returned the exploratory foot next to the other one. There did seem less… less floor… less ground… less whatever it was… there than before.
Just like the kitchen, the rest of his house, the rest of the world had disappeared when he stepped out of it. It seemed that the world, his world, now consisted of the small area that contained him and nothing else
He’d stepped through the kitchen door, shutting it behind him, holding his half-empty glass, and stepped into nothing.
At first, he hadn’t thought anything of it, still in his morning pre-coffee state of semi-somnolence. He’d automatically turned back to the kitchen door to open it and discovered it too had gone.
That had woken him up.
Now he wished he was dreaming.
He had thought of that. He tried pinching himself, watching wide-eyed as the orange juice he spilt from his glass fall down and down, and then disappeared somewhere below him.
A long way down.
A long way down and Ryan was scared of heights.
At least he presumed it was a height, but everything was blank, white, and featureless. There was no up, no down, no right, no left, no forward and no back.
If he stepped forward, or back, then he would be stepping off the only piece of solidity, the only bit of external reality he still had.
If there was enough of it, and if he wasn’t holding the glass in his one hand, he’d be gripping on to it with all his might.
Admittedly, it wasn’t much of a world, not that much of a life either to be honest, but it was all he’d had… until now.
And now, he missed it and wanted it back.