"Why are you telling me you ripped a portal to another dimension through my washing machine? Are you on drugs?"
"For the record, it was the dryer."
"That's not the point!"
My companion, saturated head-to-toe with some vivid orange, oily substance, dramatically swung his arms across my desk, sending all of my papers to leisurely flutter to the floor.
In spite of my noise of protest, he seized the rolled-up diagram in my hands, unfurling it across the desk.
I motioned to the floor. "You're going to clean that up, right?"
His eyes darted towards the mess, and they lit up. He knelt down to collect a red marker. He discarded its cap into oblivion and began scribbling across the diagram.
Even though I had drank six cups of coffee and taken six subsequent trips to the restroom that day to finish that diagram, I didn't mention it. I was more concerned about the state of my friend.
My friend, who typically woke up at 6am to watch the morning news with a cup of bland oatmeal, hadn't been in such a state of frenzy since he'd had too many wine coolers on his birthday.
Ten years ago.
"There!" He cried triumphantly. He pointed a wavering finger at the diagram, and used his other hand to wipe away the mysterious orange substance dripping from the tips of his hair. "I did it. Interdimensional travel in a nutshell."
I squinted my eyes, and sauntered over to the nearby chalkboard to scribble down some quick calculations. Sure, the mathematics seemed to line up. But...
"No," I affirmed him. "It's simply not plausible. You must've fallen down and passed out... or something."
He scoffed. "You don't believe me!" He swung open the door and beckoned me towards him. "C'mon, I'll show you. I'm sure the portal is still open."
I paused a moment and suspiciously glanced down the corridor. Well, all right, he must've done something, I concluded.
In spite of all of the chemicals that I had stocked around the house, I knew for certain that none of them looked like that... nor smelt like it.
My nose instinctively shriveled up as I caught whiff of something that could only be described as a concoction of decomposing crabs.
"Well, hurry it up! Hawking radiation isn't going to let it hang around all day, you know."
I tailed Atlas down the hallway with the sleeve of my sweater bunched up and shoved over my nose. The floorboards creaked under our hasty steps.
Atlas, whose oily boots began to slip on the floor, ambled along with a hand anchored against the wall.
As he swung open the door to the laundry room, I wasn't sure what I was anticipating.
My imagination quickly died upon seeing nothing out of sorts, aside from the myriad of nuts, bolts, and miscellaneous tools that littered the room.
I could hear the steady thump thump of clothes being tossed about in the dryer.
I looked over at Atlas, who had taken off his glasses and was squinting at the mundane scene before us.
I arched an eyebrow. "Well?"
He quickly put his glasses back on and rushed over to the dryer. Bracing himself, he pulled open the door. A cascade of clothes, paradoxically damp with orange goo, tumbled out of the dryer.
"Well, you have my thanks for ruining my clothes, Atlas."
He appeared genuinely perplexed, and slammed his fist against the top of the dryer. "I'm not crazy, Rowan! I swear. You know I wouldn't make this up."
I did know that. Still, "I don't think you made this up. Something happened here, obviously. Was it interdimensional travel? Doubt it."
"But it was!" He urged.
I shrugged and left the room. Atlas hurriedly tailed me. "You've got to believe me," he pleaded. "I'll go mad if no one does."
I shrugged again and turned on the coffee machine.
I examined the nearby bowl of fruit with Atlas's flustered breath over my shoulder, deciding to go for a stale, slightly crusted doughnut, instead.
"I guess you'll have to go mad," I mumbled between bites. "You think NASA's benefits include antipsychotic meds?"
I couldn't help but mess with him. The horrified disbelief on his face never failed to crack me up.
I chuckled heartily and patted my friend's shoulder. Hopefully this wasn't an indication of repressed sadism.
Just as Atlas was about to resume his case of sanity, the bright beam of a set of headlights flashed across the dim kitchen. We both glanced at each other and frowned.
The neon green glow from the clock on the microwave indicated that it was the middle of night... In the middle of nowhere.
An exaggerated display of shock flashed across my face. "Oh no. There here to take you, Atlas. To the institution!"
He picked up a nearby magazine and began swatting me furiously while I laughed.
I was curious as to who the approaching stranger was, but not concerned.
Logically speaking, the chances of a bloodlusting serial killer driving specifically to my house covertly nestled in the mountains was bleak.
Perhaps even more so than the chances of Atlas actually having travelled interdimensionally.
Atlas, being who he was, was not as dismissive. He worriedly tugged at my arm as I began to make my way towards the door. "Rowan! You're not going to answer them, are you?"
I tossed him a look while fruitlessly trying to wipe away the splotches of orange on my sleeve. "It must be something important," I reasoned.
We both snapped our heads towards the door as we heard the subtle scratching of a key nestling into a lock.
We quickly sent each other horrified glances, before taking a step backwards as the door swung open.
For having a PhD, my brain sure took its time processing the scene before me. I stood there, motionless. No one said anything for a while, until I heard a jubilant cry.
"See!" said one of the men in the doorway. "I'm not crazy. There, look, right there! That's you! With a beard!"
The man, who sure looked a lot like Atlas, was pointing at me. The other...
"You've got to be kidding me."