A weird thing happened to me when I went downstairs just now.
I wanted to get a jump on my day by getting my lunch ready for tomorrow. I was thinking a peanut butter and salami sandwich would be nice. Maybe with pickles and onions and potato chips and leftover Chinese food. My wife Cynthia thinks my sandwiches are gross. She says they make my breath smell bad. I say toothpaste makes her breath smell bad, but I don’t try to stop her from eating that. She says she doesn’t eat toothpaste and I should stop being weird. I said good luck with that, Baby. She had no response.
Anyhow, I went downstairs and turned on the light in the living room, but I could see into the kitchen. There was this little man standing there in the middle of the kitchen. He was old and bald and wrinkly and his face looked like it was covered in cobwebs. He just stood there, blinking. I said, “Hey Man, what are you doing blinking in my kitchen? This is where I blink.” He continued to blink, so I got mad. I went into the kitchen to womp him one, but when I flipped on the light switch he was gone.
“Hey Blinky, where’d you go?” I asked, but Blinky did not answer. Unless he answered by blinking, in which case, I could not hear him. I mean, he was a pretty loud blinker, but not that loud.
October 12 4 am
Still awake. Thinking about that whole thing in the kitchen. I can’t believe I forgot to make my sandwich.
Hey, I saw that guy again. The old guy in the kitchen. Turns out he’s the Grobisher. I don’t know where he comes from or what he is exactly. He’s not quite a person but he’s not a traditional monster either. He’s not a vampire or a zombie or a Frankenstein. I checked the search engines, but I couldn’t find any Grobisher, but I’m pretty sure that’s what he said. Also, the name fits him. He totally looked like a Grobisher.
Hey Diary, what ever happened to that Grobisher guy? Sometimes when I’m in bed I feel like he’s watching me. I mean, stop watching me sleep, you old perv!
It doesn’t even bother me that much anymore. Maybe I’m getting used to him. I sort of kind of like it that he comes to visit sometimes. Does that make me a perv?
Saturday Nov 27
So I was taking a nap and I heard something scream. Like, maybe the baby or something. I shot up in bed, trying to orient myself. Cynthia was out shopping.
The baby screamed again like maybe he was having a nightmare or something. Or like he was being tortured by the Grobisher maybe.
I ran to the baby’s room, threw open the door. We keep the shade drawn in the nursery, but the hall light shone in around me. A dark figure huddled over the crib. I’m pretty sure it was that Grobisher guy.
I ran at him. I meant to knock him over, but he sort of disappeared. Like he was a mirage or something. “What’s up with that, Mirage Man?” I asked. I looked up and he was standing on the edge of the crib. He has excellent balance, that Grobisher. He was smiling. He had sharp, gap-filled teeth and onion breath. He’s my kind of guy, I guess.
“Take care of the little one,” he said in some kind of foreign accent. I think maybe it was Australian.
I brought the baby into the room and checked him for bite marks. He was pretty upset, gasping and whatnot, but that may be because I only change him once a day. All things in moderation, I always say.
Later, Cynthia came home from shopping and she got pretty mad about him not being changed. I tried to blame that Grobisher dude, but when I looked for him, he was nowhere to be found.
That Grobisher is turning out to be not very dependable.
Cynthia doesn’t even believe he’s real. She acts like I made him up. What’s up with that?
Have I gone crazy? Cynthia seems to think so. Then again, she always thinks I’m crazy. I don’t think I am. I’m the same as always. I think maybe the goblin I hallucinated is the crazy one.
Hey Diary, Guess who I saw today? The Grobisher. This morning when I went down for breakfast I found him waiting for me in the living room in the dark. He told me not to turn on the light. I stood in the doorway and I could just barely see him using the light from the kitchen behind me. I squinted to try and see him better, but for some reason this only made it harder to see him.
“Hey Dude,” I said. “How do you keep getting into my house? Are you using the doggy door or something, because if so I’m going to have to nail that thing shut.” I started laughing because I imagined our dog trying to get through the doggy door after it was nailed shut. I wondered how many times he would bump his little poodle head before he would give up and go live with the neighbors. I guessed seven times. I made a mental note to put this on my list of practical jokes to do today.
