“500 dollars!?” Lisa grabbed Lionel’s wrist as he reached into his jeans. “Bro, no way you’re dishing out 500 bucks so she can tell you the sky is blue.” She pointed at the menu board that only had one entry.
“Small sacrifice: $500.”
“I don’t even want to know what the higher tiers cost,” she said. “This whole thing screams scam,” Lisa let his wrist go but continued to state her case. She spread her arms to gesture at the quaint shop around them. They stood on one side of a large straw hut. A waist-high wicker countertop sat in the middle of the room. The floor consisted of wooden planks that wiggled at every footfall. A tall black curtain shielded the rest of the shop behind the counter from them. “Just because this place popped up overnight doesn’t mean it should look like it.” A jingling bell drew their attention to the back curtains.
An olive-skinned woman with long sea-green curls washing down her shoulders appeared. She stepped up to the counter and smiled at Lisa and Lionel. She had a bright blue star tattooed on her left cheek with a 35 in its center in golden numbers. Her outfit concerned Lisa in several new ways. The stranger wore a navy blue business jacket; but, instead of the matching pants or skirt, she wore a navy blue sarong around her waist.
“Welcome! Can I interest you in some secrets?” She asked.
“No,” Lisa replied. She grabbed her brother’s hand and tried to lead him out the door. “Keep your cash, Lionel,” she added.
“Oh!” The woman behind the counter gasped. “Did you say Lionel? I’ve been expecting you!” she said.
“So now you’re a psychic too?” Lisa said. She gave on trying to move her brother; he hadn’t moved an inch despite her pulling. She settled for crossing her arms and standing between her brother and woman he wanted to let scam him.
“My name is Isla,” she said and extended a hand over the frayed wicker counter. “Mundo said you wanted to speak to a Middleman?” Lisa glared at Isla’s hand until she pulled it back.
“We have no idea what you’re talking about. We’re leaving,” Lisa said, but she didn’t move. She knew she couldn’t leave until Lionel made the first move.
“Sorry, Miss Isla,” Lionel shook his head. “I don’t know any of those people.” Isla’s crystal-blue eyes flashed with golden stars for a moment, then cleared again. She knocked on her forehead with her knuckle twice.
“Oh no, I’m sorry,” she shook her head. “I couldn’t remember his name, I was told he would remind me of a lion. I assumed it was you,” she shrugged. “I could’ve checked in the same time it took me to assume.” Isla walked around the counter to join them. “To apologize for the confusion I’ll give you a free small secret.” Lisa sidestepped to remain between Isla and her brother as she walked around the counter.
“Alternate universes are real,” Isla said with a smile.
“YOU SEE!” Lisa whirled around and looked up at her brother. “You give her 500 dollars and she’ll say anything that she doesn’t have to prove.”
“Who said I wasn’t going to prove it?” Isla said.
“What?!” Lisa turned back around after watching Lionel’s eyes grow as big as saucers. Isla stood next to a black hole that hovered in the air.
“Of course I’m going to prove it. Want to take a look?” She gestured at the portal.