LPTrendsShortScaryFiction. Proof. By Tracy Saville
Escaping our reality might be a good thing about now. Here a short fiction story post-Halloween & Sandy to give you pause, to remind you that you live in a world where it is quite possible that what you think is real, isn’t. The Multiverse. Your reality could be but one of many.
We’ll get back to elevated ideas and people next week – enjoy this award-winning short by Tracy Saville. Published originally in the GNU Journal.
By Tracy Saville, 2009.
Rachel, my wife, the only one who can make me want to punch her in the throat and take her clothes off in the same moment, and sometimes at the same time, was giving me that look, the one that says I’m drunk and incapable of admitting it.
The look was followed by a flick of her tongue against her upper lip that only I could notice, a promise – if I left now, I might get a little something later on. I could tell by their bleary faces, my brothers wouldn’t protest an early night. I was about to get my girl and go home. And that’s when it happened.
Up until then Rachel had been in the back, playing Nine Ball with Carter, my oldest bro – their game, not mine, and the mood was vibing, good as in everybody was employed; nobody was fighting or had shit storms brewing in their lives. My other bros, Lars and Kyle, were drowning their sorrows in Peron shots and looked about as pathetic as you can get.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved my brothers. Since our parents died, we were all each other had. We were quads, not identical, but close. We had different colored hair and eyes, and spoke with different slants to our southern accents. Most of the time, we got in each other’s food bowls about the damndest things. We couldn’t spend five minutes in the company of each other without somebody getting a black eye.
But that night, we were feeling happy to be hanging. I recall only telling Kyle to go fuck himself one time, and that was a record.
I was getting ready to roll off the barstool stuck to my ass, when I must have stood up too fast. I guess I teetered when I stepped back because I knocked my PeterBuilt hat on the ground and it rolled under my stool. I bent down; picked it up, hit the crown across my thigh to dust the vermin off the brim.
Now I know I didn’t hit my head and I know I didn’t black out. It was only a few seconds. Yet everything had changed. I felt a cold spike drive into my spine, and there was a certainty to the icy tingling that quickly spread to my extremities.
There was badness in the air.
We were in Frank’s, but we weren’t, which I can’t explain. You know how in a dream you’re aware you’re dreaming, but everything feels real. Different but same.
Same Formica table tops, same burl wood bar, same peanut shells on the same crappy linoleum floor I have personally puked on more times than I care to account for, and the same mustard yellow walls covered with velvet Elvis pictures hanging cockeyed next to black and white pictures of James Dean and Jane Mansfield.
Pitching my eyes around I spied the same pool tables, the same front door, and the same red crapper signs with the girl and boy stick figures hanging on stained doors, pointing in opposite directions.
Same, same, but all changed.
I knew it because the margarita machine was churning Jagermeister, a small detail that under normal circumstances wouldn’t have fazed me given my inebriated condition. Yet I was suddenly more sober than I’d been in my entire life, and I knew there was no way in hell the goo in that machine could turn from green, from Margaritas, to purple in three seconds.
I looked down at the only thing I felt I might be able to control, the few inches squarely in front of me. I counted eight shot glasses stacked in my usual pyramid, so yeah, I was officially tanked. But then I looked over at Kyle and Lars and knew the tequila couldn’t work this kind of mojo. These boys were my brothers, but they weren’t.
Kyle, whose long, black stringy hair was a kind of trademark, was sporting a red Marine buzz cut. Carter’s fake left leg, the one that replaced the one he lost in Iraq last year was missing, and I could tell because he was sitting in a chair with his pants hiked up past his boots and I could see the tattoo on the inside of his missing calf, the same tattoo I had, the same tattoo Kyle and Lars had. We got those tats in 2007 just before he deployed.
All of this was raising hair all over my body, but it was Lars who sent me from generously worried to scared right down to my worn Chuck Taylors.
When we were little, Lars was in the car with our parents when it went over the turnpike wall. His entire right cheek had been torn away and it took years of plastic surgery to craft a nice mottled quilt of scar tissue where his face ought to be. The guy who was wearing Lars’ face had perfect skin, forehead to chin, ear to ear. And the birthmark that used to be on his right neck, just below his ear, was now on the left.
