Insomnia – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (2/82)

Universe W-420: Stoner Problems 2

Second Day In A Row

As if by clockwork, Chet’s eyes burst open the moment his cracked alarm clock strikes 11:11. He groans the groan of a grizzly that was woken from hibernation precisely three months early and rolls over to swat the cackling arthropod from the sanctity of his nightstand before pouring himself out of bed and crawling around on the floor. This isn’t part of any workout routine or weird meditation thing, but it is a ritual of sorts; with only enough energy to keep one of his eyes half of the way open, Chet sniffs the air and locks on to his target. He digs through one of the numerous molehills of clothing jutting from his bedroom floor like mountains of arbitration and finds his beautiful Aphroditty, her bowl full of ash from the previous night.

Beside the slightly ashy pile of clothing is his lighter, a plain black Qic that Chet lifted from the 822 Minimart under which he is so thankfully employed. Multiple attempts at flicking the yanked Qic do not pan out for young Chet, unfortunately – it seems his lighter is low on fluid. Such stress so early in the morning; not only does Chet need to find his little plastic garbage can beneath the heaps of clothing scattered about his bedroom floor to throw his lighter into, but he also needs to dig out his box of matches from his old camping backpack that he hasn’t used since before he moved out here so he can smoke. The catch: said backpack could literally be locked inside the Ark of the Covenant for all Chet knows. He will find the lighter regardless, he has to. One day without a wake and bake session is bad enough, but two days? Hell no.

‘This isn’t that big of a deal,’ Chet mentally reassures himself whilst flinging dirty laundry into the air behind him, ‘You can just pinch another lighter from work on your break.’

Looks like the 822 job isn’t the worst gig in the world after all. A full fifteen minutes later, Chet comes across his vanquished but still breathing alarm clock. He is then checked right in the face by a hulking reality strapped with a hockey mask: he’s going to be hours late to the job, yet again. Second day in a row. Fanfreakingtastic. This means that uppity-ass Mister Bron-ass will be spelunking even further up Chet’s ass today than he normally does. Say goodbye to that break and hello to a docked paycheck.

No break is whatever, Chet usually doesn’t take one anyway, but the docked slip of money paper will lead to a smaller weed fund for the month; this is a code red, if ever there was one. Giving the pipe incarnation of the goddess of beauty a kiss goodbye, Chet sloppily dresses himself in his unwashed deli uniform and sprints downstairs, then out into the cold night air.


Being sober and therefore entirely out of his element, Chet dives into his car and backs the Grand PM out of his driveway. The duo makes it halfway down the road before noticing the lack of late-morning sunshine; Chet slams on the breaks and the PM stops dead in the street, the skid marks left behind the tires as dark as the circles underneath Chet’s eyes. This is the very worst-case scenario, the one withdrawal symptom that makes yesterday’s nonsense look like a stroll to your mom’s house. See, the other problems go away when the medicine is administered, but this one? When certain tectonic plates are set into motion beneath the Earth’s surface, there’s no stopping the ensuing tidal wave. Having felt more than well rested from the two-hour cat nap Chet allowed it to indulge in, Chet’s body is now more animated than your parents when you walk in on them for a surprise visit, emphasis on the surprise. His mind is deader than the deadbolt they forgot to lock, his body’s as exhausted as your parents are with the fact that you exist, and his mind is as disgusted as you should be at this dreadfully extended metaphor. Tonight, the luxury of sleep no longer exists to Chet, similarly to your innocence after you walk in on your parents nailing each other when you pay them a spontaneous visit home from… wherever you live.

Yeah, I said it. I made it real, and now you have to deal with it, just like Chet when he screams out, “FUCKING INSOMNIA!”

Chet throws the Grand PM back into reverse and returns to his driveway, the cold night air licking his face through the broken window. Dragging his feet up his steps and slamming the front door shut to show the Universe just how angsty he is at all of this, Chet retreats to his cave with his proverbial tail between his legs. C’mon Chet, you’re not that scrambled, just a little tired is all. Look at the positives, my boy! Not only is there ample time to find your matches and smoke ya bad self up, but your brain’s going to be so wired by the time your shift starts that you’ll probably get to work early!

