Chapter 2 Imagination
The rain puddles seemed pretty insistent on trying to get in Lanky's way. He stepped in about three of them and had to avoid eight more as he made his way back to his house. He found himself seriously resenting the weather. All that rain did on a day like this was dampen his mood (no pun intended).
He kept his head low, trying to avoid the gazes and whispers of civilians. He failed. People still looked at him, still whispered back and forth about him like he was some sort of mythical creature. Perhaps it was the black outfit he wore that gave away his true identity. Or, perhaps, people actually recognized the 26 year old man thanks to his face and build. Either way, he was still the talk of the town as he made his way home. Lanky severely wished that he could move away into a different town.
Until about four years ago, that had been exactly what Lanky had planned on doing. When he turned eighteen, he packed up his bags, left his hometown, and went straight to college. The experience of living in a dorm, with the opportunity to indulge in the most interesting of academic pursuits, left Lanky feeling satisfied. Yes, satisfied. He loved college, every part of it. While he hadn't bothered to make a lot of friends, that only meant that he was able to get more enjoyment out of his classes. Specifically, his science classes. That was one thing that Lanky had inherited from his crazy father; a love for science and the laws of the universe.
Naturally, Lanky graduated from college with straight A's and a very present thirst for discovery. He had intended to travel the world, trying to bring his great ideas and scientific pursuits to neighboring countries. But that changed drastically when his father called him up one day.
As Lanky walked in the rain, he had to hold back a grumble as he recalled the conversation that he and Marvin had. In hindsight, he probably should have told his father that he wasn't interested in his work, that he had other obligations that he needed to fulfill. While it wouldn't have been truthful, it would have at least prevented Marvin from experiencing his untimely death.
"Lanky," Marvin had said over the phone that day. "I have just uncovered the most fantastic idea ever! Why, if it turns out to be true, then it could change the way we look at reality as we know it!"
Lanky had, of course, been skeptical of this claim. Marvin was known to make outrageous and grandiose promises like that. Regardless, Lanky had decided to humor him. "And what would that be?"
There was a pause before Marvin had spoken up. "I believe that there could be alternate realities!"
Lanky remembered blinking at that claim. Sure, the possibility of alternate realities was nothing new. Why, the human race had been treading on that particular patch of ground for a while. But, in all honesty, Lanky didn't believe it was true. He just thought that it was all the idea of some wackjob who didn't have anything better to spend his time on. So, in that sense, Lanky supposed that it would only make sense that his Dad found interest in the idea.
"Yes! I believe that there is such a thing! And I am going to find out for sure!"
Lanky snickered. "Oh really?" He placed his hand on his Hip. "And what evidence do you have to support your claim?"
Marvin sounded extra excited when he spoke up. "Imagination!"
That time, Lanky had blinked not once, but twice. Sure, his father had never really been all there in the head. Sure, even he could have crazy ideas at times. But this? This was a whole other level of crazy. Seriously, imagination? That was it?
"What?" Lanky had asked.
Marvin just giggled. "Come back to the house and I'll explain everything."
With that, the call had ended. Lanky, despite feeling like his brain had just turned to mush, obeyed his father and came back to the house. His father hadn't even allowed him time to say hello to anyone before he had dragged him into his lab. Lanky could remember Marvin's eyes practically glowing with excitement.
"Okay. The explanation, as promised."
Lanky remembered the explanation because, in all honesty, it was probably one of if not the craziest thing his father had ever said. Even now, remembering it four years later, Lanky couldn't help but shake his head and cringe at it.
So, apparently, the whole reason behind why Marvin thought that there were alternate universes...was because human imagination had the ability to make things up. He believed that, whenever some random Joe imagined something, a new universe was born thanks to the atoms of an alternate universe rearranging themselves to fit what said random Joe imagined.
Yeah. That was….beyond insane. Lanky would call it stupid and far fetched, but even then, that couldn't really encapsulate the true absurdity of what Marvin had proposed. It made even the most outlandish beliefs and worldviews look like well thought, scientifically proven theses by comparison. There was just...no way that it could be real. However, when Lanky said this to his father, he just laughed.
"Anything is possible, Lanky. Why, just a few centuries ago, it was commonly believed that the Earth was flat."
"I know, but still. This isn't even a well thought out hypothesis. This sounds like something that you just randomly thought about when you were trying to go to sleep last night."
Marvin chuckled. "You really don't give me enough credit, Lanky." His eyes glittered as he smiled. "This is a topic that I want to explore. I want to be able to prove once and for all that it is true. I know that it is, I just want to prove to the rest of the world that that is the case."
It was then that Lanky realized exactly that Marvin Sykes had truly gone off his rocker. However, instead of doing something sensible like taking him to the psych ward, Lanky had decided that he was going to help his dad. He really didn't know why he had decided that. Maybe he just wanted to see the project explode in a display of multicolored flames. Or maybe the insanity was genetic and Lanky had inherited it. Regardless, he still decided that he would aid Marvin in his endeavor.
And, of course, it was that decision that would ultimately follow Lanky for the rest of his life. His father had decided that he would build a machine that would allow him to hop between dimensions. Lanky hadn't expected it to work for a second, but he had to admit, the way his father went about designing and building it seemed...rational enough. He had made the hull out of Titanium, a material that was strong and durable. He also programmed a computer into the machine, a computer that would see into these supposed alternate realities. Despite his skepticism, Lanky had to admit that he had fun with the project. If nothing else, he had gotten an opportunity to spend more time with his father, which was nice.
However, the story quickly took a turn for the worse. Two years after the project started, Marvin had just been in his lab working out kinks to the machine. Lanky had been thinking nothing off it, as he had been reading a book in the living room at the time. However, when he actually heard loud bangs coming from the lab, that was when the red flags went up. He rushed toward the lab, and when he got there, he found that there was a bright light emanating off of the machine. It the entire lab, making it look like the walls themselves were glowing.
"Dad!" Lanky had yelled. "You need to get out of here!"
Marvin just chuckled. "I will in a minute."
"No, Dad, you need to leave now!" He ran toward his father. However, before he could get to him, an explosion occurred. It pushed Lanky back, causing his back to slam against the wall. The ringing in his ears even seemed to stay with him when he was unconscious.
The next thing that he remembered after that was waking up in the hospital. His mother had been standing over him with a worried expression.
Mary wrapped her arms around her son. "Oh, Lanky! Thank goodness you're alright!"
Lanky tried to sit up, but found that doing so was impossible. When he spoke, his speech was slurred. "Mom...wha happened?"
Mary's face fell. "There was an explosion in the lab. I think your father decided to equip the machine with some uranium or something like that."
"Where is Dad?" Lanky questioned. The only answer he got that was Mary bursting into tears. That was all the answer Lanky needed.
The next few weeks after that had been a blur. Sure enough, Lanky had found that Marvin's body was nowhere to be found. He theorized that it was vaporized in the explosion. On top of that, Lanky had discovered his now permanently lime green hair. This change was most likely due to the exposure to radiation.
Lanky shook his head as he remembered this. He really should never have encouraged his father. As much of a nut job as he had been, it was nice having him around. It was nice to talk with him, provided he didn't go off the walls with his insane theories.
Lanky soon found that there were tears in his eyes. He wiped them away before picking up the pace.