Chapter Two: Something Different

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Damian would be lying if he said he'd forgotten about his experience at the coffee shop that morning. To be frank, he would be lying if he said he did anything except think of it.

The memory of the event looped endlessly in the back of his mind all day. He analyzed it, dissected it. But nothing ever seemed to come of it. No matter how many times he transitioned from the violent rocking of the café to standing still on the street, he couldn't make sense of it.

He remembered the memory of it so many times it started to feel like a dream. Maybe it was a dream. After all, he was totally exhausted and it was a Tuesday morning. He could've easily slipped into a half-asleep, feverish nightmare while waiting for his coffee to cool and then zombied himself out of the establishment.

It was unlikely, sure.

But a freak earthquake that undid its damage in the blink of an eye was a little harder to believe. He tried to keep his ears open, though, listening for anyone who may have mentioned any kind of bizarre incidents that occurred that very same morning.

No such luck.

Social media was radio silent, too.

The entire thing was eerie. Far more eerie than he was comfortable with. It would've been so much easier to forget the whole thing ever happened.

It would have been so much easier.


It was Wednesday already. But, like, not in the way that Tuesday morning was "already". This was a normal surprise, a welcome one, if that. Damian had spent so much time mulling over the events of the previous morning that the day itself flew by without any real fanfare. It was better to let yesterday be yesterday.

So if that was the case, why was he standing in front of the same place he should have been letting go of?

It was 8:15, the exact same time he'd entered the establishment yesterday.

He was crazy for doing this, he just knew it. There was absolutely no reason to attempt this again. What was he trying to prove? His own sanity? His own insanity? It wasn't like he made a point to tell people about what happened. He deliberately kept it a secret out of fear no one would believe him.

He didn't even need people to believe him.

At least, that's what he told himself.

In an effort to pull himself out of the endless introspection, Damian stared inside the coffee shop. It looked the same as it did yesterday. Yellow paint on the walls, hanging light fixtures. The same barista as before stood behind the counter, looking just as disinterested as ever. It looked normal.

Yeah, normal.

Fighting the intense urge to turn and run, Damian took a deep breath and pulled the front door of the coffee shop open.

His grandiose entrance didn't seem to make much of an impact on the patrons. Despite the soft ringing bell above the door, no one even so much as raised their heads. Somehow this made Damian's heart beat against his chest.

He approached the counter with full conviction. Probably more than what was within the legal limit.

The barista made eye contact with him, eyes staring through the same fashionable glasses under the same dark, curly hair. "Can I help you?" he asked, expression unreadable from Damian's perspective.

He examined the barista further than he had the previous day. There was really nothing that stood out about him. Well, not in that he was exactly plain-looking--he was just about as hipster as you'd expect from a small, trendy coffee shop on the outskirts of town--but there wasn't anything that piqued Damian's skepticism. He just seemed like...a guy. His collar was wrinkled around the edges and he wore a nametag that read Alex.

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