Earth #497255: Year 31608, MDTC
Southern California: Spring, 2019
A long two days had passed since the Earth-shattering news had broken. Scientists, lawmakers, religious leaders, and a variety of moralists were scrambling to make sense of their new realities. Panic and fear was widespread but so too was hope and curiosity. All eyes were on Baby Tre as he worked tirelessly to get his traveling device prototype into at least some limited production.
Beth had been waiting for what seemed like an eternity to hear back from Baby Tre’s father. Each passing second brought greater excitement. And each second that she had not received any news was increasingly excruciating.
It was a cool and rainy afternoon at her dilapidated home when she finally had some luck fall her way.
“MOM! I got a message on my phone for you! I think it’s him!”
He ran down the hall to the bathroom and banged on the door.
“One second, Billy! You know what I’m doing in here!”
“Yeah, I know. It’s what you’re always doing, mom! But hurry up, my girlfriend is supposed to call me soon! If I don’t answer, she might go to the movies with Jeremy from homeroom! And if she goes with him, all of my frie-“
“OK, OK! Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ!”
She cut her bathroom trip short and took the phone from Billy.
“Wow! Your eye looks so much better today. Have you been putting ice on it?”
“No! I just woke up this morning and it was almost completely healed!”
“Good. Next time, don’t let your sister beat you up!” She gave a little snort as she laughed at her son’s misfortune.
She opened up the chat app and saw a message for her.
Where TF are you???
I have what you want. Let me know when you can talk.
Her eyes widened and her pulse raced. Her fingers began furiously tapping the phone.
yes i can talk
right now! are you still on?
is it ready to go?
what do I have to do?
HELLO? you still here? talk to me pleeeease!!!!
FFS...calm down, Beth.
oh thank god!
i thought you left again
when can I have it?
Where are you right now?
No...like, where inside your home are you?
well, I just got out of the bathroom and I’m in the living room
OK. Do exactly as I say.
Go to the kitchen and put this phone that you’re using in the freezer. Don’t put it on top of anything or put anything on top of it. In fact, empty the freezer. Put the phone in it and leave it turned on. Close the freezer door and go to the farthest room in your house. Take anyone and any pets with you. Wait five minutes, go back to the freezer, and let me know what you see. Got it?
Yes! Go now!
ok, ok. geez. ur so grumpy!
Beth went to the freezer, threw all of the contents into the kitchen sink, and placed the phone inside. She grabbed her small, miserable-looking dog and walked to Billy’s room in the back corner of her double-wide trailer home.
“Billy, I don’t know what’s about to happen, but I just want you to know that I love you and that-”
“Ew, mom! What’s going on? Are you OK? Oh, no! Are you going to jail again?!”
“Oh, come on! No! I just-”
There was a loud crash and a thud in the kitchen. The house shook. The curtains in Billy’s bedroom blew from a gust of air that came rushing down the hall. Beth fell to the ground in fright and confusion.
“HOLY SHIT! What was that?!”
She ran to the kitchen and saw the refrigerator leaning against the counter in front of it. The freezer door was hanging open. Billy’s phone was on the floor.
She looked into the sink where the fridge was leaning and saw a small metal box lying on top of seven bags of microwavable taquitos that she had emptied from the freezer. The device was thin like a phone and had a shiny glass-like surface on one side. The corners were rounded and there were a few buttons visible on the edges.
This looks just like a phone, Beth thought as she reached down for it. But just before she grabbed the phone-like device, she could feel heat radiating from it. She pulled her hand back. She looked inside the freezer and saw burn marks where she had left Billy’s phone.
“What the...? How is this possible?”
She remembered that she had been instructed to wait five minutes, so she did. As she counted down the final seconds, she heard a voice.
“Beth? Are you there?”
She picked up Billy’s phone.
“Beth! Are you talking into the phone I just sent you?”
“Oh! No I’m not! Sorrieeeees!” She grabbed the new phone, which was now ice cold. She shouted into the new device, “I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THIS WAS!!!”
“Stop yelling! It’s a fucking phone, Beth! What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Ugh, sorry! I just get really excited sometimes and I get a lil’ shouty. It won’t happen again, I promise.”
“Alright, Beth. I need you to listen very closely once more. What I’m going to tell you right now could have life-or-death consequences for you in the future. We can’t possibly know what the infinite number of realities are like out there. Everything we know about our own world and what we’ve recently discovered tells us that your mere presence in another universe could result in mass hysteria, extreme prejudice and violence towards you, experimentation on you, and may even alter timelines – possibly in the entire multiverse.
“So you need to do your best to remember everything I’m about to say. Write it down if you have to. I cannot stress enough how important and seriously you need to ta–”
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” Beth interjected. “Can I call you right back? Seriously, it’ll only be, like, maybe five minutes. No more than ten, I promise! I just...I reeeaaaally need to go poop right now.”
After a few seconds of silence, she heard the phone disconnect.
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