At the darkened hour of midnight, Gloria sleepily stumbled into her kitchen for a snack before she hibernated in her room for the night. She blinked repeatedly as the light from the refrigerator illuminated the room. After rubbing her eyes, she peered inside and began moving things around, trying to find something to satisfy her hunger. Then, it seemed as if her fridge was materializing before her eyes. Gloria was sure she as awake, so why did everything look dark?
One by one, little specks of white appeared, and Gloria felt as if she was floating. To her, it looked like she was in space, but how could she be here? She was just in her kitchen. She concluded that she hadn't actually woken up, and that she was dreaming, so she just went with the flow. She glided past stars for awhile until finally, a large, red, and glowing orb appeared in front of her. It looked menacing, and Gloria tried to move away from it, but didn't succeed. Whatever it was, it was pulling her towards it, guiding her slowly like a mother would her child in a crowded place.
Her body filled to the brim with sheer terror, Gloria closed her eyes and told herself it was just a dream, repeating it as if it was some sort of mantra. She had almost convinced herself that it all wasn't real when she felt a sudden, sharp pain, as if her skin was being ripped off with an industrial sized vacuum. She screamed, for the pain was agonizing, and clenched her fists tightly, her long fingernails digging into the palms of her hands. She was sure it would never end when she heard a loud SMACK! And the darkness returned again.
Hours passed, and then Gloria began to realize that the shooting pain had gone, but mainly to the back of her head. She opened her eyes and found herself staring at a blue ceiling. She furrowed her brow in confusion and began to sit up.
"Whoa, hold on there. Now that you're awake, we have to make sure you're okay." Someone said in a monotone voice. Gloria whipped her around to find the source of the voice and saw a familiar face in front of her. Well, 2 since there turned out to be more than one in the room.
"Aiden? Reid? What's going on? Where am I?" She questioned as she reached up to rub the back of her head. They were both wearing goggles and white lab coats, but only one carried a clipboard and a pen.
The two boys glanced at each other with eyebrows raised and then back at Gloria. "Well, it seems that you have found your way into a parallel universe. We're not who you think we are, but instead exact opposites. Now, do you remember what you were doing before you got here?" The parallel Reid said in a very unfriendly manner.
Gloria looked at them both carefully for a moment. They looked exactly like the people she knew, but acted completely different. Her Aiden didn't speak in monotone, and her Reid was the friendliest person she knew. She didn't like these flawed copies whatsoever. "Well, I was at home looking for something to eat in my refrigerator, and then all of a sudden I was…floating towards some red thing that tried to tear me apart."
Other Aiden clicked the pen he was holding and wrote down her words. "A fridge? That's a new one." He said.
"What's your name?" Other Reid asked.
"It's Gloria," She stated. "And who might the two of you be?"
"I'm Roger, and that's Allen. So, tell me, Gloria, what are our parallel selves like, and how do you know them?"
"I'll tell you everything once you point me to a closet or something. In case you haven't noticed, I'm in my pajamas." She replied. Gloria was covered just fine, but she felt uncomfortable having two boys seeing her in them.
"Oh yes, of course," Allen commented. "It's just the door right across the hall."
Gloria nodded and proceeded to the room, which was full of clothes. She found a light purple t-shirt, black skinny jeans, black Chuck Taylors and leather jacket that she quickly dressed in before she returned to the room she was previously in.
"We'd like those answers now." Roger demanded.
She glared at him. "Well, for starters, Reid isn't an asshole like you seem to be. He's actually quite nice, and also one of my best friends. Aiden is my boyfriend, and he doesn't speak in monotone. He's above average, and absolutely wonderful."
Allen looked up from his clipboard and glanced at her curiously. "Boyfriend, you say? That's unexpected."
Gloria ignored his statement and moved on from the subject. "Okay, so how am I getting home? Please don't tell me I have to go through all of that again."
"Well, that's the thing. You can't go home. The portal is basically a one way street from your universe to ours, and we haven't discovered a way to make a portal to send anybody home yet." Roger explained.
"So you're telling me that I'm stuck here!" She cried.
"It's not all bad. You can pretty much continue your life as it was before with the parallel versions of all the people you know." Allen pointed out.
"But wouldn't that mean there's a parallel version of me as well? That would interfere with something wouldn't it?" She wondered.
"That's another thing about the portal. It sort of has a mind of its own, and whatever we don't have here, it will take from the other world. Evidently, there isn't an opposite of you here, so you were brought here. And now you're stuck here. Sounds like you're shit out of luck." Roger chuckled.
"No, dammit! I can't be here! I have so much back home that's way better. I have a good job, Aiden, Reid, and a bunch of other fantastic people in my life. I loved them the way that they were, and now they're the complete opposite. I hate this!" Gloria shouted.
