The two women giggled at Nova. Despite being hopeful when he approached them, he quickly decided they would be no help.
“Thanks anyway,” he nodded at them, then started walking through the mall again. He looked at and listened to the passing shoppers hoping to pick up another kernel of conversation. The first two women he approached on this new Earth seemed to be talking about alternate universes casually. He approached them with as level-headed an introduction as he could come up with on short notice.
“Hi, my name’s Nova. I heard you talking about alternate universes and I was wondering if you could help me. For some reason every time I wake up I’m on a parallel Earth.” Nova thought about the message as he looked for someone new to try it on.
“Excuse me, Nova?” He felt someone tap his shoulder. He turned and found the two women that giggled at him looking apologetic.
“Are you serious, you’re lost?” one of them, the brunette asked. As Nova nodded to answer the first question, the other woman asked a different one.
“What’s your favorite number?” The blonde asked.
“35, why?” Nova answered.
“You don’t know why?” The blonde followed up.
“Never thought about it,” Nova said with a shrug. “I didn’t even know I had a favorite number until you asked.”
“I meant..,” the blonde giggled. Less obnoxiously than earlier. “…you don’t know why we’re asking your favorite number. You don’t, right?” Nova shook his head.
“And you don’t have a 35 tattooed on you somewhere?” the brunette asked. Again, Nova shook his head.
“Get one,” she said.
“Then you’ll stop Traversing in your sleep,” the blonde added.
“And, you’ll be able to do it…,” The brunette said she lifted her wrist and wiggled her fingers in Nova’s direction; but at something behind him.
“Any time you want,” the blonde added. Then, she stepped forward and placed her hands on Nova’s chest. Before he could enjoy her hands or wonder about her motives, she shoved him hard. Instead of stumbling back into other shoppers he tripped and fell backward.
He landed flat on his back on a concrete sidewalk looking up at a hole in the air. The two women and the mall were on the other side of the hole. They smiled and waved at him as the portal closed.
“What the hell?” Nova immediately registered he was in another universe, again, as he stood up and dusted himself off. He was in what seemed to be a small town. As he took in his surroundings he realized he was standing in front of a tattoo shop named Mundo’s. A small sign on the door said, “Get Your Favorite Number Free!”