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|The Dimension Jumper: Epiphany|
"You're fired!" "Now get your things and get out of my building!"
After a nod of solemn confirmation, the figure stood up and shuffled out of the executive's office. He closed the door behind him with a barely audible "snap", and trudged down the long hallway, falling into a deep thought. By now, he was used to this deal. Six jobs in one year; it was miracle he was able to pick up a job after he was fired from his first. But being an engineer did have its perks. He had graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with high honors, and was voted most likely to be the next engineering prodigy. But where had all that talent gotten him now?
"Maybe the seventh time is a charm? Isn't that what they always say?" The ex-employee gave a low chuckle, and sighed his way to his now ex-office, where he would say his farewells to his now ex-co-workers.
There seems to be an excess of ex's in my life. He walked no more than two steps before he collided with what felt like a wall.
"Ouch! What the...?"
Rebounding off the ground and looking up, he saw that he didn't crash into a wall, but his friend, Dan.
"Always the thinker, aren't you Chet."
"Not now, Dan...I got the boot."
Not surprisingly, Dan's countenance shifted to a look of shock.
"You what?" He stammered.
"I got the boot Dan, don't you know what that means? I was fired! I got the red card, I was kicked to the curb, I was axed!" His temper rose with each word.
"Just leave me alone, I'll see you around sometime. Tell the others goodbye for me alright? I don't think I can tell them what happened in person right now."
"Okay, is there anything else I can do for you before you go?" Inquired Dan.
"No, thank you. Good bye."
Chet turned to his door and opened it. Looking in, he gave a superficial inspection of what he would have to clear out. Strewn over all flat surfaces were endless piles of blueprint, papers, and diagrams. The "big" executive had fired him on the premise that he was not being productive enough. But looking at the amount of work in the room, it wasn't quite clear whose judgment had gone wrong. Walking over to his desk, Chet took hold of a foot thick stack of papers, and after rifling through them with regret, he tossed them into his always present cardboard boxes. Kill me now.
Stepping onto the streets of Bethseda, Chet proceeded to his car, parked only a half a mile away. He started to think to himself; thinking had been one thing that he was exceptionally adept at. He contemplated on his past and future endeavors. Where do I go now? His job at Lockheed Martin was now history, and listing his previous jobs: NASA, Boeing, Chevron, GenOn, and a particularly rough stint at the Cheetos factory, it seemed to him that he could not land himself a lasting job.
"I'll create my own company, that's what I'll do. There will be no one to tell me what to do, or when to work. I'll be on my own schedule in my own home. And, on the topic of homes, I still have to pay the rent, Ugh."
As he walked, Chet saw families enjoying the evening together in the town. Children had snow ball fights in the park, wearing mittens and muffs to keep them warm in the chilly weather as they laughed and giggled. Couples walked down the trail, hot beverages in hand, looking up at the setting sun and the moon rising to greet them. Even the pigeons that sauntered about the streets seemed unusually upbeat. All this happiness, all this joy; it made Chet look inward at himself.
What has gone so terribly wrong inside me!
He slowly approached his car; his gait deteriorating to a slow shuffle, only to glimpse a piece of paper stuck under his wiper. His face brightened to a high rosy color, and his breath quickened to an ungodly pace. To the bystanders around him, he looked like a steam engine, puffing in the cold night air.
"That better not be a ticket. Please, don't be a ticket," he huffed.
But alas, life was not in favor of Chet on this particular day. It in fact, was a ticket. Not knowing how to react, Chet dropped his belongings and buried his face in his hands. He was locked in a mental battle with God, a battle which he seemed to be losing. Submitting to the greater powers, Chet collected his materials, sloshed pitifully towards his car, got in, and drove home.
At long last, Chet pulled into his cracked driveway, which was only a prelude to his seemingly "cracked" apartment. Shingles were falling off the roof at an alarming rate, and an obvious neglect for landscaping left unkempt hedges and weeds growing wildly over the prison cell windows. After sitting back in the driver seat for what seemed to be his only respite in the duration of the day, he got out of his car. With a grunt, he heaved all his belongings onto the porch, careful not to step into one of the many holes created by the combination of water rot and the effects of physical frustration. After spilling all the contents of a large box, he composed himself enough to wrench open the front door held on only two hinges, and kick everything inside.
