Somewhere on earth I

Phil's eyes sting in the bright morning light. It shines through a tiny hole in the closed curtain. In the corner of the bedroom lies his alarm clock, smashed to pieces. He is late for work and sends his boss a text message. His dog and best friend, Berry, jumps on the bed and starts licking his face: “Oh, Jesus, Berry! First your ass and now me? Down, boy!” Phil's tired of it all: “Damn sausage factory! Go to hell with your sausages!” He falls back on his pillow, numb, promises himself again—this was the last time, I'll never drink again!

He gets up and opens the curtain. The woman that lives across from him is just about to take her dog for a walk, Phil looks straight in her eyes. Amused, he waves at her. After a long second of bewilderment, her eyes leave Phil's naked body. She rushes out of the gate. A few irregular heartbeats poorer and a knitting story richer. Phil had dreams, but an education, career, family, or even a successful life as a professional-bachelor, it never happened. Now he's a balding, obese, antidepressant swallowing, nasty middle-aged guy with bad breath. His house is a mess and his backyard, the neighbors call it The Jungle, and swear that once they have seen Bigfoot, somewhere in there.

After two cups of coffee, Phil slowly begins to look more like a human being. Berry has been fed and is done fertilizing the garden, so Phil drives to the factory. When he gets there he panics, as he looks into his glove compartment and can't find his badge. He's in front of the closed off area and presses on the bell: “Hello, Phil here. I forgot my badge, can you open the gate, please?”
Through the intercom a telephone-voice answers: “Which department are you from?”
“Packing department!”
Seconds tick away. “Did you say, Phil?”
“Yes!”
“What's your surname, sir?”
“Baten, Phil Baten!” Phil can’t believe this—where’s Hans, the usual security guy?
“I don't see you on the list, sir.”
“What list? I've been working here for fifteen years!”
The gate remains closed.
Frustrated, he calls up his manager.
“Hello, Willy's Sausage Paradise, packing department, this is Rinus speaking.”
It's cracking in Phil's head—Rinus, from packing department? I've never heard of him.
“Hello, good morning, Rinus. May I speak to Jacques for a moment?”
“Who?”
“Jacques van Hintum.”
“There's no Jacques working here, sir.”
“You're new here, aren't you, Rinus? Put me through to the manager, please?”
“I am the manager, sir.”
“I've been working in your department for fifteen years, asshole!”
“Sir, I really don't have time for this, was there anything else?”

Phil desperately hangs up and rests his head on the steering wheel. His eyes stay glued to the factory logo. He can't believe it. The one hundred and twenty year old logo, the smiling sausage with a fork in his hand, is gone. Now there's only the name, Willy's Sausage Paradise, spelled on an oval drop of ketchup. Phil gets out and walks a few meters to the factory.

In amazement he looks at the new logo—how is this possible?
When he turns around, his eye falls on his Volkswagen. There is now a line through the logo which makes it a normal V and W. Instead of two V's interwoven, creating the VW. Phil rubs his fingers over the logo: “This is The Twilight Zone 2.0.”

He decides to go back home, to find out what's happening to him and to figure out what to do. As he enters his street, he hits the brakes, drives back a bit and looks into his garden—this is unbelievable.
His garden has turned into a little paradise. Pond, lawn, apple tree, a pergola with a grape plant climbing it. Several large marble flower pots with beautiful flowers in them, a ball and a small slide that ends in a swimming pool.

Phil puts his car in the driveway, takes his key and wants to open the front door, but the key won't fit. He looks at the house number—number thirty-three. Here it is, this is my house, damned!
He rings the doorbell. A few seconds later the door opens, a blonde greets him warmly: “What are you doing home so early, and whose car is that?”
Phil is stunned: “Who the hell are you, and what are you doing in my house?”

