So there I was lying amongst garbage and staring up at a grayish-blue, mist covered sky, wondering what the hell just happened.
I couldn't see much of anything except for the aforementioned, oddly colored sky. I could certainly feel something under me and smell a slight stench in the air. My brain was slowly trying to catch up on events, to catalog and make sense of my current situation. Was this an event in which I must run, or in which I must fight? Should I simply lie here, staring up at the sky until a helicopter rescued me like in the movies?
Just but a few moments ago, I was living my usual life. I suppose I was… yes, I was biking under a city overpass, on my way to school. My bike had hit a crack in the sidewalk, and I went flying over my handlebars. And then I landed flat on my back and had opened my eyes to this gray-blue sky.
This bout of thinking had given me some closure. The fact was, I was here. The current scenery around me wasn't changing, from what I could see anyway. So I finally made the decision to sit upright.
I was greeted with miles and miles of trash, all lying around me, extending far into that oddly colored horizon, or at least, what I could see of the horizon. My slight vision of the end of this earth was soon blocked by the thick mist that seemed to be getting thicker. I finally resolved to stand up.
I shakily forced myself to my feet. I kept sinking into parts of the trash on which I stood. I took one step and heard something cracking under my feet. I looked down and lifted my foot to discover I had just stepped on the jaw of a human looking skull. The skull slowly fell to the side, revealing a third eye socket in the side of the cranium.
An unnatural fear overtook me and I found myself attempting to run across this garbage heap. I continued to sink slightly in it, yanking myself out, running and running and puffing, not knowing where I was going, not knowing what to do. My foot caught on some heavy piece of garbage, and I tripped, screaming. I could do nothing but lie there, crying and yelling and trying to crawl madly.
"I don't… DON'T…" I screamed, the meanings of words not mattering to me anymore. "DON'T! NEVER!" I stopped crawling, only clinging onto whatever garbage was in front of me. I finally raised my head and opened my mouth in a long scream of "HELP!"
I never actually expected an answer.
"Tei!" yelled a voice from the distance.
My crazed screams ceased, and I looked off to the source of the noise.
There was a shadow moving in front of me, getting larger and larger. My instincts were screaming at me to get up and run, but my body was slow to obey. I moved in slow motion, attempting to get up, but finding myself too weak, or unwilling, to do so.
The mist parted, and through it came a figure. As he got closer, I could make out the features of this figure. He wore a cap, the sort you see on poor, young British boys of Dickens fair. He wore a trench, large pants, of which I paid little attention. No, what mostly interested me was his head, the details of which were coming into view now.
He came right up to me and looked straight down. His tiny pinpricks of eyes peered over broken pieces of glass forced into spectacles. His thick eyebrows were constantly furrowed in a look of surprise. And his hair… was wrong. Just…. Not in any way right. It looked like he had stuck his finger in a socket, then each strand of his hair had been carefully curled, and then he stuck his finger in the socket again.
I stared up at him, he squinted down at me. I was frightened to discover I couldn't even see the whites of his eyes, only the darkness behind those makeshift spectacles.
We stared at each other for some time. Finally, he spoke.
"Tei?" he asked.
Slowly, I stood to my feet, not sure exactly what to do, uncertainty and fear rendering me mute. He raised his eyebrows and spoke again.
"OlkùÜ Foτ?'' he asked. I looked at him with concern.
"Como esta? Quisnam abyssus es vos?"
I shook my head. I had not studied Spanish in school, choosing French instead. The other sentence didn't sound like anything I had ever heard at all.
He grumbled and lifted something from his shoulder. I had not noticed he had been holding a long, rod like… thing, having been too busy with his face. Before I knew it, something metal was poking me in the arm and I jumped and looked in shock to find the end of a rather sharp looking probe instrument right against my skin. I moved away, frightened and looked to find the strange person glaring at me with irritation. It soon passed, when he suddenly raised both eyebrows, as if reaching a conclusion, and finally spoke to me.
"Who the hell are you?" he asked, smiling.
I looked down at the ground and began to mumble quickly, my voice getting slowly louder and faster with each successive word.
"I was biking to school, and I hit some sort of crack, and it was a very sunny day, and now it's not, and now I'm in some sort of trash heap and I have no idea what place or even country this is and I don't really understandanyofthisandIdon'tknowifI'munconciousORM AYBECRAZYORDREAMINGORWHERETHEHELLIAM…"
I was suddenly aware I was now shouting near gibberish. I became silent again. The strange person didn't seem fazed, however. He merely smiled a crooked half smile and nodded.
