Marcy let out a puzzled sigh as her headlights fell on a bright yellow camping tent. Sean, her portly best friend, scrambled out of the tent. The short round man crawled free of the tent, then stood up in a hurry. He pulled a flannel robe tight around himself and walked towards Marcy’s truck. His face fell slightly when the dark-haired woman stepped out of the truck empty-handed.
“Where’s the shovel?” he asked with a disappointed tone. Marcy rolled her eyes and reached into the bed of her truck. Her hand reappeared holding the shovel handle then she pulled it out. Sean reached for it like a spoiled child but Marcy pulled it out of reach before he grabbed it.
“What’s it for?” she asked. Sean was the smartest person Marcy had ever met; he was also the most eccentric. The main reason their friendship worked was that she was the type of person interested in a forest adventure at two in the morning. Though he was brilliant he tended to miss, or sometimes outright ignore, details. If he planned to bury a body Marcy needed to check his work.
“I’ll show you,” his eyes sparkled with delight and he whirled around to walk back to the tent. Marcy shrugged and followed with the shovel in hand. Upon reaching the tent, Sean sank to his knees and crawled into it part-way. After a few moments of fidgeting, he backed out of the tent and stood up again. He held up a hand and something glinted in the lights of Marcy’s truck. It looked like a small, clear, glass pane about the size of a playing card.
“Portable window?” Marcy shrugged. Sean smiled but shook his head.
“It’s called a node,” he said then handed the device over to Marcy. The moment she took it in her hands, numbers glowed on its surface. [02:48a.m]
“It’s just a fancy phone?” Marcy asked. “Did you make it?” Sean nodded decisively, then shook his head.
“I designed it. The idea came to me in a dream. When I woke up I planned it out. I produced one, non-working, prototype,” he nodded at the node in Marcy’s hand. “That one was in the same spot I left the prototype, and the one I made is nowhere to be found.”
“Neat. So.. you want to hit it with a shovel?” Marcy asked.
“What? No!” Sean swiped the node back protectively and shook his head.
“Then…,” Marcy said. “…why did I bring the stupid shovel?” Sean sighed and rolled his eyes, but he chuckled.
“I’m getting to that.” He held up the node again, tentatively; he was still afraid she’d take a shovel to it. “Weird thing happened, right? Obviously I’m going to investigate. The first round of tests didn’t show me anything interesting, so then-” Marcy interrupted him with a finger. She tapped the node in his hand to bring up the time again. [02:49a.m.] Then she twisted it in his hand until he could see the time and coughed. Marcy was up for a forest adventure at three in the morning, but not a forest lecture.
“Right. Uh, short version:” He stretched his arm as far as it would go; his hand was only a couple of inches higher than Marcy’s forehead. “It’s from an ALTERNATE UNIVERSE!” he shouted.”
“Neat!” Marcy said. She was genuinely impressed. She wasn’t the least bit gullible, but a lifetime friendship with Sean had taught her one thing. If he said something, it was almost certainly a fact. “So we’re gonna bring aliens from another dimension here and hit them with a shovel?”
“No!” Sean said, then he sighed. “Fine. Look, I asked you to bring a shovel because I want you to dig a hole,” He wavered his hand, then added, “…and a half. A hole and half. I started digging one for me but I was using a cheap hand spade and didn’t get very far.”
“What am I digging two holes for?” Marcy asked.
“Because…,” Sean grinned. “…If I put this in the hole and lay down, my consciousness will be projected to another universe where I can live like an MMO character.” Marcy blinked. She believed him, but she didn’t quite understand him.
“Say what now?” she asked. Sean shook his head.
“See what happens when you skip to the end?” he asked with a smile. “You miss all the harrowing details of how I pieced this puzzle together,” he said puffing his chest out. “Just dig. It’ll be easier when you see it for yourself.”