The mug is dirty, Eric reflects. He places it on the wobbling sidetable next to the armchair he finds himself sat in. He would rather have stood, the armchair looks appalling.
"You aren't drinking your tea?" The man asks, as he sips his own mug.
"I prefer coffee." Eric lies. The man shrugs as he finishes his own tea. He is sat opposite Eric and regards him casually. The man is old and fat, dressed in sweatpants and a vest that may have been white once, but was now a dirty, stained grey.
"Do you know why I'm here?" Eric asked impatiently after a brief silence.
"Of course. There's only one reason you would be here." The man smiles condescendingly. "The question is, do you know why you're here?"
"Yes." Eric snapped. "I am here in this rotting apartment, having spent a small fortune to arrange this meeting, because I have been reliably informed that you possess knowledge of The Secret."
The man leant back in his seat and regarded Eric calmly. Eric shuffled uneasily in his chair. For the first time in his life, he felt...inferior. Eventually, the man spoke.
"You want to know the secret. Fine. I will tell you." Eric's eyes brightened. "But know this, once you know the secret - there's no going back."
Eric waved a hand dismissively. "Yes, yes. Tell me what it is. I want to know. I'm ready."
The man nodded and leant in close to Eric so that Eric could feel the man's alcoholic breath on his face.
"The secret," The man whispered. "Is that none of this is real."