Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chapter Twenty - Another Life

Tom stood in a strange house. From the back window of the house, he could tell that he was in Sunset Valley, but he didn't recognize some of the structures across the way. He walked out to a balcony and saw that the town of Sunset Valley looked like it was never hit with the meteor shower back when he was a child.

Tom tried to remember why he was in Sunset Valley, but couldn't. He remembered standing next to John back home in Hidden Springs, but the more he tried to think of what happened afterward, the more the memory was pushed back.

Suddenly Tom heard footsteps walking downstairs inside the house, so he quickly ran inside and saw Annabelle standing in front of the staircase. She seemed... different... somehow. Her skin was paler, her hair was shorter, and she was covered in tattoos.
"You... Tom Jameson? What are you doing in my house? Aren't you living in some mansion with your cousins across town? Why do you need to bother us less-wealthy folk?"
"I have no clue what you are talking about. Last I checked, I lived with you and your brother, as well as my cousins, in Hidden Springs Annabelle."

"A couple things are wrong with what you just said, Jameson. I am not this 'Annabelle', my name is Jessica Crawford. I have no brother, and I definitely do not live with you. I haven't liked you since we attended Kindergarten together, why would I live with you? Now get the hell out."

   "No... no that's not how things are. You and I... we're best friends! Maybe even... more... never mind. Look, I have no idea what changed. I was standing next to my friend, YOUR BROTHER, and ... something happened. Please... Annabelle, or Jessica... whatever your name is, please listen to me."

"And why should I?!"

"Because, I know how you look green to certain amount of people."

Jessica was stunned. No one she knew could see her as she really was.

"Okay, I'll listen."
Tom and Jessica sat in her living room, with him telling her about the life that either she had forgotten or he had dreamed.
"So, after Keera got her injury, I came back to the States to be with Annabell... you. Whatever. John is getting married to Scarlett... I don't want my life to have been some vision or something."

"No. I don't think that's it." Jessica said. "Tom, this is going to sound a bit crazy and hard to believe, but do you believe in the idea of parallel universes, specifically the idea that our lives are different in these universes depending on what we do?"

"Uh... no." Tom said, "I believe what we do is what we do, there is no other 'universe' where our choices are backtracked and useless. If I go left, then there's another Tom that goes right, and our lives are different."
"Why do you ask this, Jessica?" Tom asked. "Are you saying I'm in a parallel universe?"
"It's a distinct possibility." Jessica replied. "Either that or I'm not real and you're hallucinating, or I'm hallucinating and you're an illusion. Which would you rather have, Jameson?"
"I would rather have a universe where Annabelle Kethrin is my friend, on my side." Tom said bluntly. "Besides, I didn't even ask about you... who is Jessica Crawford?"

"Me? No, you don't want to know." Jessica replied, "I... there's not much to tell."

"Tell me, please."

"In your universe, or whatever you believe, Annabelle Kethrin crashed into Maria Kethrin's home, who taught her values, who raised her as her own. Me, I didn't have the luxury. I crashed into the home of Jack and Mary Crawford, two people who lived on the idea of partying constantly. They didn't even report my ship smashing into their home to the authorities, as far as I know. They raised me at formal parties, house parties, everything that had the word party in it-"

"Even Political Parties?"


 "Sorry." Tom said, and allowed Jessica to continue.
"Sure they took care of me, they raised me like one of their own, but when I snuck out to party, they didn't care. In fact they encouraged it. I wouldn't really say they cared too much about what I did just as long as I was alive when I came home."

"If this Annabelle of your universe was raised by someone who had the sense of family values, no wonder you care so much for her." Jessica looked off into the distance, then turned to Tom."This Annabelle must be a good person."

"She is. And so are you, I know it."

Jessica stood up and walked to the window, looking out to the late evening hour. The sun was beginning it's descent into horizon.

"I know you're a good person, Annab- I mean, Jessica. If you are anything like Annabelle Kethrin, and you are."

"It's nature vs. nurture, Tom." Jessica replied. "She was raised by a good mother, and raised with people who could help her. My parents... honestly... weren't. They fed me, clothed me, sent me to school, but when it came to honest family values they didn't do much for me."

"They raised you, and you turned out okay I'd say.

"No." Jessica said. "Not okay. I feel sick all the time, sick of myself. I feel weak, sad. I wish I didn't feel this way."

Jessica turned around, and Tom could see a hint of Annabelle's true self in her, perhaps it was the eyes. He could recognize her just by her eyes alone.

"Deep down, you are Annabelle... the one I know." Tom said, assuring her. "I'd know you anywhere."

"But I'm not YOUR Annabelle... I am not from your dimension, and you don't belong here." Jessica said. You need to go back to your world, Tom. You need to go home, to your life. This is not your home, it may look like it, I may look like your friend, but I'm not."

"I don't know how I got here, I don't know how to go back home."

"Think... what happened in your universe, what was the last thing you remember about your world?"

"I..." Tom tried to think it over, but he couldn't. He remembered John, a contraption, something else. Suddenly, a fragment of his memory came back to him.
He remembered himself back home. As much as he tried, he couldn't remember where he was. The location was represented in his mind through a blank white room.

"So what the heck is this thing, John?" Tom asked as he looked at the large, circular object that his friend was working on.

