I slip into the fake-leather seat, and look at my watch. I have about an hour before the shareholders’ meeting, but I have to stop by the day care first, so I want to make this snappy. I’ve found that the little impatient look usually stops these people from making small talk and gets them down to business. Not this guy, though. From the moment I sit down, he starts with the chit chat. I sigh softly to myself, not wanting to be rude, and look up at the mirror that lets me see a little of his face. That’s when I notice that he’s not from here. I can hear it in the accent, and when I look closely I can see that his eyes reflected in the mirror look a little… off. Great. Just what I need. Another bloody foreigner.
Still, I’m not prejudiced, so I give the man my particulars and he gets going. I know it’s probably going to take at least twenty minutes, so I lean back, close my eyes and hope I can maybe just sleep through it.
No such luck. He’s chattering away at me, about the weather and some boring local political thing, when he looks up at the mirror at the same time I glance up and our eyes meet. “You might not realize this,” he says to me, “but I’m an immigrant.”
“You don’t say,” I answer, bored and rolling my eyes, though he can’t see me anymore, his focus back on his job where it belongs.
“It’s true,” he says, not noticing my sarcasm. “I have a home here now, but I came through the portal about a year and a half ago. You ever been through?” he asked, his eyes darting up to the mirror and catching my gaze.
I fake a smile and shake my head. “No,” I say.
He laughs mirthlessly. “Well, you probably would not want to. Oh, my plane is a beautiful place. We have these amazing snow-capped mountains there that you just don’t have here, and the architecture cannot be believed.” He pauses a moment, and I worry that I’m going to get the tourism board lecture. Instead, he mercifully goes back to his story. “I’m sure the other planes are lovely, too. But the trip – Gott in Himmel – it’s a bear. I truly thought I was going to die. It was like my flesh was being ripped off my bones. Yeugh.” He shivers at the memory.
Of course, I’ve heard all about the terrible pain of the interdimensional transporters. They say that the scientists who accidentally created the first rift between one instance of the universe and the others only realized they had done anything remarkable at all when they heard the agonized shrieking of the poor bastard who fell in the hole. Not something that sounds much like a holiday to me. I always said I’d wait until they figured out some painless way to travel between the planes, thank you very much. Besides, I never really understood what was so great about being surrounded by a bunch of foreign freaks in the first place. It’s not like you even have to travel for that.
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Image: Daniel Clayton Greer