Playdate Postponed

“Let me in, please,” Jared said. Vannessa had trouble hearing his voice over the pouring rain, but the gun pointed at her chest clued her in. She nodded and stepped aside while pulling her robe tighter around her. She was expecting pizza, not an intruder.

Jared walked in. He entered at an angle to keep his eyes and gun on Vanessa and his back to the wall. Once he was in he waved the gun at the door and Vanessa closed it.

“What do you want?” she asked. Jared spun the gun around. In one smooth motion, he offered her the handle of the gun with his right hand while he kept his left up and in plain view.

“To talk,” he said. “I needed to get your attention.” Vanessa yanked the offered gun out of his hands and he promptly stuck his right hand in the air too. A quick inspection of the weapon revealed the safety was on and it wasn’t loaded.

“About what?” Vanessa asked.

“I came to say goodbye,” he said.

“Goodbye?” Vanessa asked. After obsessing over Jared and chasing his trail for the last decade, she felt pang of worry for her nemesis’ mental health. She held on to the gun and gestured at a recliner for him. She sat on her couch, next to the drawer that she kept her gun in.

“Yeah,” Jared replied. “It’s been fun, but real life is starting to get in the way of my leisure time, so it’s time to take a break. After ten years, I’ve gotten kind of attached to you,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s probably dumb, but I didn’t want you to worry about me, you know?”

“No matter where on Earth you hide, I’ll find you,” Vanessa said. “You can’t just hide on some beach somewhere expecting to get away with your crimes.” Jared laughed some more.

“I know, that’s why I’m here. You’d go crazy trying to find me, and I won’t even be on this Earth anymore.”

“So, what? Now you’re an alien?” Vanessa asked. Jared shook his head.

“I’m human, I just have a special soul. But, this Earth isn’t the only Earth; there are alternate realities. I’m leaving this one and going to a different one.” Vanessa was suddenly very worried about her own mental health. She took every word he said at face value, no matter how little sense it made.

“That sounds dangerous,” she said. “Is anyone going to get hurt on your way out?”

“Not at all,” Jared replied. “It’s as easy as going from one room to the next. I was planning to leave from here just to give you some proof.”  Jared pulled a glass card out of his pocket and held it up to show Vanessa.

“This is a node, it’s standard multiverse tech,” Then, he tapped at it like a smartphone. After several taps he pinched one edge of the glassy card and pulled. He produced a pitch-black card, darker than anything Vanessa had seen before, out of the transparent node.

“This is a Traverse card,” he threw the black card at the wall. It ballooned into a large black hole. “That’s a black portal,” Jared said. “There’s another universe on the other side of that.”

“It’s that easy?” Vanessa asked. Her mind raced to try and solve the torrent of questions piling up. “Why have I been chasing you for ten years?” she asked. Jared tilted his head at her.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Why didn’t you go to a different Earth a long time ago to escape from me?” Jared chuckled.

“Who says I haven’t been?” he asked; his smile grew broader. “The only reason I come to this server is to play with you. I log out every night though,” he said. “It’s just that this time, it might be a while before I can play again.”

“All those.. atrocities… this is just a game to you?” Vanessa asked. She didn’t quite understand everything he said, but she recognized that he sounded like a gamer. Jared shook his head, but the smile remained. He lifted his hand and swiped at his node.

“No, it’s not just a game to me,” he said.  Suddenly golden floating text appeared in Vanessa’s living room.

[Heist Server Rankings:

Most Wanted: Jared Smith

Crime Spree:  10 yrs, 3 mnths,

3 wks, 1 day, 17 hrs, 40 mins,

18 scnds]   Vanessa’s eyes widened as she read the intruding text and made sense of it. She watched the ‘scnd’ line count up as the seconds past.

“It’s just a game. Period.”

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