Billy stepped out of the tall black portal and looked around to get his bearings. The crowded shopping mall he left behind was a stark contrast to this new setting. He, and the white-haired stranger he followed, were now in a high-class living room like those he’d seen on TV. Giant windows gave him a scenic view of distant mountains under a purple sky.
“Tell me about yourself. What’s your name?” the unknown woman asked. She swept her orange dress under her and sat on a black leather couch, then patted the seat next to her. Billy walked toward the couch but his head swiveled back and forth as he admired the giant living room. He realized it was bigger than his entire house.
“My name is Billy,” he said while still distracted. Then, he turned to the stranger. “Wow, this place is beautiful! You live here?” the high school senior asked as he sat next to her. She shook her head.
“No. I wanted somewhere comfortable where we can sit and talk.” Billy nodded, accepting the explanation.
“When I was 15, I found out I had superpowers,” he began to explain. “Stopping time is handy but it was starting to get boring until you showed up. Where did you come from? How did we get here? Can I do it too?” He fired off several questions, then added in one more as she started to answer. “And what’s your name?”
“You may call me Vanilla,” she said. “I came from an alternate universe. Actually, you’re in a different universe right now than you were at the mall.” Vanilla lifted her hand and wiggled her fingers at the air. A small black hole opened. “This is how we…,” she winked at Billy. “…you’ll learn too, traverse to different universes.” She dismissed the portal with a wave of her hand. “No matter where you travel you’ll always be able to pop back into your home universe if you like, easy as that.”
“Whoaa.. so what universe is this?” Billy asked. Vanilla shrugged.
“No idea, I don’t think I’ve been here before.”
“HEY! WHO THE HELL-” a large, rotund man in a silk robe yelled at Vanilla and Billy, but froze midway through his tirade. He stood stopped in time with his mouth wide open and an expression of pure anger on his red face.
“You don’t know where we are?” Billy asked.
“It doesn’t particularly matter,” Vanilla shrugged. “We can talk comfortably here.”
“How did you teleport somewhere you’ve never been?”
“I didn’t. I traversed. Both you and I came from different universes and this is a third one. How many do you think there are?”
“Uh.. hundreds? No, thousands!”
“Infinity,” Vanilla smiled. “There is an infinite number of universes out there. Every day thousands of them are created, and thousands of them die. You could go from the distant future in one universe to a prehistoric one filled with dinosaurs.” Vanilla wiggled her hand and opened another dinner-plate sized black hole. “You can try to target a specific place with these portals if you’ve got a frequency. Or you can let it decide where it wants to take you.” Vanilla gestured at the time-stopped stranger silently yelling.
“Universes are identified by their vibrations. But, when we came here I wanted a comfortable place to chat. There are so many universes that even if you have a frequency, you might miss.”
“How’d you end up at the mall? Billy asked.
“I wanted to find a strong Unique that could help me gather a few things,” Vanilla smiled. “What do you say, Billy? Want to come work with me and see things you never imagined?”
“And I can still go home, right?” The woman nodded.
“As long as it’s still there,” she said.