Parallel Man 3
By. Richard Rester
Copyright March 20, 2015
Fate’s Fickle Finger
Andy and Kaylyn stood on the northwest corner of a residential street, staring up at a sign that read Belvedere Circle and Butler Drive. Andy shook his head. “The district of Belvedere, on my world a place you don’t wanna be caught on the streets at night. This world… upperclass, with pompous attitudes, costing three million a piece parked in driveways protected by electrified fences and a pair of dobermans named Zeus and Apollo. Check this out… you can hear the gates hum.” He feigned cupping one ear. He didn’t need to, the hum was obvious. “Can you get anything on your phone?” Andy asked.
With a sigh she pulled her phone out of her pocket and tried to get a wifi connection, while they walked. In her experience many people didn’t secure their wireless routers and ended up giving away free access because they didn’t read the manual. Finding one she could connect to would be the easy part. It took several minutes and a few blocks to do it, but she finally patted Andy on the arm. “Got one. Checking google maps.” After a bit of thumbing around she explained her findings. “We’re still in Feesberg… it’s not nearly as large a city as ours. Our neighborhood, and a number of others, don’t even exist here. Checking Favebook…” A thought crossed her mind that caused her to trail off. “Where’s your phone?” She suddenly asked without looking up.
Andy shoved his hands in his pockets. “Screen repair… they gave me an old flip phone as a loaner, but it’s a piece of shit, so I never use it. I do all my social on my desktop at home…”
Kaylyn cut him off. “Youre such a liar, you don’t social.” She teased, but sucked a breath in sharply when her default ringtone played a Caribbean jingle. “I just got a message from someone. It reads; you’re taking too long. Is it finished or not?”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Andy sneered.
“I don’t know. It’s an unknown.”
The young man sighed. “No asshole, that quip that I don’t social.”
“Come on, I’ve known you for eight years and you’ve never hung out with anyone else.” Replied Kaylyn. “There was that one fat kid in grade school, but the only reason he was friends with you is because you kept buying him fudgesicles.”
Andy nodded rapidly in anger. “I’ll have you know that Kolby and I had some wicked D&D games.”
“Oh yeah? How many?” She challenged.
“Two…” he continued, adding quickly, “… but they were real long games and we killed lots of nasty shit.”
“Riiight… you’re pathetic, Andy.” Shaking her head, Kaylyn started typing a reply.
“Wait! What the fuck?” Andy snapped, snatching the phone from her.
Hands to the side in a helpless gesture, Kaylyn yelled defensively. “I was gonna be diplomatic.”
Dodging her grasping hand he held his phone hand under his armpit, defensively. “You? diplomatic? You’re as diplomatic the Hiroshima bomb. We know next to nothing about this place. We know nothing about this guy. For all we know your alternate here is a contract killer and this guy is the last person we should be fucking with.”
“Really, you learned that from D&D?” Ridiculed Kaylyn in a voice like a mother to a sad baby.
Holding an index finger up in defense Andy replied proudly. “I’ll have you know that D&D teaches some pretty useful skills. Watch.” The young man quickly typed a message back, then read as he sent it. “It’s finished, where do we meet?” With a clearly smug look, he tossed the phone back. “We get this guy to give us information.”
Kaylyn fumbled and nearly dropped it. “Oh that’s better, what if he’s a rapist?” A moment later she paused to read the answer. “And what, in a universe that’s all sorts of fucked up, is a Fiasco’s?”
“Some quiet little brewpub downtown, why?” The young man replied, wondering if this version of his best friend was anything but cranky all the time. His version of her, the one he actually grew up with, was more mellow than this one.
“Because I’m supposed to meet him at nine.” She said exasperated. “How do we know what he looks like?”
“We’ll sit at separate tables, I’ll be close but out of sight, and we’ll see who approaches you. That would probably be the guy.”
The girl shook her head rapidly. “Nope. I’m the bait? I left that behind in junior high.” Waggling her fingers while holding out her hand, she continued. “We don’t have to do anything at all, how about we slip out now?”
Andy appeared embarrassed and spoke hesitantly. “You may be right. I think I’m low on energy. I’ve tried a few times already and nothing appears different. I may need to wait a while, maybe days, before I can do anything. For all I know we’ll just slip into realities so close to this one that we’d never know the difference.”
Kaylyn understood where her friend was going. She befriended Andy because he was a thinker, not a dumbass. She sighed and relented. “You may be right.” Lacking any other plan, she knew she was doomed to follow Andy. “We need to survive for a few days until you can get us safely out of here.” Kaylyn hated the idea but there was no choice anymore. “It’s almost seven, we’ve got just over two hours to get to the pub. With luck we can take the free tram through downtown and get there nice and early.”
What the two of them did not yet learn, but soon would, was that Andy created a universe branch, one that would never have existed if it weren’t for him bringing them there. Any decision made from that main world would all be based on the theme of that world, and them in it. The more branches that split off of subsequent branches, the further from the main trunk it would take them. The more decisions they made the more realities there would be for them to randomly slip to, ever increasing the odds against them getting back.
They knew they didn’t belong there, but they didn’t yet realize the full scale of their predicament. Every minute that passed sprouted trillions upon trillions of branches that would never have been possible otherwise. Instinctively, Kaylyn suspected that she was missing something, and it started to nag at her.
When they finally reached downtown they barely recognized it. The free tram didn’t exist. Back when their respective cities made the decision between a free tram service and community pools around the city, this alternate version split off from theirs to reflect the other choice. Kaylyn scoffed, declaring that all the pools were nothing but public urinals, and that the free tram was by far the better choice. Andy agreed, but mostly because the tram would have helped them out at that moment. It would take the two an extra forty-five minutes to get to Fiasco’s.