404 Error

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Adventurous. Daring. Courageous and quick witted. A ladies man, a tiger in the bedroom. A lover. A fighter. A rebel. The life of the party. The leader of the group. Funny, handsome, and smooth.

All of these things, Harvey was not. Harvey was a potato of a person. On Friday nights he would go to a movie. On Sundays he would do his laundry. He liked chicken wings but not too spicy. For dessert he ate oatmeal raisin cookies from a box. He worked at a mediocre job for mediocre pay. Harvey had a cat once for two months before it ran away. He still blamed himself for not getting around to having it neutered. When his car broke down he had it towed to a mechanic. When bills came in the mail he paid them. Every year he sent a card for mothers day.

When it came to stature Harvey stood head and shoulders below everyone else. He was a short man with stubby little legs and a stubby little head. He wasn't necessarily obese but he was far more than chubby. Let's just say that you could find clothes for him off the rack, it just wasn't easy. He was balding of course, with neatly trimmed dark hair, that he parted on the side with a standard issue black plastic comb. When he arrived at work he was neat and tidy, with khaki pants, brown leather shoes, a white or yellow button up shirt and a tie that never matched. Harvey kept a handkerchief in a sport coat he always wore. He felt naked and lost without it.

So when the building disappeared, the first thing Harvey reached for was his pocket. His handkerchief was still there, crumpled in a little ball, and he pulled it out to wipe his forehead. After he put it back he checked his other pockets. Car keys. Wallet. Everything seemed to be in place. He was okay. It was the world that had the problem.

Harvey looked around. There was no wrecking ball, no bulldozers, no dump truck, no construction crews. Hell, there wasn't even an orange cone. The building simply wasn't there. It had been there yesterday, Harvey remembered walking out the door. The sidewalk leading up to the building was there. The garbage can that stood next to the door was there. But where the building should have started, where the doors should have been, was now an empty dirt lot.

"Hey Harvey, what the hell is going on?" It was Stanley from accounting, standing next to Harvey and chomping on a powdered donut. He was staring at the vacant lot as though it were a football game or a movie.

Harvey looked behind him and out into the parking lot. Other employees of the building were milling about. Some of them stood by their cars, looking at the empty patch of land while others were still sitting behind their steering wheels with their mouths wide open.

"You think we're fired?" Stanley spoke again, his voice muffled by a mouthful of half chewed donut.

Harvey put the handkerchief back in his pocket. In the five years he had worked at this building Stanley had only spoken to him a handful of times. Now it seemed they were best friends.

"I don't know," Harvey said. "They just had me order a new copy machine and chairs last week. Doesn't sound like they were planning on closing down."

Stanley didn't respond. Harvey waited a second before looking up at him.

Stanley wasn't moving. Weird. There was a blank expression on his face and the hand with the donut was raised to his lips. White powder and crumbs covered his mouth as well as his fingers and some of his collar.

"Stanley?" Harvey asked. Stanley didn't even blink. He just continued to stare, frozen like a statue.

"Stanley?" Harvey waved both of his hands in front Stanley's face. Again there was no response, not a blink, nothing. Harvey sighed. He reached into his pocket again, grabbed the handkerchief, and wiped the mans mouth before turning around and heading back to his car. Stanley was still standing there as he drove off.

Harvey turned down the side street out of the parking lot and straight into confusion. Apparently whatever had happened at Harvey's work was happening throughout the city.

The streets had turned into a jumbled mess of stalled cars and chaos that Harvey was inching himself forward in. Several times Harvey actually got out of his car to join one of the groups of people that were pushing the cars out of the way. After spending about an hour to travel a quarter of a mile, Harvey finally gave up. He pulled his car into a grocery store parking lot, locked it up, and set out for his house on foot.

When he arrived home Harvey did what any sane person facing apocalypse would do. He locked his door. Harvey didn't know how a small chain lock would protect him against impending doom, but it gave him peace of mind nonetheless. Harvey had to do something. The city had melted into chaos. Poor Mrs. Fletcher from the apartment above him, had frozen on the stairs with a handful of groceries. Sadly, all she had now was two torn paper sacks.

Harvey sat on the couch and wiped his forehead. He clicked on the television, but all he got was static. With nothing to do, Harvey picked up a paperback book and lost himself for the rest of the day in a book.

He awoke to darkness. He had fallen asleep while reading. There was no light anywhere. Apparently the power had gone out across the city.

Harvey walked out onto the balcony. Below him the streets were weirdly quiet. In the distance a car was on fire, making the sides of the buildings dance with the shadows.

The stars above him had never seemed so bright. Harvey sighed and tilted his head further back, looking up at the sky. Harvey had never seen it like this, without being drowned out by the big city. It was beautiful.

Then Harvey blinked. And it seemed as though the sky blinked back. The stars, once twinkling, were now flashing. There was a loud fizzle and then a pop. The heavens above went black. The sky had gone out.

Harvey sat alone, bathed in the blackness. He didn't know what to do, there was really nothing he could do. Suddenly a bright light filled the sky. Harvey covered his face with his arm, shielding himself from the brightness.

Peering out over his arm, Harvey could see a white glowing box. And in the middle of the box, writing that Harvey was now straining to read.

"404 Error, Universe Not Found," the box read.

"Oh boy," Harvey said, as he fumbled for his pocket. "This is not good."

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