Diana set the tray down to let the cookies cool to edible temperatures. The smell of chocolate filled the kitchen. After taking off the colorful oven mitt, she climbed on one of the tall stools in front of the breakfast bar and waited. As she reached for her phone, it vibrated against the marble countertop.[You’ve been invited to “AlterNet Chat: D. Sharp] appeared on the screen; Diana grinned to herself.
“No way!” She pressed the [Accept] prompt without hesitation. AlterNet Chat recently became the most popular app. It promised the chance to chat with alternate versions of yourself. Her screen went black for a second, then a white screen came on with a text entry bar at the bottom. Then, the first message appeared at the top of her screen.[(mod)Sharp1: Hi! Welcome to AlterNet Chat. I was the first one of us here, so I set up this group to find the rest of us. Nice to meet me!] Diana chuckled at the joke and was about to reply when more messages came in. [Sharp2: Hi! I was second.] [Sharp3: Third.] Diana waited a moment longer but no more replies came. She typed a response and was surprised by her assigned name. [Sharp1mil: Am I fourth?] [Sharp2: I think you just answered your own question.] [Sharp3: You’re our millionth customer!!!!!LOLOL] Diana narrowed her eyes at the screen as if they could see her. [Sharp1mil: There’s… a million of me?] [(mod)Sharp1: At least. I’m always here to welcome newcomers. 2 and 3 just don’t have a life.]
“Hello, one million,” An unknown, unexpected female voice in her kitchen made Diana jump. She almost toppled her stool over but managed to catch the counter. She looked up and saw a younger, prettier version of herself smiling. She wore a crisp, bright white skirt suit.
“Who are you?” Diana asked as she dismounted the stool. She glanced at the clock on her phone, then at the door. “What do you want?”
“I’m an alternate you. I had to meet number one million and one,” she said.
“And one? But the app said I was one million?” Diana relaxed a bit. She didn’t know how this version got in her kitchen, but she more or less trusted herself. The familiar stranger nodded.
“You’re the millionth one to join, but I’m not in the chat group. I created the app.”
“You created it? You know how to talk to other universes?” The younger Diana narrowed her eyes at the homeowner. “Is that what I look like when I do that?” she wondered.
“I’m in another universe right now,” she said. Diana lightly slapped her forehead.
“Right, sorry. But why are you in my kitchen?” she asked. “Did you meet all the other ones?”
“I will. I wanted to be sure I collected a million first, so I’m starting at the end with you.”
“You’re collecting a million of us?” Diana subconsciously took a step back. The tone in the visitor’s voice made Diana’s trust waver. The suited woman nodded. “For what?” Diana asked.
“A project I’m working on. If you like, you’re welcome to take a tour of my company,” she gave a slight shrug. “I like showing off to myself.”
“Your company… in another universe, right?” The woman laughed politely.
“Sharp Development has 15 main campuses in 15 different universes. We can visit them all.” Diana’s eyes widened.
“15?” she asked with slight awe. Then she realized she was being silly for not trusting herself. She relaxed completely. “Yeah! That’d be great!” The woman smiled. A tall black portal appeared in the air next to her.
“Wonderful,” the woman said and turned to step into the portal. “Let’s go.”
“What, now?” Diana asked. The woman stopped, looked at her then nodded. Diana shook her head.
“I can’t now,” her eyes fluttered to the cookies. “Can we reschedule for the weekend so I can bring my daughter?” The woman’s eyes narrowed again, but harsher this time.
“You have a child?” she asked. Diana nodded.
“Yeah. Don’t you?” The woman shook her head.
“I don’t. And no children allowed. I’m sure you can find a trustworthy relative to babysit.”
“I can,” Diana nodded. “But I won’t. If I can’t show my daughter the other universes I’m not visiting either.”
“Very well, thank you for your time,” the woman said. The side door next to her opened and a young blonde girl with short, straight hair and blue eyes walked in wearing a school uniform. She stopped at the sight of two mothers.
“Mom?” She asked the older, greyer, chubbier one.
“It’s okay, dear. Say hi, she’s me from another universe.”
“Hi, other mom,” the girl said with a giggle. The woman in white looked down at the child, gave her a polite nod, then sighed. She turned from the portal back to Diana with a stern look in her eyes.
“Sweetheart why don’t you take a couple of cookies and go start on your homework,” Diana said.
“‘Kay! Bye other mom!” she grabbed a few warm cookies and left the kitchen. After she walked out the woman in white placed a clear glass rectangle, about the size of a business card, on the counter.
“This is for her. I suggest you draft a Will to leave it to her. Soon,” she said.
“What?” Diana picked up the small pane and flipped it over to look through both sides. “What do you mean by that?” She asked and looked up for the answer. The portal and her doppelganger were gone.