“For the life of me I don’t know why I’m doing this,” Jennifer talked to herself inside her apartment, furious that she had to interrupt a perfectly relaxing day in one of the tropical environments of unconstructed space in order to wait for the plumber who was supposed to come and fix her toilet. Her apartment looked pretty much the same way it did when she last left it, but there was something about it that felt strange, something she couldn’t put her finger on. The light seemed different, surely that was just an optical illusion brought about by all the strain of matching glaze pigments for ceramics.
“There comes a point,” she thought, “when it becomes totally irrelevant whether I’m crazy or sane, for all the difference it is going to make. How does one relieve the stress of existence no longer making sense?”
Her gaze fleeted over one of the windows and the vague surreal feeling that was haunting her came into full focus: she was staring at the ocean. An ocean view in the middle of Colorado. Jennifer panicked, wondering what happened to the rest of the continent and why the sun was shining on the wrong side or the house, and in her panic she tried to call her mother, but the phone number requested long distance service and didn’t work.
“Möbius!” she whispered meekly. “Möbius, can you come over, please, I need your help!”
“You don’t say,” the latter replied from a chair, his face betraying way too much enjoyment of the situation. He polished a fingernail, taking his time, and then continued.
“Tell me, Jennifer, during your times of unofficial volunteering at the library, did they ever teach you how to reshelve books?”
“What do you mean, I don’t understand, please, Möbius, I’m really in over my head here,” Jennifer looked out the window at the ocean view, trying to draw Möbius’ attention to the loss of half a continent without actually having to say anything.
“Relax, we didn’t lose California, you are not in Colorado anymore. See anything different about the sun path?”
“Why…How…Where am I…” Jennifer couldn’t gather her thoughts enough for coherence.
“If I were to guess, I’d say Connecticut, the shelves are organized in alphabetical order. Welcome to your new life.”
“What life? I don’t have a life, I have a pretend consulting job in Zanzibar. Is my mother still in Colorado?”
“Yes and no. Your mother is now both in Colorado and in Connecticut, since her book was left on the appropriate shelf, but she’s also in yours. Congratulations on your first logical paradox, one of many to come, I’m sure. In fact, everyone you ever knew has a Connecticut double now. Other than God himself, I don’t think there is a being in creation able to untangle this mess.”
“You are not mad?” Jennifer evaluated her situation with the daintiness of a cat trying to find her way across a hot roof.
“Why would I be mad? There is nothing I can do about it, other than wait for the inevitable consequences.”
“But I didn’t mean to…” Jennifer mumbled in search of an excuse.
“Of course you didn’t. Do you remember what I told you about creating things? That is not just what you do, but all the feelings and thoughts associated with the doing? What were you thinking when you misplaced the book, Jennifer?”
Jennifer chose not to answer.
“Would things go back to normal if I put the book back on the right shelf?”
“For the most part, if everybody manages to ignore the two week time gap when you and everyone you know simply ceased to exist and then reemerged with no explanation at all. No matter what you do, there is an irreconcilable logical disconnect. There is only so much our kind can do to maintain the integrity of the timeline, it wasn’t designed to survive things like these.”
“So what should I do now?” Jennifer was almost afraid to ask.
“Whatever you want, I don’t think it makes much of a difference. The ocean view is nice.”
Jennifer’s heart sank as she went through all the events at the library, trying to remember if she put any of the other life books back on the wrong shelf.
“I appreciate the fact that you have started to grow a sense of responsibility,” Möbius stopped her inner anguish, “but if any other books were misplaced, we’d already know by now. Let’s just hope and pray that none of your family or acquaintances have any connections to Colorado.”
“What are the odds of that happening?” Jennifer asked, miserable.