When behind him I noticed the bar sign, which should have told me this was Frank’s joint, and it clearly read “Ruby’s”, I began to seriously question my sanity.
Then came the cluster fuck of oh shit. It was my wife Rachel, the mother of my two sons, the only woman I’ve ever slept with, the love of my fricking life. The same song that had been playing on the juke box before the world turned upside down was still playing, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” by Pat Benatar, because she liked the oldies, and my stunning wife was still grinding to the song, only she was about-ready-to-pop pregnant, smoking a cigarette, giving Carter a lap dance, and sucking on a beer.
My wife Rachel had her tubes tied four years ago after Sam was born, and she doesn’t smoke, or know how to lap dance.
In the time it took for the panic I was feeling in my legs to reach my throat and shut it down, Rachel turned my direction and gave me a look I not only didn’t recognize, but I will never forget. She looked right at me, and then through me. She had no idea who the hell I was.
The floor underneath my feet softened and every rational thought I may have had left inside my tequila-addled brain collapsed inside my head like a long string of dominos pieces sliding to a perfect, accordion finish. I thought of my sons at home with the babysitter. Were they still my sons? Were they even there?
I needed to get the hell out of that bar to find out. I needed to grab my wife and shake her until I woke up and it all went away. I needed to get a grip, but that didn’t happen.
Four goons waltzed in carrying guns that looked like Star Trek special editions. The center of each gun was pulsating, but not in a color or a kind of light I’d ever seen. And then they started shooting, not rounds, but lasers that exploded on contact, showering Frank’s/Ruby’s with burning, hot sparks. I dove behind the bar and climbed into the storage cabinet by the sink. On instinct I guess, which is weird because I should have run to Rachel.
Over the din of the space-like battle that had overtaken our little sanctuary something told me home would do no good and my Rachel wasn’t Rachel anymore.
At this point the smell of burning flesh and the screams from patrons faded away as I watched Sal the bartender disappear over the bar out into the battle and God knows what; at least he still looked like Sal, and that’s when the real carnage began.
It lasted two minutes; the longest two minutes of my life. All I could think about was the sound of Rachel’s screams and that I’d never see my boys again. She was dying out there and I was going to die hiding behind an inch of maple, in a ginned up nightmare that no one would ever believe.
There I waited, balled up, scared beyond reason when I heard the front windows shatter, my wife screaming for her life, and small explosions as our unexpected visitors lit their weapons into the water heater and lighting fixtures. Then I heard nothing. Not a whimper, not even a crunch of foot on broken glass.
Peering around the corner, I wiped the sweat from my eyes and tried to focus on the images before me. My labored breathing seemed to fill the room with desperation, but I was thankful for the noise. I realized I was the only one left standing.
Lars and the girl he’d been hitting on were gutted. Something had scooped out their stomachs, and their small and large intestines poured out on the ground like over-sized worms. Kyle was laid out in the corner. His right arm was missing. It didn’t occur to me look around for it, but then my eyes wandered to the back and I saw it, hanging off the edge of the juke box, dangling over Carter’s bloody body laid out like a recently carved lamb chop. Parts were torn from other parts and laying next to each other. His hands were grasping the dead body of a baby the perpetrators must have pulled from my wife’s belly. My Rachel was there, but her head was missing, and I fucking lost it.
The last thing I remember before coming to, here in my cell, was tasting linoleum, and seeing four sets of legs rush past me on their way out the door. After that, the lights went out. I swear I didn’t see their faces. I don’t know what happened. None of this makes any sense.
“Is that it?”
I reached behind my neck and gave it a squeeze for the tenth time in ten minutes. My brothers and my wife had been massacred, and all Mr. Bad Cop could do was grill me like I was the one who pulled the trigger.
“Tell me about the four foot soldiers. Why did you send them? Why not handle it yourself? I hear you like your carnage up front and personal.”
This guy was getting not just getting under my skin, but into my DNA.
