Regal Visitor

“Oh…,” The lean, well-dressed man looked startled when Candace flipped the kitchen light on. “You’re awake,” he said apologetically. He stood in front of the open fridge with a red can of soda in one hand and a container with leftover meatloaf in the other. He wore a black suit with a crisp white shirt visible underneath. A rich purple vest between the shirt and his coat matched his purple bowtie. He was almost as tall as the refrigerator including a thick, lustrous mane of golden hair atop his head. His gold sideburns connected to a full golden beard. Along with large sunken eyes and a slightly upturned nose he reminded Candace of a lion. He stood still, but it seemed more out of politeness than any worry about the shotgun pointed at him.

For her part, Candace held the barrel trained on him. She was dressed in a closed flannel robe and bunny slippers. It was her first night in a new apartment and she’d had some trouble sleeping. She decided on a snack when she heard movement in the kitchen. The gun was loaded and not in its cabinet because it was her first night in a new apartment.

“Who are you? Why are you in my kitchen?” Candace asked. The stranger shook his head and smiled.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” he said. “You’re not in any danger,” he added. Candace nodded lightly but did not lower the weapon.

“That’s for me to decide,” she said. “How’d you get in?” He pointed at the wall on the far side of the kitchen. It was not a very big apartment and the kitchen was small enough that Candace could see the wall without taking her eyes off the stranger completely. She saw a black hole on the wall. “What the hell?” As she asked her rhetorical question her focus shifted to the hole entirely. To her surprise, the stranger walked out of the hole still holding the soda and tupperware. Candace looked back to the fridge. It was still open and a tall black hole hovered in the air in front of it.

“Like this,” the stranger called Candace’s attention from the wall. She looked back to him in time to see him walking back into the hole. She turned back to the fridge and began to feel like she was watching a tennis match. The stranger walked out of the black hole and stood in front of the fridge again.

“How’d you do that?” Candace asked reflexively. It was 2 a.m. and she’d had a long day of organizing her new place before she failed at sleeping. Her mind was cloudy and the best she could do was blurt out questions until something made sense. She did not feel threatened at all by the stranger; he seemed warm and genuine.

“Uh.. may I?” he asked and lifted the container of leftovers to get her attention. Candace rolled her eyes and lowered the gun. Despite the situation, her own stomach grumbled its complaints the moment she spotted him holding the container. The stranger had the ability to teleport somehow; she assumed he wasn’t a normal human. Chances are if he wanted her dead, she would not have woken to find him in the kitchen. He was probably hungry and that was something Candace felt she could make sense of.

“Save some for me,” she said as she grabbed a loaf from the breadbox on the counter. She joined him at her small round table with the bread and a knife. After a few quiet minutes they each took a bite from their own meatloaf sandwiches. The stranger’s eyes widened then closed slowly with a satisfying ‘mmmm’.

“Sho,” Candace said. Then, she grew self-conscious about her manners and paused to swallow the bite. “So, how’d you do that?” She tilted her head at the wall.

“It’s called, ‘traversing’,” he said with a half-shrug. “I don’t think there is a how exactly. Either you can, or you can’t. I think about where I want to go, then go through the portal and hope for the best.”

“It’s that easy?” Candace asked. She was about to take another bite but saw her chance to ask something else first. She held the sandwich by her mouth and took a bite immediately after her question. The stranger nodded while swallowing his own mouthful.

“It’s that simple, but it’s not easy. Imagine you got into a cab and told the driver where you wanted to go. But the trick is the driver gets to decide where he drops you off. Most of the time you’ll get where you want to go but sometimes you end up where the driver thinks you should be.”

“Is that how you ended up here?” she asked. “I don’t feel like you’re the type to break into someone’s house just to raid their fridge. With that trick of yours, you can probably go anywhere in the world.” She asked between bites. The sandwich was half gone already. The man shook his head.

“That’s another thing, I don’t get to tell it where I want to go; it’s more like a gut feeling. I have to have a clear goal in mind when I open the portal. And…,” he nodded at the wall. “…I can’t pinpoint anything I can’t see.”

“When you said I wouldn’t believe you,…” Candace asked with a hint of humor in her voice. “… it’s accidental? You were trying to traverse somewhere else? I kind of believe you.” The man smiled and swallowed the last bite of his sandwich.

“No,” he said with a shake of his head and rose from his seat. “I landed where I meant to.”

“What do you mean?” Candace dropped that last quarter of her snack and her eyes darted to the shotgun she left on the counter. She could not imagine any other innocent reason for him to be there than a mistake. If his presence was intentional… He smiled and disrupted her train of thought. The stranger pointed at the remaining sandwich on Candace’s plate.

“I’m working on something and got hungry. Specifically, I had a craving for the best meatloaf I could find. Thank you for your hospitality,” he said with a slight bow of his head and a black portal opened behind him.

“I.. I make the best meatloaf in the world?” Candace asked; she hoped she understood how his ability worked. She was disappointed when he shook his head.

“Apparently,” he sighed pleasantly and patted his stomach. “You make the best meatloaf across hundreds of universes,” he smiled and stepped backward into the hole. It disappeared taking him with it.

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