“C’mon, speed it up,” the burly guard said. He shoved Chris toward the vertical black hole that hung in the air. The short, blond, pale man stumbled forward, but he found his balance before he reached the portal.
“I DIDN’T DO IT!” Chris yelled. He knew better than to turn around and talk back to the guard, but he needed someone, anyone to listen.
“According to the court, you did. If you don’t walk through on your own, I get to throw you in,” the mountain of a man looked down at Chris and smiled. He leaned forward and brought his arms up in front of him. The guard made fists and tightened his body to show off his giant muscles. “I hope I get to throw you in.”
“Okay, okay!” Chris said. He thought it would be better to arrive on the other side on his feet instead of on his head. He took a deep breath, not sure what to expect, closed his eyes, then he charged into the portal. After several running steps he realized he should open his eyes, though he did not stop running. He opened his eyes in time to see the metal bars he ran into headfirst.
“Ah hell,” Chris grumbled and grabbed the bars to keep himself standing. He leaned against the bars and enjoyed the feel of the cool metal against his aching head. He took a moment to listen to his new surroundings while he rested his head, but he did not hear a thing. The silence surprised him enough to get him to look around.
His cell reminded him more of a cage than a jail cell. It sat in the middle of a large, empty room, with bars on all sides. White tiles and fluorescent lights made the room look like a large office; but, he saw no desks, computers, cubicles or people. Then, he heard the sound of a doorknob turning. He turned towards the sound in time to see a young woman in a white lab coat walk in. She walked straight to Chris. She smiled once she reached the cell, but he recognized her short red hair and button nose.
“YOU!” he stood up straight and looked into her dark blue eyes. “You’re alive! I knew I didn’t kill you! SEND ME BACK!!” He gripped the bars and yelled in her face. She gave him a knowing smirk.
“Oh, I know,” the woman gave a slight nod. “But you won’t be going back.”
“What?” Chris stepped back from the bars. He knew he did not kill anyone. He hoped to get someone to listen to him, but he never imagined the person that believed him would keep him locked up. He fell to a seated position on the floor and wrapped his arms around his knees.
“Don’t look so glum, it’s a good thing!” the woman said with a cheery voice. Chris looked up to her and found her smiling while unlocking the cell door. “C’mon!” She swung it open and waved him out. “There’s lots to show you.”
“What?” Chris asked again, unsure whether he could trust her. He remained seated, but the woman stepped into the cell and offered him a hand up.
“Don’t you want to know why I framed you for murder?” she asked. Chris sighed.
“Fine.” He stood up without accepting her hand. She shrugged and stepped out of the open cell. Chris followed.
“Tell me what you know about this place. What are you expecting here?” she asked while they crossed the large empty room to the door.
“It’s the worst prison in the world,” he said. “Criminals and crazies get tossed on an island in the middle of nowhere with zero chance of parole.” The woman stopped at the door and turned to Chris before she opened it.
“The only true thing you said is that criminals and crazies get tossed in with no parole. There’s no guards here, no prison staff at all. They use the portal like a garbage chute. They toss us away without ever giving us a second thought.” she paused and took a breath. Chris got the impressions she was trying to calm herself down.
“So it’s not the worst prison in the world?” Chris asked. The woman smiled and shook her head.
“It’s not a bad place at all.” She opened the door and stood aside to let Chris step through first. He stepped into a large open room like the one he left, but this one was not empty. A large wooden desk sat near a row of floor to ceiling windows. Bright sunlight bounced off the white tiles and filled the room, but the view is what caught Chris’ attention. He ran to the windows and stared out at the most futuristic city he’d ever seen. Cars flew in organized air lanes. He looked down and noticed hundreds of tiny dots flowing along the sidewalks in and out of shops.
“What the hell is this place??” He turned around and asked the woman.
“It’s kind of funny,” she shrugged. “As far as I can tell, the people that discovered the portal didn’t explore this side a whole lot. They found an island and decided it was a good enough prison. “
“So it’s not an island?” Chris looked out through the window and saw the ocean clearly.
“Oh it’s an island, but it’s an island on a parallel Earth,” she said. “They’ve been tossing people in for over a decade, and they still haven’t realized it.”
“What?” Chris asked and glanced around the room. He grabbed the closest chair, a high-back leather rolling chair behind the desk, and sat down. “There’s way too much going on right now.” He leaned forward and rested his head in his hands. “Why am I here? Explain that to me.” The woman looked down at Chris across the desk and winked.
“You’re Unique. I wanted to save your life,” she said.
“Save my life?” He asked. “How? From what?”
“On this Earth, we found people with a fair bit more compassion than back on our home Earth. Most of the problem people they threw away found help here. As you can see,…” she gestured out the window. “…we also found advanced technology here. Advanced weaponry.”
“Weapons? For what?” Chris asked. Suddenly he realized that if she pinned the murder on him she had to have been on the other Earth. “Are you going to go to war with the other Earth?” he asked, not believing that he actually meant every word in that sentence. The woman burst into laughter before she replied.
“Of course not, that’s too dangerous. It’s much easier to destroy them in one go from this side.”