She didn't stick around to hear any other words, and instead she stormed out of the room and eventually found her way out of the building, where rain was pouring from the sky like water from a fountain. Tears streamed down Gloria's face, seemingly at the same pace as the rain, but she kept her head down to hide them. The people and places around her looked exactly like they did back home, but she knew they were completely different. She already yearned to see her friends and family again, but that was impossible. She walked until she found the parallel universe's version of her old high school and she sat on one of the benches out front and muffled a sob with her hands.
Gloria continued crying for a few moments until she felt a tap on her shoulder. She quickly wiped at her eyes and then looked up. She was greeted by the face of an opposite version of her dear friend, Kallie.
"Hey, are you okay?" The girl asked.
"Not really." She admitted.
"What's your name? And what happened to you?"
"I'm Gloria, and I got transported here from my world, from the people I love and I can't get back."
"Wow, that's terrible. I'm Kirsten, by the way. Do you need a place to stay? I'd be happy to set up a room for you at my house." She offered.
And that, Gloria decided, was one of the differences between Kallie and Kirsten. Kirsten was automatically trusting, while Kallie was often wasn't. In Gloria's mind, Kallie seemed more sensible. "If you don't mind, that would be great. Thank you so much."
"Awesome! Now let's get you out of this horrid rain. I warn you though; we have about a 10 to 15 minute walk to my house." She admonished.
The two girls stood up and began walking. The rain didn't show any signs of letting up, but it ended up being the only thing that filled the silence between them. Gloria ached for her conversations with Kallie, when any silence was immediately filled with the mention of something utterly random. Kirsten was far calmer than her opposite, but Gloria preferred the hyperness.
"So, I take it the people at the Ordinance didn't treat you very well?" Kirsten wondered.
"No, not at all. They had two guys come in, both resembling people I knew, but completely different of course. Roger was a complete asshole, but I suppose Allen wasn't too bad, although he didn't talk much." She stated.
"Oh, I know those guys. You're definitely right about Roger. That leads me to wonder about their counter parts. What are they like? Also, do you happen to know mine?" She questioned.
"Well, Roger's opposite is definitely nicer, and Allen's is more talkative. Yours is one of my best friends actually, and she's wonderful. Very strange and hyper, but I love her like a sister all the more for it." She explained.
Kirsten glanced ahead. "Speaking of Allen, there he is now."
As if on cue, the boy turned his head their way and started walking towards them. Gloria acknowledged that he wasn't wearing a belt as Aiden would have, and that he wore glasses. It took all her strength not to run towards him and fling her arms around him, because even though her brain knew it wasn't her boyfriend, her heart didn't.
"Oh, good thing I found you, Gloria! I was starting to get worried." Allen greeted.
Gloria then remembered how long it had taken Aiden to warm up to her, while with Allen it seemed to have already happened. "Why were you worried? You barely know me." She replied rather coldly. She knew that her animosity towards him was only because he wasn't her boyfriend, and that it was slightly uncalled for, but she couldn't help it.
Allen didn't seem to notice her tone of voice, and proceeded to answer her question. "Well, you seem pretty cool and I felt sort of bad seeing you so distressed."
"Well, he's definitely more open with his feelings." Gloria thought. She searched his face to see if she could catch any hint of falsehood, but there wasn't one. "I appreciate your concern, but I'm fine. I've got a place to stay with Kirsten here, so I'm all set."
"That's good," He replied. "I guess I'll be seeing you around then."
"Sure." She said. Allen offered her a smile and then the two girls proceeded on their way.
Kirsten glanced back at Allen once more. "Well, he seems quite taken with you. I assume your Aiden is not?"
Gloria tilted her head slightly at her new companion, giving her a look of confusion. "Aiden is my boyfriend actually, and we've been together for a really long time."
Kirsten looked slightly taken aback. "Really? I figured that with the whole parallel thing it was opposite. Maybe they aren't complete opposites then."
After a couple more minutes, the girls arrived at Kirsten's house and immediately ducked inside. Kirsten handed Gloria some new clothes so she could avoid catching a chill. Kirsten changed as well and then prepared a room for this new girl.
Gloria wondered how people could live their lives here after spending so much time in a different world. Were they ever truly happy? She assumed it depended on what their original situation was. She wandered around the house until she found Kirsten again.
"Listen, Gloria, I was thinking, and if you want, I'll take you back to the Ordinance and see if we can get you some more answers. I know the guy that runs the place, and he will probably be willing to help you." Kirsten said.
"That sounds wonderful! Thank you so much! And not only for that, but for everything. You've shown me a great deal of kindness, and I don't know how I could ever repay you." Gloria mentioned.
"Oh, it's no trouble. Anyway, I'm sure you're tired, so I'll leave you to rest. We'll set a plan tomorrow." She smiled, walking out the door.
