He wakes up with the distinct feeling that he is not himself. This is not his body, still and numb. This is not his brain, though these are his thoughts. They are intruders, rifling through closets and cabinets in an alien brain, hoping to find purses or wallets… that they might peer at drivers’ licenses and gym memberships, gaze at family photos and see just how many holes have been punched into the creamy surface of the customer loyalty rewards card. It’s for a yogurt shop somewhere in this town. He walks the streets of the neighborhood in this stranger’s mind. The astral feet he strolls with are neither his nor theirs, nor does the pavement belong to anyone in particular. He’s not sure who could claim it. The city? Its denizens? The craftsman who poured it, their cars and trucks outside with drills and hollers and flashing orange lights that break the sable night? Surrounding homeowners and renters wince and groan and bury their heads into their pillows. They pray for sleep. It will come, though slowly. He wakens further as they begin to slumber, the imagined city with real storefronts and public restrooms. The false town with real deadlines he has to meet. His fingers feel familiar, at least. He rubs his pinky with his thumb and the familiarity blooms, swirls about his palms, and spreads warm like blood into his wrists. He can feel the muted panic of the other entity even as he forgets his momentary early morning duality. He sits up, picks his nose, and realizes he has no place to put the booger, so he stares at it dreamily. It is a ghost! It is a brain! It is an alien artifact retrieved from the center of his still-beating heart!
He shows up to work on time.