When he awoke he saw a strange void: his wife was no longer there, his bed was no longer there, his quilt was no longer there. He wanted to look through the window, but there was no window to look through. He wanted to run down the three flights and yell “Help!” – but there were no stairs to run on and no air to yell in. And when he wanted merely to go out of doors, he saw that there was no out of doors – everything had evaporated!
For a while he stood there in confusion unable to comprehend what had happened. But afterward he thought to himself: I will go to sleep. He saw, however, that there was no longer any earth to sleep on. Only then did he raise two fingers to his forehead and reflect: Apparently I have slept through the end of the world – isn’t that a fine how-do-you-do?
He became depressed. No more world, he thought. What will I do without a world? Where will I go to work, how will I make a living, especially now that the cost of living is so high and a dozen eggs costs a dollar twenty – and who knows if they are even fresh? And besides, what will happen to the five dollars the gas company owes me? And where has my wife gone off to? Is it possible that she too has disappeared with the world, and with the thirty dollars’ pay I had in my pockets? And she is not by nature the kind that disappears, he thought to himself….
You will also think that way one day if you suddenly find the world has disappeared. You don’t know what else to think. You will think about the cost of eggs, the office, the wife, the money. You don’t know what else to think about. The whole world has disappeared – but you have become mechanical in your thinking.
…And what will I do if I want to sleep? What will I stretch out on if there isn’t any world? And maybe my back will ache? And who will finish the bundle of work in the shop? And suppose I want a glass of malted – where will I get it?
Ah, he thought, have you ever seen anything like it? A man should fall asleep with the world under his head and wake up without it…?
This is going to happen one day or another; that’s what happens to every man when he dies. Suddenly, the whole world disappears. Suddenly he is no longer part of this world; suddenly he is in another dimension. This happens to every man who dies – because whatsoever you have known is just the peripheral. When you die, suddenly your periphery disappears – you are thrown to your center. And you don’t know that language. And you don’t know anything about the center. It looks like void, empty. It feels like just a negation, an absence.
…As our hero stood there in his underwear, wondering what to do, a thought occurred to him: To hell with it! So there isn’t any world – who needs it anyway? Disappeared is disappeared; I might as well go to the movies and kill some time. But to his astonishment he saw that, together with the world, the movies had also disappeared.
A pretty mess I’ve made here, thought our hero, and began smoothing his mustache. A pretty mess I’ve made here, falling asleep. If I hadn’t slept so soundly, he taunted himself, I would have disappeared along with everything else. This way I’m unfortunate, and where will I get a malted? I love a glass in the morning. And my wife? Who knows who she has disappeared with? If it is with the presser from the top floor, I’ll murder her, so help me God.