"You are a resident of Universe 23539, version 2.09. You are a human, the dominant species of your home planet Earth. You are a female in the late teenage developmental stage, although by the laws of your country you are considered an adult. Your height is 5'7" and…"
"Wait, wait, hold on, slow down." I said quickly. I stared directly at him and pointed at the probe. "How'd you pick all that up? I don't even know…."
He only looked at me, frowning and clutching the probe a little tighter, protectively. I shook my head.
"Nevermind, I don't want to know stuff about me, I just want to know… where am I?"
He smiled again, still not letting go of the probe, and said "You are in Universe X, version 1.0 and the only known version. We call this the Recycle Bin of the Multiverse. Things turn up here, relics of past universes, past times… fer instance."
He dug the end of his probe into the trash and pulled out the dead body of a creature, stabbed on the end. It looked like a ferret, except for the fact it had huge, saber tooth cat fangs, spines along its back, and six legs. He stared at this creature for sometime, then stared at the sky, then nodded with satisfaction, again half smiling.
"Resident of Universe 2353..." he raised his eyebrows, and nodded his head toward me "version 5.3. Species is unnamed, a lower mammal of the home planet that is still unnamed, as it has no sentient species ruling it. Judging from the similar animals of other versions such as the Grens from version 1.2 or the ferret…" again he inclined his head toward me "…from version 2.09, this creature was in the cub stage. All life signals are currently zero, and will most likely remain in this state for the time being."
He shook the creature off the end of the probe and looked at me. "Everything from every universe and every time has ended up here in Universe X, usually by some error within the Multiverse fabric. And thus Universe X has developed into a mishmash of things that… somehow still work." He raised his eyebrows and shrugged.
My knees started to shake. I couldn't process everything. Now, I'm in a sort of universe junkyard, stuck with some weirdo with a probe, with no hope whatsoever of returning home or getting to my classes on time or getting on with my life…
"We have dinosaurs." he said hopefully.
I dropped to my knees and started to wail.
Several minutes later, I finally managed to calm myself down enough to try and face my predicament, and looked up only to find the weirdo inches from my nose. Immediately I screamed and jumped backwards. He seemed completely unfazed by my reaction, and merely stood up again.
"Lookie here." he said calmly. "You are the first… eh, living… fellow Universe 2353 version 2.X dominant species I've seen around here."
I looked at him, confused yet again. For once, he caught onto my confusion and explained.
"A human, of a form." he said. "Now, I understand. You're confused, lost, all that is similar. This is probably shocking to you. So, you have two choices."
He smiled, this time a full out grin, revealing missing teeth. This disturbed me far more than his usual crooked half smiles.
"You can either stay here, or come with me to find stuff among this trash heap."
I quickly stood up, crossing my arms. My choices were to stay here or act as a fellow trash collector to this…. Thing.
"Er, no thank you. I know this all has to be a giant mistake."
I turned about face and walked the other way.
"Hey, wait, where're you going?" he asked plaintively.
"I'm going to walk the way I came." I said. "Maybe this whole fabric thing will right itself."
And I'll be right back on my bike, biking to the community college.
Yes, that would happen.
"You do realize that's not really a good idea." he said. "It won't work. The Multiverse Fabric doesn't work that way."
"I'm sure you're an expert." I said sarcastically, still walking.
"Actually, I've been living in this Universe since I was a wee lad. Please, don't, stop!"
I ignored him. Crazy weirdo, can't trust weird people, that's what my mother always said.
Suddenly, I could hear quick, running footsteps behind me. Adrenaline rushed through my head, and I broke into a run. He was coming after me. He was going to kill me. That was the only explanation.
"STOP! WAIT!" I could hear him yelling, but no, I wasn't falling for his little plan, I wasn't…
I blinked My eyes were registering something, a shape in the distance I was running toward. It was a large shape, and unusually close. My run slowed to a jog as I attempted to see what it was…
There was a crash and I was knocked to the ground, a great weight of human on top of me. It was only now that I realized just how heavy the weirdo was. I struggled to get away, scared out of my mind.
"LET ME GO!" I screamed, attempting to punch him.
"No! Wait, shhsh!" he said in a hoarse whisper.
"GETOFF ME! HELP! FIRE!"
"It's going to hear you! Don't…"
I was about to yell again, but the dark shape in the distance caught my eye. It has suddenly started getting larger and larger at a faster rate.
The weirdo tumbled off me, allowing me to crawl my way upward. We both stared at the shape coming closer and closer. I could now discern features. It looked like a giant mucus ball of eyes and tentacles slowly rolling in our direction and leaving bits of itself across the trash heap. As it came closer a hole formed in the middle of it, making a sort of mouth that had to keep remaking itself near the "front" as the creature continued to roll.
"Ùfôì." spat the weirdo. I felt something grabbing my arm and before I could protest I was being dragged through the rubbish, watching the monstrosity attempt to catch us.