After placing his things on the counter, he weaved his way through an endless sea of books, CDs, papers, clothes, and everything else that the average college graduate would accumulate. Upon entering the unsurprisingly run-down kitchen, he swung open the miniature sized pantry.
"What's for dinner tonight, O let me guess, hmm...instant noodles? Correct! Chet you're so smart!"
Sporting the looking of genuine annoyance, he prepared his noodles and walked to the dining table. He squatted down awkwardly on a broken stool and flipped on the small kitchen TV to catch the last couple minutes of some childish cartoon.
Twenty minutes later, Chet stood up to go to bed, but as he made his nightly pilgrimage from the kitchen to the bed room, the same box that spilled on the porch once again threw its contents on living room carpet. With an overly stressed double-take, he cautiously inspected the room.
"Is anyone here?"
After once again scanning the room for even the slightest movement or abnormality, he then turned his gaze towards the fallen box.
"Do you want me to look inside you, box?" commented Chet Sarcastically.
He walked over to the puddle of papers, scooped up a couple of pages, and started scanning through them.
"I remember these. These are my first time machine blueprints," said Chet.
He clenched the papers tightly with sweaty, shaking hands, and tore the papers down the middle with a clean rip. Tossing the remains into the trash, he walked to the bathroom, deep in thought. He looked into the mirror above the sink and saw not the intellectual genius that he was, but rather the failures that plagued his life. He struggled to complete his nightly ablutions, which left him even less time that usual to read his book. He only got through one paragraph before he read the most shocking line of prose in his life.
"Go, then. There are other worlds than these."
Vaulting out of bed and into the living room, Chet grabbed the time machine papers and quickly examined them again. Sweat poured down his face as his eyes bored down through page after text riddled page. Thousands of mental calculations later; many times drawing numbers and letters in the air, he fell back on his lumpy couch and let out a long resonating sigh.
"I've been looking at it all wrong...you don't travel through time, you jump through dimensions. Other worlds...Perhaps. This world I inhabit at this moment is but a grain of sand on a beach. There are infinite universes, and that means infinite destinations."
Nothing he looked at was ever the same again. He gazed around the room, looking at all the possibilities. Worlds written in text and worlds of the cinematic nature all beckoned to him. Iconic symbols of pop culture demanded his attention.
Coruscant, Rivendell, Mid-World, Pandora, it's all possible. What if authors and producers are all just prophets, here to educate us of the infinite amount of other worlds. All of them inspired by the world they interpret. Lucas, Tolkien, King, Cameron, all of them are projecting what the inhabitants of their world wanted us to see. Much like us sending out radio waves, images, songs; our whole human history into the vast void that is our universe. All picked up by one world or another.
He descended into his basement and began rummaging around. A generous layer of dust coated every square inch of the basement like a field after a light snow. Aromas, not at all pleasant, wafted through the room and threatened to sicken even the toughest of men. But driven by this miraculous epiphany, Chet ignored the state of this property. After some looking, he uncovered a large hulking mass covered in cloth. Ripping it off in a state of anxiety, Chet once again set eyes upon his largest failure in life. The Time Machine was what was printed on it in bold black letters, evoking images and memories that had long since been buried.
I remember what the professors said.
"You're mad, Chet. And you'd best set your mind on something that can actually be achieved. Leave to Wells what is Wells's."
"Professor, this is me. This has been me for the last three years!"
"No, Chet. It will never be you! It is physically impossible to make a time machine. All you will do is fail if you continue obsessing over this!"
"More like the Dimension Machine," retorted Chet. He was but a slave of his past, and nothing of the immediate nature could he do to change that.
"I'll show you, it'll work this time!"
Goaded by the haunting entities that were no longer present in his life, Chet got inside the machine and turned on the interface panel. He deleted a string of pre-entered codes to change years of hard and fruitless work. And just as quickly, he turned around and started typing furiously on an outdated keyboard, rewriting pages upon pages of code. Uploading numerous files of the Avatar series, his favorite childhood show, Chet locked in his coordinates and diverted all power from his house to the "Time" machine.
