She was standing in the middle of the street screaming for answers. I had them, and I was going to give them to her, but I wanted to wait until she calmed down a little, or at least wore herself out. After all, she had an ax.
I couldn’t blame her for the way she was acting. I flipped out, too the first time it happened to me. Everybody does. Waking up in a world that has suddenly and inexplicably gone empty will do that to you. What is happening, where is everybody, yada yada yada, the usual.
After a while she yelled herself out and just stood there, breathing hard. She’d even lowered the ax.
I took that as a good sign, and called out to her, “I take it this is your first Ormsday?”
She spun around and stared at me. I stepped out of my place behind a car—ready to step back quickly, should circumstances warrant it—and waved.
“Ormsday?” she asked. “What is that, German for the end of the world?”
I shrugged. “I dunno, we just always call it that. I dunno who came up with it. And the world hasn’t ended, it’s just… on hold.”
She blinked at me. One of the things that passes through everybody’s mind, the first time it happens, is, am I going crazy? I probably wasn’t helping with that. But at least she was listening.
“Today is Ormsday, the 22nd and a half of September, 2012.”
“Ormsday.”, she repeated dubiously. She was clearly thinking that I was the one who was crazy. “What’s an Ormsday?”
“The day between Saturday and Sunday,” I explained. “At least this week. It moves around.”
“And where is everyone else?”
I frowned. That was getting kind of metaphysical. “Well, they’re… uh, well, I guess they’re in Sunday now. I don’t really know.”
She lowered the ax the rest of the way. “Who are you, anyway? Do I know you?”
I shook my head. “No. I’ve never met anybody on an Ormsday that I know from, uh, the rest of the week. They figure about one in a hundred thousand people exist today, so the odds are against it. I suppose it could happen.”
“You’re not making any sense,” she said, slowly, as if trying to convince me. I knew I wasn’t making any sense, Ormsday doesn’t make any sense.
“Look,” I tried, “There are eight days of the week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday—”
“—and Ormsday,” she finished with me, then added, “which nobody has ever heard of.”
“Not many people have heard of,” I corrected her. “About one in a hundred thousand. We think. I mean, that’s how many people we think are around here, divided by how many live here the rest of the week. It’s hard to tell—not everybody who shows up is real social today, you know?”
“Sure,” she said, exasperated, “some people would rather… sit around and be the last person on Earth all by themselves?”
I kept going. “Most people only experience the regular days. Like you did, up until today. Or I did, for that matter, up until about a year ago.”
“But some people get an extra day?” she was chewing over the idea. “An extra day that nobody else knows about?”
I nodded. “Basically, yeah. From now until midnight tonight you have a free day. Then everybody else comes back. You’ll go back to where ever you were at midnight last night.”
“Yeah, that’s actually easier. Being awake when Ormsday comes can be kind of disorienting.”
“I bet.” She was starting to get it. “And this happens every week?”
I sighed. “It’s a little random. So far they’ve never been closer than three days apart and never farther than fifteen. There’s a guy who claims that they are getting closer together—he’s been keeping track for years.”
“For years…” she frowned, “How long has this been going on?”
I shrugged. “As long as time has, I guess. It’s tough to say for sure—there aren’t any records of it. No one would believe it, except.. us. The Ormsdayers.”
That got a laugh. “Ormsdayers, huh? I’m an Ormsdayer now.”
I grinned at her. She had a cute laugh. “Yeah. From now until midnight you are part of a very select club. You can do anything you want.”
She looked around. “As long as we put everything back the way it was before midnight, right?”
I shook my head. “It does that automatically, I guess. I mean, you can’t change anything.” I gestured at the ax, forgotten in her hand, “You could bust every window out in every car on the street, and they’ll all be whole again tomorrow.”
“Really?” Her face scrunched up. “How does that happen?”
“I don’t know. One theory is that Ormsday doesn’t happen in the same kind of time as the rest of the week—it’s like… an offramp on a highway, or something. I try not to think too much about it—it hurts my brain. The point is, everything goes back to exactly the way it was before. You can’t change anything, you can’t write anything down. All that stays is your memories. And–”
I paused. I hadn’t planned to get this deep, but she had an inquisitive mind. It was better that I headed off any drastic experiments.
“—if you die, you’re dead. You just don’t wake up tomorrow. They find you dead in bed, or whatever.”
Her face got serious. “That’s good to know. But as long as I don’t die, I can do… anything?”
I rubbed my arm, noticed I was doing it, and stopped. “If you get hurt bad, you’ll still feel it. I broke my arm once, and the next day it felt like it was broken. I couldn’t use my hand for a week. The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong, they said it was a pinched nerve. I think my mind just remembered the broken bone and it took a while to forget it, if that makes any sense.”
She looked around at the empty street, the stopped cars, the silent sunrise. I could see her realizing that there weren’t any birds singing, anywhere. “Interesting…” she said slowly.
Okay, I realize that this is nearly all exposition, which I ordinarily don’t like to do, but this is an idea that I had a couple of years ago, but I never did anything with it because I couldn’t think of anything to do with it. So I thought I’d post this here and throw it open to anyone who wants to use the concept as the basis for a story. I’m actually hoping to spark enough interest to get a shared universe collection of stories together.
So, think it over, if the idea sparks a story, go for it.