The Glauph by Edward Vitasek

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SUMMARY: The Glauph. The only known object in the entire known universe that's absolutely useless. I'm sure, you'll want one...

My roommate, dripping from the ceiling, and I, trying to sleep on an unfamiliar mattress shaped by various anatomies all of them diffrent from mine. "Drip" goes another drop of my roommate, while a patch of skin just above the hollow of my left knee is getting the hang of an irritating budge in the mattress. I'm a light sleeper, but if this goes on long enough, I might just become a non-sleeper. And to think how excited I was, when I heard I was going to share my room with an Ooee.

"Isn't it odd?" I say. "Not being in one piece?" I don't really expect an answer, as my roommate is currently composed of a blob glued to the ceiling, a puddle on the ground and the occasional drop in midair. How could a composition like that answer me in a way I could comprehend? Oh, but it could. It might be shaping letters right now. Gelatinous letters on the ceiling, liquid ones on the ground. Or even cute little letters dripping down?

This is a list of words I used to associate with the Ooee only a week ago: shape shifter, soul shifter, reality rider, dream shaper...

This is the word most likely on my mind now, when I hear the word Ooee: nuisance.

Years of practice in twisting, bending, inventing information, and it turns out, I'm as gullible as anyone. Flattering my ego by believing in a profoundly mysterious species, when there could be a con-species, outplaying me at my own game... Or even worse: the Ooee, not a species at all, but the pinnacle of virtuality, invented by a rival human.

"No."

That wasn't in my head, was it?

I turn my head and there's a girl I've never seen before looking at me with a curious expression on her face. I look at her, confused for a moment, until I realize that this must be my roommate.

"No, I guess it wouldn't be odd for you. Perhaps you're never really in one piece..." I sigh. "Couldn't you stick with a shape for a while? Or at least assume the same shape whenever speaking to me?"

She frowns. "Yes..." She says with an uncertain voice.

"Then would you be so kind and assume the shape you had, when I first met you? Now?" I ask.

She frowns some more. "I already did that."

"No, you didn't."

"Yes, I did."

"Well, when I first met you, you were an old man, and now you are a young woman."

"Ah, I am to remember the details." She smiles prettily, and then - among other changes - her body shrinks, her skin wrinkles and a long white beard sprouts from her cheeks and chin.

I don't have the heart to tell him that he didn't have a white beard when I first met him, was a few inches taller, had a more prominent nose, and generally didn't look like he looks now. Actually, I wish I hadn't said a thing. He was prettier, when he was a girl.

He stands there looking at me through aged eyes, and I look back at him until I notice that my neck has gone stiff. As I stretch and try to rub it, he tilts his head to the left and says, "I will leave to your rituals." A dirty old smile follows, and then - pop - he evaporates just like that.

I go through the motions of a surprised gasp, a few of which are painful for a stiff neck, and end up worrying, whether I might have sucked part of my roommate in, while the rest of it is dispersing in the room.

Finally, lying on my back, wearily staring at the ceiling, I wonder why nobody has ever come up with a pronoun to attach to an Ooee, whose he/she/it-ness makes it hard to write about, um, him/her/it.

***

Still tired, but work will begin in about an hour.

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