Then I remembered I was scared and angry about the intruder. “What were you doing in my kid’s room?” I asked. I wanted to strangle him, but last time I tried to do that he vanished into thin air. Nothing makes you feel as impotent as trying to strangle air. Except maybe when your penis fails to get erect when you want it to. That makes you feel pretty impotent also.
“I Sorry, I Sorry,” the guy said in that crazy Australian accent of his. “I hear baby cry. I try help.”
“You could help by going away and calling me on the phone and saying Hey Man, your baby’s crying, why don’t you go pick him or something? And then I would say. Oh yeah, why don’t you mind your own business? I’ll neglect my kid if I want to. You know what? I think I’m starting to see your point. I still don’t like the idea of you coming into my house though.”
“I always here,” said the Grobisher, “in exist between light and dark.”
I laughed at his ridiculous Australian accent. “In exist! Priceless! G’day, mate!”
He then explained the physics of his existence and how I am able to perceive him. Turns out, the Grobisher is from some other dimension, like maybe the second or the third. In some ways he occupies the same space and time as I do, but he also exists in a place all its own. My family and I appear to him in much the same way as he appears to me--at the edge of a lit room and a dark one, popping in and out of some invisible but intertwined portion of the universe. Somehow, he manages to exist simultaneously in both dimensions.
I told him to stop being so indecisive. “Pick a dimension already!”
He said it didn’t work that way.
I told him all he needed was a can-do attitude and a little elbow grease and he could do anything he set his mind to! He checked his elbow for grease, but he didn’t have any. I told him I would loan him some of mine. He was resistant. We agreed to disagree.
He said he caught his first glimpse of this dimension shortly after my family and I moved into the house. One night, he thought he heard something, so he lit a torch and walked through his cave toward the sound. Then he saw me and Cynthia arguing over a bug.
She was against the bug, as I recall, and I was for it. “You will never make money selling roach farms!” she said.
“But how do you know if we don’t even try?” I countered. She said she wasn’t going to have this discussion and I had to stop leaving half-eaten donuts in the bathroom. I told her it was all part of my plan. She then said she would leave me if I didn’t quit attracting bugs. I told her we would just have to agree to disagree. She said she would not agree to that.
Anyway, the Grobisher was initially frightened by our loud talking and animated gestures. He was also a little freaked out about me eating donuts in the bathroom. I said, “What else are you going to do in there? Read a book? Not in this lifetime!” He didn’t seem to understand the question.
The Grobisher came to realize that we were harmless, and so he began studying our ways from a distance.
I had many questions, of course. Where was his cave? How come I couldn’t see it? Why did he live in a cave? Did he have nicer furniture than me?
The Grobisher said his cave overlaps our colonial townhouse in space-time, but somehow occupies different matter. When the light is just right, however, a wormhole opens up between the two dimensions, and he can walk right through. He said the best way is when two of our rooms that exist in the same space-time have lighting that mirrors one another--like one has to be lit and the other dark--then he can step into our dimension. Once he learned our routine it was a simple matter of entering our world, and our home.
I say he visits, but technically he isn’t actually here. When I tried to give him a high five, his hand passed through mine. “Up high,” I said. His hand went through mine. “Down low.” Same thing. I formed a hole with my thumb and forefinger. “In the hole,” I said, but no matter how hard he tried, he was unable to clean out my toilet bowl. He explained that this was because he isn’t able to actually cross into our dimension, it only seems that way.
“Let’s try it again,” I suggested. “Eventually you’ll learn.”
Alas, he did not.
Cynthia came downstairs with the baby, turned on the light and found me high fiving the air and asking it to clean out my toilet bowl. Come to think of it, I’ve been getting some pretty strange looks from that woman lately.
Got another visit from the Grobisher today. That guy is popping in all the time now. I’m like, “Christ, don’t you have anywhere else to go?”