"This should be a detailed enough world of sufficient size to run my first diagnostic test. It brings back childhood memories too."
Reaching down into his pocket, he pulled out a battered voice recorder that had seen far too many failed experiments and tests.
"Running diagnostic test number one...The date is December the fourteenth, two thousand and seventeen. This is the Dimension Machine and I am Chet...the Dimension Jumper."
Lifting the safety guard, Chet pushed one finger down on the red "go" button and sat back in his chair, his nerves tingling with anticipation. The circular glass eye above lit up and began to emit bright blue sparks. The same happened with three others located around the apparatus, and in an instant, Chet was pixilated, and in another, he collapsed inside himself and disappeared with a resonating pop; His last footprint on Planet Earth, only one of the worlds.
"You have discovered our secret. Very good. You are the first human to do so. Welcome young Pioneer. Welcome to the one and only Multi-universal Station, the portal 'to infinity and beyond!'"
Feeling groggy and disoriented, Chet, squinted in reaction to a flood of blinding light.
"Acclimation to the light will take a couple of bores depending on what hemisphere of the Earth you hail from, young traveler."
"Bores?" asked Chet.
"Minutes, bores, Same thing. You may not have noticed yet, but we station attendants do not speak the same dialect as you. We picked up English some time ago, I'd say around the 30's on Earth but, applying to the other universes as well, we all speak in different "tongues" as you humans say.
In a gruff and slightly irritated tone, Chet asked, "where am I?"
"You, young one, are at Multi-universal Station, the one and only. It is the center point of all the universes. It is much like the Dark Tower recorded in the human, Stephen King's series. I enjoyed his interpretation quite much. You young one, are at the keystone of the universes. From here you can go in any which direction you choose."
Still blinded by the intense light, Chet began to realize what had happened. He had just found his "time machine" and used it to beam himself to another dimension. But this wasn't the Avatar universe.
"In the coordinates I inputted into my machine, I coded it to send me to the Avatar universe. Does that exist?"
The stranger gave Chet a look of understanding and pity, "Most definitely, youngling, the Avatar universe is as real as the one you came from. Both are linked together through this station. So are an infinite amount of other universes. Would you like me to name a few of them?"
"Sure. What else do I have to do, I'm blinded."
"Certainly, I can name the first five thousand in alphabetical order, if that pleases you?"
With a jolt of shock, Chet replied quickly, "no, no just a few will be sufficient, thank you."
"As you wish," said the station attendant. "First, there is the Avatar universe. Cameron's Avatar as you may know it; Wild and lush with large fauna and floating islands, and where the native Na'vi are locked in war with the Resources Development Administration. Next comes the Batman universe: with rampant crime, and a seemingly endless bout of bad weather. Next, the..."
"Which universes are the most special?" interjected Chet.
As if expecting his interruption, the attendant simply followed the etiquette of human speech for surprise. With an artificial raise of the eyebrows in a look of shock, the attendant replied, "The most special universes?" A quick stumble and an "um" for effect, "That would be the Dark Tower universe as I have recently mentioned. Very much like a maze, with its own doors and transports to other universes. It is crumbling however. The beams of which all things serve are breaking. It is so sad. Moving on to the Star Wars universe: very diverse and large, stretching a whole galaxy, locked in a bout of galactic war between two factions. Next is the Lord of the Rings universe, as it is now referred: it has seen so much turmoil, being the loss of Beleriand to a cataclysmic battle. And lastly is the one you picked, young one: the Avatar Universe. The original Avatar universe. You must know all about it already, otherwise, why would you want to journey there?"
"Can I go right now?" Chet asked.
"Certainly, certainly, the Avatar universe is through gate 118-A that is located three terminals south and 18 gates to the east from the main terminal gate."
"How do I get there?"
"Why, follow that signs. They're there for a reason. Good bye, young pioneer. Enjoy your trip."
