Billy stared at the door and sighed quietly. He chose this Earth because it was empty, but somehow that didn’t stop random Uniques from showing up on his doorstep. Another sharp knock came from the door and he decided the visitors would be on their way faster if he answered the door and asked to be left alone. He opened it without checking the peephole and instantly recognized the man and woman on his front porch.
“What do you want?” he asked the pair. They seemed surprised to see him too. He saw the woman, Alliane, slit her eyes at him.
“Hi,” Jonah said. “Can we use your restroom?” he asked casually as if they’d been acquaintances for years, though they only met briefly a few days ago. Billy made a point of stepping out of the house and looking past them at the barren, dry landscape.
“There’s a whole empty Earth,” he said. Then he wiggled his hand in the air and opened a small dinner-plate sized black portal. “And infinite other Earths. Why mine?” Alliane shrugged.
“You know how Traversing works. This is where we landed. I’m not going to use a bush when you have working plumbing.” She wiggled in place. “If I go through another portal I’ll come out the other side with wet pants. Can I please use your restroom?” Billy sighed but stepped back into the house and opened the door wider as an invitation. “Upstairs. First door on the left.”
“Thank you!” Alliane blurted then dashed into the house and up the stairs. Jonah stayed on the porch ready to wait.
“Never let it be said that I am a poor host,” Billy said. “You’re welcome to wait inside.” Jonah looked the lanky, suited man up and down then shrugged.
“Okay, thanks.” He accepted the invitation and walked in. Billy closed the door then looked at his guest blankly. He did not want to start a conversation because he did not want to risk prolonging their visit, but he also hated standing around in silence. Luckily Jonah decided for him.
“How does Traversing work?” he asked.
“What? What do you mean?” Billy asked. “You’ve gone through more than a few portals I’m sure.” Jonah nodded.
“I have, but Alliane said, ‘you know how Traversing works’. What does that mean?”
“Oh. I thought your girlfriend would have explained it by now,” Billy replied. Jonah shrugged.
“She would if I asked her. I didn’t know it was a thing until she mentioned it just now. And she’s not my girlfriend, we’re engaged.” Billy realized he had two options to fill the uncomfortable silence. Either answer Jonah’s question or start a conversation about their relationship. He lifted a hand and made a gesture in the air.
“When I open a portal it’s not about going to a certain place.” A hole opened in the air. “There’s too many Earths to pick a specific one. I’ve missed a few times even when I have a target frequency. So the way it works is, I feel where I want to go. I trust that I’ll find what I need on the other side, one way or another.”
“So we ended up here…?” Jonah asked hoping that Billy could fill in the blank.
“Alliane…,” he skipped referring to her as Jonah’s fiancé to avoid the topic of their relationship. “…probably wanted to go somewhere secluded but still comfortable. Since we’ve already met, my home became an option apparently.” The men both heard footsteps at the same time and looked up the stairs. Alliane smiled at Billy on her way down.
“Thank you so much,” she said. “I appreciate it enough to forgive you for stealing our canoe,” she reached the bottom of the steps and wrapped her arm around Jonah’s.
“You mean for getting to the abandoned canoe that anyone could take, first?” Billy asked with a smug smile. “Thanks for dropping in, don’t make it a habit. Please leave,” he asked. Alliane was already waving her hand in the air. She opened a black portal next to Jonah.
“See ya around, Billy,” Alliane waved then stepped into the portal. Jonah followed her; then, the black portal disappeared.