“So, does that mean you can’t loan me the money?”, the scrawny man said, shaking like a bamboo in the wind. His hands left wet spots in everything he touched and his eyes looked as red as the rest of his face, the humidity making his eyes look like black jellyfishes in puddles of milk.
“I’m truly sorry, but unless we have a reason and comprovation of it, we can’t loan money, man.” The lender had to say this a myriad of times during his long career. It never got any easier, but saying it to a childhood friend was harder. The shadow cast upon Thomas’ face was horrifying, but he didn’t seem to want to explain his predicament, relying on fantasy instead. “If you give me a reasonable explanation, I’m serious. Tell me why you really need that much money, Thomas.”
“So you really don’t believe me? What part don’t you believe, tell me. Please, Dick.”
“Well, honestly, the whole thing…” It was hard to not believe Thomas. He had a honest face and it was him that gave to Richard straight whenever no one else would. To doubt him was to betray him.
“I know that the whole time travel is hard to buy, I had quite the problem accepting it myself and I was looking down a dinosaur’s snout.” He said. He seemed too panicky.
“I realize something is troubling you, I can see you really need the money, but my hands are tied here. You can’t expect me to write ‘Alien Ransom Payment’ in the form and not call the cops or the psychiatrists.” It was a novel idea, the whole story. It made the lender wonder what drug could bend his friend’s perception of reality so badly that he could come up with such a complicated story and believe it so desperately.
“You make it sound as if I’m trying to rescue an alien. That’s not it. I need the money so I can buy our planet back from them.” Richard could already see some of his coworkers casually coming closer to his desk. He felt a bit ashamed for his friend.
“And it was you who sold it to them in the first place?” The lender rationalized that he was humoring Thomas just because he thought that, if he made his friend realize how ridiculous it all sounded, he would stop it. Although, little by little, this situation and its surrealness reminded him of all the times Thomas would go to Dick’s house by mistake, so drunk that he would start talking to the house in the middle of the night, after Richard had phoned his friend’s house to let his mother know he was O.K. He remembered how they used to make fun of each other, how their conversations would become nonsensical and oddly philosophical at the same time. He never laughed so hard like in those days, since they grew apart.
“No! I told you! I lost it in a game of four-dimensional poker! And I think they cheated…”
“Stop it, Thomas. This is unhealthy. I don’t know what happened to you or why you need this money, but I can’t help you in this state.” The change in his friend’s demeanor was tangible, going from the frantic lucidity of before to a crestfallen hunched-over posture. As if collapsing under his own weight. “You’re really committing to this, aren’t you?”
“I… perhaps it didn’t happen, then. Perhaps I imagined the whole thing… being kidnapped, escaping from a spaceship, falling into a wormhole… but it seemed so vivid. But if it was all a lie… who’s waiting for me to get the money out there?”
“No one is, Thomas.” He is relieved now, that this charade can finally end. But looking at his friend still drives a nail into his heart. Thomas looks like a man that just discovered he’s adopted. It’s almost visible, the walls of reality collapsing around him. “Go home, man. Rest. I’ll swing by later and check on you. No more stories about intergalactic loan sharks, alright?”
“Interdimensional, but alright… And if I didn’t just made this all up, those aliens may have helped us escape the whole dinosaur thing, but they’ll have to find another way to pay their debt, I guess… and what can they do having won the planet from me? It’s not like I own it, anyway…” He is grinning now, realizing how ludicrous it all was. He looks up at Dick, his oldest friend, pitiful awkwardness incarnate. There’s a tacit contract here, a “we’ll never talk about this again” kind of deal. Richard meets Thomas’ look with one that could aptly say “I don’t think there will ever be a moment where this whole deal could come up.” After a few seconds of silence, the atmosphere of the bank seems clearer. Richard’s coworkers shuffle almost imperceptibly back to their tasks and exchange astounded glances. Thomas stands up, still looking a bit defeated and says, “I guess it was a pretty bizarre story.”
The banker is almost unable to hold his laughter now. “It was hard to buy it from the get go, man… The very beginning, when you said you were going out with your girlfriend. That made the whole thing unbelievable for me.” As the laughter of everyone echoed and ricocheted off the bank’s walls, tears dropping down from Richard’s tightly closed eyes, Thomas took his leave, no hope left on the sulking carcass walking out of the bank.
Perhaps, if Richard hadn’t been blinded by tears and deaf by laughter, he would have seen the green plasmatic light coming from outside the bank and heard his friend’s scream.
And perhaps the Earth wouldn’t be doomed.
Ok… it took me quite a while, but here is part two of the 100 theme challenge. This one was an idea that I had bouncing inside my head for quite a while but just now decided to commit it to paper (or data, as it were). It didn’t come out as well as I’d hoped… Once again, it might take a while between part two and three, but this wait may be diminished depending on the response this one receives. So let me know what you think.