Author : Ian Rennie

I met a girl the other night while hopping. It was in some bar somewhere, and she must have been a local, because she was fascinated by my bracelet. It must have been a relatively close hop, because she spoke english in an accent that wasn’t too weird, but I was drunk enough that the details didn’t register.

Hopping is a great way to have a no strings night of fun. If you can afford the bracelet you just dial up somewhere random and make the jump. You can set parameters if you like, so it will always pick out somewhere where your currency is valid or whatever, or you can freewheel. It has the advantage that whatever happens in that reality stays in that reality, the consequences don’t follow you home unless you’re really unfortunate and you catch a dose of something that doesn’t exist where you came from.

She had skin like coffee just as the cream goes in, a gradient from rich dark skin to the wonderful paleness of the palms of her hands. We drank something amazing that tasted like minty cinnamon but had the aftertaste of warm honey, and when we made love we both came until we screamed. As I fell asleep beside her I was more perfectly happy than I had ever been.

The morning came, as mornings have a habit of doing, and I woke up before her. I went through the pantomime everyone does the morning after, and pulled on shirt and shoes in the scratchy silence of a blistering headache. I was going to wake her with a kiss, maybe get a morning reminder of the night before, when my bracelet beeped. I had to be at work in five minutes, so I buttoned up what I could and sent myself home. Half a second after I hit send, I realized what I’ve done.

One of the reasons hopping is so popular is that it really is anonymous. When you dial random coordinates in the bracelet, it does exactly what it says. You get somewhere entirely random. And once you go, it forgets all about where you’ve been. When I left without a word that morning, I left entirely, with no way to go back. And it was only after I’d hit the button that I understood how much I wanted to go back.

I’ve been trying to find her ever since. Theoretically, there are an infinite number of realities out there, but I’ve been narrowing as well as my memory will let me. Each night I go to the same bar, or as close to it as I can get, and I watch the girls on the dancefloor, looking for the one with skin like coffee, eyes like sunrise. I thought I saw her a few nights ago, but when I spoke to this girl, she had no idea who I was.

One day I’ll see her again. Our eyes will meet and she’ll know me. We’ll share glasses of something that tastes like minty cinnamon, and in the morning I’ll hear my bracelet beep and I’ll turn it off and stay here forever.

One day.

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