What’s that? Oh, you can’t hear me because you’re too busy screaming at yourself internally? Cool man, I’ll just let you do you.

Chet gets the night off to a great start when, as he’s turning to walk up his stairs, half of his body collides with the wall. Studies show that during bouts of insomnia, the given sufferer is so motor-impaired that they may as well be intoxicated; Chet is out to prove the legitimacy of this study.

Just after recovering from tripping up the second-to-last stair, Chet walks into his guest bedroom. He strips out of his uniform and climbs between the covers, melting into the comfy bed like cheese between two sheets of lasagna. Here he simmers for about forty-two seconds before he realizes that he’s in the wrong room and starts screaming internally again, cursing belligerently at the malevolent force who rearranged the layout of his rental house. He leaves the guest room a mess so said malevolent force can clean it up for him later.

Clouded by irritation, the chetsweats, a headache, and a slight tremble in his hands, Chet stumbles into what should, by all rights,be his bedroom, and trips over a very sturdy pile of clothing. He remains here for a good short while, too angry to get up and too tired to lighten up. It’s a good thing his carpet’s so saturated with weed smell, or else Chet would be pushing furious.

Chet’s Smokin’ Tonight

Eventually Chet comes to the realization that lying on the floor of his bedroom isn’t going to get him any closer to being stoned. He rises and decides to search through the tidier rooms of his abode before tackling ground zero. The backpack is almost certainly buried in this room, and he knows this, but procrastination is a thing, after all. A quick sweep of the bathroom reveals nothing with a side dish of startling uncleanliness, so he moves on to the guest bedroom.

“Who the fuck was sleeping in h– oh… wait. Shit.”

Jotting cleaning the guest room just above searching the bedroom on tonight’s imaginary to-do list, Chet goes downstairs and begins an expedition through his entire household. Starting with the living room where he never smokes his weed, he then proceeds through the kitchen, then the den, then the hall closet, and finally ends in the basement where he never dwells. Chet grows tired of his own wild goose chase and returns to his bedroom, the little home inside his house.

The home that he still hasn’t cleaned, which he must do in order to search through it.

Chet trips over the sturdy pile of laundry again and kisses the floor, kind of like Jimi Hendrix but the exact polar opposite. Chet decides to clean that specific pile up last, solely out of spite. You know you’re exhausted when you start spiting inanimate objects, amirite? And you know you’re really far gone when you hear an assholeish voice in your head narrating everything you do, like, what the fuck, right? Right Chet? What the fuck, RiGhT?’

With hopes of kicking out these intrusive thoughts, Chet selects a pile of clothing that has yet to hurt his feelings and gets to work. After, that is, he performs the smell test to determine whether or not they actually need to be washed.


When he’s done gagging, Chet picks the remaining pile up and holds it while he searches for his hamper. It’s stuffed inside his closet, right under the shelf where he keeps his stash box, but it takes him a while to remember this. Meanwhile, the caustic toxins present in Chet’s laundry pile begin eating through the first layer of skin on both his hands and his arms, which is fine because it’s just dead skin cells anyway. Chet doesn’t feel a thing, and if anything, once the biohazard is properly contained, his arms seem to work a bit better! As Chet flings pile after pile of dirty laundry into the hamper, he contemplates when the last time he did laundry was. When… when did he do laundry last? I– er, he’s… we’re asking you, hypothetical reader, because if he doesn’t know, then I sure as hell don’t.

Oh well, doesn’t matter. Chet’s phone is going off.

Two more piles get loaded into the hamper before Chet needs to peel back a curtain and crack a window. The smell of evolved body odor, once a concentrated colony has been established, is far too much for young Chet to bare. Not even a bear would come near this nonsense, and they eat human shit. Like, baby human shit, like, if you load a dumpster up with full diapers, close it, wait five seconds and open it up again, there’ll be bear in there just tearing the shit up – literally – and it’ll be pissed at you for disturbing its feast!