Gloria smiled gratefully and immediately went to curl up under the blankets on the bed. She truly was tired, part of it being the fact that she hadn't slept much before she got here and the other part being worn out from all the excitement. She dreamt that she was back home in her own universe, hanging out with some friends whose parallel versions she had not yet seen. It was one of those instances where her subconscious merely showed her what she wanted to see, which caused disappointment when she awoke again. She got up from bed and found Kirsten in the living room. She was on her laptop, and looked up once Gloria entered.
"Why hello there, Sleeping Beauty. Did you have a good 18 hour nap?" She asked.
"Oh dear, did I really sleep that long? I didn't mean to, that's for sure. So, what's the plan for today?" She wondered.
"Well, I put your clothes in the dryer last night, so once you get those on we can leave."
Gloria did as such and then they were off to the Ordinance. She wondered why they would call it that, because there was clearly nothing ordinary about it. She followed Kirsten through a small series of hallways in the building until they found the large corner office they were looking for. They knocked on the door and a "Come in!" immediately followed. Kirsten opened the door and revealed a man sitting at desk, bent over a stack of paperwork. It was the parallel version of an old teacher of Gloria's.
"Hey there, Mr. J. Listen, my friend Gloria here has a couple questions for you, if you don't mind answering them." Kirsten greeted the man.
"Oh, I don't mind at all. Gloria, you say? So this is the girl Allen has been babbling about," He replied. "Please, have a seat."
The two sat down on the cushioned red chairs in front of the desk. "Wait, Allen has been talking about me? Dear god, the boy only met me yesterday." Gloria commented.
"Now, the version of Allen in your world is your boyfriend, correct?" Mr. J asked.
"Yes, why?" Gloria questioned.
"Ah, well that explains it. I'm sure you've heard about soul mates. Well, it turns out those are actually true. Between two universes, there is only one you, Gloria, and it's clear that you are the soul mate for both versions of Allen. One gets you while the other one goes without. Unfortunately, there is only one version of Allen that's perfect for you, and that's obviously the one from your world. If it were the one from our world, you would've fallen for him immediately, like he did for you." He explained.
"See? I need to be in that world! Please, Mr. J, is there any possible way you can send me back?" Gloria begged.
"There might be one way, but it's entirely experimental. We haven't even told most of the workers about it, but it's been in planning for a couple months. It would either send you home or right back here." He stated.
"I have to at least try it." She decided.
"Well then, follow me." He smiled
The three of them wound their way through more corridors with Allen joining them along the way until they reached their destination. Gloria told Allen of the potential of her going home, and he looked upset for a flash of a second before he faked a smile. She felt bad for him, but she knew she didn't belong in this universe. She needed to be with Aiden, Reid, Kallie and all the other wonderful people she knew. This universe would just have to miss out.
"Okay, Gloria, please go and stand on that white platform over there. Now, I have no idea what you have to experience on the way out, or if it's anything like the pain from entering, just as a warning." Mr. J. admonished.
Gloria nodded, and started walking towards the platform, but Allen stopped her briefly by grabbing her by the arm. "I hope Aiden knows how much of a lucky guy he is." He said, and then he kissed her on the cheek and let her go. She didn't dare to look at him, because she didn't want to see his sadness. After all, it would be like seeing Aiden upset, and that was always terrible for her. She stood on the platform as stiff as a board, anticipating searing pain once again.
Mr. J. held a remote control in his hand. "God speed, Gloria." He said as he pressed a button.
There was nothing but darkness again, and then the red orb appeared again. Gloria flinched and shut her eyes, but she did not feel any pain this time. It was actually soothing, like applying aloe vera to a sunburn. Surprised, she opened her eyes and wondered if it was working and if it was still going to take her home. Soon, she saw the stars again and felt like she was drifting across them, much like she had before. She took the chance to marvel at their beauty. And then, the stars were gone, and Gloria found herself sitting on the ground in front of her refrigerator. She was still wearing her clothes from the other universe, but she was home, and it was now daytime there.
She grabbed her cell phone and rushed out her front door to her car. She dialed Kallie's number as she buckled into the driver's seat. She was grateful to hear that familiar, hyper voice on the other end, but she did not tell her friend of her experience. She didn't plan on telling anybody about it, but instead make the most of spending time with her friends and family. She stayed on call with Kallie until she parked her car, and then she hung up. She practically leaped out of her vehicle and ran up the front sidewalk of Aiden's house. She rung the doorbell and fidgeted while she waited for him to answer.
"Gloria? What are you doing here? Is everything okay?" He asked when he opened the door.
She smiled and she leaned forward and kissed him. "I just thought I'd surprise you for once."
"Well, Reid's here, do you want to stay and hang out for a bit?"
"You know it!"
And as she sat and laughed with her Aiden and her Reid, Gloria couldn't think of any place she'd rather be.