“I told you, I don’t now who the killers were. They wore masks, hard ski masks, like Mike Myers. You know, like in Halloween.”
“Halloween? Is that some kind of weird cult?”
I considered this remark almost blasphemous; everyone knew Halloween films, and it was October so the reference should have resonated.
My new best friend, Detective Randall Smythe of the Twenty-First Precinct, chuckled, a guttural laugh, the kind narcissistic psychopaths offer to their next victims.
“Hallow’s Eve?” I asked, hearing my own voice drop into a kind of beseeching tone. “You know, everyone dresses up like ghouls and goes trick or treating?”
He threw a handful of photos across the desk in front of me in response, not impressed with what I took to be an assumption I was trying to delay the inevitable. I wanted to scream in his face this was the wrong world, the wrong day, the wrong nightmare and I wanted to go home.
“You don’t recognize your own brothers?”
I scanned the photographs.
“See here? There’s Danny, and there’s Blake. We like him. I think he’s the handsome one, don’t you? And there’s Lane. I suppose the fourth is a cousin. You have, what, fifty of those in town, or maybe it’s your new lover. Flavor of the month?”
What? I was a gay gangster?
“I’m telling you my name is Gavin Elders. I’m from Fargo, North Dakota and I live in Barkley. We got a little place out there last year. I have two kids, and I work for Thomson’s Bricks out on Route 40.”
The detective pushed back from the table and propped his elbows on his thighs. He hung his doughy head between his legs and looked up at me over and down his nose, as if I were the lunatic in the room.
“Mr. Six, you are not now, nor have you ever been married. You do not live in Barkley. You do not work as a bricklayer, and you do not now, nor have you ever been a father to anyone that we’re aware of. You were fixed in 2086. And you are, as everyone in the universe knows, a very gay man, who has never once tasted pussy – that we know of.”
I let this sink in.
Every bit of me was still back on the images of my murdered brothers and wife. But the word “universe” tugged at my receptors and pulled my focus there. I didn’t like the way he was looking at me or throwing gay insults my direction, but he said “universe” like it was it was a charted place. Most people would have said “everybody in town”, or “everybody in organized crime”. Not “universe”.
“If I were you,” said my new worst enemy, “I’d seriously consider cooperating this time.”
2086. 2086. Did he say I’d been neutered since 2086? I grabbed my balls. Felt the same.
“I told you, my name is Gavin Elder. I need to make a call to see if my children are alright.”
I could hear the panic in my voice overtake the grip I was trying to hold on to. But the cop was cool, like he was enjoying this. That’s when a new detective walked in. He sat down like he was the boss of the other one. They exchanged smiles. Great.
The new cop ran his fingers through hair that looked like it hadn’t been washed in six weeks. Not that I typically notice such things, but he had a smell about him, and I had to wonder if it was his dirty hair. It was abnormally dirty. And come to think about it, both of these guys were seriously grungy. Everything around me had a grey, washed out appeal. There was a rank smell to the air, too, and it wasn’t just in here in the interrogation room. It smelled like this outside and in the hallways when they dragged me in for booking. It smelled like old socks left in the dead carcass juice of a deer in the back of a truck.
His badge, Detective Ross it said, was worn, and smudged with some substance I didn’t need to verify. He had a bad comb-over and a half-chewed cigar stuffed in his mouth. Bits of it gathered in the corners. It was like meeting the cliché detective in one of my son’s graphic novels.
New Cop moved the cigar around in his mouth as he opened a file and shoved a mound of papers at me. I glanced down and saw a list of crimes, from armed robbery to assault to drug and human trafficking, off world. Off world?
Some of the pictures were of me and the other three guys I met in the other photographs that were my alleged real brothers. Ross completed the file for me by pulling a driver’s license out of his front breast pocket and throwing it at me like he’d pulled that maneuver a time or twelve. He followed that up with a hand mirror, which at first I thought was weird. But then, it all began to fit.
