“Whoa!” Esther flinched; she shut her eyes and ducked her head to avoid a face full of glass. Three seconds later the impact had yet to arrive. She peeked her eyes open at the same time she heard a young voice behind her.
“MOM!” a child shouted. Esther whirled around to find a young blonde boy sitting cross-legged on beige carpet. He looked up at Esther and she noticed golden stars glowing in his eyes.
“What is it, honey?” Esther turned toward the new voice. A mid-20s blonde woman walked into the living room through an arch; she was drying her hands with a dishtowel. The boy pointed at Esther as an answer and his mom immediately gave Esther a warm smile. “Hola, Estrella,” she closed the gap between them and grabbed Esther’s hand. “Join me in the kitchen and you can get out of Rigel’s way.”
“Where am I?” Esther asked, but she let the stranger lead her away. “Why aren’t you more concerned about a stranger in your house?”
“Oh, it happens all the time,” the woman laughed as they stepped into a bright, sun-drenched kitchen. Large windows let light pour in from outside and the white floor tiles reflected it. Esther sat at the small round table in the center of the kitchen. “My name is Mundo, by the way,” she introduced herself then walked to the refrigerator. “Would you like something to drink? Water? Coffee? Tea?”
“Water, please.” Mundo nodded and returned to the table with two bottles of water. “What do you mean it happens all the time?”
“My boy’s very special, a lot like you actually. I don’t know what you were doing before you landed in my living room, but I can tell you that you’re in a different universe.”
“Whooooaa,” Esther’s eyes grew big. “I entered the mirror universe!” She immediately looked down at her hands and began flexing her fingers. “I’m still right-handed though,” Esther said; Mundo giggled.
“You did not enter a mirror universe. It’s called, Traversing,” she paused and looked out into the living room. “Rigel, honey. Mommy needs a portal.” A small, saucer-sized black hole appeared vertically above the table between the two women. “That’s a portal to a different universe. You can make them big enough to walk through. So, what were you doing before you got here? That’s enough, thank you!” The portal disappeared.
“I was hanging a mirror, and it fell on me. Or, I guess, it was about to fall on me. But how did I get here? Why does it happen all the time?” Esther glanced at the kitchen entrance, then leaned closer to Mundo. “Did your son bring me here?” Mundo smiled and shook her head.
“YOU brought you here. You can make portals too, you just didn’t know it yet. When you were about to get hit, it seems like your mind panicked and you traversed to avoid the danger.”
“I.. I did it? Does that mean I can make those portals or whatever?” Mundo nodded. “Okay. Not sure I believe that yet, but why here? If I really panicked, why didn’t I go somewhere safe?” Mundo giggled again and her smile grew from ear to ear.
“You did.” Esther nodded.
“Well, yeah I guess. But why not somewhere I’m familiar with?”
“Traversing is tricky. Portals are like magic doors connecting two Earths at one point. You can’t traverse to the same Earth you’re on, you need to at least open a portal to another Earth first. If you’re really good, you can open the two portals back to back so it seems like you went to a different spot on the same Earth.”
“Oh. So I just got put on a random Earth somewhere?”
“Kind of, but there’s more to it. You landed here because you were drawn to my son. He’s like you, but stronger. So in an emergency, blind traversal, the universe dropped you off somewhere helpful.”
“The universe?” Esther raised an eyebrow, but Mundo nodded.
“You’re about to learn more about the universe than you ever even considered, and it starts with your favorite number: 35.”
“Hey, that’s my favorite too.” Both women turned to see a lean, greying man standing at the kitchen entrance. “Hi, sorry. I don’t know how I got here, but your son said you did?”
“Have a seat!” Mundo smiled at the newcomer, then she cast a side glance at Esther. “All. the. time,” she mouthed silently.