Worlds Upon Worlds
It took Lari Vanhanen three months to realize that he had slipped into an alternative universe. An argument over the origin of a popular yeast extract was what made him recognize this shocking truth.
Lari was having drinks with his partner Kim and her ex Kellie. The conversation had somehow wandered into the revelatory topic – possibly because they had been discussing hangover cures. Anyway Lari knew for a fact that yeast extracts had originated in the 1950s as a vegetarian form of cooking stock that had then been turned to the use of a spread. Kellie, however, insisted that it had originated decades before that as a by-product of beer manufacture! Now, most such arguments are never resolved, but Kellie had a net-connected palmtop at her disposal, and proved her point with it. Lari was incensed but was subdued by warning looks from Kim.
The next day however was a Saturday and once Lari had woken and showered he found the argument of the previous night nagging away at him. Kellie had accessed Wikipedia - a site that anyone can edit. Could she have edited the page surreptitiously while in the pub? Lari went back to that site and from there followed links to both manufacturer and consumer-advice websites and was perturbed to find that they all corroborated the brewery origin.
Lari started exploring websites wildly as he recalled several incongruous statements he had encountered in recent weeks and discovered all sorts of trivial yet disturbing differences between the world he knew and the world that was now presenting itself to him. He could not possibly have been wrong about so many things. The only explanation that came to mind was one of alternative universes.
Lari remembered how annoyed he had been on walking past a parent and child in a front yard and hearing the parent tell the child that slaters were a kind of land-dwelling crustacean. Lari was too reserved a person to actually say anything but he fumed at an adult filling a child with such nonsense. Surely everybody knew that slaters were a stunted form of millipede. Now however the Internet told Lari that in this universe that parent had been right.
Lari also remembered browsing in a music shop while Kim was looking for sheet music and coming across an informational poster describing various keyboard-operated instruments. Lari was sure that 1960s electric organs were primitive electronic synthesizers but the poster had stated that they produced sound using a combination of rotating steel ‘tonewheels’ and electromagnetic ‘pickups’ thus making them more akin to electric guitars. Once more then Internet told Lari that in this universe the poster was right.
All this and more was rather disturbing to Lari, and yet also liberating. As frustrating as it was to have to check his facts on the smallest of things, it was also apparent that this universe was better for him than his native reality. Till recently a pale and weedy nerd with a silly name like his had never had any luck in his love-life. And yet somehow he was now with a beautiful and exciting women like Kim. And then he knew when and where it was that he had slipped from universe to universe.
Three months ago Lari had met Kim at Demonique – a goth-themed night held at the Masked Nightclub. Somehow his usually inept overtures had worked – apparently the word “exquisite” had made a big impression on her. In any case there had been something magical about that night and Lari decided to examine Masked Nightclub more closely.
The premises of Masked had been a nightclub for fifteen years. During the three decades that preceded that time it had been a camping and fishing products storehouse. And preceding that it had been the office and borrowing library for an occult society named Worlds Upon Worlds (WUW) that had existed from the 1920s to the 1960s. WUW practitioners postulated an infinity of ‘worlds’ in which every person had a world most suited to them, if only they could find it. That was it! WUW must have conducted supernatural experiments into finding those other worlds. Maybe they had disbanded once they all found what they wanted. In any case Masked was the site of the rift between universes and the next Demonique was just a few nights away. Lari had to warn Kim and luckily they were meeting at a café that afternoon.
Kim gave Lari that look over the brim of her tea cup that, as far as he could tell, only women could achieve, which conveyed pure incredulity. “Lari – you are fantastic at making educated guesses but do you think that sometimes you might just put two and two together and get five?” Kim seemed to think that Lari was just wrong and wrong on so many things. Lari was momentarily subdued so Kim went on:
“If it was Kellie she would check all her facts and if it was me I would never assert anything for sure but you just assume you are right.”
“And” Kim added “I will go to Demonique to have a good time as well as to show to you that there is nothing the matter with it.”
Lari responded to Kim by saying “okay some of those things may just be misinterpretations of mine but there is one more thing that I cannot reconcile…” Kim looked on expectantly so Lari pressed on. “You and Kellie tell this story of exploring inside the Wingnut Overpass but in my experience it has a different name altogether!”
“Just come with me Lari and stick close to me if you have to” was the final word of Kim. “We can dirty-dance the night away and if I get sucked into another dimension then you will too” she smirked. Lari would just have to agree and the dancing part did work for him. There was just one problem however – the bathrooms at Masked were gender-segregated…
I hope others enjoyed that. One thing I wonder is this: Do you think that the central character makes way too many assumptions and interpretations or has he slipped into an alternative universe?
Labels: Creative Writing