Thomas sat in his car sipping a warm coffee and staring at the white building. It was only three stories and not very large, but something about it seemed imposing. Large red letters along the side read “Sharp Development”. The clock on his dashboard told him it was 7:58 a.m. He was risking being late to debate whether he would risk going in at all.
Thomas put his coffee down and held up his I.D. to examine it again. “Tommy Brandt – Extrauniversal Counseling Division,” he read the name and eyed the picture. Tan skin, dark brown hair and light brown eyes. “He looks exactly like me,” he tried to convince himself that going to work was the right thing to do. ” No one can tell that I’m not ‘Tommy’,” he rolled his eyes at the name. He insisted on being called Thomas from a young age; he felt ‘Tommy’ was too informal and playful. But name aside, the Tommy from this Earth seemed to have everything going for him.
The woman he woke up next to was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. He had a confusing start to his morning, but Thomas was a sci-fi fan. He quickly decided two things. First, he somehow switched bodies with an alternate version of himself. Second, if it wasn’t a dream, it might be permanent. He really wanted it to be permanent. That hope led him to ask his wife enough questions to get himself to work. Seeing the word ‘Counseling’ on his tag gave him more courage. On his own Earth, Thomas became a social worker and professional counselor. He hoped to bluff his way through work until he learned how to actually do the job. He also took note of the ‘Extrauniversal’ part of his title, but that only added credence to his situation.
“Well, if I get fired, that just means I can start fresh with a new job,” he said to himself. With a deep sigh, Thomas opened the door and made his way to the entrance. His hope to get in and somehow find his desk without drawing attention to himself was shattered the moment he stepped into the large white lobby.
“HEYHEY, IT’S TOMMY!” A portly guard shouted from the single security desk in the center of the lobby. His voice carried around the mostly empty room. The guard station sat between the entrance and the elevators. It was set up in such a way that a person could walk around the guard station, but it would be very obvious they were trying to. The lean guard next to him smiled broadly.
“Cutting it close, ain’t ya, T-Bone?” The lean guard asked once Thomas was close enough to their station. Thomas sighed internally. If ‘Tommy’ wasn’t bad enough, it seemed he now had to put up with ‘T-Bone’. “Better get up there, the new arrivals are probably already waiting on you.”
“New arrivals?” Thomas asked as he swiped his I.D. through the card reader; he hoped it was the right thing to do. The question came out before he could stop it. Thinking quickly, he tried to play it off as a generic work statement. “I didn’t know we had anyone scheduled this early,” he said. Luckily, the guards nodded.
“Unexpected,” the portly guard said. “Some astronauts went through a black hole. They ended up near the Bozo server; it didn’t take long for them to get flagged.”
“Great, well I guess I better get up there,” he said. He started toward the elevator, but he was interrupted.
“Hey, T-bone,” the lean guard said. Thomas turned around and saw him holding up a flat pane of glass with a hand outlined on it. “You forgot the biometrics.” All humor in his voice was gone. Thomas also noticed the portly guard standing more alert with his hand down by his unbuttoned holster.
“Oh sorry, I guess my mind was already getting ahead of me,” Thomas chuckled to play off the mistake. He wasn’t worried about biometrics at all, it was still Tommy’s body after all. He put his hand down on the stencil. After a short moment it buzzed and lit up with a red glow. Before he could say anything the portly guard had his gun drawn.
“Who are you?” the chubby guard asked while the lean one stepped back and drew his own gun after setting the scanner on the desk. Thomas panicked. He decided that being fired was better than being shot and decided to tell them the truth. Once they kicked him out for being insane he could see about another job.
“I don’t know!” Thomas said as he raised his arms in the air. “My name’s Thomas Bronson, I think I’m ‘Tommy’ from an alternate universe. I just woke up in this body today! Please don’t shoot! I don’t know how I got here, I’m just trying to get by!”
Both guards were immediately overcome by laughter and they reholstered their weapons. Thomas guessed they thought he was joking, and he took it as a good sign. Then, the lean guard put an arm around his shoulder and began walking him toward the elevator.
“Don’t worry about a thing Mr. Bronson. We’ll get you sorted out and back in your body in no time,” he said.
“You can do that?!” Thomas was genuinely surprised they not only believed him, but had the ability to fix it. “Do… do you have to?” he asked as the guard pressed the ‘Up’ button.
“Well, yeah,” he chuckled. ” I want my buddy, T-Bone back. Something wrong with your Earth?” Thomas shook his head.
“Not my Earth,” he said. “My life. Things are so much better for me here. I have a beautiful wife, nice house, and what I think is probably a great job.” The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. The guard led Thomas into it, then pressed the button for the 3rd floor once they were in.
“What if I told you we could get you back into your own body, and give you any life or wife you want?” the guard asked.
“I’d say yes!” Thomas said eagerly.
“Yeah, I thought so,” the guard replied with a smile. “It’s easy, all you have to do is meet Ms. Sharp and sign some papers.”