“For you, the first one’s on the house,” the bartender smiled at David. The somber stranger gave him a curious look as he sat down on the high stool.
“Don’t know why I’m special, but I’ll take you up on it. Gimme the hardest thing covered by your offer,” he said. The bartender nodded.
“No offense, but you look like you can use it,” he said as he opened a metal ice chest behind the bar. He gestured at the rest of the bar with one of his hands. “I don’t mind giving away the occasional drink and it’s just us. What’s on your mind?” He pulled a glass bottle filled with a clear liquid out of the ice and set it on the bar in front of David. Then he filled a shot glass for
“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you,” David shook his head. “I don’t even think I believe it,” he shrugged.
“Yeah, probably not,” the bartender chuckled. “I tend to be skeptical about everything anyway.” He pushed the shot glass toward David. “Good luck to you, buddy. I hope it gets sorted out.” David used the bartender’s well wishes as a toast and gestured at him with the shot glass.
“Thanks,” He swallowed the liquid in one gulp, then looked at the bartender. “That’s water?” He asked and accused the bartender at the same time.
“Wait a second,” the man behind the bar smiled.
As David wondered what he was waiting for he felt a cooling sensation at the top of his mouth and back of his throat. His tongue began to tingle as if he were chewing mint gum. Suddenly his bones began to grow colder from the inside out. A chill ran down his spine and all at once he convulsed into a fit of shivers on the stool. The bartender reached for David’s shoulder to keep him seated while his body trembled with cold. After several seconds David began to feel warmth again; the trembling stopped.
“What the hell is that?” David asked. He watched the bartender fill the shot glass again.
“Strongest drink we have. It’s called Melted Ice.”
“Melted Ice?” David laughed. “So it is water!” He shook his head with a smile. “Never had water hit me like that, though.”
“It’s a special drink,” the bartender said. He grabbed a book of matches from the bar. “At room temperature and below it’s liquid. But…,” he struck a match then held the flame above the shot glass. “…at body temperature and above it starts to freeze.” Ice formed on the surface of the shot glass. David stared at the frosty glass with wide eyes.
“Whooaa… that… that’s gotta be a trick. Right?” he looked up at the bartender and noticed his nametag for the first time. It said “Mundo”. “That seems like it breaks some laws of physics or something,” David said. Mundo shrugged.
“Yeah in this universe, but apparently not the one it came from,” he said almost dismissively.
“What did you say!?” David hopped off his barstool and stood to meet the bartender’s eyes.
“Uhh.. the universe it came from has weird physics?” he asked.
“It came from another universe? Are you telling me I’m not crazy?”
“Well, I don’t see what one has to do with the other; but, sure. You don’t sound crazy I guess.”
“Okay. This is going to sound weird but-,”
“You’re from another universe and you don’t know how you got here? Everything is almost the same but not quite. And someone that you love doesn’t know who the hell you are,” Mundo grinned. “Is that about it?” David slid back onto his barstool while gawking at Mundo.
“How…,” he started to ask, but then found an obvious answer. “You did this to me? Why? I want to go home.” Mundo continued to smile but he shook his head.
“I didn’t. You did it to yourself. As for how I knew,” Mundo pointed at his nametag. “We see people like you a lot in my line of work.”
“Bartenders?” David asked. “And what do you mean I did it to myself? How can I undo it?”
“Not bartenders, Mundos,” Mundo sighed. “But we’ll save that explanation for later. You are an Estrella, I can explain that to you later too. For now, all you have to know is you can hop between universes as easy moving from…,” Mundo pointed at David then at the empty barstool next to him. “…one seat to another.” David laughed.
“Right. All I have to do is…,” he raised his hand in the air and wiggled his fingers. “…wiggle my hands and open a portal,” he said with his voice full of sarcasm. Mundo nodded and pointed at the black hole hovering in the air next to David.
“There you go!” he said. David stared at the hole.
“I did that? Is that home?”
“That will take you wherever you want to go. It might not be your home.”
“Well, why not? If it’ll take me where I want to go and I want to go home…,” David started to ask a question but Mundo shook his head.
“Estrellas,” Mundo said, then pointed at David. “You can go anywhere you want to go. Not where you think you should go.”
“Well, of course, I want to go home to my wife,” David said. Again, Mundo shook his head.
“Your powers work when you want them to. If you wanted to be there you wouldn’t have left.”
“Thanks for the drink, Mundo,” David said. He wiggled his hand at the air with more confidence. The small black hole grew tall enough for him to walk through. “I’ve gotta get home.” Mundo nodded.
“You can come back anytime. Just think of this place.” David nodded and walked into the portal; it closed behind him. After several seconds another black portal opened in Mundo’s bar. David walked out soaking wet.
“Well, it looks like I don’t want to go home,” he said.