Zero Worth

“What do you mean we have to share it?” Maya asked with a hard edge. She shifted her weight to one leg and crossed her arms. She loved the house; it was practically a mansion for the price of a single-room shack. Julio, her husband, kept telling her there had to be a reason it was still on the market. However, Maya knew she could put up with any issue if she considered it worth the trouble. As far as she was concerned, the marble floors and six bedrooms were worth it.

“Told you there was something,” Julio whispered in her ear before the realtor answered. She jabbed him with a quick elbow. If that were his first remark it wouldn’t have merited the physical response. Even before they came to take a look he balked at the cheap price and pointed out that it had been on the market for months.

“It’s ugly, they just used an ideal picture,” he commented on the drive over. “Well, the outside looks nice, but it’s probably horrible inside,” he added once they pulled up. “Looks good, it’s probably haunted,” he suggested once they started going from beautiful room to beautiful room. It was a tad annoying, but Maya loved him enough to consider him worth the mild aggravation.

“Somehow, this house is on a strange plot of land…,” the realtor said. Her smile faded and her sparkling brown eyes dulled. A glum, almost hopeless look formed on her austere face as she started to explain.

haunted…,” Julio whispered. Maya ignored him to listen to the realtor.

“You know about the multiverse, right? By now most people do,” the realtor seemed to change topics. Maya nodded.

“This house, specifically the living room, somehow intersects with a neighboring universe. In that universe, there’s a college dorm that connects to this house. We’ve spoken to them of course, and it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. However, I have to admit it won’t be as uncommon as you’d hope to find a drunken, high, or lost student.” Maya and Julio both had wide eyes, but neither said anything; the realtor continued.

“I’d recommend you install cameras in your living room. If there is any property damage the school will take care of it, of course, they need the proof first.”

“So, you’re saying that random strangers can walk into this house at any time, and there’s nothing we can do about it? Forget property damage, what if they’re dangerous,” he asked Maya. Maya had already given that some thought and decided it could be worked around for such a beautiful house.

“It’s just the living room, right?” she asked the realtor and was answered with a nod.

“No problem. We’ll just baby gate the whole thing and keep our bedrooms locked at night,” Maya dropped her voice and whispered to Julio. “I want this house.”

There is an additional caveat,” the realtor said. “The major reason this house is so cheap is that the school has agreed to pitch in on the mortgage. Granted, you don’t have to accept their help, but you’d be paying full price on your own.”

“What do they get out of it?” Julio asked. The realtor nodded, completely expecting the question.

“Twice a year they have a family event at the campus and don’t always have enough room for the visitors. They’re paying for three of your rooms to help with the spillover.”

“No way!” Julio said, but Maya ignored him and asked a question.

“How long would they be staying?”

“It’s a three-day event, so two nights and maybe most of the third day, depending on the guests. The college makes an effort to vet good guests for you, but no one’s perfect.”

“I need to take another walk-through,” Maya said. She walked past the realtor and out of the enormous master bedroom; Julio jogged a few steps to catch up to her.

“You’re still thinking about it?” he asked in a hushed tone, not quite a whisper. Maya nodded as she looked into each bedroom they passed. “What about the guests?” Maya shrugged.

“It amounts to less than a week out of 52, I think that’s fair,” she replied. They reached the elegant winding staircase and she headed down. Julio followed with the realtor behind him far enough to give them a sense of privacy.

“Not the scheduled ones, what about the random college students?” Julio grumbled. The last thing he wanted was to have to clean up some drunk, punk kid’s puke first thing in the morning. Maya actually giggled at his question.

“It might be fun to have a bit of controlled-unexpectedness. We’re young enough that we might even hit it off with some of them. You’ve been wanting to start a game night; we could have a whole dorm to game with.”

“I’m not cleaning up any puke,” Julio said. “You want this house, you take care of any extra trouble they add.” Maya eagerly nodded as they reached the bottom step.

“You got it,” she said. They walked into the living room and came to a sudden stop.

“So, what do we think?” The realtor caught up to them. She looked past and noticed why they froze. A young woman in a sheer nightie and nothing else was laying face down on their couch. Her blond hair was a frazzled mess and a chunky, beige mixture pooled on part of the couch and the white marble floor. “Oh, well there’s one of the girls from the dorm already. Oh, I should mention their universe is in a different time zone. It’s..,” she glanced at her watch. “…3 a.m. there.” 

“Do you have any paper towels so I can clean that up?” Julio turned to ask the realtor.

“Don’t bother,” Maya said, grabbing his hand. She turned to the realtor and smiled, but shook her head. “I think we’re going to pass. It’s not worth it.”

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