Reilly’s molecules

Contributor: Chris Sharp

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Reilly had not worked in any accounting capacity since his seizure last year. Over this period he kept going with temp bookkeeping jobs, though they paid less than a third of his usual professional cash-money. If his experience had been a stroke – what he’d first assumed – there was no clue to it in the CAT scan he’d taken.

The stroke theory had holes in it from the very beginning, even before Reilly went into a hospital. At 32, he felt much too young for retirement issues such as apoplexy. First and foremost, he enjoyed first-rate blood-pressure and cholesterol counts. If he had only experienced some unprecedented epileptic activity, his medical exam had found no source or remnant of it.

Reilly had finally settled on “exhaustion theory” to explain his blackout event. He concluded his exhaustion had started from being too competitive and relentlessly aggressive against his peers. Then the breakdown itself had spun him into a total reversal off his life. It led him to quit the accounts receivable department in the big national department store chain where he had stored his entire identity and energy. His choice was to then work for a small temp agency as an itinerant bookkeeper, allowing him to take a day off every other week or so.

The first year, Reilly needed some extra time off to deal with the madhouse effect of his seizure. He was glad he had no wife or children to handle on some kind of sideline.

The event had led Reilly to awaken in a mysterious wide-open field. He had never come close to seeing this rolling field before in his life. It looked like a place that at one time could have held a large fortune in cattle. Then the more he regained himself, he saw he was the only moving thing in the whole field.

The field ended at a brutalized log fence. Beyond that were utility poles made of more civilized logs. When Reilly saw a narrow highway, he noticed the sound of natural running water. It was his old Boy Scout survival training that led him to walk in the direction of the river current.

A large commercial truck stopped ahead of him and parked on the side. A driver wearing a red beret came out and asked Reilly if he needed help. Reilly nodded.

“Where are you going?” he asked the driver.


“Salem where?”

“Salem, Massachusetts.”


“Sir,” said the driver, jawing aggressively under his red beret. “What are you saying? Do you not know Oregon?”


“Sir, where did you come from?”

“I thought I was in California,” said Reilly. He looked around at the total surrounding green landscape. “I’m totally mixed up. Can you give me a ride to Salem then?”

Reilly still had money and credit cards in the place he had left them, and in Salem -- Oregon -- he paid cash for a bus back to California.

On the ride home Reilly went over the dream he still remembered from when he was unconscious.

In the dream, Reilly was surrounded by a team of hostile-looking people whose heads looked like bulbs in an exotic tropical garden. They broke into his ears and tested them, then they looked into his mouth, and even into his nostrils, and then they even took out his eyes, leaving him blind for a while, until they gently screwed his eyes back below his eyebrows.

At the end of the examination Reilly was met by a sort of secretary with just a flower for a head, and she led him into a private room. This fully furnished room was much different from the examination site, which was like other places in dreams that are in perpetual motion. The private room was in contrast grounded into real-life, fully awakened reality.

An older gentleman in a black suit and tie stood before Reilly in the new room. “You will be asked,” said the old gentleman, ‘Were your molecules rearranged?” You will say ‘no.’”

It was at the point Reilly became someone lying in a green field in Oregon.

It took Reilly a year to understand that the earth’s complete circle around the sun can erode most of the abnormality out of any misadventure or mystery. After a year, waking up in a field so far away from home was becoming less of a misadventure. Finally Reilly began to miss the adventure and competition of real CPA-level accounting. He started applying for real accounting jobs again, and after a few weeks he was called in for an interview.

When he arrived at the CPA offices for the meeting, he was started by a secretary who said, “You must be Mr. Reilly.”

“Yes, I’m Mr. Reilly.”

“Mr. Barnes told me to tell you he will be with you in five minutes.”

“Thank you.”

It was the first time he’d been called “Mr. Reilly” since he had left the accounting offices of his old job. At his temporary bookkeeping jobs, he was called by his first name, as if he were a boy foot-foot tall.

“Mr. Barnes will see you now, Mr. Reilly,” said the secretary.

She led him to an enclosed office. At the opening of the door, Mr. Barnes was at his feet in front of his shining big desk. He wore a soft black suit that like his broad smile looked totally devoted to this very moment. Then the door was closed.

“Were your molecules rearranged?” asked Mr. Barnes.

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Chris Sharp has numbers of flash-fiction short stories in Linguistic Erosion, Yesteryear Fiction, Weirdyear, and Daily Love as well as longer fiction listed by Google under “Short stories by Chris Sharp.” His book “Dangerous Learning” is being distributed by Barnes & Noble.
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