Patterned red carpet under my bare feet and old pop music playing faintly in the background. The soda machine beside me buzzed.

The home I know is familiar skin.

I bashed the blue console in front of me.

“Hello?” I said. “Come on…”

But my home is always strange to me.

A round yellow face appeared, bright, simple and smiling.

“Hello, my name is Happy,” a man’s voice emanated from the static image. “How can I help y-”

“No,” I waved my arms, staring into the black eye above the screen. “Somebody stole my cat. I need you to send someone down here. To, you know, look.”

The screen didn’t reply at first.

“…I know we’re not supposed to have animals.”

The buzz of the electric visage stared silently at me.

I glanced back the route I’d come through the halls. Lights had sporadically gone out down the ghostly way, everyone fast asleep. The other direction the sign for the game room glowed.

“Did you see where it went, Frode?” the Smiler asked.

“What? No. I wouldn’t be talking to you, would I?”

My phone vibrated in my pajama pant pocket.

>’Dagr’_03:29:14 | “We could use you on Marshal. Bad team comp.”

I closed the text.

“You should go play with your friends, Frode,” the screen said.

I blinked.

The cheery face on the screen winked out. Suddenly I was alone in the hall. The police console was black.

What? Excuse me?

“Hey! What, you two-faced fuck?” I smacked the screen. “Cat!?”

I threw up my arms.

I could keep checking the building, I knew that’s what I’d do. But anything missing in this dingy cramped hive was something you never saw again.

I’d taken careful notice of the locks on the old man’s door. One simple turnkey bolt, no latch.

He was lucky he wasn’t spare parts at that rate. Continue reading