Ah, there goes that phone again. Chet’s ringtone is an old reggae song played at four-and-a-fifth times its normal speed; when he’s high, this tune is a randomly delivered batch of pure musical ecstasy. Right now, Chet is not high, though, and the obnoxious shrill might as well be his mother’s nails on the chalkboard she keeps in the kitchen. Kept. Probably still keeps. Whatever. With a mean flick of his wrist, Chet pulls all the blankets off his bed, which is the last known location of his cell phone.

There’s no easy way to say this: Chet’s phone crashes right into his forehead. This, tonight’s umpteenth collision, does nothing to make our camper any happier, and he kicks over his almost full toxic waste depository in retaliation. That’s a yeesh Chet, that’s a big ol’ yeesh. After composing himself and re-containing his disaster, Chet finally check his phone. It’s his stoner pal Jimmy, texting him at three o’clock in the morning to say the following:

yo were smoking l8r rite

Chet, whilst wondering why the WHY this needs to be asked at three o’clock in the morning, answers back…

Yeah, I have work but afterwards I’m down

cool. wat time

9 to 5


Chet puts his phone down and moves the hamper out into the hallway. He once had aspirations of playing competitive basketball in high school that he never followed through on, so he makes a little game for himself: for every shot he sinks into the hamper, he’ll take a hit from his pipe. You know, when he finds something to combust the plant matter held within its luscious bowl.

Fourteen missed shots later leave Chet’s hallway more littered than a minefielded rice paddy, and Chet is grumpier than the farmer who discovered said minefield with his now prosthetic foot and leg. Oh well, it’s not like Chet’s not going to smoke because of this.

Cue the speedy reggae.

steves comin to

Chet studies the strange symbols on his phone screen, attempting to decipher their meaning. ‘Oh, Steve is coming to smoke,’ he thinks to himself while he makes a one-man show of rolling his eyes in a very no shit kind of way.


dont k me toolbag. c yu 2mro

Chet throws his phone into the hallway. To his surprise, it lands in the laundry basket! Whoop whooooooop, Chet’s smokin’ tonight! Er, this morning! Chet’s smokin’ this morning! Or, actually, would it be later…? Whatever. Chet’s getting high soon. Besides, time isn’t even real.

It Is Time

By the time Chet’s finished clearing all but one of the piles off his bedroom floor, the sun is beginning to peek over the horizon. In a flash decision of egocentricity and continued spite, Chet moves to clean out his calamity of a closet before touching the stupid pile of stupid clothing on his stupid fucking floor.

You know, the one that outsmarted him twice in the same night.

The inanimate laundry pile. Yeah, that one

Inside his closet, Chet finds no less than two CO2 airsoft guns – a pistol and a rifle – that he’s totally going to get fixed one day; fourteen little cardboard boxes that have the words HotBox stamped on top of them with a branding iron, all stuffed with various pieces of smoking equipment and accessories; mounds of infected dirty clothing; mounds of clean clothing that caught the dirty contagion simply from sharing a proximity with the nasty clothes; a cylindrical box containing a burnt-out lava lamp; two oversized stuffed animals, one a bear and one a bigfoot, that a now-straightedge ex-girlfriend gave back to him after he originally won them at a carnival for her; eighty-seven old vidyaGame magazines that Chet never skimmed, read, nor looked at; a few old movie posters rolled so tightly that they’ll never unroll without curling, and; a box of pizza that was left in there so long ago that the microorganisms in the cheese have evolved to the size of beetles and developed their own ecosystem.

Yet no backpack, no matches, no spare lighter. Imagine that.

All right, time to swallow that pride. Chet stands across the room from his archenemy, The Gatekeeper. The final battle is about to begin. Orchestral boss music plays in Chet’s head before it’s cut off by the theme of that old western flick The Bad, The Good and the Guapo. A tumbleweed composed of lint, dust bunnies, and weed tumbles by in the background. Then… Chet anticlimactically begins throwing the last of the dirty clothes onto the piles that have formed around his hamper. As the pile diminishes, Chet becomes very angry with himself when he should just be happy; the pile was so sturdy this whole time, so easily able to outsmart him, because it was built upon his camping backpack.