I guess he’s a lonely little Australian space goblin.
He said he doesn’t have many friends in his dimension. He told me that if any member of his clan found out that he was traveling into another dimension, he would be ridiculed and quite possibly confined against his will. It turns out he comes from a tribe of big dumb jerks.
In his dimension, the other Grobishers are always fighting with one another. There is constant warring between the different tribes, and even among his own nationality there is intense competition to secure even the slightest advantage in order to win food, employment, women, or whatever. It is a place where only a lucky few, born into privilege, enjoy most of the advantages, while the vast majority live in poverty.
“Sucks to be in your dimension,” I said, but really I was thinking, “Now, I’ll never be able to get rid of this guy.”
I asked him about his job. He told me he was a low-level bureaucrat with little hope of advancing into the upper strata.
I told him I worked at the DMV.
My Grobisher and I seem to have more in common every day. He also has a monogamous partner and offspring of his own. He also feels disconcerted by the demands of family life. He also has a mate who desires to see in him greater ambition and who won’t let him start a cockroach farm. (On his planet, cockroaches are called puppies.) Life in the other dimension becomes less foreign every time the Grobisher opens his mouth. I still make fun of his accent though.
The Grobisher is really helping me work through some things. He’s helped me see that my problems are the fault of everyone else and not me. I should be able to leave my half-eaten donuts in the bathroom and start a cockroach farm if I want to. It’s okay if I want to call in sick to work twice a week. Why does my wife insist on crushing my dreams and ambitions?
The Grobisher said that it was the same way with his mate. I then went through a whole thing about g’days and mates and shrimps and barbies, but for some reason, the Grobisher still doesn’t seem to get my humor. I think maybe it’s generational.
“So what can we do?” I asked him. “What will make things better?”
The Grobisher nodded sagely as he stroked his pointy chin. Then he suggested killing my family. Technically he said, “keeling,” but I’m pretty sure it means the same thing.
I was flabbergasted. “I’m not keeling my family. You go keel your family.” I didn’t really mean for him to keel his family. I just said it because he said it to me. I guess this is how peer pressure starts.
He said, “I keel my family. Then, you keel your family. Is fair, no?”
I said this is the kind of thing that gives violent hallucinations a bad name. We finally agreed to table the discussion until a later date.
How’s this for weird? Old Groby showed up today. He was real excited, beckoning me into the kitchen to look at something. I told him I’d already seen my kitchen about fifty times that day, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I figured a fifty first snack of the day wouldn’t do any harm. He had me stand at the light switch and then he reached for the torch in his dimension, and when he counted three, he put out his torch at the same time as I flicked on the light switch, and you’ll never guess what happened! The kitchen vanished and in its place was the Grobisher’s cave!
I totally went into another dimension!
And you know what? He really does have nicer furniture than me. Also, his cave is much cleaner than my house. The walls are a little sweaty and I banged my head on a stalactite, but overall it’s a pretty sweet pad.
Then he showed me something that was not so sweet. He beckoned me to follow him further into the shadows and it was there, slumped against the wall, that I saw his wife and his two little Grobishers. They weren’t moving and they were covered in a blue liquid, not unlike my elbow grease. It was disgusting. He’d done it. He’d killed his family.
“Dude,” I said. That was all I could think of to say.
The Grobisher was pretty ecstatic about the whole thing. He jumped up and down and rubbed his hands together excitedly.
The best part about it, he said, was that when the authorities came looking for him, he could simply adjust the light and disappear into another dimension.
“Great,” I thought. “Now he’s going to be at my house all the time.” I told him if he thought I was going to clean the bathroom for him or make up the guest room, he had another thing coming.
Nothing I said dampened his mood though. He told me I could do the same thing. When I killed my family, I could hide out in his dimension just like he was hiding out in mine.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Does your dimension have onion rings?”
Things just haven’t been the same since I travelled to another dimension. It’s hard for me to eat knowing there might be dead Grobishers under my kitchen table. It’s almost enough to make me lose my appetite.