He said, “I’ll let you go home to your boys, but first you need to explain this.” And by ‘this’ I figured out he meant the reality of what was inside the file and that he wanted me to look in the mirror. I picked it up and slowly brought it to my face. It was me, but not me; my hair was Hollywood long with blond streaks. Five earrings, all huge diamond studs, ran along the cartilage of my right ear, and one in my right eyebrow. The real me had mousy black hair that stuck to my head. Staring back at me was the image of a playboy, a player, a handsome guy with a weathered sneer that looked like he might fuck with your grandmother for a ten-dollar bill. I was not that guy. I was plain Joe, normal Bob, and everyday Earl.
I always thought I had too many scars from picking my acne when I was a kid and dim eyes. I knew I was good looking in a sort of irregular, make-you-feel comfortable kind of way, but I wasn’t drop dead handsome like the guy glaring at me in the mirror. I almost puked.
Inside the file I found more joy. It was everything I could do to train my focus on those pages as the air around me began to seep from the room.
My crimes were legion. In real life, my life, the only crime I ever committed was getting popped for a DUI eight years ago, but that was wiped from my record. Here it said I was public enemy number one. I picked up my license. I was born in August, not September. And the last time I looked, it was 2012. The top sheet in the rap file had a date stamp. It said it was October 14, 2096.
The unchangeable nature and trueness of my predicament hit me in the chest like I imagine the heart attack my old man had did. It wasn’t good. I fell right over the edge into madness that all men must feel when they come face to face with the reality that absolutely nothing is as it should be, like the rules had changed and somebody forgot to send the memo.
It was enough that my wife was dead and my brothers were still in pieces on the floor of a bar in a town I used to know; this would have sent most men past the edge and into the abyss, but I’d just seen the enemy, and he was me.
I wondered if the stars fell out of the sky outside, because gravity had lost its place in line as a fundamental law of nature.
“This is not right.” I said, pointing at the ‘not me’ in the license and mug shot photo. I held up the mirror to my face again and pointed it at. “This, this is definitely not me. I don’t know what’s going on here. I don’t. I swear.”
Detective Ross didn’t blink. “You’re not going to cry are you?”
I wanted to punch him.
His minion leaned over and whispered in his ear. “Can I have a word?”
Ross didn’t seem happy, but the two excused themselves. I heard their voices over the intercom. Was it a trick, or a mistake? Let him go, I heard Ross say, he’ll lead us to the others. Maybe there’s something going on here we don’t see.
When they came back in Ross was on me. He crawled across the table and took my neck in his hands and started squeezing, shutting down my air supply. It was almost a relief not to smell the vile odor in that room, but it was short-lived. He loosened his grip, but stayed in my face.
“Listen, Six, your weak ass games won’t fly here. But we’re gonna do something I still can’t believe. I’m doing you a solid. I’m letting you go.” He pulled himself closer still, so close I could see the blackheads in his pores. “But I’ll be riding so far up your ass; we’ll have to get married before this is over.”
He paused, his face now an inch from my own. I wanted to gag his breath was so foul.
“And I think you should know those three guys in the bar and that girl you called your wife? They weren’t your brothers, or your wife.” He pulled out a piece of paper and shoved it down my shirt. “Wrong DNA, asshole.”
Ross let go like I was a mistake and shoved me back. I lost my footing and tipped backward, end over chair. I tried to stand up to shout at Ross he was insane, but he was on me again. He had me pinned back down arms to floor, face to mine, like he practiced the maneuver a million times.
“I don’t know what kind of game we’re playing now, but when I figure it out, I’m coming for you. I will bring you down, Six. I will or die trying.”
The he released me and tossed my license at my chest. “Have a nice day, Mr. Elder. Don’t forget your greatest hits.”
He tossed the file at my head. Paper scattered all around. And then he was gone.
Moments after processing out of the scariest fucking place I had ever been, I found the street, Harvard Street, outside the station doors, which is where the station used to be, from my – what – my world?
Up and down this street there were familiar signs of the street and town I’d known since I was a kid, but none of it made sense. I started walking. And the longer I walked, the deeper I felt the fissure of my reality widen until I could barely catch my breath. I turned a corner and found the bread store, but it wasn’t a bread store anymore. It was a gizmo shop for some kind of telephone system I didn’t understand.
