Author : Ancus Mitis

Scanning another world. You pause in your survey when you see a creature with familiar pinkish skin on four legs. You squint at it for a minute, and then it turns around and you see its human face.


You grimace and look down at the “skip” button—actually the letter “s” on your keyboard, but you’re not typing essays or anything. You almost consider pressing it. And then the early warning system kicks in.

“Ah, shit.” You know they’re on their way now.

You look back at the creature on the monitor. Its face is familiar. Someone you used to work with. Maybe she’s still alive somewhere. If these are your alternate universe counterparts, then there must not be any civilization there. No one to destroy you. No one to be destroyed. So you press “evacuate” instead. The script you had Allen write days ago does its work.

Your machines pull on the stretchy fabric of this foreign reality and drag it into the room beneath you. The hallway outside it has all the necessary equipment for starting a new life. Everyone who goes through takes some piece of equipment with them, until the hallway is empty.

And out you go, through the doors and down the stairs and into where the room used to be.

Now you’re on a hilly grassland with those funny peoplemonkeys crawling around on it. You can still see the door to the hallway in your old universe. You get the remote out of your pocket as you watch your people coming through. Allan and Greenough, your next door neighbors, are about to cross the threshold when you hear this loud crash and parts of the facility are flung into the new world.

The connection snaps. But it’s as if you had closed the door yourself. The skin of the world rebounds and you are knocked flat by a wave expanding in three dimensions. You’ve compared it once to dropping a rock into a pond, but it’s more like tidal waves on the ocean. Within ten thousand kilometers, any buildings are like sand castles being washed away. People inside them—but there’s no reason to think about that. This place is empty.

You look around your new home. The day is warm and dry and there isn’t very much wind. The grassy hills lead up to mountains towards the south; halfway along, the grass changes to forest. There are parts of the world you’ve been chased away from that still look like this. But above this world hangs a colossal moon and there are those humonkey things munching grains on the ends of the tall stalks of wild grass. You see one of them with Allan’s face, taking tufts of hair from another, who looks an awful lot like Greenough, and biting off the ends.

You decide it would be better to lie back down for a while.

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