“What is this?” he asks his frustratingly mute phone. The world is a bleary mess. Confusion grips every neuron. The infernal device has jolted him out of spinning slumber with abrupt notification, but refuses to give further information. Shaking it does nothing. Tapping the screen sends it into a tizzy of opening and closing things he doesn’t need or want to see. He brings back the message that interrupted his brain’s attempt at healing.
The words on the screen make no sense at all. No. That’s not wholly true. Individually, alone, the words make plenty of sense. And a few strung together, in this order and if he were cognizant enough to reorder them, also make sense. But the entire grouping, in the layout they are currently housed in, is such nonsense that it would be better placed at a tea party in Wonderland.
His bank is telling him something, this much he can deduce. He sits up, as if in that position the words will change their meaning, or his brain will be able to decipher them better. It does nothing to help, only adding to the displeasure of his natural organs into the storm of horrors.
“What the fuck is a paper clip emporium?” This question, as the previous, is asked to an unfeeling audience of nobody. The newly parsed information adds much to his confusion and rising irritation, but not quite as significantly as the number attached to it. The figures appear to be spelling out a dollar amount, though the long train of zeroes throb in the center of his brain.
It has to be wrong.
It cannot be right.
He pulls the chain to ignite the bulb on his bedside lamp, an act to illuminate the situation further, which fails to do anything but blind him. Squinting eyes do not clarify the message on the finger-smudged glass; do not, in fact, add anything helpful to the situation in any manner.
Nothing answers him.
“I didn’t know it was even possible.”
Silence surrounds him.
“How does this work? What does six grand of paper clips even look like?”