I guess you stand in front of a laser and it passes over your pupils. It recognizes you and makes the call, because it can read your mind.
Another corner, a few miles away, and I found the school where my kids went to elementary. Only it isn’t a school for kids, it’s a training ground for soldiers, or some kind of security force, shooting and practicing kicking the shit out of each other behind glass, as a local spectacle I guess. Talk about your deterrents.
How long I walked after that I don’t know, but it started to rain. I headed north, toward the river, and I knew I was getting closer because I could smell the rotten eggs. Some things hadn’t changed.
Faster and harder I walked as it came down harder still, until it was coming down in buckets and the temperature dropped fifteen degrees. The temperature gauge on my keys was still working, which was odd, considering these keys went to things I couldn’t begin to imagine. The key ring said W instead of G – the details in this life compared to my last one were mind-boggling.
Overhead flashes of lightning sprang to life and the lightening began to intensify, the kind that bubbled up from nowhere in movies where the hero dies suddenly. The air mixed with golf ball size water drops and began to crackle all around. And I could feel a slight electrical charge as the water hit my skin. I was as good as cooked if I didn’t find someplace to get dry.
As if it could read my mind, a long, white limousine appeared out of nowhere. The back window rolled down and a woman wearing a white, fur-lined jacket with the hood propped back on her head, appeared. She was uncomfortably beautiful and stood out in the grey and black day like a beacon. I swear her skin was almost glowing.
I wondered why and took a step closer to see it better. Her skin was translucent and shimmering. I could see her veins underneath. She handed me her card.
“Lost, Mr. Elder?”
Recognition and hope shot through me. I guess I must have looked like it because she smiled and opened the door. I looked down at her card. It had an official looking gold seal, but it wasn’t a U.S. government seal. It was written in symbols.
“Get in. Too much time in this rain and your skin will burn.”
I didn’t need to hear that twice.
The door swung open and I sidled in. Everything in the car was black but her. She told the driver to find some address I didn’t recognize, but then again this mattered little. I didn’t recognize a fucking thing.
“You’ve already met my colleagues.” She motioned across the seat, and there were the four goons from the bar – my weird reality brothers. And my, what – cousin or lover? I was about to ask for clarification about that guy when glow girl interrupted my thoughts. I guessed because she could.
“Of course, you have questions.” She said and smiled a placating grin like she was bothered to be there, like the whole thing was beneath her. I didn’t know what these things were that bothered her, but I was going to find out.
“Your brothers here in this universe work for me, and they’re doing double duty for you. A bit disloyal, as you can imagine. I told them they were on a short leash. Should I kill them for you?”
“What the fuck is going on and where is my family!” I demanded. The words tumbled from my lips in hysterical dribble.
The stunningly, cold, beautiful woman smiled again. “I have your answers, but first, I need to know something.” The goons smirked like they had a secret. She began to move toward me. “Pull down your pants.” She said, like she was giving me directions to the bus stop.
I, of course, appreciated my pants right where they were. She sighed like she was bored and sat back, folding her arms like a spoiled child.
“I need to check your number.”
“I need to see if you’re the right one.”
The right one?
I must have said this out loud because the car stopped abruptly and she turned on me, a blaze of frustration behind her cold eyes. I could see she was pissed, but trying to maintain.
“Try to keep up, Mr. Elder. The year is 2096. You have been dead for forty-eight years. However, here on this Earth, in this multi-verse, you are a crime lord of the Ninth Seal, a very bad man who jumps bubbles and games the universes. We, the Interplanetary Peacekeepers, have been tracking you, the “you” that is William Six, aka baddest badass in a thousand multi-verses, for ten years. We learned when Six jumped into your world, he caused a rift and that rift is not just in your universe, but several actually, and today this rift deepened and stole your 2012 soul.”
She began to pull her gloves off, finger-by-finger, exposing elegant fingers, like a bird, with long luminous nails. They glistened like diamonds. It occurred to me they were and I hoped they were insured.
