Beeeeeep beeeeeeeeeeep, beep beep beeeeep.

That was the sound of Rachel's cell phone playing the theme from Star Wars, signaling a call. Her hand crept out from under the blanket and managed to knock over the lamp and the clock before she grabbed it. Moving her black hair out of her eyes, she held the phone up to her ear and murmured the generic, "Hello?"

"Get up, get up, GET UP!" was the voice that came through. She shook her head a bit, then asked, "Bret?"

"Yeah, it's me. Get up, QUICK! You only have about an hour! Don't bother to shower, get all your money and get dressed and meet me outside!"

She closed her eyes and looked at the LED lighted clock on her desk. 4:08 AM. "What the hell do you want?"

"I'm totally fucking serious! You are in BIG, BIG trouble! If we don't get you out by five there could be dire consequences! Your LIFE is at stake!"

Rachel sat up, completely awake now. She felt an icy adrenaline. The feeling of the cops coming up to your house and asking you to come with them. Trouble. Bret had never sounded this urgent before. Throwing the covers off, she held the phone close to her ear and fumbled for the light switch along the wall.

"What's happening? Where are you?"

"I'll explain later, just get dressed and ready! Meet me outside of your house in ten minutes."

The line went dead. Bret had hung up. Rachel sat against the bed, thinking for a moment. Whatever was happening, it was probably a good idea to follow Bret's instructions since he seemed to know more then she did.

Grabbing a black shirt off the floor and a pair of jeans, she jogged into the bathroom to splash some cold water into her face.

As she walked in, she looked at the shower curtain. It was closed. There was always a feeling as you ran into the bathroom that someone was in there with you, just hiding behind the shower curtain. She resisted the urge to brush it aside and make sure no one else was there.

The water flowed out as she turned the handle. It stung as it touched her hands, but she knew it was necessary. Her face turned wet as she splashed the water onto it, drying herself quickly with a towel. She looked up at the mirror, making sure once again that the shower curtain was still closed.

Then she turned to see a man in her bedroom. A dark, imposing figure.

He was staring at her with cold eyes.

A scream escaped her lips as she slammed the door shut just as his shoulder crashed into it.

SHIT! Someone was trying to fucking kill her!

She jammed the lock in just as his hand turned the knob. The door shuddered as the man slammed his knee against it from the other side. She fell backward against a wall, looking for a weapon or means of escape.

The doorknob suddenly shot forward like a bullet, blown out the door as if by a shotgun. The wooden, broken hole glowed white a strange white energy, like someone had painted glow in the dark white paint on it. The unknown killer kicked the door open and looked down at her. He had somehow blown the doorknob right off with an explosion or something.

Not knowing anything else to do, Rachel screamed, "HEEELP!"

In the blink of an eye, the man was hammered by a flying body tackle that threw him out of Rachel's view. She jumped up to see what had happened.

Bret and her attacker were on the floor with each other, struggling desperately. She had seen Bret fight before, and it was impressive. Bret was a weird one, one of those emo boys with the eyeliner that made them look like weaklings. He was solid and stocky, with tanned skin and plenty of power in him. The two of them struggled on the floor as Bret tried to get into a good punching position.

With the force of a sledgehammer, the man threw an elbow into Bret's chest that knocked him away. Once again, the man started toward Rachel.

"Run, Rachel. Take my car outside! RUN!" shouted Bret.

Rachel needed no urging. Her attacker grabbed her hand as she tried to run out the doorway.

In a blur, Bret jammed his fist against the man's arm. A burst of white energy flashed outward for some reason. The man's arm snapped backward in an angle it wasn't supposed to bend. With a cry, he let go. Bret knocked him away with a second punch, then grabbed Rachel's hand and ran with her. They were out of the house and dashing toward the car in under five seconds.

"Who the hell is that?" she stammered as Bret shoved her into the passenger side. "How did you do that to him? What was that white stuff?"

"He's part of a group of people that are trying to kill you. That white stuff is called Ether, and I've been trained to use it all my life. I'm trying to protect you from them right now. We have to get out of here."

