And I told myself, “This is not my beautiful house!” And it wasn’t. Oh, it looked about the same, but things were just somehow out of place. Worst of all, my beautiful daughter, all of six, suddenly seemed to be about fourteen, without changing size or appearance: she just had Different Concerns all of a sudden. Then she went away for a while, and I poked into corners. Stuff I’d forgotten began to appear, but it wasn’t the way I’d originally remembered it: posters the wrong color, address books full of people I did not know.
What used to be the corner I rounded to exit to the garage had somehow turned into a work area, and Eric Holder was waiting behind it. “Ah, you have completed your disorientation.”
“Did anyone ever tell you you look exactly like Eric Holder?”
“Like who?” He proffered a questionnaire. “Answer these to the best of your ability.”
All the questions were absurdly simple, so it seemed impossible to me that I’d come up with a failing score. “One last test,” said Holder-who-wasn’t. “Which of these two names identifies your father?”
I looked. The second one was closer to correct, though the middle initial was wrong. A couple of holograms appeared beside me, and the one resembling Dad said, “The name is Miller.”
Of course it wasn’t Miller, and never had been. Didn’t matter, apparently. I was given a list of Expected Punishments, and then a young woman in uniform, sort of a three-quarter-scale Rebel Wilson with a permanent scowl, escorted me through the door to God knows what.
There were several way-stations in this weird new environment, one of which was apparently intended to test my susceptibility to food allergies. All the stuff they were passing off as “food” was some sort of tofu in geometric shapes; some of it looked like Tetris pieces. I rounded a corner, was handed what appeared to be a shaving kit and a shower cap, and did what I could in the way of ablutions before a second escort came to take me to the Sleeping Room.
They assigned me a space on the 48th row, out of a possible 49. On offer: something resembling a hospital gown, more food-like substances, and a length of twine. Apparently if I were to drop anything, I would have to lasso it back into my possession. A couple of loud, boisterous guys in business suits took up a position just to my east and began to trade stories about whatever business they were in; the management made a perfunctory attempt to remove them, then apparently gave up. A very tall teenager think Jeremy from Zits engaged them in conversation. I concluded that these people were placed there deliberately, to remind us of what was taken away. And after a couple of slices of scarlet-colored sponge, I retired for the night.