Stephanie froze mid step when she heard the chuckles coming from Dave’s cubicle. She closed her eyes and sighed.
“God damnit,” she grumbled to herself, then changed direction.
“Hey Dave, what’s funny? I wanna laugh,” Stephanie admitted. She really wished she could find humor in anything; even if it was a good thing at the moment. It had been a busy week since the aliens suddenly took over. During that week, she learned it wasn’t sudden at all; it was only recently their invasion reached critical mass. Stephanie managed to avoid infection, even if she didn’t know how it was happening. She triple-purified all her water, ate only sealed foods, and avoided contact with anyone. Luckily, Stephanie didn’t have a lot of friends before the invasion.
‘Hey,” Dave grinned. “Nothing special, just a cat video. But, hey. Since you’re here…,” Dave stood from his rolling chair and stepped into Stephanie’s personal space. “… have you noticed anything… weird around the office this week?” he whispered in her ear. Stephanie got her wish; she burst out into raucous laughter at the situation.
Dave had never been the brightest employee, but he was popular among the staff for his easy-going attitude. If anyone was going to avoid being possessed by aliens on sheer dumb luck alone, it would of course be Dave. The contrast with her own high-stress week of trying to keep a low profile only made Dave’s question that much funnier.
After two solid belly laughs, Stephanie’s eyes shot wide and she clamped her hand over her mouth. It was too late. She looked around and saw several employees poking their heads over the walls of their cubicle. They were all staring at her.
“Damnit, Dave,” she hissed and grabbed his hand. “I was almost out of here, come on!” She pulled him out of the cubicle and immediately started running. Easy-going Dave shrugged and ran with her.
“Where we going?” he asked.
“Alien parasites took over the world last week,” Stephanie explained while she ran. She was glad she’d been wearing sneakers to work since then. She doubted the aliens would bother enforcing the dress code.
“Bummer. So where can we go?” he asked. Despite the outlandish explanation, she noticed that Dave picked up speed to keep up with her. “And why aren’t they chasing us?” He asked after a glance backward.
“Hivemind. It thinks it can get us ahead.” Stephanie said. She led Dave through a maze of off-white halls and into her office. ” But, it doesn’t know where we’re going.” Dave chuckled.
“Your office is the first place I’d look for you,” he said. Despite the point, he relaxed against the door jamb for a bit to catch his breath. Stephanie nodded.
“We’re not staying here, I just needed to get something.” She was at her desk and back before Dave finished recovering. She quickly grabbed his hand and led him out of the office again.
“HEY!” a security guard yelled from the end of the hall. He was obviously on his way to her office. Turning around, they spotted another guard coming from the other direction.
“Alright, screw it,” Stephanie sighed and turned around to go back into her office. Dave shut the door while she started tapping the transparent card she grabbed from her desk.
“What’s that?” Dave asked. His question was followed by the doorknob jiggling. Dave leaned against the door as the guards started pounding on it.
“Later,” Stephanie said. A black portal opened in the corner of her office and a woman with light purple hair walked out. She wore a crisp white blazer.
“Who’re you?” Dave asked while the pounding continued. He braced his large frame against the door.
“Victoria,” she answered. Dave saw gold stars flash in her eyes as she looked at him and Stephanie.
“Let’s go,” she said, then stepped aside.
“C’mon!” Stephanie grabbed Dave’s hand and pulled him into the portal. On the other side, Dave found himself standing in what appeared to be a lobby. The murmur of busy strangers and the dinging of elevators immediately filled his ears. He stood on a gleaming white floor. He spotted red in the corner of his eye and looked up to see a large sign: Sharp Development.
“Where are we?” Dave asked.
“Somewhere safe. A different Earth,” Victoria said as she walked out of the portal; an intense blue glow was dissipating from her hands.
“Okay,” Dave said, unphased. “For how long? I mean, when can I get back?”
“Dave..,” Stephanie said. “That Earth was completely taken over by aliens.”
“So… are we talking … years?” he asked. Stephanie shook her head, but Victoria answered.
“Sharp Development refuses to let aliens get a foothold on any Earth,” Victoria said. Dave chuckled.
“Kind of late on that one,” he said. Victoria nodded.
“That’s why I destroyed it behind us,” she said.
“You… what?” Dave asked. He glanced at Stephanie for confirmation. Dave wasn’t a bright man, but her expression was obvious.
“Oh…,” Dave sighed and cast his eyes downward. He’d only been at the company for a couple of years. During that time, Stephanie never saw Dave without a smile. For the first time in years, a glum expression took over Dave’s face. “Bummer. That’s where all my stuff was.”