A Short Story by A James Hindle
SHELDON AWOKE — not sure what had roused him to consciousness. Cool air was drifting in from the open bedroom window. Early morning light flickered through the curtains moving with the breeze.
But, it wasn’t the wafts of air or the dancing light that had roused Sheldon. There was something more menacing — something that had tapped his senses while he slept. Although he’d been alone when he’d gone to bed, he now had a strange feeling that was no longer the case. There was a presence in the room with him. From the corner of his eye, he sensed movement at the far end of the bed. His adrenaline surged. He could feel his body heating with tension.
Then he felt it — something touching his feet. He froze, his gaze directed across the covers toward the foot of the bed. But all that was there were his feet sticking out beyond the covers that had been kicked back, exposing them to the cool air. There was nothing more. No strange presence touching his feet. He relaxed. Perhaps, he was still alone.
Lying there, his eyes focused on his feet, he suddenly recognized what had made him so nervous, and, for a moment, it was more disturbing than the thought of there being something unknown in the room.
His feet, WERE being massaged. Not by an alien presence, but by each other. His left foot was fondling the sole of his right foot, pressing into the planter fascia, twisting and pushing toward the toes. Gawd, it felt good. But, there was something very strange about it. Stretching or rubbing tired feet together, in itself was not that unusual. Sheldon had done that many times. But what made this situation strange, was this was not by his bidding. They were performing the activity on their own volition. He wasn’t the one responsible for this foot massage. They had began rubbing each other without his knowledge — at least conscious knowledge.
This had never happened before. In fact, he had never heard of such a thing. How could his feet be acting so spontaneously — as if they had communicated a request between each other, and then responded to the request completely independent of his consciousness?
As strange a concept as it seemed, Sheldon had to admit, the sensation was phenomenally relaxing — his tensions began to ease in spite of what was happening to him. It was, in fact, the most erogenous feeling he had felt in some time.
The activity was amazing to watch. As if on cue, the massager became the massaged, first the left foot, then the right, then back to the left. It went on for several minutes.
Am I dreaming? Sheldon thought. He was certain he wasn’t. Perhaps he had been dreaming, and suddenly awakened, a strange nerve-synaptic reflex was now causing his feet to act involuntarily. Naw!
Sheldon pulled the covers tighter to his chest and tilted his head for a better view. That movement was all it took. Sensing their activity having been discovered, the feet abruptly stopped their massaging and became motionless . . . as feet do.
Sheldon watched for several minutes, waiting for the activity to resume. But there was no movement. He wiggled his toes. Yep! They were still his — he was back in control, at least for now.
It was earlier than Sheldon normally rose, but after the episode with his feet, he knew he’d be unable to sleep. He got out of bed, dressed and sat himself at a kitchen chair next to his boots. He was about to put his foot into one of them when the foot suddenly twisted away as if refusing to have the boot cover it. He tried again, but with the same result. Sheldon decided to try the other foot. As he brought the boot near his left foot, his right foot placed itself over the other, making donning the boot impossible.
Sheldon rested back in the chair, staring at his feet, trying to think of his next move. There had been no problem with his socks, just the boots. This was a most curious if not ridiculous situation. His feet apparently had intentions of their own, but he certainly wasn’t going to go out without shoes on his feet. They were still, his feet.
A pair of sneakers sat on the floor just inside the closet across the room. Sheldon stood, then carefully padded to the closet in his socks. With the sneakers in hand, he returned to the chair. Raising his right foot, he placed it into the shoe and laced it up. There was no resistance. He proceeded with his left shoe. Success! The sneakers were foot-approved.
The morning so far had been rather interesting though somewhat nerve-racking. Sheldon needed a coffee. His favourite coffee-bar was not far — a short walk if his feet agreed. He’d attempt to walk there and have a quick breakfast, and think about how he might control this strange condition he’d acquired. He made his way toward the door. No problems walking, so far. Feeling a faint level of success, he left his apartment. Clutching the handrail, he navigated his way down the flight of stairs to street level and exited the building. The walk to Yucky’s Espresso was cautiously slow, expecting at any moment that his feet would rebel for whatever reason, with him ending up lying on the sidewalk.
He arrived safely —chose a stool at the bar — ordered his favourite brew, then took the first sip of his caffè macchiato. It felt like a reward. He was beginning to feel normal, and glad he’d chosen to wear the light sneakers over the more cumbersome boots. Upon that reflection, he felt one of his feet tap the rung of the stool several times.
Glad WE had chosen the sneakers? The tapping stopped. Sheldon couldn’t feel their thoughts, but apparently, his feet could sense his. ‘Bet they can’t taste this,’ he thought, and he took a second sip of his coffee.
ACROSS THE ROOM, a girl sitting alone at a small bar-height table caught Sheldon’s eye. Her hair was wild and wind blown like she’d arrived on two wheels without a helmet. Casually dressed in a loose-fitting jogging top and jeans, her feet were hooked loosely on the rungs of the stool beneath her One hand cupped a to-go brew, while she fingered an iPad with the other — earbuds connected her to the iPad. Sheldon found himself captivated by her looks.
Would a girl like her even speak to him, let alone show any interest, he thought? Sheldon was a computer geek — in any event, not a lady’s man. But, he had to try and meet her. He’d just go over, introduce himself and see where it led.
Just as he was about to drop from the bar stool and approach her, he noticed something that made him hesitate. Her feet on the stool rung were tapping against each other. Perhaps they were keeping time with the beat of the music she was listening to. Her lips had been slightly moving like she was mouthing a song. But there was something about the foot movements that was off. The action seemed more erratic than rhythmic and they were not just tapping each other — the action was more of a hitting than rhythmically tapping to the beat of music. Sheldon’s hesitation seemed only momentary, but it was enough for his enchantress to gather up her iPad and coffee, and head for the door. His chance to meet her was gone — she was leaving. He’d probably never see her again. As she neared the door, she appeared to trip, almost losing her grip on her cup of coffee. She was quite close to Sheldon, and he was about to leap to her rescue, but she had recovered before he’d made a step and continued on with her exit. In the process of her gaffe, she noticed Sheldon’s intended movement to help and gave him a modest smile — a flirtatious Thank-You for his intentions, then she was gone.
‘My Gawd, she was so perfect. Would he ever get another chance to meet her?’