Bret reversed out of the driveway, then jammed his foot on the gas. The Corolla's acceleration was slow, but it was all they had.

"What the hell is Ether? And why do they want to kill me?"

"Ether is an energy that exists in all things," described Bret as he checked his rearview mirrors. "I can control it…because I'm not actually human, I'm from a parallel universe. I'm almost human, just a little different. I'm here to protect you from a faction that wants you dead because of some illegal activities."

"What the hell are you talking about? What illegal activities?"

"I'll explain more later, we just have to get to safety for now. It's about an hour until the motel in Moscow right now. That's where we'll stay tonight."

Rachel asked many questions during the ride. Yes, Bret was from a parallel universe. No, he wasn't an alien. Yes, he could somehow use a mystical white energy to blow things up. No, he couldn't teach her to do it. Yes, he was protecting her from the bad guys. Yes, the bad guys were from a parallel universe too.

"Tell me why I should believe all this," she murmured as he drove through the snow.

"Well, I'm your best friend and I wouldn't lie to you. Also, you saw the power back there. When he shot your doorknob off. And when I broke his arm. You think an ordinary human could do that?"

They drove in silence for a bit more. The snowflakes hitting the windshield reminded Rachel of the hyperspace drive in Star Wars. All kinds of white streaks flashing past her.

"How come you never told me about all this?"

"Because I didn't want you to be worried about the danger for your entire life. You know how hard it's been to keep everyone away? The Justice Department has been trying to obtain a warrant for this attack for years and they finally got it."


"It's hard to explain. It's just illegal for me to be around you."

"Then why did you stay around me?"

He was silent for a moment before answering.

"Because I really, really like being around you."

Rachel felt a tiny flurry of fuzzy feelings in her heart. Bret was one of the only people she had ever truly trusted in her life, and she had just discovered more secrets about him in twenty minutes then she had known in 17 years.

"Why?" she asked a bit timidly. It was the type of question a person is afraid to ask but wants to know the answer.

"Because," once again, he paused before answering. "You are…my other half. There is two universes…and each one has a certain other person that completes the other. There's another version of everyone, and you are mine. Basically, we complete each other."

Rachel wasn't exactly sure what this meant.

She didn't have time to ponder it because the car suddenly jerked sharply to the side. Something had hit them. The tires spun out of control and the car went skidding away. The seat belt kept her plastered to the seat as it went barreling into a snowdrift.

The door next to Rachel was torn off as though a car had just yanked it with a chain. Strong hands grabbed her and pulled with such force that the seat belt was also torn asunder. The cold hit her like a slap in the face. Once again, she was roughly shoved into another car seat.

"Rachel! FIGHT THEM!" called Bret's voice. Clearly he was fighting with someone else.

The door slammed, cutting off his voice. She was in a car with other attackers. Bret was outside, and rapidly being left behind as the car sped away.

She closed her eyes sadly at the hopelessness of the situation. The future only knew what would happen to her now.

Her despairing thoughts were interrupted by a slamming against the door. The men in the car started shouting.

Bret was running alongside the car. Fast. The car was going at least 60 miles per hour. Enveloping him was a shimmering white glow. Ether. It fueled him. His legs were a blur as he sprinted next to the car.

The car door jammed inward as Bret's flaming fist slammed into it. The whole car tipped on its side as Bret's shoulder crushed into it, running the car into a snowdrift. Rachel felt herself get slammed into the adjacent car seat as Bret's fist shattered the windshield inward.

The power was extraordinary. His glowing body towered on the hood, turning snowflakes to steam as they touched him. Like the hero he was, he reached into the car and pulled her out, cradling her in his arms as he ran down the road back to his car.

In a few seconds, Bret had them lost in Moscow.

A parking lot was found where they could just sit for the night, and Bret found a sleeping bag in the trunk. He set it out on the front seat for her.

"Good night, Rachel," he said, then leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek.

The kiss eventually reached her mouth. The snow falling around the car in the midst of the darkness gave Rachel the impression that she and Bret were the only two people left in the world.

And somewhere in the distance, it sounded as though a car was speeding through the city. Almost as though it were looking for them.

But maybe it was just an echo.