He ran the glass under the tap for the third time and put it to his lips. No, the water definitely tasted funny, not bad necessarily just funny. So far he wasn't too impressed with is new water supplier, he should have known when the representative had looked about twelve. He poured the rest of it away and set the glass back onto the draining board and walked back to the breakfast table. The paper lay flat, the headline informing him that there had been no news on the seven people that had disappeared from his area over the past six months. He sighed and sat down with his cup of orange juice in his hand. He read the news story more out of boredom than actual interest. The seven people, four
men and three women, had disappeared from practically right on his doorstep with no sign of a struggle, no clue as to what happened at all. He frowned but didn't really think much of it. People upped and left without a word all the time, it was nothing that he, Byron Harris, forty-something insurance salesman, divorced for the last decade, felt he needed to worry about.
He drained his glass and left it by the paper as he got up and left for work. He was not as excited about his job as he had once been, he didn't feel old but when it came to the computer he had to use he felt ancient. He just didn't have the brain for it, but he knew he had to use it, the world was run by computers now, if he didn't get with the programme he may as well go stand in a museum with the rest of the dinosaurs! His office was more a cube than anything else, very impersonal, very cold and more and more depressing with every passing week. He had not pictured his life being like this, when he was younger he'd had dreams, ambitions. He never thought he'd end up where he was now. He put his briefcase on his desk and sat down. The computer whirred to life with the press of a button and pages or data appeared before him. It was all gibberish to him, he knew the buttons to press to get to his work but only from memory, he didn't really understand what it was he was pressing. He did the ritual with barely an upward glance, and all at once his work was up on the small 14 inch screen. "Another day another dollar," he muttered and slowly got to work.
The house was cold and dark when he finally walked through it's familiar door and put his briefcase on the table by the window. He switched on the lights and went straight to the heater and switched that on too, he hated being cold, and since turning forty he seemed to be cold more than he was hot. H e didn't like growing old, he didn't like it one bit. He walked into his kitchen and put the kettle on, a nice cup of coffee would warm him up, but he was thirsty and couldn't
wait so he poured himself a tall glass of water. He drank it down without taking a breath, the taste was unusual, but not unpleasant. In fact he thought, as he put the glass back in it's place on the draining board, he quite liked it, it gave it a kind of zing that he found appealing. He turned back to the kettle but found he didn't want coffee anymore, he wanted more water. He stood at the sink and filled and refilled the glass until he was truly satisfied.
It took seven glasses.
He had the best sleep he had ever had that night, and when he awoke he realised he wasn't the only thing that rose that morning, for the first time in ages he awoke to a tiny tent where his groin was. He laughed his way to the bathroom and relieved himself in more ways than one, another thing he hadn't had cause to do in a while. It was a good start to what turned out to be a good day. He got to work early sat down in front of his computer and suddenly knew what he was doing, for reasons he couldn't fathom, he could understand what was written before him. He laughed to himself as he began to type. He laughed a lot that day, he had reason to laugh, it was as if his brain had suddenly come to life, like the huge lump that those scientists always say we never use had
been jump started by means outside of his understanding. I mean he had
no powers, no E.S.P. but his mind was extremely alert, so alert in fact that he managed to convince his boss that he should give him the day off and he spent the rest of the day in the park.
It was a good day and when he got home he had a good night, he cooked the perfect dinner, remembering to check on the food this time instead of only realizing it was burning when the scent singed his nose hairs, which were also disappearing by the way! He had a picture of cool refreshing water to wash it down with, then a cigar, something he hadn't had in a while because it burned his throat and always made him cough, but not this night, this night it was remarkable, probably the best cigar he had ever had. He smiled as he took a long pull from it, then relaxed back onto the sofa and he blew it back out in a long thin line, watching it disperse into the room with a look of complete
contentment on his face. A face that was not looking as worn as it had been, a face that for once didn't look it's own age let alone the usual ten years older. Byron Harris hadn't felt this good on years.
He woke the next morning with a monument in his lap that rivaled the Eiffel Tower.
"This is too much," he said as he practically jumped from the bed and into the bathroom. He washed his two slices of buttered toast down with a couple of
glasses of water, okay so it was six glasses but who was counting?
He walked to work that morning, all twenty blocks, and he still got there early. He felt wonderful as he sat looking at his computer with a new found excitement, he remembered things that had been lost in the Swiss cheese of his mind for years, he could remember the name of the girl he had kissed at Bobbi Farrell's party, hell he could remember Bobbi Farrell's party, her name was Kathy Simons. He had forgotten that name and that event not long after it happened, as was the way with a lot of stuff nowadays it seemed, it only took a few days for some piece of information to slip through one of the many holes in the cheese, and he was sure the holes had been getting bigger! But then suddenly it was there, as clear as if it had happened only twenty-five minutes ago instead of twenty-five years. He didn't get much work done that day, he
spent most of it deep in thought. He thought about everything from his life here on Earth to the possibility of life elsewhere. He thought about his childhood, his disastrous High School years and the following nightmare that had been College. There had been so much he'd wanted to do, travel, screw around, hell he'd always wanted to learn French, but now it was all behind him, well he still could learn French he supposed, but what was the point if he could never afford to actually go there.
