Tim struggled to awake, but the heavy quilts pinned him down and the pillow swallowed his head. He moaned and flailed for a bit. Then the lamp fell off the bedside table and landed on the cat. Tim sat up.
"Huh?" he asked.
A single mew was all that responded. Two eyes stared with reproach from the black fuzz ball under the curtains.
"Sorry Dude," Tim said. "Won't happen again." Probably because he couldn't afford another lamp.
The cat took this with a cold shoulder and decided to climb the curtains from the far side. Tim got out of bed, carefully dumped some glass from his slippers, and shuffled into the bathroom.
"God, that guy in the mirror looks dreadful," he commented as if looking at a portrait that he most certainly hadn't painted. He splashed some water on his face and then shuffled out again. It was so easy to shuffle when one was wearing slippers.
"Dude," he said. The cat swung wildly from the curtains and if the window had been opened, would certainly have flung clear from the house. But instead, the window was closed and the windowsill covered with potted plants.
"I see," Tim said. "You can knock things over too. Not cool."
Dude scrambled free from the mess and took off into the other room. Yes, the cat's name was Dude.
Tim wrinkled up his nose. "Those carrots weren't growing anyway," he said. Then he followed Dude into the other room.
He shuffled excessively across the kitchen floor, scuffing a path through the army of cat food sculptures, and staring down the fridge from a distance.
When he reached the fridge, he immediately noticed something wasn't quite right. No, it wasn't the fact that the fridge top had recently opened a new condominium for spiders; that was happening all the time, those spiders were a very progressive civilization. And no, it wasn't the fact that the fridge was growling; he already knew it had a temper. No, something was different about the front of the fridge. It was covered in all the usual stickers and magnets except for one small square of yellow.
A sticky note.
He read the sticky note, carefully sounding out the long words in his pre-coffee existence this morning.
The meat has gone bad.
This was a perfectly normal thing to have stuck to the front of a fridge. But not on Tim's fridge. He didn't care much about the morality of a bag of meat. But mostly, it was a strange thing to have on his fridge because he certainly had not written it, and he lived alone.
He looked at Dude suspiciously. Dude was busy rebuilding his cat food sculptures that had been crushed by the godzilla ducks on the front of Tim's slippers. Tim shook his head.
Then he turned back to the fridge. Perhaps a burglar, not having much luck with mining the junk heaps for valuables, had looked in the fridge and had then been attacked by the meat. The burglar, being a kind soul, decided to leave Tim a mercy note before running away.
Tim frowned. That wasn't such a likely explanation, but Tim couldn't do much better at this hour of the afternoon. So he decided to leave the sticky note mystery to the detectives, and went outside to get some fresh air.
Once outside, he tapped his foot on the curb for a moment and then chose 'left'. Left soon brought him to another intersection with yet another decision to be made. He paused. There were a lot of intersections in this city. This time, to mix things up, he chose 'right'. Right brought him to an intersection.
"Damn it," he thought. "Another decision."
He had almost made up his mind when he noticed a small square of yellow fluttering on a street pole. He frowned as he approached it. There was a single symbol on the sticky note.
"Ah," he said. "Thanks for your sticky note wisdom," he said. "I will trust you on that one."
And so Tim turned right. He soon found the park. Another sticky note was posted to a tree. He eyed it suspiciously before reading.
"Here beyond is the park. Remember it's location. The park is nice."
Tim decided that maybe the detectives he'd set on this case were slacking. Would he have to actually think this one over on his own? It made his mind hurt though. But he had to admit: it was a little weird.
He took the trail to the duck pond and then watched the ducks. Then he went to the garden and watched the flowers. It was better than watching television. The resolution was incredible.
He soon found himself at the children's playground. He looked up at the single child in the fort and noticed that there was a sticky note on the wall beside the boy.
"Not cool," he said. "The job description for being the detective on this case did not say anything about playgrounds. I figured it might have some abnormal hauntings or mildly complex coincidences, but children's playgrounds are beyond me." Tim raised his voice. "Hey, kid," he said.
"Gah, haha, my fort!" said the toddler.
"Can you pass me that sticky note?" asked Tim.
"Gah, haha, what?" asked the kid.
"The sticky note. Can you get it down for me?"
"Gah, haha, sticky note?"
"Gah, haha..." After a moment, the kid threw the piece of paper down the slide. It stopped halfway.
"Damn it all," whispered Tim. Then he climbed the inside of the slide.
From within, the red light of the slide gave the paper an eerie look.
Good climbing, it said. Tim stared.
"Damn," he whispered, "I'm starting to care about all this weirdness...And that means it's going to put up a fight and get a whole lot weirder..."