Author: Joshua Fagan
After a decade spent wandering Andromeda, General Louis Patterson arrived at the conclusion that his dream of ruling an entire galaxy was nothing but a cheap fantasy, something out of the discount paperbacks he’d read as a child. Rather, it would be much more sensible to steal a remote that would allow him to enter an alternate reality where he already ruled an entire galaxy.
Sneaking into a laboratory, he chained up Carrie, the lead scientist, before taking her remote. Activating it, he saw an infinite number of universes flash before his eyes. He chose one where he could see himself draped in the adornments of power, and he rushed toward it, but before departing this universe, he saw Carrie smile. Though the secrets of trans-universal travel unfolded before him, emerald nebulas swirling through his mind, he could not unveil the mystery behind that smile.
Exotic birdsong soothed his ears as he awoke in a golden throne room, servants feeding him plump grapes. Spaceships bearing his name flashed through azure skies, bound for distant worlds. His advisers brought him maps of his empire, which extended to the far reaches of the galaxy. It was everything he wanted, but what if it didn’t last? What if there was a rebellion? What if the rebels assassinated him?
It was a possibility too terrible for him to comprehend, so he escaped this universe. Too many risks. Too many what-ifs.
The only thing better than to be obeyed like a king was to be worshipped like a god. Entering a universe where his subjects had erected cathedrals in his honor, he stared at the setting sun, believing himself its equal. He asked his nearest advisor if there were any rebellions, and she chuckled. “Of course not. Forgive me for laughing, Your Supreme Majesty, but there haven’t been any rebellions in three thousand years.” Then this was it—the universe where he would stay. His very name was synonymous with the divine, and there were no threats to his authority.
But what if that changed? There is nothing more transient than fortune. As long as he could die, he was vulnerable. There was only one solution. He created a portal and searched for a universe where he would be immortal.
Shackles covered his wrists. The musty prison air provided no comfort. Rats scurried between the bars. Filth covered the stone floor of his cell, and there was no light, save for the flashlight carried by Carrie as she descended into the prison and took the remote from his shaking wrists.
“What is this?” he asked as he coughed and choked.
She stomped on his remote until nothing remained of it but scraps of wire and cheap plastic. “Did you really think that was the only trans-universal remote?” she asked. “You’re not the only one who can travel between realities.”
It’s not the physical endurance, it’s the mental.
Good story, Joshua. I liked Carrie right from the start and hoped she was up to something. She was! I loved how brittle and anxious the General was. Nice work!