“So you see, Mr. Elder, you are you, on the inside, but you occupy the body of William Six, from this multi-verse. And these gentlemen were coming to rescue you so we could put you back, make things right before you figured out what was going on. It seems they were a little clumsy in their rescue attempt. I am sorry for the inconvenience.”
It didn’t take me a second to see where this was going.
“So, Six’s soul is in my body back in 2012?”
The gorgeous woman laughed.
“Yes, and five others of you are having this same conversation, or had this same conversation, in five other multi-verses. We actually have been tracking all five of you here, in this bubble, for the last twenty-four hours to get a fix on the other multiples. The Mr. Elder you would know, here in Multi-verse Nine Billion, is running around with Six inside him. Each of you has a number on your left buttock cheek. The real Mr. Elder in all five multi-verses, in every replicated scenario we know of, AKA William Six, will have a string of numbers in the five sequence, beginning with one.”
It occurred to me I hadn’t looked at my ass since the world went crazy.
“What if it’s not me?” This seemed like a reasonable question, considering the unreasonableness of the fact I was sitting in a limousine talking to a glowing girl in the ninth billion replica of my Earth, next to my multi-verse bros who fucked up my rescue attempt. My brothers always screwed things up.
She cocked her head like I was an idiot.
“Why Mr. Elder, you die, of course.”
No more funny.
I was beginning to feel like I was better off in the acid rain or in the hands of Detective Ross.
But apparently there wasn’t time to contemplate the choices I should have made because the glowing girl shoved a syringe in my neck. I could feel the cool leather of the seat against my cheek and see between my captor’s legs, which were now sitting open directly across from me. Lo and behold, glow girl wore no underwear. Her pubic hair was pink. This made me smile; a glowing girl, pink pubic hair, dead wife: the day was really winding down in a bad direction.
Then I passed out. I saw or felt nothing. My last last thought before the dark swallowed me whole was I hoped my number wasn’t up.
They say, and I forget who they were, but they say psychotic schizophrenics’’ minds break when they try too hard to protect the body from a memory or incident so bad, it can’t be entertained. When I awoke, I wondered if perhaps that was it; I’d had a psychotic break, and maybe I was in the hospital.
My arms were tethered to the bed with those leather straps you see in movies they use on crazy dudes that can’t be trusted, and I had three different lines running into my arms; two on the left and one in my right hand. But then I saw my blood moving through a series of interconnected tubes, which fed into the line in my right arm, and that the lines in my right hand and left were shooting a light blue liquid into me. I noticed where my blood went in it was red and when it came out it was blue. My heartbeat a steady beat on the monitor and across the room the glowing girl was there, now joined by a man I presume was my doctor. He seemed to be the boss, what with his white lab coat, and stern expression. He was glowing, too. I wondered if everyone did, or just the special space crazies.
The doctor turned away from his monitors and smiled like he had a secret. What was it with these people and their deadpan smiles?
“Ah, Mr. Elder. You’re awake. Yes, we all glow, because of the air. Our atmosphere here in this bubble is a slightly different mixture than the one you’re used to. This is why we’re sprucing up your blood as we speak. Can’t have your skin falling off, now can we?”
He spoke with a British accent. This was weird, but not as weird as the visual as my skin sliding off my bones and slithering to the floor, or the fact he could read minds. But then again, everyone here could but me.
I cut straight to the chase. “I guess I was the right one.”
“Indeed! And we’re very pleased. Central is very, very pleased.”
Everyone was very, very pleased, but me.
I began tugging at the intravenous lines attached to my hands and trying to grasp the clips of my leather restraints. But I didn’t get far; glow girl cold-cocked me. She was good at that.
“Mr. Elder if you leave now, you’ll die and you’ll never find your way home. If that doesn’t happen, if we don’t get you back to your 2012 body and bring William Six back here, your sons will never have been born in any universe and you will cease to have ever existed at all.”
She was a serious buzz kill.
I relaxed back into my pillows and the good doctor shot me up with something that made me feel like I was wearing warm chocolate pudding. This was a good thing because I was shaking and breaking down fast. I was trapped in the body of a man wanted by everyone in multiple universes, and the “me” – back home – had the soul of a murderer. He was probably diddling my Rachel right now.
