Stranger Times Episode 5

Losers Sleep On The Couch

“Alice, there’s something bothering me,” said Carl.

“You mean the fact that we’re trapped in a suburban neighborhood, no one knows where we are, and we might all die here?” she replied.

“No, it’s something worse than that,” Carl whined. “I’m worried that a girl almost beat me in a video game.”

Alice rolled her eyes. Carl was possibly the most immature person she’d ever met.

“I want a rematch, Alice,” he demanded. Something about her eye roll had really set him off. “I refuse to believe that you ever ‘let me win’. So, I’m going to annihilate you right now. MySims Racing. Five games. Let’s go.”

She stifled a giggle.

“All right, but,” she countered, “Let’s raise the stakes. After every game, the loser loses one piece of clothing.”

“Now hold on a minute-” Carl protested.

“Oh, so you really are scared you’ll lose to a girl?” Alice smirked.

But then he slowly lowered his finger, deciding he wasn’t that opposed to Alice’s idea after all. He’d get to humiliate her, and possibly see her naked.

“Deal,” he said with a smug smile. “But when you’re sitting naked in the living room, just remember that this was your idea.”

4 hours later…

Carl was muttering curse words under his breath, and Alice wouldn’t stop smirking at him.

“You ready for our last match?” she snickered. “You don’t have much left to lose, loser.”

“Oh, shut up, nerd,” he said. The past four matches were close, but somehow Alice kept beating him. It was infuriating. But also kind of fun. He couldn’t let Alice know that second bit though, obviously.

So he turned to her and said, “Ok, ok, how about new stakes for the last game: Loser sleeps on the couch tonight, winner gets the bed.” He grinned.

“You’re on,” said Alice, returning the smile. “And if I’m in a good mood, I might lend you a pillow when you wind up on the couch again…”

The game booted up again, humming to life, while night fell, crickets chirping faintly outside the window.

“What’s your deal anyways, Carl?” asked Alice, rounding out the first lap. “Are you just as annoying to your real roommates as you are to me?”

Carl was hot on Alice’s trail, slipstreaming.

“I don’t have roommates,” he said. “I have my own apartment in San Myshuno-“

“San Myshuno? Weird, I live there too. So, you live alone? How’s that?”

“Well, y’know, you get used to it…” Carl shrugged. “You have roommates?”

“Sort of,” said Alice. “I’m currently crashing at a friend’s place after moving out of a… bad situation.”

“What do you mean?”

Alice sighed. “Well, I was living with my ex, but he was a piece of work. When I told him I wanted to break up, he locked me out of the apartment, with all my stuff still inside-“

“Geez, that sounds awful-” Carl began, but then he jumped. “Ha! Watch out, ’cause I got a shell! …oh plum, nice dodge-“

“-and then, believe it or not, the bastard stole my laptop with all of my art on it, sold my work as his own, and made millions-” Alice continued.

“Wait, what the plum!? Can’t you sue the guy who stole your art?” Carl shook his head in disbelief.

“Trust me, I tried to go after him, but I work in the video gaming industry. Who do you think they believed, some dude, or a woman?”

“Touché,” said Carl. “Well, if you ever need a place to crash in San Myshuno, you can always come stay with m- oh! Ha. HA! I WON!”

At the last second, Carl had used the slipstream to overtake Alice at the finish line, winning by a hair.

“YES! SUCK IT!” Carl stood up, flung the controller onto the ground, and began wriggling. “HOW YOU LIKE THAT, NERD?”

“Carl, what are you doing?” Alice couldn’t suppress her laughter.

This is my victory dance,” he said gleefully, watching her. The harder she laughed, the more he wriggled around in his underwear, smirking. “Sure sucks to suck, doesn’t it, Alice-“

“All right, all right,” said Alice. Her abs hurt from laughing. “But you’re not really gonna make me sleep on the couch, are you?”

“Uh, yeah, I am,” said Carl. “Ya lost.”

“But seriously, we can share the bed, can’t we?” Alice wiped tears of laughter from her eyes. “Like, we’ll have separate covers, I’ll stay on my side of the bed and you stay on yours-“

“Nope!” exclaimed Carl. “Losers sleep on the couch!”

Alice’s face darkened. “Oh c’mon Carl, don’t be a jerk. I don’t want to sleep on the couch-“

Carl screwed up his face. “Oh, so now you’re too good for the couch? You had no problem making me sleep on the couch and now you’re upset about it? Quit being a bitch and suck it up-“

“Ugh, Carl, why are you like this? What’s wrong with you?” Alice shouted. “I don’t get it! We just played five straight hours of video games together. Is sharing a bed with me really the worst thing in the world?”

“Uh, yeah, why would I ever want to share a bed with you?” he shouted back.

“Plum you, Carl!” Alice yelled as she tore down the hallway without a clear idea of where she was going, her blood boiling.

“Have you ever considered that maybe you live alone because no one can stand to be around you!?” she shouted over her shoulder.

“You don’t think I know that!?” he yelled back after her.

Alice froze in her tracks.

Slowly, she turned around.

“Look, I’m sorry,” she said, her voice suddenly quiet again. “I just really don’t want to sleep on the couch. Maybe we can put up some kind of divider or something-“

No.” Carl’s voice was ice cold.

Alice’s face dropped.