"It's something the scientists back at the lab have been working on for years, but haven't been able to fully finish it. It's supposed to allow people to travel to a completely different universe. Imagine if Scarlett and I could travel to a different dimension for our honeymoon?!"

"Sounds riveting." Tom said, somewhat less-than-thrilled. "Then again, I don't believe in the idea of alternate universes. Aliens, evil unicorns, and meteor-summoning supervillains I can believe, but I don't think an alternate universe exists."

"That's only because we haven't seen them yet." John said. "As you know, I am open-minded with these things. For example, if someone told me ALIENS don't exist, I would say that they do. I'm that open-minded."

"Your SISTER is an alien, John." Tom said.

"Well that's why I'm open minded." John said with a chuckle.

"Wait a second... what's this?" John looked closer into the device and saw a strange bolt loosened. He hit the bolt back into place with his wrench, when suddenly the device began to hum violently.

"John, is it supposed to be like that?"

"No. It's not supposed to be glowing red and humming like that. I suggest we... RUN!"

Suddenly, John turned around and ran towards a door, one that Tom didn't remember being there.
"John, what is going on with this thing?!" Tom asked. "Why are you running?!"


Tom turned around and saw a giant puff of smoke emit from the center of the device, then nothing. A massive explosion overtook him, but he didn't feel it.

The next thing he knew, he was standing in Jessica's house. It seemed that the explosion didn't injure him because it sent out energy before the explosion, energy that grabbed Tom and carried him to another universe.


"It was a transporter... some kind of spherical thing... I remember!"

"The explosion must have put you into a temporary moment of shock, people usually don't remember things that happen to them in that case, as far as I know." Jessica said.
"You're right." Tom said. "That's why I didn't remember the explosion or the moments before! Now that I know what happened, I need to figure out a way back."

"Okay..." Jessica said, turning around back to the window. "So... you need to figure out... how to get back." She said. Tom didn't notice, but she was starting to feel a tinge of pain, and it was taking a hit to her breathing.

"So... how are you... going to get back to your... world?" Jessica asked, her breathing getting more labored. "Call a friend or... something?"

"I don't know. I can only hope Annabelle and John can figure something out." Tom replied. "Unless I can find an inter-dimensional transporter, I'm stuck here."
"You don't know where I can find one of those, eh Jessica?"

There was no response.


Tom turned around and saw Jessica lying on the ground. It was apparent that her non-stop, destructive partying lifestyle, and limited amounts of sleep, had finally taken their toll on her body. He ran over and knelt next to her, feeling her pulse. She was alive, but her pulse was faint. He didn't know if she was going to make it.



Tom heard a voice, it was Annabelle's, but not the Annabelle that was lying before her, it wasn't Jessica. 

"Tom, what's going on? Who is this woman? Who is she? Why does she look like me-"

 "This is you... this whole thing is some parallel universe. She never met me, or Kelly, or John and Scarlett. She's never been through the things we've been through..."

" fact she's been through worse."

"So how did you get here?" Tom asked, finally. "Did John fix that inter-dimensional thingy?"

"We did. We tracked the energy to you. John sent me here, and we have to get to a certain area so he can bring us back."

"Can we bring her back with us?" Tom asked. "John, he can help her-"

"I am not sure if she would survive the trip." Annabelle interrupted, her apparent lack of compassion for the other her a mask to hide her shock of this whole situation. "So... is she..."

"No." Tom said. "She's just passed out, but she needs help. We're going back right now, aren't we? Back to our universe?"

"Yes. We shouldn't stay here too much longer. But if you want to call the paramedics, I am willing to stay out of sight with you until they arrive."

Tom nodded and walked over to the phone, punching the numbers 911 and hoping they were the same here as in his own world. When the responders, he said he needed someone at the house, gave the address, and hung up.

Paramedics showed up not too long after Tom and Annabelle left the interior of the home, out of sight as the medic showed up along with a pair of firefighters. The group quickly moved Jessica onto a stretcher and carried her out to an ambulance outside, and minutes later she was on her way to the hospital. 

When the ambulance drove away, Tom and Annabelle started their their way across town, to the edge of the street and near Sunset Valley's northern mountain.There they stood outside an empty house. 

"This is the location, Tom." Annabelle said. Then she spoke into a microphone that seemed to be inside her glove. "John, we're ready."

"Give me a few seconds." John said through it.

"So what will happen to Jessica?" Tom asked. "Will she make it?"

"We can only hope." Annabelle said as they felt an energy flow through them. "We can only hope."

Annabelle stood in place when the two arrived back at their home, and after a moment or two of silence, Annie turned to her companion. "That was freaking surreal as f-... I mean, that was completely out of the ordinary for me and that is saying a lot."

"Yeah you can say that again." Tom replied.

Annabelle looked around at her house, then back to Tom. "Strangely enough, I've always wondered what would happen if I never met you guys. I don't need to wonder anymore. And to be perfectly honest, that was something I never want to endure again."

Annabelle determined, then ran inside the house. "I need to tell John about this! Perhaps another visit to parallel universes isn't going to be out of the question!"

 Tom remained where he was, watching Annabelle run into the house. He was wondering if the other Annabelle, Jessica, had survived the events of the night. Then, after a short time, he too walked into the house to sleep and get his mind off of the insanity of the day.