The one with the matches in it that he’s been searching for all night. It was right there in front of him the entire time. Imagine tha

“Shut the fuck up with your imagine that shit! Fucking hell!”

Matchbox in hand, Chet hasn’t been this excited since he was a newborn who’d just seen the light. He lights an incense, closes the opened curtain, dims the lights, hits that lo-fi. ‘It’s showtime.’

Holding a freshly packed Aphroditty and the matchbox in one hand and a single match in the other, Chet overzealously strikes the green-tipped twiggyboi. So overzealously, in fact, that the match breaks in half as it combusts. In a blaze of glory like no other, the ball of phosphoric flame flies unguided through the air towards Chet’s nightstand. By the time our boy launches himself at the small fire and extinguishes it, a small but not as small as the fire scorch is burned into his carpet. ‘Fuck.’

After making a pit stop in the bathroom to run water over the incredibly minor burn on his hand, Chet slinks back into his room, his tail tucked so far between his legs at this point that he realizes, ‘That’s not a tail, that’s just my dick! Man am I tired.’

Chet gets down on his hands and knees to pick the tiny sliver of charcoal from the melted strands of carpet fibre, and that’s when he sees it. There, underneath his nightstand, lays an old lighter, one that he paid for long ago. He never even got to take the safety off, it’s so pristine, so innocent. So pure. Reaching through cobwebs and entire bedscrapers full of dust bunnies, Chet salvages the lighter and lays it next to Aphroditty; truly a match made in heaven. Then, he turns and whips the box of matches into the wall next to his doorjamb, spilling all of its contents on the once clean carpet beneath his light switch. New room’s gotta start somewhere, right?

Finally, it is time. Chet sits on his floor and leans back against his bed. He lights his bowl right in the center of the leafy green soup and draws, filling them lungs with the best oxygen substitute known to man. He holds his hit in until his eyes water, then slowly exhales the cloud into his room so he can breathe it in again later. Six more hits and the bowl’s made as ashy as the air is hazy. Finally, after a night of more trials and tribulations than Heracles himself had to face, Chet is one happy camper.

That is, until the alarm on his phone goes off, informing him that it is now 8:52 AM, and that he’s going to be late for Bronology 101.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”



“What do you mean you saw him?”

“I saw him mom, I saw Tyler! I mean, the guy’s name was Chad or something, but he looked and sounded exactly like him!”

Momma Portman shoots her daughter a look. “What were you doing at a minimart, anyway? You don’t eat that shit foot. If you’re smoking cigarettes, young lady, I swear to God…”

“Ugh!” Isabelle ughs, “I was just thirsty and I needed to grab a drink, mom! Are you not hearing me?! I saw Tyler, he’s still in town! He’s not dead!”

Mom grabs Isabelle by the shoulders, brings their faces close. “Listen to me, very, carefully. Your brother is gone, he’s an asshole and he abandoned our family. He’s dead to me, and he should be dead to you, too, Isabelle. This…” She softly pushes her daughter away and begins to massage her pounding temples. “This is the third time you’ve claimed to see him in the past year. Get a grip, child! He’s gon–”

“No, he’s not!” Isabelle shouts, pushing herself further away. “He’s my brother and I love him, and you should too! He ran away for a reas–”

“HEY! If you keep this shit up, then I’m calling your father at work. You know he doesn’t like to be disturbed.”

Isabelle backs away towards the front door. “He was never like that before Tyler left. All of this shit started the day you walked down into that basement and found it empty!”

Isabelle storms out of the house, not letting the locked door stop her, and climbs into her car. Lighting a cancer stick and hanging it out the window, Isabelle speeds off into the day, unsure if she’ll ever be coming back.

Hello Commons, this has been the second story from the first chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here, OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.

If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~

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