“No way…,” Greg whispered to himself in awe as he stared out the window. Violet starlight twinkled behind the mint-green clouds. He turned to the person next to him; the mid-20s woman was asleep. The same as every other passenger. As he swiveled his head to scan the cabin he heard a sharp gasp behind him and whipped around to see. Jane, the helpful stewardess that checked him in, rushed to his row.
“How are you awake!?” she whispered. After her question, she looked left and right to make sure she did not disturb anyone else. Greg pointed out the window.
“Why are the clouds green!?” he whispered back, not as quietly.
“Come here!” she hissed like a parent reprimanding her child in public. She gave him a sharp gesture, then walked toward the back. Greg followed. When he got there, he noticed her face changed from minor annoyance to noticeable disappointment.
“This is probably my fault,” Jane sighed. “What’s your favorite number?”
“One,” Greg said. “Why? How does that explain green clouds?”
“I knew it. It’s my first Traverse flight and I was so excited to check in my first passenger,” she pointed at Greg. “You shouldn’t have even been able to buy a ticket, but I’m supposed to ask everyone their favorite number anyway,” she shrugged. “Now I know why.”
“I don’t know why,” Greg commented. “You haven’t explained anything.”
“Sorry,” she sighed again. “This flight,” she paused, then shook her head. “This airline, Sharp Air, has flights that travel between alternate universes,” she gestured out a window at the clouds.
“It’s not exactly an advertised benefit, but those that find it useful know about it. Those that just want a cheap flight are put to sleep. You should be asleep, except our Corona can’t knock out any Uniques.” Greg narrowed his eyes at her.
“Uhuh. I missed the second half of that, but… we’re in an alternate universe?” He asked.
“Yes!” she nodded.
“And how does my favorite number keep me awake?”
“You, me, the pilots and the other flight attendant are known as Unique Souls. You’re #01; El Gallo, The Rooster.”
“Because my favorite number is one?” Jane shook her head.
“Your favorite number is one because you’re El Gallo. Watch. What’s your favorite number?” she asked again.
“One,” Greg replied.
“What’s your favorite number?”
“One. You already know.”
“What’s your favorite number?” Jane continued to repeat the question. “Lie to me,” she added.
“OneTWELVE!” Greg blurted out the two numbers as one word.
“Don’t answer me. What’s your favorite number?”
“One.” Greg rolled his eyes as the answer came out on its own.
“Your soul knows what it is…,” Jane poked Greg in the chest, then she raised her hand to poke his forehead. “…even if your body doesn’t. There’s a Mundo at the next airport that would love to answer all your questions about what that means.”
“Um, about that. How does this work? Where is the next airport and am I ever getting to Florida? The Florida on the Earth I came from?” Jane smiled and nodded.
“We get passengers from other universes to take them back to ours. Going sideways through dimensions loosens up enough time to land, swap passengers and get back to your destination. All within the same time the normal flight takes.”
“So, everything’s working as it should, right?” Greg asked. Despite his calm demeanor, he really needed to hear that everything was okay. Jane smiled; she seemed to recognize that he needed reassurance.
“This is my first time, but the pilots and the other flight attendant have done maybe hundreds. There’s no reason to worry, everything’s on plan,” she patted his shoulder with a smile.
“Alright. Alright, cool. I, uh. I guess I’m gonna go look at the green clouds some more.”