"Wait! How will I find my way there? I can't see!"
"Open your eyes!"
Chet had completely forgotten about opening his eyes. Keeping them shut seemed so easy, so natural. Opening them, millimeter by millimeter, he took in the immense landscape of the station, jaw dropping in awe. The sheer size of it dwarfed any engineering feat of humankind. The walls were solid white and rose above for an unfathomable distance, perhaps to the heavens above, as the ceiling was either out of sight or not present. All that was visible was a dark void, the white walls melting into them. Looking down to ground level, Chet attempted to spot the "man" he had been talking to. But he was no where to be seen. Getting up, Chet began to walk around trying his limbs and acquainting them to the new and intensified gravity of the station.
It seems I'm not in space, perhaps artificial gravity of some sort. Maybe even a planet. Most likely a universe; The Universe. That's what he said right? Glancing up at the signs, he saw a luminous sign reading South Terminals: this way. Following directions was never a strongpoint, but how hard could it be here. There was in fact nobody around to disturb him. Weird. I would think there are more inter-universal travelers. With the same low chuckle that accompanied many of his jokes, Chet proceeded down the hallway. After walking for what seemed like two miles, he reached a crossway that read Terminal 1: Gates 0-200. Taking a left, Chet counted eighteen gates and arrived at his final destination: Gate 118-A. Looking into it, he saw rows upon rows of seats, as if in an airport. In fact, it looked just like an airport. The only difference was instead of a gate that led to an aircraft, there was a doorway that was filled with a shiny substance that vaguely resembled water. It defied gravity and moved in a fluid-like motion. Gazing around and seeing no other gates like this, he walked forward and began probing the strange curtain of "liquid" with his index finger. He only got one poke before his finger got stuck, quickly followed by a bizarre whooshing sound. He looked down, dismayed, to find that his whole hand had been sucked into the slosh, followed by his arm, and the rest of his body. With a low gargle, the curtain reformed around the gaping whole left by Chet. On the other side, the human known as Chet began his first steps in writing the next chapter of his life.
"And so goes our one and only 'hume'. There is much turmoil in his life, but also the seed to grow as a noble and brave man. He will play a crucial role in ending the turmoil in the universes. We wish him luck. Gods be with you, young Pioneer."
"It's not getting away from me this time! Watch and learn, Katara. This is how you catch a fish!"
"Not now Katara, can't you see I'm focused!"
"No Sokka, look, in the sky!"
"What is it?" Sokka asked.
"It looks like a man! A man falling from the sky!"
"He's going to land in the water!" Sokka cried.
"We can't sit here and watch him die. We need to get to him!" Katara said.
Paddling as quick as they could, the two fought the strong current, skillfully weaving between bone-jarring icebergs to get to where the man was falling.
With a face of mild relief, Katara pointed out, "He's going to miss the icebergs!"
"I know! But the water can't be too good for him either!" replied Sokka.
"You're right! Go quick! Faster, faster!" commanded Katara in a heightened voice.
As they kept paddling after the man, the man was falling towards them, faster, and faster, and faster. Only feet from the water did he wake up to see a wall of blue and white in front of him. Hitting the water with a loud splash, he got knocked the wind out of him and felt the cold shock of winter water begin to drain his limbs of energy.
"Help me," he tried to say, but all that managed to come out of his mouth was the gargled reaction of icy water running down his throat.
"Aackh," he sputtered.
He was never so helpless in his life. Sinking deeper and deeper into the depths, he thought this would surely be his dying day. That was until, a hand cut through the water like a knife and in one heave, pulled him out of the hypothermic seas.
"Sokka, get the blankets!"
Gasping for breath, and clawing at the bottom of the canoe for some footing, Kev only got a quick glimpse of his rescuers before he was smothered with warm blankets.
"That's not enough Sokka, he needs to warm up from the inside out. Jump under the blankets with him!"
"What, why me?" pleaded Sokka.
"Just do it," replied Katara with a tone of authority.
"Alright, mom." With a scowl, Sokka lifted up one side of the blankets and sat himself down next to the stranger.
Turning to him, Sokka asked, "So, do you have a name?"
