“Hey man, what’s this red button for?”
We were having a lazy Sunday afternoon when I noticed a box sitting suspiciously on the coffe table of his study. It was iron-studded with brushed metal panels, a pulsating light under a button the size of a bottle cap protruded from it. My friend walked in, peering at it with a dumbfounded look on his face.
“That’s a good joke man, but seriously where’d you get this thing,” he asked, reaching out to grab it. I made haste to smack his hand away. “Hey man,” he asked, holding his hand back to his chest, “What’s your problem?”
“Don’t touch it dude. Of all the freaky things that have been going at your place lately, I say we leave this one alone.”
After contemplating a few hours, meaning both of us staring at it ruthlessly as if it were a difficult math problem, decisions of what to do started to form. It seemed to get more difficult to make a decision when the blinking light looked like it had started to mock us.
“What if it leads to another alternate dimension, like the box my grandfather got in Vietnam,” he asked.
“Nah, that box was really ornamental, this thing’s just—odd,” I said.
“Do you think the gypsy put it here,” he asked.
“No way. If you wouldn’t have been dead when we got you in that place, you’d of thought someone doing a séance would have decorated it,” I said ironically. “Candles all over, and I’m pretty sure she had some of the windows streaked in chicken’s blood.”
“That’s sick,” he said.
“No, I mean sick as in cool,” he explained.
“Oh, well I’m sure if you weren’t a bag of broken bones at the time I may have thought so, too, but that doesn’t tell us how this got here,” I said pointing back to the box. “Maybe it was that evil guy we put away or the aliens we helped out.”
My friend held the suggestion for a moment. “Couldn’t be,” he said. “I’m pretty sure that evil guy’s cell key got lost by the guards, and the aliens with the epidemic called the other day. Apparently the fashion issue sorted itself out.”
“Wait,” I said, “you got to talk to them?”
“Yeah, man. I woulda put you on but you were in the can and they had to go. Intergalactic minutes are killer, apparently.”
I looked at him in disbelief; he shrugged his shoulders. “Anyway back to the box,” I said, staring back and watching the button, pulsating at the same steady, droning pace. “I feel like it’s mocking me.”
“Don’t let it get to your head, man,” he said. “Maybe we should call in an expert.”
“But what if it gives us untold riches and we just don’t know it yet,” I asked. “I don’t want someone else getting all that cheese.”
“And what if pushing it means the end of the world,” he reasoned. I glared at him for a moment.
“You know,” a strange voice with a British accent said, “you two could simply ask what happens when you push my button.”
“Is that your security system or a bond villain,” I asked.
“Neither,” the voice said. My friend and I both saw that the light was pulsating to what the voice was saying. “My name is Author, and I’ve come to offer you a bit of a — change of pace.”
“The blinky red box button is talking,” my friend said, wide-eyed and tugging at my shirt. Not pulling my eyes away from it, “I know, I know,” I said.
We both sat cross-legged in front of it, as if looking face to face. “What do you want to do with us exactly,” I asked.
The light stopped pulsating altogether for a moment, and then the voice was back, “Like I said, I want to give you the option to change your reality up just a bit.”
“Does it hurt,” my friend asked.
“Eckhem—umm, does it hur—-.”
“BOOM,” Author the box yelled.
My friend and I both yelled and fell backwards.
“Just kidding,” Author said. “I like messing with people, but to answer the question, yes it hurts. It’s only for a short time though.”
“Will it be an adventure,” I asked.
“Pretty good set of them actually,” Author replied.
I looked at my friend, who was looking apprehensive, but intrigued. I can only assume I wore the same expression. “You want to,” I asked him.
“What the hell,” he said. “I don’t really like the norm anyways.” He looked back at the box, “Will there be more aliens, crazy people, evil guys, and multi-dimensional plot devices leading to ominous places,” he asked.
“Actually, that’s exactly what will happen,” Author said.
“Well, I’m up for adventure,” I said, looking enthusiastic.
We both stood over the button, fingers coming down and the same time. As it gave way, the box sent a pulse throughout the place.
“That tickled just a bit,” I said.
“Did it work,” he asked.
“It worked,” Author replied. “Be patient and you’ll see.”
“What do we do in the meantime,” I asked.
“Jump out of a plane, fistfight a bear, play Yahtzee, it really makes no difference” Author said.
“Fine,” I said. “Let’s ditch this popsicle stand.”