"You wasted your life Byron," he told himself, "So make the most of
There was something else he noticed though. Women.
Before he had been like a shadow, no one really noticed him, but now all of a sudden he was getting looks and not just any looks, those looks, the kind that
you only give out when you're looking to score. He had been a good looking man in his twenties and early thirties but then the divorce had finally set in and out came the middle aged man he'd tried so hard to suppress and overnight it seemed the looks had vanished, but now it appeared they were making a startling return. Rhonda, from accounting had practically made a pass at him in the elevator this morning, and he couldn't deny the thought of taking her up on her offer appealed to him greatly, but he had been out of that scene for over ten years and didn't feel up to leaping back into it head first just yet. He paused for a moment suddenly overwhelmed with a great thirst. He glanced out into the hall where the water cooler sat, but he knew the minute he saw the clear blue plastic bottle that it's contents would do nothing to quench the dryness in his throat. He knew what he had to do, and the need was so strong that he knew he had to hurry. He left his briefcase on his desk, he even left his coat
hanging on the back on his chair and he just got up and left. He looked at his watch but didn't really take in the time it told he as he began to run back to his house, but he knew he made it in less than half an hour. He wasn't even that out of breath as he stood in his kitchen the glass held steadily under the running tap. The first mouthful was like life liquefied and chilled to perfection. He felt revitalised as it ran down his throat, and after several more shots he felt good enough to run back to the office. Which he did, beating the record he'd set himself on his first try.
He hadn't been missed, and he didn't really care if he had, he had a hundred and one excuses already prepared in his head, and several more just waiting to be collected should someone question him about his sudden disappearance. He whistled his way through the day, even sang a couple of tunes that had also been victims of his holey memory but had risen from the depths like a whale, every word in place, every note in perfect pitch. As he reached out to pick up his briefcase at the end of the day he stopped in surprise and stared at his hand, a soft look of amazement on his face. His hand didn't look like his hand, it looked, well it looked like the hand of someone who wasn't nearing a half century. He reached out and touched the smooth skin and realised the other hand was the same. He stood for quite a while looking at the matching pair, astonished that they were attached to his body. But they were there was no way around it, they were his hands and he loved
them. He thought for a moment then stood up and walked over to the picture
that hung on the wall, it was a simple seascape that had been there when he first arrived, but now as he looked into it, seeing his reflection in the glass he couldn't believe his eyes. He spun around and fell back against the wall and began to laugh, a nervous not-sure-what's-going-on kind of laugh. He dared another glance but the face that looked back at him was the same. It wasn't his, couldn't be his.
He needed a mirror.
Once again leaving his things he rushed out and headed for the restrooms. He checked the stalls and when he was satisfied that they were all empty he took a deep breath and turned to the mirrors that lined the far wall.
"Oh my God!" he said loudly, then laughed at the sound of his own voice. "Jesus Christ."
He moved closer, staring at the bright eyes that looked innocently back at him. He turned his head to the side and looked at his hair line, the grey was gone, all of it was the rich deep brown it had been ten years ago. He reached up tentatively and began to laugh again as his hand felt for the hair hole he had had for the last eight years or so. He couldn't find it. Does hair grow back like that? He didn't think it did and yet it had, he had been balding last week and now he had a full head of hair. He had gone from George Costanza to George Clooney in less than a month! He turned on the faucet and filled his hands with cool water then leaned forward and splashed it on his, or whoever's it was, face and looked back up at the reflection. He waved his hand just to be sure, but he knew it was him. "Shit," he said laughing that laugh again, "Holy shit!"
He turned and began to pace.
"This is impossible, I mean is this possible? This can't be possible."
