Author : Erin Searles

“Cats,”said Big Fat Dave. “It was cats that started it in this reality.”

In his channel’s feed I saw Archibald, Big Fat Dave’s big fat cat, stretch as if in agreement.

He continued: “You know how cats will watch something or someone crossing a room when you can see there’s no one there. That ‘s them watching people on alternate reality channels. That’s how we figured out how to do it. Scientists did studies on cats’ brains.”

“I doubt it.” Pink Dave scoffed. Pink Dave hadn’t chosen his own nickname. The day we all first met Pink Dave had been wearing a pink shirt and tie. He didn’t like it, but nicknames stick.

Recently things hadn’t been going so well for Pink Dave. We hadn’t seen him in a shirt and tie for a while. He’d stopped shaving for so long that he was a better candidate for Bearded Dave than I was. Maybe he could be called Bearded Dave when I was gone.

“It was those scientists at CERN, right?” He looked to me and Not Dave for agreement. “You Daves have CERN in your worlds, don’t you? Back in the noughties they build a machine they thought might end the world, but instead they discovered how to view the alternate realities.”

I wasn’t keen to gang up on Big Fat Dave, who worshipped his cat slightly more than was healthy. I answered as diplomatically as I could.

“Yeah, we have a CERN here and they did build the LHC, but I don’t remember anything coming of it. I think the tech came from the American military on my channel.”

Not Dave shrugged. “It’s probably different for all the channels, that’s the point of alternate realities, right?”

Not Dave’s name was actually Andrew, we didn’t know why. Like the rest of us he was the 32 year old son of Jack and Nicola Upton, but in his reality they had called him Andrew, not Dave. It was strange for him to realise after a lifetime of being an Andrew that he was, according to probability, a Dave. He elected to be known as Not Dave, despite not needing the differentiating nickname.

Pink Dave was about to start arguing again. I headed him off:

“Guys. Do we want to spend my last night retreading the same old arguments?”

“Hell no,” said Not Dave. “ Let’s raise a glass to Bearded Dave.”

They all lifted a can, in strange unison in their respective corners of my screen. Not Dave and Pink Dave had beers; Big Fat Dave was drinking Coke.

“Bearded Dave,” they chorused.

I picked up my own drink to toast them back.

“Dave, Dave, Andrew it’s been a pleasure knowing you all. I wish we could carry on being friends… I’ll always remember you.”

We all lapsed into silence. It was close to midnight, the time when my channel would block all other realities from viewing us, and, as the inter-reality laws decreed, be blocked in return – who wants someone watching you when you can’t watch them back. Despite international outrage my reality’s committee governing reality channels hadn’t backed down. People had been given a month to say goodbye to friends on other channels while the final appeal went through. It had failed and at midnight the switch would be thrown.

“It sucks, man.” said Big Fat Dave.

More silence. One minute to midnight.

“Bye Daves.”

“Bye Dave.”

“Bye mate.”

“See you Dave.”

Black screens. Channel 1353 had blocked. I sat back in my chair – an isolated Dave in an isolated world.

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