Running Time

“Go ahead,” Marie said. She handed a silver, remote-style, device to her best friend, Felipe. “Just press,” Marie pointed to a small green button on the top middle of the gadget. “that button.” Felipe nodded. He pointed the remote at a white wall and pushed the green button.

Immediately the device began to vibrate in his hand nonstop. Despite the vibrations numbing his hand slightly, he felt the device getting warm in his hand. Red light escaped from under the various other buttons on the device. He looked around for Marie and found her on the other side of the room. She stared at a monitor with a hand covering her mouth as if she was trying to stifle a laugh.

“Hey-Uh- Is it supposed to be doing that?” Frank spoke in a loud voice to draw her attention. He knew in a few seconds the heat would become unbearable. Marie walked over and looked at the device. Her eyes widened.

“NO!” she shouted. “Toss it!” Frank tossed the remote on the floor. It bounced and rolled until it came to a stop against the wall, then it exploded in a small fireball that scorched the floor and wall.

“Jesus that could’ve been my hand!” Frank said. He turned to yell at Marie, but she stared at him with sparkling blue eyes and a large smile. Before Frank could say anything else Marie reached up and punched his shoulder.

“That’s for the cling wrap on the toilet, jerk.” Laughter welled up in Frank’s gut and he let out a full, hearty laugh when he remembered the prank.

“OH MY GOD! That was a decade ago, at least!” Marie shrugged and smiled.

“I’ve been busy, but it was on the list. Anyway, check out the real one,” Marie held out another silver remote with a green button. Frank grabbed it and looked it over.

“It looks like the other one. How do you tell them apart?” Marie grabbed the remote from his hand and flipped it over. It had an “R” etched into the silvery metal. She pulled out another one from her pocket and showed the back to Frank. That one had no “R”.

“Aside from the ‘R’,” Marie pulled out a black keyfob from her pocket. “The real one doesn’t explode when I press the button.”

“You made remote explosives?” Frank asked. Marie giggled.

“It’s funny how things work out. It wasn’t until after I finished the prototype,” she pointed at scorch marks in another corner. “.., that I realized it. But it’s handy. C’mon, try it!” she put the real remote in Frank’s hand. He pointed at the wall and pressed the green button. It buzzed to life in his hand again.

“Is it supposed to be doing that?” he asked.

“Yes. It’s finding the right frequency,” Marie said.

“Frequency? You told me you were looking for alternate universes, not radio stations,” Frank said. He felt glad to notice that the device was not warming up in his hand.

“Yeah, but universes are like radio stations. They each have their own vibration frequency. “Got one!” she said and pointed at the wall. Frank looked to her when she explained until she aimed his attention back at the wall.

The white wall appeared to have a hole large enough to walk through in it, darker than anything Frank had ever seen.

“Whoa… is that it?” Frank asked. Marie nodded.

“You ready?” she asked.

“What, right now? Just like that? You’re not gonna send a drone through first or something?”

“That’s no fun! I promised you an adventure.”

“Yeah, but I thought you meant camping or something.” Marie shrugged.

“Camping in another universe is still camping. C’mon!” she grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the black hole. Frank anchored his feet and tried to stay in place, but Marie pulled him forward an inch at a time. A sudden sound called their attention. They faced the wall in time to see a young girl stumble out of the hole and fall to the ground. Long blond strands of hair covered her while she scrambled up from the floor and looked around the room. Marie stepped forward.

“Are you oka-” the strange girl looked at Marie through frantic, brown eyes.

“Where’s the exit!” she asked in a hurry. Marie pointed at the door at the top of the steps. The girl bolted. As she was halfway up the stairs she stopped and looked at Frank and Marie.

“RUN!” she yelled and kept running up the stairs.  A flat, hollow sound came from behind Marie and she turned to face the portal. A white skeleton stepped out of the portal. Then more followed.

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