Miranda stood before the door. She didn’t knock but she thought about it. She’d been thinking about it for weeks. Now that she was here, she wasn’t sure she could. She definitely shouldn’t, but if she walked away now all those years toiling away would’ve been meaningless.
Now, here she was. Standing in front of a door. Lacking either the will to knock or walk away.
The door opened. Herself, or a version of herself, stood on the other side of the threshold.
“Oh, hello,” said Miranda2 of this alternate universe.
Miranda stammered. She must’ve made a mistake in the calculations somewhere.
“No mistake,” said Miranda2 as if reading Miranda’s mind. “Won’t you come in?”
Miranda stepped inside. “I must be in the wrong world.”
“There are no wrong worlds. But this isn’t the one you’re looking for.” Miranda2 called to the other room. “Jay, we have another visitor!”
“I’ll make some tea!” called back Jay’s voice from the other room. It was surreal. It’d been so long since she’d heard it.
Miranda2 showed Miranda a seat. Miranda2 sat across the room and asked, “How far along are you in your research? Not very far, right? You’re still haven’t cracked the fluctuations yet.”
“Never mind. You’ll figure it out. We usually do. Fifty-nine percent of us anyway. You’ve already beat the odds. Only three percent of us get the device to work. Of those, seventy-percent perish upon first attempting to use it. Of those . . . well, not important. Not to you. Not yet.”
Miranda hadn’t thought about it until now but if there was another world where Jay hadn’t died in that stupid car accident, thousands of such worlds, then there must’ve been thousands where he had. And in those thousands of worlds, many of those must’ve had another version of Miranda. And some of those versions of Miranda must’ve dealt with her grief like she had.
“You’re not from this world,” said Miranda.
“Now you’re getting it. Like you, I’m from another universe, and like you, I’m here because of that stupid car accident. Such a small thing to determine such a grand discovery. One human life shaping the lives of countless other worlds.”
Jay2 entered. He looked just like Miranda remembered him. A little older perhaps. A little chubbier. He set the tea set down and kissed Miranda2 before leaving the room.
“This one’s mine,” said Miranda2, “but there’s another one out there for you. We’ll help you find him.”
They shared a cup of tea while Miranda2 explained.
“The multiverse isn’t infinite, but close enough. And in all the potential worlds, we have been the only ones to crack travel across alternate realities. We all start out the same, looking for a way to go back to the life we lost. But we all end up slightly different by the end. No real explanation why. Infinite possibilities mean results will vary.
“When you activated your device you did more than cross into another world. You crossed into all of them. You became a traveler across a thousand thousand possibilities, an accidental guardian across all of time and space.”
“Guardian? From what?” asked Miranda.
The lamp on the table beside Miranda2 flashed. “Oh, hell. Terrible timing.” She reached under the couch and removed a strange looking gun. “Keep your head down, Miranda.”
The front door exploded and a trio of commandoes in black burst in. Miranda2 blasted one of the thugs. The others fired weird shrieking ray rifles as Miranda2 vaulted over her chair, somehow dodging all the fire. She shot a second commando and landed a flying kick on the third. She knelt down and pummeled the final soldier into unconsciousness.
“Are you all right, Hon?” shouted Miranda2.
Jay2 stuck his head in the room. “Fine. All clear?”
“What the hell was that?” asked Miranda.
Miranda2 pulled off a mask from the unconscious soldier. The face was battered and bruised but recognizable. Miranda3 groaned.
“Welcome to the war,” said Miranda2.