The Zonehopper's Guide to the Perception Range

ENTRY B: My Story.

Alright, I've made sure that most of you are going to access my entries in the correct order. My apologies to anyone who read one horizontally before they could read one vibrationally, your layers should be pulling back together soon enough. Those of you still anchored in the grey are only perceiving this as text, or if you're red-drifting, as a very lovely radio broadcast. I don't know where the musical score came from, but I've grown quite fond of it. I'll see what I can do to make sure you get the most you reasonably can out of these before your sensor array really blooms.

So, before we delve into the pitfalls of glime wavering, the secret perks of jelly furls, the best season for worble plucking, I thought it might be helpful if I tell my own story; my very first brush with the existostates outside our lonely little grey zone.

It all started at the office.

There I was, coffee in hand, PC booting up, ready for another day of menial file processing when an explosion of sound practically shoots me through the roof...and repeats itself. I don't know what layers you're reading from, but the sound of an old fashioned telephone ringing can be a jarring and confusing thing in 2025, let me tell you, especially considering that I never had any telephone at my cubicle before, none of my coworkers ever have that I know of, and I can't think of any reason why one would suddenly be installed overnight. Especially not a rotary phone. A rotary phone old enough to be my mom, cast in what must have been a uniform cherry red plastic before the majority of it faded to a bleached, blotchy pink.

I probably stood there dumbfounded through a good five or six rings before finally picking up the receiver and choking out a baffled "hello?"

The voice that greeted me sounded like Yosemite Sam gargling a mouthful of tar, and said only one phrase:


I was pretty sure this was not how anybody terminated employees in the real world, and I was sure this was some sort of prank. It sounded like an obvious recording, and I hung up wordlessly. Did someone really install a phone in my cubicle for a gag this lame? No sooner did I lean back in my chair then the phone rang again. Like a sucker, I picked it up again, and heard the same exact voice clip.

I decided I'd unplug the damn thing, only to find there was no cord at all. It also seemed to be bolted or glued firmly to my desk, and there wasn't any unplugging the receiver from the base, either; the cord transitioned seamlessly into both, as if it were all somehow cast from a single piece.

I jumped once more as it began ringing a third time...but now, the voice had something new to say.


I could hear the phone on the other end slamming on its own receiver. Definitely a prank, right? But why? From who? I wasn't anyone important. I barely socialized with anyone else on the job. There couldn't have been that many people around who even remembered my name, let alone cared enough to plant a fake phone and convince me I'd just lost a job I didn't care about to begin with.

I asked aloud if anybody knew where the phone had come from, and got nothing in response. Not a glance. It was as if I'd turned invisible. I tried asking my closest neighbor directly, and was met with only a shrug. I was just about to press further when the phone rang for the fourth time.

I decided work could wait; whoever was messing with me had to be a heap of trouble.

I ignored the ringing - which I could have sworn was getting louder and more frantic as I walked away - and made a beeline for the elevators. Management was all the way at the top of the tower, naturally, the pompous assholes living large a hundred floors above us. I wondered if this was their doing, if they could really be that childish, that petty towards someone they barely knew. Standing alone in the cramped, hot elevator, listening to that godawful piano music, I couldn't have been more pissed off. The ride alone wasn't worth the job. I knew I was just going to lay into the first smarmy CEO I came across with my every last frustration, maybe spit on his ninety dollar shoes for good measure.

I was so caught up in my little workplace rage fantasy, it took me almost thirty floors to remember that I did not, in fact, work in a ritzy skyscraper.

I didn't even work in the city.

We were a tiny, downtown offshoot of a local bank. Surplus offices they dumped off in a neighboring town. We had one floor. No elevators. My boss worked across from the restrooms. She made barely more than I did.

Where the hell was I?

I stood there, petrified in the mystery elevator that shouldn't exist, no call button, no emergency stop switch, counting the impossible floors and wondering if anything was real anymore, if I might not be tripping out on a gas leak back in bed or already dead and this was just what my afterlife was going to look like.

My heart felt like it wanted to reach up and throttle my brain as the elevator "dinged" to a stop. Floor 100.

I want to say I was met with something shocking as the doors swished open, but somehow, it just felt...expected. The outrageously grandiose lobby before me was almost exactly what I pictured in my mind when I imagined those smug, top-floor mizers in their luxury offices. Marble pillars, multicolored fountains, a sparkling chandelier...even what looked like a few tropical birds strutting around the plush carpeting, and at the center of it all...a door. A door easily fifteen, twenty feet tall, upholstered in red velvet with an ugly, plastic diamond the size of a football for a knob.

I'd come this far, and sheer curiosity got the better of any fear or confusion.

I stormed my way through the echoing lobby, which almost seemed to grow larger and larger with every step. Larger, and decreasingly lavish. On closer inspection, marble pillars looked more like spray-painted styrofoam. Plush carpeting looked more like a quilt of bath towels that couldn't even stick to the same size, brand, or shade of red. I never got a close look at the birds, but from what I gathered, they were pretty likely to be poorly dyed chickens with more exotic plumage glued over their own.

It felt like a ten minute walk through the fake show of wealth, before finally finding myself at the base of the door. I'd been wrong about the size. Not fifteen feet. Fifty, maybe.

Fortunately, it had a flap in the middle, like a dog door. Human height.

Still overwhelmed by fascination, I barged right through the hinged, rubbery panel - why would it be here if it wasn't for people like me? - and found myself in a predictably phony office space.

Towering before me was a desk the size of a small house. From a distance, it must have looked like a single piece of shining, polished oak, but from where I stood, it was obviously cobbled together from mis-matched scraps of wood, plastic and metal before someone slathered it with enough brown paint to almost, but not quite, hide the irregular seams.

Behind the desk, a chair of equally titanic proportions. Pitch black, fake looking leather, dull yellow foam peering through a galaxy of rips and tears.

The chair was turned away from me, facing a wall poorly painted to resemble the vista outside a high-rise window, a childish mural of skyscrapers, fluffy clouds, flocks of birds, at least three smiling yellow suns, and something that looked like a polka-dotted jellyfish eating an airplane.

It was so much to take in, I almost didn't register that the chair was, in fact, occupied, and whoever or whatever was currently turned away from me had been grumbling and muttering since I came in, a sound like distant, rolling thunder struggling to escape from a bowl of pudding.

A cartoonishly massive telephone cord swung from the desk to the unseen monster, and puffs of black smoke billowed from some unseen, gigantic cigar.

The floor shuddered when it finally spoke aloud.


The same voice that had come through the red phone, amplified a thousandfold.

The chair began to turn...

...Shoot, I really ramble, don't I? If this gets any longer, I'm gonna have half the whifflers on my asses for eating so many drip channels. Don't worry, you'll find the rest soon enough.

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