AN: This is a one-shot that I probably won't be continuing.


Jack Jackson was exceptionally ordinary. At least, as exceptional as one can be at being ordinary. Every day he'd walk approximately one hundred and fifty-eight yards to the bus stop. After three stops, usually taking about thirty-seven minutes, he'd exit the bus on 7th Avenue. There, he would walk nearly half a block to his mundane office job at Milo & Son. On the way, he would pass Bev's Bagels and promise himself he'd stop there tomorrow before work.

After arriving at his office, Jack would work for about three hours and fifty-four minutes. Generally, this consisted of filing innumerable amounts of papers, calling forgotten clients and handling issues no one else wanted to deal with. Milo & Son was a low-end law firm that rarely paid more than minimum wage to most of their careless employees. Jack had been receiving a twenty-five cent raise each year since he started there seven years ago; this could be considered a promotion in that work environment.

At about eleven fifty-four, he would leave the office for the whole of sixty-eight minutes to have lunch – including the four minutes to walk to and from Big Ben's. Jack would order a small Diet Coke and a plate for the salad bar: two tong-fulls of mixed greens, a scoop of garbanzo beans, julienned carrots, six quarters of tomato and a cup of ranch dressing on the side.

The last four hours of the workday, Jack spent diligently working on tasks others deemed to have little or no importance. At five o'clock, Jack left his cubicle in perfect order and returned home in much the same way he came to work.

Jack rented a small apartment, lodged in between the eighteenth and twentieth floor of Nicholson's. It wasn't much, but it did have a fridge stocked with bologna and mustard. Typically, it would take him five or six minutes to walk up the stairs to his room, including the time it took to find his key and unlock the door.

In the last two or so hours of daylight, Jack would dutifully take his daily paper to the small window of his apartment and sit to read. He had spent months persistently cleaning the small square window to remove the water spots, but they steadfastly remained, dotting his paper with spots of shadow. When the sun dipped too low to read comfortably, he would carefully fold the paper and place it in the designated waste paper basket.

Around eight o'clock—that's generally what the time was by this point in Jack's day—he would lounge in front of the television with some hastily crafted foodstuff. Oftentimes, he'd awaken the next morning with mustard smears on his hands and face after accidentally falling asleep on the sofa.

And so on. Day after day, Jack would religiously follow within the parameters that his tight schedule would allow. It wasn't that Jack didn't desire luxury items or lust for beautiful women; he did, but Jack lacked ambition. He was over-qualified for his job, underpaid for his work and more attractive than he gave himself credit for, but despite all this, Jack was happy. Was.

On the morning of October 12, Jack woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Normally, he would wake up facing the left wall of his apartment, but today, here he was, staring at the right wall. For about seventeen minutes Jack lay there pondering the problem. Finally, he came to the conclusion that he must have rolled over in the process of waking up. There could be no other explanation.

Satisfied, Jack sat up and reached to grab his slippers. Unfortunately, the slippers were placed neatly on the other side of the bed. Shaking his head, Jack swung his legs over the bed to the left side and reached again for his slippers. As his eyes adjusted, he looked to the alarm clock on his bedside table. It read 7:32 AM.

It took a moment for the fact to actually become clear to Jack. He had overslept. In a frantic flurry of clothes, Jack haphazardly dressed himself and raced out the door without a second thought about brushing his hair or teeth.

He arrived at the bus stop at 7:41 AM, missing the bus by twenty-one minutes. Restlessly, Jack began to hail a cab. He'd never hailed a cab before, but he tried his best to imitate what he had seen other people do. However, the only time he had ever seen people do this was just as the bus was leaving the stop. It seemed almost as if they had wanted to get on the bus, but at the last possible moment, stopped running and began to jump up and down in the street. Jack knew that must be the way to hail a cab.

After sixteen minutes of frantic jumping, Jack was quite out of breath. The only serious exercise he did was walking to and from the bus stop each day. He decided he would sit on the curb for a moment to catch his breath. As he sat panting on the street curb, Jack felt a droplet of sweat begin to form on the tip of his nose. In quite an awkward manner, he managed to raise a thumb to his nose and, by a quick extension of arm and upraised thumb, flick the drop into the street. Almost immediately, a yellow taxicab pulled up in front of him, beckoning him inside.