"WAI-" I started to yell, but as I turned my entire body flipped over, and my face was thus dragged through a pile of small animal corpses. I managed to right myself again and yell.
"STOP! LEMME GET UP!"
"Well, if you insist."
The weirdo suddenly let go of my wrist. I had a few seconds of shock before I once again came to terms with my situation. I struggled to lift myself, eventually stumbling after the weirdo as fast as I could away from that… thing. I could feel it getting closer, the slight growling of this mutant abomination, the slap of slime against soil, closer and closer, louder and louder. Without my noticing, the weirdo has grabbed my wrist again….
A loud crack echoed throughout my skull and it felt as if my entire body was being flattened multiple times and squeezed through a small hole. A buzzing and whirring went throughout my head and I could see nothing but flashing lights and random images.
And then my face slammed against wet earth, sliding for some time. I stayed lying for a few minutes. Maybe, just maybe, I had just woken up from a nightmare, and would now be back under the overpass, safe and sound, with the bike lying some feet away.
"Dear god." said the voice of the weirdo. I knew it was too much to ask for.
Not wishing to remain in this prone position I forced myself upward and surveyed the situation. I was in a forest of some sort. This looked like any other forest, with rocks and wind and trees with human faces on their trunks…. Wait, what?
"So…" said Weirdo, making me look away from the… tree, if it could be called that. "Looks like you've had your first encounter with an Abomination." he stretched out his arms in anticipation of a hug. "Congratulations!"
I turned away, not wishing to give this odd and generally creepy stranger anything more than 5 seconds of eye contact. I could hear him drop his arms as I stared again at the tree.
"Trees don't have faces." I finally said, the only way I could really defend myself against this situation. "Not natural trees anyway."
"Well, this isn't Universe 2353 version 2..."
"Will you shut the hell up with your universe number crap?" I demanded. "My home is a lot more than a serial number."
"Maybe to you…" he said. I immediately turned around.
"What?!" I yelled. He swallowed.
"So…. Trees with faces!" he said quickly.
"No, don't you…" I growled, taking a step closer. "Finish what you were going to say. That thing…. 'maybe to you', what were you going to say?"
He stared at me, squinty eyes as wide as he could manage, and for the first time I saw the hint of whites. Finally, he spoke.
"Well… I'm just saying… there are millions, billions, quadtrillions of universes out there…" he scratched the back of his neck awkwardly, then he raised his eyebrows and smiled. "Your universe is one in a quadripitillion."
I sighed and turned around again. All this universe stuff… this bouncing around, this confusion… Of course! How could I be so stupid. It could all only be a dream, some sort of coma resulting from the fall I took. But it was a dream I wished could end.
"Heh?" asked Weirdo, concerned.
"I'm not talking to you." I said, walking away. "You don't exist."
I heard something and involuntarily my head. He was patting himself down.
"Eh, pretty sure I'm solid, existing and whatnot." he said. He then lifted up the probe and pressed the end to his own temple.
"…yerp, human male, Universe 2353, version 2.02." he said. He then smiled. "If I didn't exist, I wouldn't register with this thing at all, now would I?"
I turned away and started walking.
"Hey, wait, where're you going now?" he asked.
I refused to answer him. If I just ignored the reality around me, pretty soon it would dissipate, and I would be back where I was….
"You know there's more monsters out there. Creatures from your mythology, antimatter things, maybe another Abomination or two…"
Abominations. Antimatter. Certainly, this was all a dream. I did my best to ignore his warbly, pleading voice, the soil under my feet, the fact that one of the shrubs around me was growing glowing blue cubes in the place of leaves…
There was a crackling in the undergrowth, and something grabbed my ankle. I screamed as I was yanked and pulled along the ground, managing to look up just enough to see a pulsating yellow thing grasping my ankle and pulling me through the undergrowth.
I grabbed hold of a tree trunk, not expecting it to be made of a spongy material. It was slowly pulling away in my hands as I attempted to hold it. I could see Weirdo running toward me and tried reaching out to him. But a final piece of material ripped off from the sponge tree and I was yanked back with greater force, rushing along the ground, kicking and screaming and trying to protect my face from flying branches.
I could see light and heard something roaring. I was flipped on my back long enough to see what I was coming toward.
A giant plant, similar to a venus flytrap, was planted several yards ahead, waving its tentacles in the air and screeching toward the skies. One tentacle near it, distant from me, was raised in the air to revealing a sort of large four legged creature I could not identify. It threw the creature in the air, opened its mouth, and allowed the creature to fall into its waiting jaws. Just before the mouth closed I could see something coming out of the mouth, a sort of whirring tongue with spikes that drilled right through the middle of the unfortunate creature.
