In Theory (Flash Fiction)

“What’s the worst that could happen?” asked Brian.

“We die?” Bob said.

Brian rolled his eyes. “Can you stand to be serious for five seconds? We’ve got time to think about this. I’m not putting shit on the line for a whim.”

“I don’t know,” Bob said. He rolled the plastic bag around in his hands. The mushrooms inside felt spongy and strange. “Did you have a stressful day? I’ve heard stress can really play into the whole experience.”

Brian shrugged. “It was all pretty typical,” he said. “A bit more traffic than usual, but I don’t mind that. It gives me more time to listen to my podcasts.”

Bob jumped and muted the TV. They both stood frozen in silence in his garage. Susanne passed by in the hallway on her way to the kitchen. “They say setting matters too.”

“What do you mean,” Brian said, tilting his head. “Setting?”

“Yeah, you know.” Bob lifted his arms and did a slow turn around. “Where you are. Your surroundings, your environment. If you’re not comfortable then you can go on a bad trip.”

“Oh.” Brian shrugged. “I’m cool with it.”

“Alright then.” Bob opened the bag and together they munched a few of the mushrooms down. The taste was bad and they washed it away with beer. The halftime show for the football game came and went, and they felt little to nothing. “I’m not really feeling anything,” Bob said. “Should we eat a couple more?” Brian nodded and so they did.

By the end of the third quarter they were both reaching for footballs that were flying from the screen. As the sun faded its way down, Brian was methodically working his way through Bob’s toolbox. He was talking to and saving all of the Phillips-head screwdrivers from certain oblivion. Bob was laying on the cement floor of his garage, staring at the rafters. The wood beams formed an intricate grid, and it became a mechanism that he traveled through time with. He zipped forward and back in an instant. He undid his wrongs from the past and created several rights for himself in the future. His net worth and education all increased in his mind. But when Susanne found him on the floor and Brian digging through their tool set, it did little for his marriage.

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