It’s Always Cthulhu, Isn’t It?
I just wanted a goddamn sandwich.
A sandwich with chipotle mayo, pepper jack cheese, honey roasted turkey, sliced tomatoes from my mother-in-law's garden (bless that woman), and spinach because I'm healthy this month. You take that monster of beauty, lovingly tucked between two slices of multigrain bread, and gently glide it onto your stovetop grill. Toast until the cheese drips then sizzles onto the metal. Carefully take it off the heat. The cheese should have melted between all the layers, it should keep your creation together, but be careful anyway. Then use the knife you spread the mayo with and slice that sandwich into two perfectly imperfect halves. Eat hot.
Every day at 1pm I close my work laptop and make it.
Then that day happened.
I closed my laptop. I stood up from my chair and stretched. The PJ bottoms I wear with my professional button down rose up as I reached up and exposed my ankles to the cold apartment. After adjusting the heater, I threw a robe on and began preparations for the best 30 minutes of my work day.
My manager was being more unreasonable than usual, and more than one coworker had let me down. Something that never lets me down? My sandwich.
I yell at my wife in the other room.
"Do you want lunch? I'm making my sandwich special."
"Not right now sweetie." She always says that.
Then I take out the bread, the tomato, the cheese, the turkey, the spinach, and the chipotle mayo.
My knife was next to my plate. My current podcast "Welcome to Nightvale" played in my earphones (episode 157). I picked up the chipotle mayo.
I opened the lid.
A tentacle blacker than that paint all the artists were on about last year slithered out of my jar, wrapped around my torso, and yanked me in.
After a harrowing journey through a hellscape of Lovecraftian horror, during which I made peace with being a flea in a galaxy of giants, I finally slipped back into Clthullu's nest and found the portal it accidentally pulled me through. With a pop like a balloon I appeared in my kitchen. I stood over an open jar of chipotle mayo sitting neatly on the linoleum floor. Adrenaline racing I screwed the lid back on and left the jar on the countertop next to the tomatoes and cheese and meat. I left the kitchen, sat at my desk, and starred at the room around me. It was unchanged. In the months I'd been away, only 26 minutes had passed at home.
My clothes were rags and anywhere I wasn't bruised I was scrapped. A crude sword I carved from the bones of a titan was still tied to my side.
I leapt up to see her. To hug her. Then I sat down. How was I going to explain this to her?
And I still wanted my sandwich. Maybe I would piece together my story while waiting for the cheese to melt, I thought, but when I walked into the kitchen I saw that jar, that evil orange jar, and turned around and returned to my desk.
"Hey sweetie!" My wife called. It was the first time I'd heard her voice in so long. I let the sweetness of it calm me from my moment of mayo induced fear. Would I ever be able to make my sandwich special again? "I think I actually will have some lunch today." I could hear her walking to the kitchen. I froze. "You make that really great sandwich..." Oh no. "With chipotle mayo, right? Oh, it's right here."
I heard a pop like a balloon. I heard the jar and the lid drop to the floor of my kitchen and I heard the absence of my wife.
After that I took a shower.
I packed a bag.
Then I opened that jar of spicy mayo.