A Couple of Minutes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


The invention of a machine that allows users to travel to nested parallel universes--identical to but younger or older than our own--presents a woman with both a crisis and a unique opportunity.

Submitted: October 26, 2017

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Submitted: October 26, 2017

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Alyssa, Alyssa honey, if you can hear me, lie still. Don’t move.

Please lie still and listen. We’ve only got a couple of minutes.

I see you trying to move honey, but you’ve really got to stop. Alyssa, I can see you through the viewport honey, I’m right here. We’re going to get you out of this, I promise, but it’s very important that you listen to what I tell you.

I understand you may be in a lot of pain right now, Alyssa. You probably don’t remember what … okay, there’s no way you’d remember what happened. Well, there was … an accident. You were hurt in an accident Alyssa, but hey, we’ve got you now, you’re going to be fine. Like I said, just do what I tell you. It’ll all be fine. I promise.

You with me so far, Alyssa? If you can hear me, wiggle your fingers. Just a little, just to show me you heard. There. That’s great. That’s really great. See, I can tell you’re going to be just fine this time.

You’re going to take that trip to Hawaii, just like you said. Naomi will go swimming in the hotel pool every day, and you can lie in the sun with a nice book and a cool glass of ice tea. Won’t that be great?

Naomi’s going to be so happy when we get you home.

Now I know this must seem scary. You’re in pain, and you don’t remember anything that happened. That’s because of the accident, honey. You were hurt and you … hit your head, so your memory probably isn’t too good right now. That’s why you can’t remember the accident.

What’s that, Alyssa? I see you moving your mouth. You’ve got to lie still, honey. Gr--Look, don’t think about Greg. I’ll explain later. You’ve really got to focus, Alyssa, for everyone’s sake. We don’t have much time.

But honey, you need to understand a couple of things if we’re going to get you out of there.

So, first thing. Well, it works. Congratulations, though it’s not really time to celebrate. Anyway, we--I mean you--built it and it works, honey. We have absolute, irrefutable proof that it works. The other universes are there, nested inside and outside ours like those Russian matryoshka dolls, younger or older. Realities identical to ours, but where the Big Bang happened a fraction earlier or later. Displaced in time.

And you went there. You and Greg. You stepped into an older universe. You sidestepped time, honey. Took a detour around reality.

Jesus, it’s incredible. Just incredible.

Okay, so that’s the good news. Here’s the bad news: you tried to do something else. It was something … something you’d thought about before. I mean, on paper, it made sense. A door opens both ways, right? If you could step out, something else could step in. You and Greg could pull somebody through.

We were wrong.

So the bad news is, honey, you tried to pull someone through. That’s when the accident happened.

Now focus on my voice, Alyssa, I want you listening 110% to me and only me. This is super, super important. You cannot be thinking about anything else but the sound of my voice. In a second, you’re going to hear Greg, Alyssa, he’s going to try to talk to you, but you cannot, cannot listen to him. Understand? For both of your sakes, you absolutely cannot listen. Your world is me and my voice. Got it? Nod, honey, nod and show me you got it.

Great.

Okay, now you can sit up, nice and slow, keep your head pointed forward. You’re going to be a little dizzy at first, maybe nauseous, so take it easy.

Yeah, I know it doesn’t look like there was an accident. No, there’s no damage, Alyssa. That’s because it hasn’t happened yet. Or, it hasn’t happened again.

Okay, that’s Greg now honey, remember, focus on me. Alyssa. Alyssa, focus on me. Alyssa. You can’t help him. Alyssa. Goddamit, this is important, Alyssa. No. Stop. Do not. Stop. Please, Alyssa. Do not listen to his voice.

Damn.

Okay, alright, you know what, screw being subtle. You died Alyssa. Are you happy now? I watched you die, honey. Don’t make me watch you die again. You have this chance so please I beg you by all that’s holy, do not screw it up. Ignore Greg. Ignore him.

Think about Naomi. Naomi. You want your little girl to grow up without a mommy? Then block out Greg and his screaming and focus on me.

Discipline is the key here, Alyssa. It’s a quantum field generator, giving you access to an infinite number of universes. That’s too much for the human brain, honey, you can’t think about them. The only ones you should be thinking about are the ones that end up with you at home with Naomi. Right? You got greedy once before and that’s how we ended up in this shit. So focus.

So up you get, stand up, nice and slow. One thing at a time.

Only way to get you out of the loop is send you back to your own universe. No, this one isn’t yours, it’s mine. Right, a loop. It keeps going wrong.

No. No, this isn’t the first time. How many? Doesn’t matter. Too many. You keep getting distracted Alyssa, like you’re getting distracted now. Think of Naomi and focus. Focus.

Alright, so far so good. Now step between the plates. One foot at a time. Yeah, I know it feels like a jellyfish sting. You say that every time. Okay, you’re going to start seeing the other universes, like ghosts laid over this one. More like double vision, hell, like infinity vision. They’re going to seem awful real to you, but remember, far as you’re concerned they’re just shadows, just maybes, could-have-beens. You could ignore them easy enough when you just wanted to move a minute, but now you’ve got all this other baggage, and that’s going to make things a little messy.

The only one you need to focus on is the one where you and Naomi go home together. Okay? Everything else is a distraction. You and Naomi. Home. Together.

No, not that one. You can’t save Greg, honey, he’s already dead. Trust me, honey, I know it’s hard. You’ve got to give him up. The machine can’t take three. We found that out the hard way. Think about you and your baby girl, you and your beautiful baby girl, your one and only daughter.

Remember how much she loved swimming lessons? She’s sing the song all the way to the pool, “Swimming, swimming, in a swimming pool…” Wouldn’t stop. Used to drive you crazy, but you loved it, too. You can do that again, you can have that again, but you’ve got to let Greg go. Feel Naomi in your arms, Alyssa. You’re holding her in your arms. Those big brown eyes, looking up at you. You’re holding your daughter, holding her tight in your arms. Feel that. Feel it.

Reach out and get hold of Naomi.

That’s the only way we get you two out of there.

Put your arms out, Alyssa. Grab hold of her and don’t let go.

Alyssa, did you hear what I said?

Alyssa, forget Greg.

No, don’t--

* * *

She swore and threw down her headset. Put her head in her hands.

“Always trying to rescue the husband and the daughter both, huh? I should feel flattered. Almost had her that time.”

She only grunted.

“Why do you subject yourself to this torture?”

“You know why.”

“Look, Alyssa, we might have to face the fact that there’s no way she can bring Naomi back.”

Alyssa shook her head. “Greg, if there’s any chance at all, we have to try.”

“You always say that.” Greg sighed. “Two minutes until you, I mean she. Damn this is weird. Two minutes until she gets thrown back here. Ready to try again?”


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