Trouble in Paradise

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I push up from the ground onto my hands and knees, spitting dirt. It takes me a minute, but I get there: I’m dead.

Dying’s a lot like dreaming - it’s as vivid as this: a red canyon gulfs me, turning indigo at the horizon, stretching on and on with a deep sky studded with stars; I could look at this forever.

A bullet scrapes my shoulder.

I whip around. It’s not a bullet but a stick, one of a handful gripped by a woman with scraggly hair and even more so scowl.

“Who are you?” she demands. “Sylvia?”

“No,” I say, jealousy seeping down my throat. Everyone always seems to know someone, some Sylvia. No one ever asks, Cassandra?

“How did you get here?” she says. “There’s no one here. I’ve been searching for years.”

Years? That’s how long I’ll be stuck in this place?

“How do you measure time here?” I ask.

Her hands wobble. She doesn’t know she’s dead. My heart pangs. This is ever more so like dreaming. Most people aren’t aware they’re doing it ‘till it’s too late.

I look closer at her. Her nose, the slight offset of her eyes, the waves in her dark hair…


She steps back. “Do I know you?”

We met once….

My brother was touring me through his research facility; he claimed I needed to get out more, and wanted me to socialize, so I took the trip to the island where he manages the place. You can always count on family to give you a life.

I followed him down halls while he opened doors and pointed inside rooms with steel tables and white gowns, my mind wandering off and neck trailing pretty people who marched past.

Kola was in charge of the Dimension project, and only at the grand finale of our tour - in the cafeteria - did he reveal the real reason for inviting me over.

“How do you feel about working here at one of the MX-K frameworks? I’m sure we could find something to do for you,” he said, trying to make his job offer more subtle by stuffing his mouth with a ham sandwich post-sentence.

“No, thanks,” I dulled my default response to most questions. I’d picked up an apathetic view on life since my arranged marriage, a requirement of being a monarch’s family member I’d braced myself for since I was eight and, for an almost equal length of time, had avoided thinking about.

“I want to show you one more thing that’ll change your mind.” He stood up, having finished his sandwich, whereas I still cradled my teapot.

We took the elevator to the top floor, whose hallway had a single oval door. I glimpsed the sign as I stepped over the threshold into the OBSERVATORY, where I would meet my first wormhole.

“Hello, Dr. Moralo.” Both our heads turned as a worker approached us. She had a broad nose, slight Telecanthus and brown curls…

Three years later, my worst nightmare was coming true. I was pulling open and closed the cupboards of my dresser when my bedroom doorknob shook as someone wrung its neck.

There’s a theory that you wouldn’t recognize yourself if you walked down the street, and I admit it took me a minute. The wood at the keyhole snapped and with a splinter, the door shoved open.

In shock, I stared at myself. It was me.

“Get out of here!” she kicked the door closed behind her and crossed the room to the left wall.

She threw her side against the wall, which obediently sliced open a short, fat door. I’d lived here three years and hadn’t known it existed - because it hadn’t been made yet in the time I was from.

In that moment, I knew I should’ve listened to George. Since it was discovered how to produce them, wormholes were thought to take you through universes, each on a different dimension. Before I had to leave George’s house, I found his notes about the truth. The wormholes took you through time, each dimension a snapshot of every moment.

“Go! They’re coming!” She ducked through the door and pressed it closed.

I couldn’t go. I had more work to do. I had-

The door burst open, and the shots fired,

and I ended up face-first on the dirt in the middle of paradise.

“How long have you been here?” I ask Lev after telling her this.

“I saw myself, too,” she says, her memory jogged like the first week of January we went jogging, hyped up on New Year’s resolutions and young promises; not answering my question. She scratches the bark on one of the sticks in her hand. Her eyes roam the ground, but they’re not looking at it - they’re far away, scanning into that clever brain of hers.

“It’s entanglement, Cas,” she looks up into my eyes for a moment, which flees, and she’s looking past me, thinking again.

“You were always quick to jump to conclusions.” I squat to sit on the dirt-frosted cliff. I rest my forearms on my knees, my fingers limp. “We’re dead.”

“Maybe not,” she says. The excitement in her voice flicks like fingers against my neck. “When we saw ourselves… Maybe we became entangled with our living selves before we died, and that’s why we’re not dead - maybe we can get back. Maybe we’re still in a state between dead and alive.”

“There’s no ‘maybe.' There are only two possibilities: yes or no.”

“I see somebody hasn’t changed.” Her lips are tight, teeth full of salt. “You’re just as-”

The CRACK of boots on a forest floor snaps my head round, and I scan the trees across the clearing. My heart drops as my brother steps into view.

About the Author: 
I'm a writer from British Columbia, Canada. I enjoy traveling, walking, reading, writing and making Youtube videos. For sports, my favorites are tennis and swimming. My favorite thing about quantum physics is the way it makes me feel there's something greater to all this nonsense.