"Yeah, I'm Chet."
"Hey Chet, I'm Sokka, and that's my 'mom', Katara."
"Good one, Sokka," said Katara sarcastically.
"Well, Chet, that's an interesting name. Where are you from?"
Struggling to string two words together for an explanation, Chet finally said, "It's kind of hard to explain. I've come a very long way. I don't know how to not make this sound weird so I'll say it straight out: I'm from a different universe."
Looking at Sokka and Katara's faces, Chet watch their countenances simultaneously transform into a look of disbelief, which was a face that he was all too used to.
"Wait, what?" asked an exasperated Katara.
"I come from a different universe, one where computers run your life, people step all over one another without remorse, and where there is eternal conflict and strife," said Kevin.
Scratching his head in confusion, Sokka turned to Chet, "So, if you're from a different universe, how did you get here, then?"
"I made a time machine in my youth, only it never worked. It plagued my life for many years afterwards. The mockery, the insults I had to put up with, was awful. However, yesterday, or maybe it was a couple of days ago; I have absolutely no grasp of time right now. All I know is I modified it to travel not on vertical plane through time, but rather on a lateral or horizontal plane through dimensions. That is how I got here."
Looking around at the other two, Chet was dismayed to see their faces degrade further into looks of befuddlement.
"You guys didn't understand a word I said did you?"
"No, no, I got 'travel', and 'vertical', and 'horizontal'," said Sokka with a flair of dignity.
"Chet, that is really incredible," Katara said.
"Yeah, it was an adven—" but Chet never finished his sentence.
At that moment, a blinding light streamed up from the depths of the water below them and got slowly brighter and larger.
"What is that?" asked Sokka.
Before anyone could reply, a large circular iceberg the size of a small house broke the surface of the water and rose two stories above their heads. It emitted an ominous glow of blue light from its core, and in its center, was a boy.
"Sokka, there's a boy in there! He's alive! We have to help!" cried Katara.
She grabbed Sokka's club and jumped out of the canoe and onto the iceberg. Walking up to the wall of ice, she swung her arms back, and hit the ice with all her might. One crack, another, and then the whole iceberg smashed open with a resonating snap and the release of trapped gases. Shielding themselves from the gust of gas, the three buried their faces in their sleeves. When it cleared, Chet was the first to emerge from the depths of his sweater. A young, bald boy emerged from the wall of gas swirling around the top of the iceberg. Foreseeing a potential accident, Chet jumped out of the canoe and ran over to the boy. He caught him just as Sokka and Katara looked up from their sleeves. Upon touching him, a circle of light surrounded Chet and the boy and the two were separated and lifted into the air.
"Very good, young one, you have done well so far. But you are far from the end of your journey. There is much turmoil in your life, and it would be a shame to fight in this dangerous world as a non-bender. The Avatars have agreed to grant you a bending power that most closely represents your inner struggle. As you journey with the Avatar, you will redefine your life and in turn, your powers will change.
To you, Avatar, you have let this world slip into war and despair; one hundred long years of it. Many have given up hope. It is up to you and the friends you meet along the way to restore peace and balance to the world. We need you Aang.
To the both of you, this world is not the only one that has plunged into endless war. The strain of war has frayed the lining between universes, and things are starting to blend. It is up to you two to bring balance to the universe(s)."
Now, instead of the white circle of light, hundreds of figures appeared in a circle around the two. One in particular, an old man with red robes, approached Chet and spoke to him.
"I am Avatar Roku, the Avatar before Aang. I was told to give you bending powers; powers that directly reflect your state of being. As a result, I will grant you the ability to firebend."
Roku placed his hands on Chet's forehead and chest, and his eyes began to glow with a piercing white light.
Leaning down and whispering into Chet's right ear, Roku said, "You will have to learn to deal with the turmoil inside you by expressing yourself with the bending art most susceptible to turmoil. My own best friend, Sozin, was corrupted by his power and started this terrible war. He fueled his firebending from anger, like many that you will meet in the future. You must be different from them, Chet. Help Aang, and help yourself. Good Luck!"
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