“Fine!” she yelled, storming out. “If you won’t share a bed with me, I’ll find someone who will!”

“Whatever, nerd!” he yelled. But Alice was already gone.

Carl changed into his pajamas and settled himself smugly into the bedroom.

The bedroom, and more importantly, the bed, were all his for the night. For once, the green house was quiet, and Carl sighed, listening to the silence. It felt exactly like being back at his apartment, sitting alone on his empty bed.

He’d almost forgotten what being alone felt like.

Alice rapped on the door of the mansion, simultaneously fuming and on the verge of tears.

Rogelio answered, and it was simultaneously the person Alice wanted to see and didn’t want to see.

“Ay, princesa, what’s wrong?” he crooned. “Come, Rogelio will make you feel better…”

Carl stared out the window at the dark street. It looked cold outside, and Alice had stormed out barefoot in a T-shirt and shorts. She could be walking around freezing at the moment.

He slipped on his sneakers and pulled on a hoodie, stuffing a second jacket into his inventory. But as soon as he reached for the door, someone burst in from outside.

“Alice?” said Carl. “You came back?”

“Yeah, I…” Alice’s voice trailed off. “Wait, why are you wearing a jacket and shoes, Carl? It’s the middle of the night, where are you going?”

“What? Nowhere,” Carl said, hastily taking off his shoes. Alice shrugged. “And, um, Alice? I was thinking, you can have the bed…”

“Wait, are you offering to share?”

“No, I…” Carl hesitated. “I’ll take the couch.”

Alice opened her mouth, but then closed it again. She sighed and got ready for bed.

Carl poked his head into the hallway right before Alice headed into the bedroom for the night.

“Hey, Alice?”

She could feel every muscle in her body tensing up again in anticipation. “Yeah?”

“…I’m glad you came back.”

Alice sighed, then said, “Good night, Carl.” But Carl had already curled up silently on the couch.

Alice closed the bedroom door, and the house was quiet.

The next morning, Alice was surprised to find they had mail in their mailbox.

She pulled out a single black envelope,

-and immediately called for Carl. “CARL! CARL, COME QUICK!”

He came running down the steps.

Alice showed him the letter in the envelope. “It’s an invitation… to a funeral.”

“What?” gasped Carl.

“It’s taking place today, at noon, at the cabin…”

“A funeral, at the cabin? But that’s where Buddy lives. And we just saw him yesterday, you don’t think he’s…?”

But Alice didn’t have an answer for him.

Carl’s theory of the day:
“Ok, ok, Alice, now I’ve figured it all out- we’re not really here, we’re just bits of code floating around in a simulation. All we gotta do is wake up and unplug ourselves from the Matrix-“
“Carl, this theory is even more far-fetched than your last one-“
“Is it really? Or maybe you’re part of the simulation and your only job is to convince me that it’s not a simulation, and oh my god, what if everyone else in this neighborhood is in on it too? Oh god, I don’t even know who to trust anymore-“
“Carl, you need to stop watching so much sci-fi-“

5 thoughts on “Stranger Times Episode 5

  1. So last night I began reading your story and ended at the part where Carl won, so this morning (with my very tired eyes) I thought the title of the story was “LOVERS sleep on the couch,” and I nearly panicked. ALTHOUGH WHOA! Carl gets an award for being the most ornery nearly-fully-naked gamer dude sitting next to a chick in the history of gamer dudes. Gawd but he is clueless.

    As much as I loved their playful banter earlier in the story series, when it turns to full-blown spite, omg like it’s …. it’s abusive. Carl knows he has some kind of issue that drives people away, and yet instead of working on that issue he continues being THAT person. And Alice is (of all things) apologizing to HIM after his verbal abuse. I don’t even know if I find it sweet that he thought that she wasn’t dressed appropriately for the weather. Yeah, actually I don’t. Because it seems he is using THAT as an excuse to “apologize” for his behavior rather than address his behavior and make a real difference. Maybe it should be Carl’s funeral….

    And speaking of funerals. REALLY? BUDDY? I hope it’s just another party b/c the thought of sweet sweet Buddy being off’d just…. I’ll fight whoever hurts Buddy! Buddy! Ruuuuuuuuun!

    And speaking of running…. so Alice runs over to Rogelio (I mean YUM). But ya leave me hanging! WHAT HAPPENED????? Gawd, it couldn’t have been too great if she’s heading back to Carl.

    Great story! I can’t wait to find out what happens next… although I am worried for Buddy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alice! My goodness, girl! You’re spicy. I would’ve told his pasty ass whoever loses has to do a single dish, then watch the tantrum. Alice does get some credit for coming from the land of Activision/Blizzard with their phrenology polygon, but depending on the person, it either encourages a lady to develop standards of steel or start training up the ones with the capacity to change. And maybe she’s young enough to have energy for that? Whatever. Add another thirty-something lady to the pile yelling “honey, you can’t fix him!”

    Guess I’m not sure what she sees in him yet—but like, what did Rogelio do?! Why’d you cut away? We need answers!

    This was :(—this was a sad episode of Himbo Island today. Let’s hope Buddy just took it upon himself to host a funeral. They wouldn’t be able to go to the lot if it wasn’t occupied, right? Right?

    (YES THE META JOKES!! It was Carl but I’ll take it!)

    Liked by 1 person

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