The cab ride itself was uneventful and unpleasant. Jack was deposited in front of Milo & Son twenty-four minutes later than he had anticipated, and his wallet was forty-one dollars and twenty-nine cents lighter than he would have preferred.

By the time Jack finally made it to work, it was 8:21 AM and for the first time in his professional career, he was late. As he approached the nicked and knotted wooden door, Jack hesitated—something he had never done before. The experience was unpleasant; he quickly shook it away and opened the door.

Familiar faces peered over cubicle walls as Jack trudged to his desk near the back of the office. He lowered his head and squeezed his eyes shut so he wouldn't make eye contact with any of his co-workers. He peered through slits in his eyelids to maneuver to his desk, but he could feel the disappointment of his fellow employees bearing down on him as he walked shamefully through the maze of shoddy cubicles. Their accusing eyes were burning holes into his inside-out shirt that he'd thrown on in his morning rush. He finally made it to his desk, sat down and put his head in his hands.

Taking a few deep breaths, he looked up to face his disappointed co-workers and to explain his uncharacteristic tardiness. But no one was looking at him. In fact, no one seemed to notice the other few latecomers walking in triumphantly.

The next three hours passed relatively slowly for Jack as he did his work with an unusual sluggishness. As lunch came, Jack left six minutes late and had a panini at some French café. He returned seven minutes earlier than usual and continued the rest of his day in the same disheartened manner.

Unlike Jack's chaotic morning, he managed to catch the bus on the way home. He arrived at his apartment at the regular time and managed to regain a little of his normally contented mood. Jack intended to forget the horribleness of the day and relax with the paper for the rest of the night.

Just as he was easing into his chair by the window, the phone rang. For a moment, Jack just stared in wonder at the phone. It was not a frequent occurrence that Jack received phone calls. With a slight bit of clumsiness, Jack fumbled for the receiver and muttered a gruff 'Hello' into the phone.

A garbled mess of words and static assailed his ear. Just as he was about to hang the phone up, he heard a loud 'HELLO' on the other end.

"Hello, I said, 'Hello'," Jack retorted rather snappishly.

"Yes, hello. Jack Jackson." It was more of a statement than a question.

"Yes, this is Jack, who is this?" The line remained silent for a few moments, and Jack toyed with the idea of hanging up, but the voice on the other line interrupted his thoughts.

"Do you know why I'm calling?" Jack was a little confused. Of course he didn't know why he was calling, if he knew, why would the other man be calling? "I said, do you know why I'm calling?"

Jack rolled his eyes. It was probably just some of the teenagers he normally saw every morning as they waited for their own bus. "No," he responded in an irritated tone. Again, he just about hung up the phone, but something piqued his curiosity.

"I wouldn't exactly call you a loving husband."

"What?"

"I said, 'I wouldn't call you a loving husband'."

Jack was significantly more perplexed by this caller. "I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong number."

Almost immediately, the response came. "Name: Jack Jeffery Jackson. Age: 35. Weight: 172 lbs. Height: 5'11". Eye color: Green. Hair color: Dark brown, slight receding hairline. Social security number: 818-44-31—"

"Wait, wait, wait." Jack was getting nervous. He gripped the receiver with both hands and dug his knees into the carpet and his elbows into the table. "Who is this? How do you know who I am?"

"We have your wife, and we're going to kill her if you don't do what we asked of you." Jack could not think of any equivalent response. He sat, every muscle in his body tense, with his mouth agape and the phone dangling loosely in his clawed hands. "You have our instructions. Follow them and maybe you'll see your wife again in one piece.

After a few moments, the other end of the receiver clicked and a dial tone subsequently followed. Jack blinked a few times and hung up the receiver. He pulled his knees up and hugged them tightly to his chest as he ran the conversation back over in his mind.

There was just one problem with all of this: Jack was never married.