He stopped and looked again into the mirror, smiling broadly exposing his white teeth, "Shit, this is...this is...well I don't know what this is but whatever it is it's weird, and it's scaring the hell out of me and it's exciting and I'm talking to myself!" he stopped and took one final look at his new self then turned and collecting his things ran back to his house for the second time that day. He picked up his line of thought in front of the kitchen sink as he filled up his glass
"Radiation perhaps, maybe I've been poisoned and it's making me appear
younger, or maybe it's making me hallucinate," he took a sip, "No, radiation would make me sick and I'm not ill," he sighed and took another bigger sip, "Aliens, I was abducted, they performed cosmetic surgery" he started to laugh. Another sip. "Maybe my diet is finally paying off...yeah right Byron what diet?" He was getting no where even faster than usual, he refilled the glass and moved his thinking session to the sofa, "I haven't taken any mind altering drugs lately...have I?" he thought for a moment then shook his head laughing, "No, come on Byron your brain is working for once use it," he raised the glass to
his lips then stopped, "Oh shit," he said loudly, "Maybe it's a brain tumour, like in that John Travolta film, it's making me see things that aren't really there," He lifted the glass to his mouth and took a big gulp of it, "Nah, that was just a movie, if I had a brain tumour there'd be pain, headaches of some kind surely." He glanced at the paper on the coffee table, usually he only read the funnies, sometimes did the crossword but never finished it, now though he found himself actually reading the stories and not just the front page one either. He
picked up the paper now, letting his mind drift from the idea of a brain tumour to the news that the amount of abandoned babies had increased drastically lately and that two more people had disappeared and that a dog had caused mayhem yesterday afternoon when it decided to take a stroll up the middle of Finch Street and that police were still looking for clues as to why a woman ran her jeep into Partridge Canyon.
"No good news as always," he mumbled as he threw the paper back onto the table, he drained the glass and got up to refill it once more, "Maybe you're just lucky," he said to himself as he turned the tap on and ran his fingers in the stream of water until it was at a satisfactory coolness then plunged the glass into it, "Maybe God decided to do a little miracle, something not so attention grabbing and you're the lucky winner."
He nodded, he liked that line if thought, it was the kind that didn't end up with brain surgery or even worse him being lowered into the ground in a box with the family and friends he didn't have sobbing at his wasted life.
He spent the rest of the evening reading, not the paper but one of the many books that had, until now, been there only so that his bookcase didn't look naked.
He had read about a third of the way into it and so far he was impressed. He glanced at the cover, "King Lear huh?" he smiled, amused that he was actually reading and understanding Shakespeare, "Who'd've thunk it!"
He read almost the entire book that night and when he awoke (yes his flag pole was raised again!) it was all still clear in his mind, he got up, stretched and went into the bathroom, then froze as he caught sight of himself in the mirror.
"Holy shit!" The reflection that stared flabbergasted back at him wasn't the late thirties version of himself he'd discovered in the mirror yesterday, this guy couldn't have been more than thirty, maybe even less than that. He laughed the laugh of the unsure again and looked down at his body, it was all different, younger, toned, far smoother than it had been.
"I can't go to work like this," he said aloud, as if discussing it with
his inner voice, "People wont recognize me, or maybe they'll just think I had the worlds fastest face-lift."
He put the toilet lid down and sat on it.
"This is way past weird," he muttered, then found himself standing and walking to the sink, where he proceeded to fill his cupped hands with the cool clear water and lift it to his lips. Something made him pause, he looked into the crystalline liquid and thought for a moment.
[The water] his inner voice told him, [This all started when the new water came]
"Yeah but it's just water" he answered back, but the voice wasn't done.
[But you yourself said it tasted funny]
"But not bad, it didn't taste bad,"
[But it tasted funny, and you've been drinking a hell of a lot of it lately,]
[Byron you ran home from work to drink it, when there's a perfectly good water cooler outside your office]
"Yeah but that water isn't-"
[Isn't the same water] the voice concluded.
Byron separated his hands and watched the water disappear down the plug
"My water's been poisoned," he whispered as if if anyone heard him he'd be in trouble. "Does that mean I can't drink it anymore?"
He felt suddenly uneasy at the thought of not being able to drink it, he even reached for the tap but the voice spoke up before he could turn the faucet.
[Do you really want to do that?] it asked.
"Yes!" Byron told it.
[Go ahead then, do it, see what happens]
"It can't be poisoned, if it were poisoned I'd be sick...right?"
The voice didn't answer.
"Shit," he stared at the taps, wanting desperately to turn them, drink their entire contents, but he didn't instead he showered and got dressed, then have to force his voice to sound older he phoned in sick at the office.
He spent the day in front of the T.V. something he hadn't done in ages, he watched sitcoms that made him laugh until he almost peed his pants when a few days ago he would have moaned at the serious lack of comedy in any of them, he watched Jerry Springer, actually sat through an entire episode and found himself shouting at the screen when the transvestite revealed to 'her' boyfriend that 'she' was really a man.
"Oh come on," he yelled, "How could you not know, look at her!"
He laughed at the sheer stupidity of some people and for a few hours didn't think about his possible poisoning situation, but when he finally went to relieve himself he found himself staring into the eyes of a twenty-something version of himself. "Not again," he said as he stood frozen to the bathroom floor, "It's only been a few hours." But there he was, young tanned, handsome, no where near the balding, forty-something he had been a week ago. He'd had enough, he did his business then went to the dresser in the hall and rummaged through his wad of papers until he found the pamphlet the water company representative had given him. He took it into the lounge and dropped onto the chair by the
"Revivify, the water of the past today!" He read off the front cover, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" He flicked through the pages searching for a number, but he couldn't find one. "Dammit!" He picked up the phone and dialled information. The voice that answered sounded even more pissed off than he was. "I need a number for the Revivify Water Company," he said as politely as he could. There was a mumbled, "hang on," and then the line went
quiet. He waited, drumming his slender, youthful fingers on the arm of the
chair, then with a loud cough the voice returned.
