The low rumble from within was a sure tip off. The light headed feeling, the weakness of the hands and knees, it all fit.
It was snack time.
Getting up from his chair, Dan walked into the kitchen and started poking around. He hadn't gone to the store in a while, so snacks were going to be hard to come by. He pulled open a cabinet and started pushing aside boxes of noodles and jars of sauce. Nothing here would make a decent snack. No chips, no cookies, no nothing. Not even a stray Twinkie.
He turned his attention to the refrigerator. He went shelf by shelf in his hunt, finding outdated milk, five different kinds of mustard, three kinds of ketchup and some stale rolls. He pulled open the crisper and found a moldering bag of pre-mixed salad and a bushel of carrots. Nothing here that would make a snack like he was looking for.
He closed the door and turned, then stopped.
"Carrots?" he asked no one in particular. "When did I buy carrots?"
Curious, he turned and opened the fridge door again. When he pulled out the crisper drawer, though, he found nothing but the long departed salad fixings. He could have sworn that there had been carrots there a second ago.
Shaking his head, he turned and headed into the bedroom. He'd just grab his keys and head over the ice cream shop on the corner. They had a great…
His thoughts trailed off as he looked at the floor of his bedroom. Far from the cleanest place on earth, it was covered in straw. Not clean stuff either, but there was definitely evidence of animals all over it. The strong smell was only just beginning to pervade the room, as if it had only just been dropped there. "What the hell?" Dan said under his breath.
He knelt down to feel it, confirming it was real, and then stood up. Dan felt the blood rising to his ears. Had to be Tom, the idiot down at the office who took pride in his sadistic jokes. How had that son of a bitch had gotten into his place, though? Grumbling, Dan went back to the kitchen to get a trash bag and went straight back.
He stopped at the door, shocked. The floor was clean, completely. There wasn't the slightest trace of hay or anything, not even a lingering smell! He'd only been down the hall for a minute or two!
Nervous now, Dan backed away from the bedroom. What the hell was going on?
"Control, this is Acolyte Furst. We've got a glitch."
Dan jolted and turned around, seeing the man standing in his living room. At least, it sorta looked like a man in an androgynous kind of way. He was dressed in flowing robes and had a slight glow to him. "Who are you?" asked Dan both in anger and in awe.
The man ignored him. "I'm not sure, but this is the fifth one in the subsection. Please advise."
Dan realized that the man was talking to someone else, though he didn't seem to have anything like a phone or walkie talkie on him. "Who are you?" repeated Dan, "And what are you doing in my apartment?"
"What are you talking about, control? Fifteen faults? That's not possible. I've only edited five." He paused, seeming to listen to someone for a moment. "Oh my, that is bad. All in this apartment block? Any idea why we're only seeing this now?" He paused. "You're kidding! They know better than that!"
Dan started to walk toward the man. "I asked you a question, damnit!" he yelled, getting angry. He reached out to grab the man, but fell onto the sofa as he passed through. Something wrapped around his face suddenly. Panicked, Dan ripped it off, then stared at it. A bridle? Where had that come from?
The man continued to talk without seeming to notice. "Okay, I see. Damn, I hate when this happens. We can't just keep making edits like this, though. We need to resolve the conflict one way or the other. How much time do we have?" The man sighed at the answer. "You know what'll happen to everything caught in the edit? You'll need to get His approval. There are currently twelve individuals who would be caught." The man just nodded. "I wish there was a better way, but we've got to correct this in a hurry before we lose the whole region. You remember what happened when Soret delayed in the marketplace in Parthis. Atlantis went away."
Dan wasn't sure what the hell was going on, but he wasn't about to stick around here. This was getting too strange. Rolling off the sofa, he raced for the door. He reached out to grab the doorknob and felt it slam into rough wood. He looked at the door in shock. It was no longer the white painted door, but a rough hewn double door with no way to open from this side! That's when he noticed that his hand wasn't a hand anymore. It was a hoof. "Oh my God!" he screamed in terror.
The man in the robes was looking through Dan at the door. "Control, we've had two more faults. Do we have permission to reset?" He paused and nodded. "Okay, resetting."
Dan opened his mouth to say something, but the world shifted around him. The apartment vanished, replaced by the encroaching reality of the stable. The horse that had been Dan stood a moment in confusion as the nausea of the shift passed. The sounds of the other horses settled to the occasional heavy sigh. Without a memory of anything in the past, the horse went to sniffing around the feed bin for a bit of grain.
It was still snack time.