One Thing Leads to Another

Let's see just how far away from Harold we can get.

Harold was having a terrible day.

He'd woken up on the wrong side of the bed, quite literally, and found himself stuck between his wall and his largely immovable bed. Being unable to climb out, he'd finally managed to suck his gut in far enough that he could get under the bed, that he might crawl his way out. It was at about this time when he learnt of just how dirty it was under his bed, and suddenly his allergies were wreaking havoc on him. Of course, all sneezing did was to stir up even more dust, and further hamper his efforts to start his day.

When he finally made his way out, covered in dust and miserableness, he headed straight for the shower. It wasn't until he'd almost reached the washroom that he realized it was unusually bright outside for being seven in the morning. He glanced at his alarm clock, only to find it blank. Panicking, he rushed back to his bed to look for his watch, throwing things wildly off of his bedside table before a sickening crunch let him know the watch was already on the floor.

Picking the wrecked thing up, Harold pushed some broken glass out of the way to see the time the watch would forever be stuck on as of now, eleven twenty-three. He moaned in frustration. Normally he would have received a call from work by now, but with his power out, the phone hadn't rang.

He ran back to the bathroom and started the shower before running to the kitchen and grabbing a box of cornflakes. He poured himself a bowl and rushed to the refrigerator, stopping short when he saw that the door was open. That, combined with the power being out, combined with the heat... Harold opened the door of the appliance and pulled out the milk to find that yes, it had indeed gone bad.

He'd resigned himself to eating them dry before he turned around to find his sister's cat (which he had kindly volunteered to catsit) relieving itself in his bowl. "Harold!" he yelped, rushing over and picking the cat, who refused to stop what he'd started, up off the table. Harold put the thing in the kitchen sink so it could finish up, and headed back to the washroom.

Now covered in cat urine, dust, and sweat, he stripped off his underwear and hopped in the shower, only to scream with surprise and hop back out again. He stuck a hand into the icy cold water with frustration and cranked the handle all the way to the hot side, waiting there for a moment, miserable and naked, before sticking his hand in again. Warm. Good. He kicked the cat, who had since finished and seemed to be following him, out of the bathroom, locked the door behind him, and hopped back in the shower.

Only to jump out screaming again, this time tripping and taking the shower curtain with him, and this time not surprise but pain in his voice. Apparently the plumbing had chosen that moment to start working properly again, and had lived up the the heat one would normally expect from being cranked right to the red side of the tap. Harold was now thoroughly scalded on top of being bruised from the fall, and still pretty dirty. Plus there was hot water spraying all over his bathroom without the curtain to contain it.

Holding the curtain rod above his head, and using the curtain itself as a shield, Harold made his way over to the tap and turned the water off. He managed to get the curtain rod back up, though it refused to fit in any completely horizontal manner, turned the shower back on, and after making absolutely sure the water was temperate, he slowly entered the shower.

It turned out, of course, that he was out of shampoo, but after everything else that had happened, he wasn't about to let that get in his way; he simply used soap instead. The rest of his personal hygiene routine went surprisingly well, and Harold had begun to think that perhaps his streak of bad luck was over.

Which was, of course, his biggest mistake.

As he exited the washroom, Harold (the man) got an eyeful of Harold (the cat) sliding down his (Harold's (the man's)) dry cleaning bag with his (Harold's (the cat's)) claws digging into it and the suit it contained. "Ahhh!" Harold screamed, past trying to make any sense, and he grabbed the cat from the bag.

"Putting the damn thing outside..." he muttered to himself. "To hell with Wendy's instructions." He headed for the front door, but Haroldcat apparently did not approve of this course of action, and proceeded to dig his claws into anything he could reach. Which happened to be a wide variety of things, but these things were also all parts of Haroldman's body.

Harold, understandably, dropped the cat, nursing his newest wounds, and watched the thing race under his couch, where it proceeded to make angry cat noises in a very disconcerting manner. He thought it was probably best he get out of the house before the thing killed him, so he hurriedly put on his suit (which now had highly fashionable tears down the front of it), grabbed his suitcase, and headed out the door, just in time to see a bus drive away from the nearby stop.

Harold stared for a moment in disbelief. He didn't even know the bus schedule this late in the morning. He hadn't been expecting a bus to be there. And yet, for some reason, one just happened to be leaving the moment he stepped out the door, as if some sick individual was pupeteering the world to make things as terrible for him as they could possibly be. Of course, even after all of this, Harold had to admit this was a ridiculous notion,

Public transportation thus missed, Harold walked down the street toward his place of work. It wasn't very far, but the noise of the city did very little to soothe him. In fact, it just wound him tighter. One more thing, one more!, and he was sure he would explode.

Passing by a newsstand, a headline caught his eye. "Local Man Wins Jackpot," it read, and Harold smiled like the devil at a murder trial. It figured, didn't it? He glanced up at the date of the paper; he knew it was Friday, wouldn't it be just perfect if it was the thirteenth?

Harold gaped at the page.

It was the thirteenth. But it wasn't Friday at all. It was Saturday. Saturday the thirteenth. He didn't work on Saturday.

"Are you alright?" asked the newspaperman, upon noticing Harold standing there, frozen in place with a look of purple rage on his face. Without responding, Harold walked away from the newsstand and into a nearby coffee shop. He'd been trying to get over the habit, but as far as he was concerned, the world could bite him; he was having a cup of coffee if it was the last thing he did.

He walked up to the counter, snapped out his order, and waited impatiently as the young employee prepared the drink. Upon being given the total, he reached for his wallet, only to find that the pocket was empty. He'd forgotten his wallet.

Upon seeing the look on his face, the young woman behind the counter raised a hand to stop him from speaking. "Don't worry about it, sir. Have a good day." She accompanied the statement with a bright smile.

Harold was stunned. He didn't even thank the girl, he simply made his way over to a table and sipped on the drink. He could tell it was prepared properly, but it still tasted sour to him. He threw it out, and thanked the girl behind the counter properly before leaving. She'd shrugged it off, like it was nothing, but she didn't understand how much Harold had needed that.

The next day, the girl was having a bad day herself, having had to deal with some terrible customers, and she was convinced there was no hope for humanity until her manager called her to the front and informed her that a man in a torn suit had just left her a twenty dollar tip.

Maybe humanity isn't so hopeless after all, she thought.

The End

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