Sleapers, Part 1
A manifestation of Alternate Universe Week
(New York City, 2003. A man named Purnell is walking his dog down the sidewalk. As they pass an alley, the dog suddenly turns and barks into it. Curious, the owner looks over that way just in time to see a spacetime portal spin out of thin air. It noisily spits out four people and then closes again.)
Purnell: What the--? Who are you?
IJD: We made it! We're alive!
Marc: Boy, that was a close one. The Elbonian mafia nearly had us.
Zeke: Did everybody make it in one piece?
Kira: Not if we count your hair.
Zeke: Oh, har de har har.
Purnell: (clearing his throat) I said, who are you people?
Zeke: We're, well....
Kira: Figments of your imagination. Ignore us and we'll go away.
(Purnell raises an eyebrow, clearly not buying it.)
IJD: I told you we should have gone with the "alley inspectors" cover story.
Zeke: It's too late to undo the damage. He saw the portal. We may as well just be honest about it.
Marc: But what of the Prime Directive?
Purnell: Prime what? What are you all talking about?
Zeke: (sigh) All right, we can explain. Maybe you should sit down for this.
Kira: Zeke, we're in an alley. There aren't any chairs.
Zeke: He could sit on the dog.
Dog: ROWF! ROWF!
Purnell: Easy, Aki. He's joking. (glaring at Zeke) Right?
Marc: Of course he is. Zeke would never endorse anything that involved harming dogs.
Zeke: Okay, that's enough out of --
IJD: It sure is chilly out here, isn't it?
(Marc and IJD give each other high fives. Zeke grumpily turns back to Purnell.)
Zeke: Let me ask you a hypothetical question. What if you found a portal into a parallel universe? What if you could slide into a thousand different worlds, where --
Purnell: "Slide"? It looked more like "being hurled uncontrollably."
Zeke: ....Yes. The point is, suppose in each world it's the same year and you're the same person, but everything else is different. Now what if you can't find your way home?
Purnell: That'd be pretty ugly. Good thing it was just a hypothetical question. But seriously, where did you come from?
Kira: I'll get the flash cards.
Zeke: Hold on. All right, Mr....
Zeke: Right. Mr. Purnell, my friends and I are in that situation I just described.
Purnell: Then why did you call it a hy--
Zeke: Look, just go with it!
Kira: I've got the flash cards when you're ready.
Zeke: (turning to Kira) And you be quiet.
Marc: And give back my flash cards.
Kira: Make me.
Purnell: So let me get this straight. You're from another dimension?
IJD: Yeah. We've been to about thirty of them now.
Purnell: Ha! Any fool knows there are only five dimensions!
IJD: Not by my count. There was the Nazi world, the gangster world, the Dimension of Pain, the world without shrimp, the one where time went backwards....
Marc: One that hated I.
Purnell: You guys think you're pretty clever, don't you?
Kira: God, yes.
Zeke: Well, now that you've heard who we are, I bet you're curious about our origin.
Purnell: Not really.
Zeke: It all started on a dark and stormy night....
(Flashback. Zeke's house, two months earlier.)
Zeke: (on the phone) No, we're not making any deals. I paid them 47 billion dollars and I expect every cent of it back. Uh huh... okay, tell them they have one more week to get us the money and then we're suing the skrell out of them. Yes, in those words. Oh, and keep me informed about the Paramount suit, okay? Thanks, Jeice. Bye.
(As Zeke hangs up, a portal opens and another Zeke steps out.)
Other Zeke: Hey.
Zeke: Oh, for K'Z'K's sake. I told Dashsmith not to make any more clones. Just because Jennifer Garner needed six doesn't mean I do.
Other Zeke: I'm not a clone, I'm just you from another dimension.
Zeke: Ah. Coffee?
Other Zeke: No thanks, can't stand the stuff.
Zeke: Well, your story checks out. What brings you here?
Other Zeke: Just thought I'd tell you the secrets to interdimensional travel.
Zeke: Doesn't that create a causation paradox?
Other Zeke: Why do you think I'm doing it? Here's the blueprint.
(The other Zeke hands Zeke a picture of a toaster with an apron in one slot and a copy of Ulysses in the other.)
Zeke: How the heck does it work?
Other Zeke: Beats me. I got it from some other Zeke. You can use it to travel between dimensions, but no matter what you do, never forget to --
Other Zeke: Oh, I can't tell you.
Zeke: Why not?
Other Zeke: Temporal Prime Directive.
(Zeke whips the Hammer of Smiting off the wall and swings. The other Zeke leaps back into the portal from which he came.)
Kira: It's okay if you're bored. There's a lot about Zeke in this story.
Purnell: And then you built this, er, complicated device?
Zeke: Yep. I talked the others into coming along --
IJD: More like tricked.
Marc: Now now, let's not recriminate.
IJD: He said we were going to Disneyworld!
Zeke: And we did. It was the first world we ended up on.
Kira: The fact that there were giant mice doesn't make it Disneyworld. Mickey doesn't have fangs.
Zeke: Anyway, we left in a bit of a hurry and I wasn't careful enough with the machine. It turned out what the other Zeke was going to warn me about was that you have to switch the apron and the book to reverse a trip; otherwise you just go on to another world.
Purnell: And now you can't get back to your Earth?
Zeke: Nope. It's tragic. We have to keep leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that our next leap will be the leap home.
Purnell: I thought you called it sliding, not leaping.
Marc: I suggest "sleaping."
IJD: Yeah, we're all pretty tired.
Purnell: Well, I'm really glad you told me all this. For a while there, I thought this had to be some kind of publicity stunt. Now I know you're interdimensional travelers.
Marc: We don't like to brag --
Zeke: Oh, we do so.
Purnell: (pulling out a sidearm and a badge) You have the right to remain silent. I'll read your remaining rights at the rate of 50 cents for the first three rights and 10 cents for each additional right.
IJD: What the--? You're a cop?
Purnell: Plainclothes. The dog is my partner.
(Aki grins toothily.)
Marc: But why are you arresting us? We haven't done anything wrong!
Purnell: You've all confessed to multiple counts of interdimensional travel. That gets you fifteen to life.
(Everyone glares at Zeke.)
Zeke: Oh, sure. Blame me for this one too.
Kira: It's the seventh time! God, is there any world you can't get us arrested on?
Zeke: Are you counting the bee-eating incident? 'Cause there's no way I could have known.
Purnell: All right, let's get you down to the station, people. Sheriff Dean is going to want to have a little word with you.
Zeke: (to Marc, whispered) There's only one chance. Who's got the toaster?
Marc: I have it, but we'll need somewhere to plug it in. There should be a socket where we're going, unless, of course....
IJD: Unless what?
Marc: (to Purnell) Ahem... excuse me, officer, would you mind telling us how much electricity normally costs in this area?
Kira: We're so screwed.
TO BE CONTINUED....
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Got a comment on this part of "Sleapers"? Contact Zeke.
DISCLAIMER: Yes, we're still breaking a few copyrights. Coincidentally, we're still insane. Now go fetch me my hunting rifle, it's cabbage season.
All material © 2003, Colin Hayman.