Then there’s the whole thing about killing my family. I don’t remember ever agreeing to that, but the Grobisher insists that we had a deal.
“A deal is a deal,” he said. And there’s no denying that. A deal is a deal.
I figure if I’m going to hold up my end of the bargain, I better go ahead and do it. Otherwise, I’ll have to go through with my Christmas shopping. That means tonight’s the night.
What have I done? Oh yeah, now I remember. Here’s what I did:
First, I spent a good deal of last night figuring out how to wipe out my family. I made a big long list of all the ways I could do it: Shoot them with a gun, Shoot them with a bow and arrow, shoot them with a tank. (It turns out I don’t have a tank. Or a bow and arrow. Or a gun.) I have knives, though. And forks. I thought about hitting them with the car, but I still have, like, a hundred and forty eight payments left on that thing. I considered poison, but Cynthia made me use that on my cockroach farm. Drowning was an option, but I wasn’t sure how to trick her into putting her head into the sink. I thought about covering them in honey and feeding them to a bear, or perhaps a honey badger, or some other animal that likes honey, but I wasn’t sure I could get hold of that much honey. Finally, I decided I needed a break, so I put my list down and went to the bathroom to have a donut and think. When I came out, Cynthia was in the hall waiting for me. She was holding the list.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“It’s my shopping list,” I said.
“Oh? You’re shopping for rope, rifles, and poison?”
“I wanted to try out a new recipe.”
For some reason Cynthia didn’t believe me. Instead, she took the baby and went to stay with her mother.
I went to look for the Grobisher in the guest room, but he wasn’t there. He’d been in and out of the dimension all day.
I went down to the kitchen, and an interesting thing happened. Just as I switched on the kitchen light, the Grobisher must have put out his living room torch, because I suddenly found myself in his dimension. I looked around and there were all these Grobishers sitting around watching the Idiot Box, which is what they call television in his dimension. But these weren’t just any Grobishers. These were his family. They weren’t dead at all.
“Hey!” I cried. “What’s the big idea?” I must have frightened them because they all went scrambling. Once he saw who I was, though, my Grobisher came out from behind his recliner, looking red and bashful and guilty. “What is the meaning of this?” I demanded.
All the Grobisher could do was shrug. It turns out, it was all a practical joke. He never intended to keel his family. He just wanted to see if I would do it. He wanted to see how far he could push me. I had to admit, he got me pretty good.
“Well dang,” I said. “I guess I’ll have to do my Christmas shopping after all.”
It took a lot of convincing to get Cynthia and the kid to move back into the house, but I’m a pretty shrewd negotiator. I just reminded her that she doesn’t “get” my sense of humor, and she had to admit I was right. Plus, now that the danger of me keeling her has passed, she really has nothing to worry about. Also, once my cockroach business gets off the ground, we’ll start living the good life, and she’ll forget all about the “unpleasantness.”
I haven’t seen much of the Grobisher lately, and I think maybe it’s for the best. You just can’t trust a guy who tries to trick you into killing your family. Next, he’ll be trying to sell me time shares.
Still, I know he’s around here, liable to pop in at any time. It’s gotten so I don’t even want to turn the lights on. I’m saving a fortune off of our utility bill. I’ve only seen him once since I uncovered his evil plot, and that was on New Year’s Eve. It was nearing two in the morning, and Cynthia was already passed out on the couch. An empty champagne bottle rolled on the floor beside her. I went into the kitchen for one last lump of sausage before bed. I opened the refrigerator door and stuck my head inside. Somehow I sensed he was behind me. I didn’t bother to close the door or turn around.
“What do you want, Groby?”
“Keel your family,” he said, and then I heard a bunch of other Grobishers laughing.
“Really?” I said, “this is how you losers celebrate the new year?”
I felt the mood sour behind me, and I thought I heard someone hiss something, but I knew to ignore them. I switched on the light and they were gone.
See also Stuck: A Tale of Woe.
See also Stuck: A Tale of Woe.