"What city is that in sir?"
"Umm, I don't know, is there more than one number?"
"No there's less than one number."
"I couldn't find a listing under that name, if you give me the city it's in I can try a better search."
"I don't know what city it's in, I assumed it was in this city."
"Um, no there's no Vivify Water Company in Southport sir, or in any of the neighbouring towns."
The voice sighed. "Yes, I am sure."
He hung up, he didn't feel the voice deserved a thank-you or a goodbye. He slumped back in the chair and frowned. "No number listed." He said quietly but the inner voice corrected him. He knew it would.
[No, not no number listed, no company]
"Yes thank-you," he said although he didn't think that voice deserved one either, it was always interrupting him, telling him he was wrong. "No such company, but there is such a company because it get my water from them."
[The water that tastes funny] the voice added [The water that we think is the cause of this weird stuff]
"We? No, no you, you think it's the cause."
[You think it to other wise you'd be drinking the water]
"I can drink the water," he told the voice. "If I wanted the water I'd drink it."
[No you wouldn't]
"Yes I would."[Go on then, you're thirsty I know you are, go on and drink the water]
"Fine," he stood up and walked to the kitchen sink, filling a glass and raising it to his mouth, he took a deep breath and parted his lips. The glass remained a few millimetres away.
[See I told you]
"Fine," he said pouring the water away and replacing the glass, "I wont drink the damn water but not because you think it's tainted, I just...I've had too much water lately I want something else." He walked top the fridge and got himself out a beer then returned to his place by the phone.
[The water is weird] The voice said after a few minutes, [You know that at least]
"Revivify," Byron said thoughtfully, "The Revivify Water Company."
[What about it?]
"Revivify," Byron said again, frowning as his thoughts deepened, "That means rejuvenate."
"The rejuvenation Water Company," Byron mused, "The breath new life into Water Company,"
"The make young again Water Company,"
[What are you doing?]
"Make young again, Revivify, Water." He sat forward suddenly, his fingers rested gently on his bottom lip, "Rejuvenating water, it's making me young again."
Without warning he laughed loudly.
[What? What is it?]
"The Revivify Water Company, it can't be, it...it is, but...it's impossible surely,"
He jumped up and ran into the bathroom, leaning on the vanity and staring hard at his reflection. "I'm younger," he said, "I don't mean I look younger, I am younger, I am-" he narrowed his eyes judged himself thoughtfully, "I'd say I'm
[Have you lost my mind? What are you talking about?]
"The Fountain of Youth," he said quietly, "I've been getting my water supply from the fountain of friggin' youth!" He began to laugh again even as he turned on the tap and filled his hands once more.
[I've gone insane!]
He drank the water down and refilled his hands.
[You shouldn't do that] The voice warned him, [Even if it is the fountain of friggin youth]
"Why not? I wanna be 18 again,"
[You don't know what this stuff can do]
Byron stopped and looked at his mirrored image.
"It can give me what I want," He said pensively.
[And what's that?]
"A second chance," He smiled and his reflection smiled back. He drank once again from his hands, then moved from the bathroom to the kitchen. A glass could hold so much more. He turned the radio on and spent the rest of the day dancing between the kitchen sink and the toilet, but he never even broke a sweat.
He had never felt so good.
He went to bed finally at 2.30 am, leaving the radio playing, and fell asleep with an ease he hadn't had in years, he dreamed of all he could do again, and his dreaming kept his waking mind from realising what was happening. The sleeping figure in the bed, was no longer in his mid twenties. The smooth tanned skin of his face was now a pimply kind of blotchy pink, his groin was overacting in a way he had forgotten about long ago. But it didn't stop there, the spots vanished as did all the body hair he had grown accustomed to, his groin grew inactive once more and the sleeping child continued to dream.
The sun burst through the windows like a living thing, casting long shadows across the wooden floor. Alerting anyone inside that a new day had begun and they were missing it if they were still asleep. But there was no one inside. All the rooms stood empty. A single voice could be heard from far inside. A woman was talking on the radio. "-the woman, thirty-five year old Sandra McKinney, is said to have killed herself after being fired from her job last Friday, and finally
another abandoned baby has been found in the Farnham area of Southport,
the child, a boy, was discovered in a house this morning after neighbours reported hearing the child crying in the night. Authorities are searching for the owner of the house Byron Harris, a forty-four year old insurance salesman."