In a dream, I awoke outside of my body. I was sitting, small and powerless, on the headboard of my bed. Lying in my place was a animated version of me, a golem. It look liked me, moved liked me, somehow knew my routines. Oddly, I even knew my golem's name. It was Carl, very proper. Very Prussian. As I stared, Carl opened his eyes - he did not awake, as he was neither asleep before his eyes opened nor was he truly awake after they did - all before the alarm sounded. He rose stiffly from my spot in the bed before even the dogs began to stir. He found my house slippers, worn with the prints from my callused feet, without needing to see. He found the bedroom door in the pitch darkness, and scuffled zombielike down the upper hallway, mimicking an even more hollow echo of my routine. He dumbly descended the stair, skipping the top step - which squeals a protest if you tread upon it - just as I would have. I watched him head downstairs, perched mute over his left shoulder, floating unembodied, neither cold nor warm.
Only our very dumb dog Costello followed him to the kitchen, for our less-dumb dog Calvin seemingly detected that Carl was merely a shadow of an idea of me. Calvin somehow knew to wait for my wife, who asleep didn't notice I was gone, replaced by a hollow vessel of clay, breathed to life by a cold breeze from long dead ghosts.
I watched, trapped in my dream, as Carl let out the very dumb dog to relieve himself. The golem - my golem - stood rock still in the doorway, looking beyond, not at - very dumb Costello. I wondered if Costello would eventually notice that Carl failed to acknowledged his existence with a biscuit or a kind word. Carl went back to the kitchen, and without thought or emotion or even pause, made coffee. He never stopped to look out the window or smile or fart, he just kept slowing doing what I normally did. After some small clatter of glass on plastic, the carafe was set and the percolation began. I noted grimly that Mr. Coffee showed more light and color than Carl. I wondered, too, whether Carl would feel as alone and scared if it were him trapped overlooking my shoulder.
Abbruptly but without fanfare, I began to feel my dreamstate begin to fade. The kitchen floor hard and firm under my slippers. A smell, familiar to me, the tart odor of coffee. The throaty growl of the furnace kicking on in the basement. I was mildly shocked that Carl had gone so quickly, leaving without so much as a word or a nod, leaving me standing at the counter in a blackened kitchen, alone with a very dumb dog. I stirred a bit, and absently scratched an itch on my shoulder. It felt real, if inconsequential. I spun and headed to the family room for a bit of CNN, rubbing the stubble on my chin. It was then, passing through the dining room, that I saw Carl briefly again, looking back at me in the mirror. He need, I noticed, a shave.