“I’m never drinking again,” Wendy grumbled to herself as she padded down the steps. Her eyelids were almost closed to block out the bright morning sun. She held on to the railing with one hand while supporting her aching head, and blocking more of her view, with the other. The pain throbbed so much she wasn’t convinced her head was firmly attached. “Mornin’,” she mumbled at the dark shapes she passed as she headed straight to the coffee pot. Just as she started to wonder why everyone was awake and in the kitchen, she was distracted by the lack of coffee maker. It wasn’t there. Its usual spot was now a bare marble counter. “Coffee?” she let out a whine of confusion.
“Shhhh it’s okay,” Wendy felt a pair of comforting hands on her shoulders. She was guided to an unfamiliar dining room table and offered a seat with a steaming hot cup of coffee in front of it. The new counters and new furniture made Wendy wonder if she missed a kitchen remodel while she took a sip of the best coffee she ever tasted. She sighed at the taste and her head instantly felt better. She took another sip then decided she was awake enough to greet her family.
“Good morning,” she looked up with a big smile, then her smile vanished. Wendy didn’t recognize any of the three smiling strangers sitting in front of her.
“Good morning,” an older woman with greying hair said. Wendy identified her voice as the one that guided her to coffee. “Are pancakes okay or do you want something else?” she pointed to the short stack being assaulted by a man and girl. The question confused Wendy. She expected strangers to be more concerned about a stranger in their house.
“I’m sorry! I don’t know how I got here!” Wendy said. She stood from the table ready to leave, but the woman moved faster and stood in front of her shaking her head.
“It’s fine, it happens to us a lot. You’re safe here,” she said.
“Huh?” Wendy asked. “What do you mean it happens a lot?”
“My name is Vanessa,” she introduced herself then pointed at the man sitting at the table. He was tall and lean with round glasses. “That’s my husband, Mundo, and our daughter Sunny,” she pointed at a young brunette girl that looked about 14.
“It seems like we get a new Estrella waking up here at least once year,” Vanessa encouraged Wendy to sit down again. Then she went to the fridge and started pulling out ingredients to make more pancakes.
“Estrella… like star?” Wendy asked. She saw Mundo nod his head while finishing up a bite of food.
“Unique Soul #35, La Estrella,” Mundo said after he swallowed; he used his fork to point at Wendy. “Vanessa is Unique Soul #23, La Luna. Sunny is Unique Soul #46, El Sol, and I am Unique Soul #37, El Mundo.”
“So we’re all Unique Souls,” Wendy shrugged. “What’s a Unique Soul?”
“To answer that question, you first need to know that alternate universes exist,” Mundo said. “A Unique Soul is the only copy of that soul in any universe. No doppelgangers, evil twins, or anything like that. You’re the only you anywhere in any universe. That status comes with some special powers,” Mundo added as Vanessa placed a plate of food in front of Wendy.
“Each Unique Soul is different. You, #35, can channel star plasma through your hands. You can also make portals to traverse to other Universes, which is how you got here,” Mundo said.
“Here where?” Wendy paused the fork inches from her mouth to ask the question. Once she asked the food continued its journey.
“Our house isn’t in the same universe you came from. You probably traversed in your sleep.”
“That can happen?!” Wendy asked with wide eyes. “Boy, I’m glad I landed here instead of someplace with more danger and fewer pancakes.” The friendly family laughed at her comment, but Mundo shook his head.
“Traversing can happen in your sleep, but you wouldn’t wake up in danger. The universe has a way of listening to your subconscious and dropping you off wherever you want to be.”
“Would’ve been nice when I was younger,” Wendy giggled.
“Most of the time Uniques can’t access their abilities without getting a tattoo first. If this is the first time it happened you probably got a tattoo recently, right?” Mundo asked. Wendy’s memories of the night before suddenly clarified. She did in fact get a tattoo of a star and the number 35 on her thigh.
“So if I can ‘traverse’, that means I can get home any time I want, right? Even after I check out some other universes?” Mundo nodded.
“Yes, but only if you take Sunny with you,” he said. Wendy began to wonder if she was being put on babysitting duty, but Mundo clarified his statement. “More specifically, only if you let Sunny show you some of her favorite, safe, Earths. It would be a good idea for you to learn about how things work out there.”
“Deal,” Wendy grinned.