Phil rushes in. The whole house is tidy. There's a new leather sofa, dining table and the kitchen is new too, everything is new: “Where are my things?”
The blonde is trying to stay calm: “Honey, what's going on? You're scaring me!”
“Where's my dog, Berry?”
“Honey, we don't have a dog.”
Phil’s face turns red and he wants to burst out in anger, but two adorable children come rushing down the stairs, a boy and a girl; they hug him: “Why are you angry, Daddy!”
He responds intuitively: “I'm not angry, darlings. Daddy is just a little tired. Go in the yard and play.”
He feels as if he has known the children for years. The woman stands with her hands in her hair, and she has a worried look on her face: “Well, are you going to tell me whose car that is?”
While the children play in the garden, Phil explains to the woman what happened to him. The woman, Lieke, tells him that they have been married for fifteen years, and that his boss has just called to ask where Phil was?
“The bank, do you know you work at the bank?”
“No, madam. You don't understand. My life is gone, my job, my dog!”
She proposes to call the doctor immediately.
Phil is completely out of it. He misses his dog. Berry, the only one who loves him, unconditionally.
“Honey, we love you, unconditionally, and we're gonna find out what's wrong with you, okay?”
Phil sits on the couch, with a wet towel pressed on his forehead, as he runs his hand through his hair: “My God, I have hair!”
“Darling, take it easy. You're scaring the children.”
The doorbell rings: “Oh, that would be the doctor.” says Lieke.
There are two men in black suits at the door: “Ma'am, is your husband home?” Lieke hesitates for a second, she doesn’t trust these men at all, and right away a fist flies through the window. A hand comes in and pushes the door handle down. Lieke screams: “Phil, run!”
Phil flees through the back door. The man looks at his partner: “He's running!”
One man runs over the street and the other sprints through the house, with Lieke on his back: “Leave him alone!”
Lieke gets thrown into the air and ends up on the couch. Phil runs like crazy through the nearby park, followed by the two men. He hides in the bushes and waits.

The men run by while Phil tries to catch his breath. Slowly he rises up and looks where the men have gone. Behind him he hears the voice of the woman that lives across from him: “Excuse me, gentlemen! Yoohoo, he's here!”
Phil runs out of the bushes, past his neighbor and snaps at her: “Just my luck, everything's different, except you?”
The woman looks at him with a confused look on her face, as Phil takes off again. With the two men on his heels, Phil stumbles over his own feet and he is overpowered. One man holds him down, while the other presses a huge syringe down his neck. A peaceful, but empty feeling seizes him, while he slowly loses consciousness.

Somewhere in the universe

A spacecraft the size of a large cargo ship roams the universe. The outside and the inside is gray and there are no windows. On one side there are flickering tubes in the wall, spread out over the entire ship.
“Hello, Phil, welcome aboard.”
Phil is sitting on his hands and knees. In front of him stands a man with a white beard in a white coat. Phil cries out desperately: “Where the hell am I?”
The man smiles at Phil: “I'm Professor Masters, a robot, running on an AI program. My job is to find a new planet, and to make sure that mankind will arrive safely on this new planet. The earth became uninhabitable in two thousand and thirty-three. From two thousand twenty five, everyone's DNA has been collected and it has been taken on board. When I find a suitable planet, I will make a new body with the substance that is there, I will bring you back to life.”

The professor waves his arm and points to a hologram of a piece of paper that pops up out of nowhere with a bunch of calculations on it, “During this, estimated ten-thousand-year, journey, mankind is living, for practical reasons and to avoid boredom, voluntarily but ignorantly, in a computer simulation.” he points at the flickering tubes, “There was an error in your software program which has put you in a parallel life. Normally small things happen, like the changing of logos. For psychological health reasons, I deemed intervention necessary, as well as an explanation.”

He puts an arm around Phil, “Nevertheless, you will remember this experience as a vivid nightmare. I will put you back, Phil, and I apologize for the inconvenience.”
Phil feels very uncomfortable, but at least he knows now that he's not crazy. “Well, back to the sausage factory again.” says Phil, his voice dripping with disappointment.
The professor presses a button on the panel, Phil disappears and is a flickering tube again, somewhere in the wall of the gigantic spaceship.

Somewhere on earth II

Phil’s eyes sting in the bright morning light. He stares at the ceiling—what a nightmare!
The bed creaks and he notices that Lieke is lying next to him. Grateful, happy and relieved he looks aside. But suddenly it dawns on him, he will never see Berry again. A big tear rolls down his cheek—poor Berry.
Phil doesn’t get time to mourn his loyal friend as their two children rush into the room: “Daddy, it's Saturday, are we going to the forest?”
“That's okay, darlings, but Daddy has to wake up first, okay?”

When the family's been in the woods for a couple of hours, Phil and Lieke want to go home and call the children. They come out of the bushes with a little white dog running after them. Phil recognizes him right away.
“Daddy, he has been following us the whole time. He's not wearing a collar.” Berry sniffs around, totally unaware of Phil, but when he hears his voice he rushes towards him and jumps straight into his arms.
“Dad, can we keep him, pleeeaaase?”