My kids back home were fine, but here they’d never been born. My blood was being exchanged for some other kind of blood so I wouldn’t combust, and I was as close to hyperventilating as I’d ever been. It was then glow girl and the doctor, I never did get his name, began to tell me what my fate would be if I didn’t go along to get along. They added what mine had to do with theirs.
As the good doctor removed my restraints and began to disconnect all my feeding tubes, he told me a story. It was a story out of a Ray Bradbury novel.
My dumb fucking luck.
As I got dressed and followed my new friends to what they called a “launch chair”, I rolled my new reality over and over again in my mind.
The entire known universes were actually limitless universes contained inside bubbles, which occasionally bumped into each other and opened portals, creating wormholes. Generally this space bump changed everything from the atmosphere of universes altering global temperature to the outcomes of civilizations. These changes, or openings, were normal, all things considered.
When bubbles bumped, shit happened.
Climate change acceleration on Earth caused by human over-consumption of carbon was a product of a bubble bump. The simplicity of this truth was almost funny.
It freaked me out to learn that the number and kind of sentient beings were infinite, and presently being mapped by the highest level intellects among all the beings in the known charted multi-verses. Aliens were real, the kind that had spindly legs and huge eyes and no mouths.
The Interplanetary Peacekeepers were really intergalactic or multi-verse cops with knowledge and brainpower that would make the smartest smart guys on my Earth look like fourth graders. That’s why they glowed; lots of neurons.
William Six the First had mucked up the travel gateways they used to move between multi-verses to set up criminal enterprises, otherwise the smart cops never would have found out his game. That sounded like good news for me, that they were diligent in their jobs.
The leaders here were trying to keep the truth that there was a rift causing the intermingling of souls and bodies on the down low until they could find and document proof that is was happening.
I guess they needed to prove they could fix the rift and switch back my soul and Six’s before they could get approval for the expansion funding. Bureaucratic mumbo jumbo was universal. Glow girl said it was election season.
I asked how long we had. They said one million Earth years.
My first thought was our last Presidential election season had lasted eighteen months and I thought that was a forever kind of Hell. My second thought was Rachel and the kids would be gone by then, a whole different level of a new kind of Hell.
We talked for more than an hour I guessed, and then we moved into a room where the “launch chair” was. It looked to me like a normal dentist’s chair.
“Please, make yourself comfortable.” Glow girl was so hospitable.
Something was bothering me.
“Am I the only soul breach?” Not that I cared, not really.
Glow girl grinned and pointed upward toward the ceiling. The tiles began to lift off and float away into the corner of the room, exposing a vast dark, glittering space. Every second or two an explosion, like the ones I’d seen on Discovery Channel when a star is born or dies, went off out there.
“The explosions happen every time a soul switch occurs. Repeating the rift moment, the precise millisecond in time when Six screwed you out of your life, is the only way to prove its possible to save at least half of the known universes in the multi-verse, or your soul. If we make the switch successfully and close the hole, no more breaches.”
Maybe I looked like I was struggling with this truth, because she screwed up her nose and planted both hands on her hips. “Let me put this in terms you can understand, Mr. Elder. If we fail, we can all kiss our galactic asses goodbye.”
She pulled a remote out of her white leather Matrix coat. She really was very cool.
The chair I sat in, the launch point to put me back, in the bar, where it all happened, was in fact very comfortable, cozy even.
“Mr. Elder, you see, it happened, but it didn’t, because it hadn’t happened yet, but it had, and it will again, and again and again. Make sense?”
I was about to say not so much when my two new glow friends dissipated into the ether as the chair wrapped its arms around me and I could feel my body losing particles. I closed my eyes, and wondered if the third time was a charm.
I only had two more to go.
Rachel, my wife, the only one who can make me want to punch her in the throat and take her clothes off in the same moment, and sometimes at the same time, was giving me that look, the one that says I’m drunk and….
2012. Tracy Saville. All Rights Reserved.
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