Author : Mur Lafferty, featured writer
Dr. Emmett Black stumbled home, tears still streaming down his face. Katie was there, as always, with dinner. Wonderful, beautiful, sweet Katie.
She rushed to his side. “Darling, what’s wrong?” She helped him to the couch where he choked back sobs and glared at her.
“We did it. We used the IBID Projector to tear a hole through reality,” he said. “We could see through to another universe.”
“That’s wonderful! Ten years of work paid off for you!” She beamed at him.
He laughed bitterly. “No, I was stupid. There were so many tests to run, but I couldn’t help it. I stepped through.” She gasped. He glared at her again. “It was amazing. So very like our world, and so different too. God, Katie, the colors were different. Hues I can’t even describe.
“Instead of cars, people traveled by personal mechanical striders, like in Star Wars or something. Instead of streets there were dirt paths. The buildings were made of something rubbery and synthetic, but very strong.”
“Did you get to test your theory that we all have doubles in this world?”
Emmett had hatred in his eyes. “Yes. I found you.”
She beamed. “Was I a movie star? Oh, Emmett, please tell me I was rich and famous.”
“You were rich, yes. A successful businesswoman. I looked you up. But we weren’t together.”
She pouted. “Aw, honey, I’m sorry. The alternate me must be very stupid. Or an old maid.” She laughed.
He cut off her laughter. “No. She was married. To Tim Muse.”
Katie stared at him. “Tim? Tim Muse?” Tim was their longtime friend, a nice guy but no one Katie had ever found attractive. And she’d told her husband this on more than one occasion.
Emmett finally let his rage break through. “Yes! You slut! How could you do that to me!”
Katie stood up, getting distance between them. “Emmett, it wasn’t me. I am here with you. She is someone else. You know this!”
He stood as well. “Katie, if our love isn’t strong enough to span universes, then what’s the point?”
“You’re kidding, right?” she asked, her voice hollow.
He looked at her one more time, his eyes full of rage and despair, and stormed out.
Katie sat on the couch, stunned. Something clattered to the hardwood floor. Emmett’s wedding ring.
The evening passed quietly. She ate the dinner she’d prepared for him, and got in the bed she’d made for him. She lay in the darkness for some time, the hollowness filled first with rage, and then curiosity.
In the dark, she dialed her cell phone.
“Hi Tim, it’s Katie Black. I’m going to be downtown tomorrow and would like to meet for coffee â€¦ well, it’s been a while, and besides, I’m getting tired of the housewife routine. I was wondering if you could get me some leads on some entry level jobs downtown. Emmett tells me I have a head for business.”