I grabbed another, small tree, this time lucky to find it was more similar to one I knew. I clung tight, my nails digging into the trunk, pulling away sheaves of bark. In the distance, I could see the weird one stumble running toward me. I kept fighting.
I heard a creaking, and I looked down to see the tree beginning to uproot. Obviously it was less similar to my home trees than I had previously thought. I looked back over my shoulder. The monster was busy with yet another animal. Finally, I glanced back in the distance, to where Weirdo was running as quickly as he could, but just not fast enough… not fast enough….
Heart pounding, head throbbing, still feeling dizzy and drunk and not quite in this world, I started to yank and kick my legs. I was surprised at how easy it was to fight the monster. Apparently I had been a random target, and it paid little attention to me as I slowly wriggled out of its grasp.
I got to my feet again, not quite believing my luck. Shakily, I limped over to where the strange one was running toward me. I smiled happily, then suddenly had the wind knocked out as he collided with me, grabbing me and throwing me behind him, yelling out to the monster in that strange language I had heard earlier.
"Äyeeeee ëoú ommmƒ! Eawe alulΣ Neee ùêá! ÿùê Ñáƒ and fuck your sister!"
"Get AWAY from me!" I yelled, quickly shoving his hand off. "You god damn…" flustered, I waved my arms, staring at his beet red, crazed being. "FREAK." I screamed, finally finding the right word. I stomped off back into the forest.
The forest was the forest. There was no other way to describe it. I couldn't really see it, I was too busy attempting to get the slime from the beast off my leg. I stopped in a clearing, hands on my hips, looking up at the sky. I could hear cracking behind me, the sound of footsteps, and I didn't have to look behind me to know the crazy had followed me.
"God DAMMIT." I yelled. I turned to find him looking at me, as wide eyed as he could manage. "STOP FOLLOWING ME." I screamed.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
"You… you're a creep! A monstrosity, a crazy, a…." flustered, I started waving my arms, tripping over my own words, eventually drifting out into a slightly muttered garble.
"I'm a human, just like you really." he said. He raised his probe. "Want me to show you again?"
"NO." I yelled. "Why… who are you? What are you? Where am I? Where the hell am I?"
Shaking, confused, stressed, I nearly fell to my knees. However, I refused to show weakness. It's not the best thing to do in front of a potentially psychotic stranger. The stranger sighed and gave another half smile, looking up to the trees.
"You are in Universe X." he said. "I've said this before, but not very well. You see, there are many universes, all growing and dying and multiplying. Universe X, for some reason, absorbs random samples from all these universes, mashing it together into one single large universe. As a matter of fact, most of the universe is taken up by this giant… well, we're not sure of the shape of this planet, but we know it's big. Though it's a relatively small universe. Anyway, there was most likely a glitch in your universe, an existential glitch where your existence somehow had an… error. I'm not terribly technical, don't ask me the specifics. So now you are here. You are the first living human I've seen around here in a few years. Congratulations!"
He smiled fully this time, and I noticed his remaining yellowed teeth has black dots on them. It vaguely reminded me of the smile of the Cheshire Cat, if the cat hadn't been careful about dental hygiene. I turned away.
"I think you'll like it here." he said. "I mean, you'll have to."
I turned back.
"What do you mean?" I demanded.
He raised a single eyebrow, shrugging as he spoke.
"Well, there's not really any way you can get back." he said.
"There will be a way." I insisted. "This Universe brought me here, it can spit me right back out."
"Maybe, but not in the same universe you came from." he said.
"God, you're helpless. I thought you were some sort of weird ass guru of this place. Some magical guy who knew everything."
"As I've said, I'm a human, not a… magic man?"
"A helper! A guide!" I said.
He them beamed.
"I know enough about this place." he said. "This probe here has help…"
"But you can't get me back." I said, crossing my arms.
He shrugged again.
I sighed and looked at the ground, tapping my foot, wincing when I noticed that the ground in question was colored like a checkerboard and echoed with each tap.
"You didn't answer one of my questions." I said.
"Wahu?" he asked.
"Who are you?"
I looked up to see him half smiling yet again.
"My name is Macdov." He said. "I am a human male from Universe 2353, version 2.…"
"Yes, yes, I know this." I said quickly.
He coughed, slightly miffed at being interrupted.
"I've been here since I was a little ¡Sne…" he then coughed again. "Sorry, I'm still getting used to the word. Tyke. I've been here at the crossroads of the Multiverse, learning, picking up a thing or two."
"So… I'm guessing that's how you know English." I said.
"Perzactaly." he said. "Well, I've done my half of introductions. How about you, Version 2.09?"
I stared at my feet, still contemplating the checkerboard beneath me.
"My name is Ellis, and I'm already dreading my future."