Queen’s Court

Owen sat up in bed and looked at the bare, beige carpet in the center of his bedroom.

“YEEEEEESSS!” he cheered to himself and hopped out of bed. He ran to his kitchen to find the dining room chair he chopped up the previous night. He grew suspiciously hopeful that the day was resetting. He did not want to destroy anything irreplaceable; he chopped the legs off the chair and left the pile in his bedroom before going to sleep.

Two hours later Owen sat in his favorite coffee shop taking notes. He watched the locals while keeping an eye on social media for anything useful. After a while, he noticed a young woman with dark hair sneaking glances at him. She wore blue jeans and a simple black blouse. After an hour of watching him, without getting a drink, the young woman left.

I’ll talk to her tomorrow,” Owen decided and threw himself back into his research of the day. He stayed in the coffee shop until they closed, then headed home. He was content with his research and had some ideas of how to make the best of the day; if he got it again. He took the time to destroy the chair again before bed; he wanted to have an immediate indicator of whether his day reset.

The next morning Owen was glad it was the same morning; the dismantled chair was in one piece again in his kitchen. He spent extra time getting ready. He wanted to feel fresh and confident when he struck up a conversation with the stranger today.

He walked into the coffee shop and glanced around. Everyone was there again except the woman he was looking for.

Maybe she didn’t get here until later…,” Owen reasoned. He expected to chat her up a bit to get some information for the next time then move on to his plans. Without her there he sat down and decided to double check his info to kill time. Owen looked up every time the door opened but she did not walk in until after lunch. She wore a bright white blouse with navy blue slacks; not the blue jeans and black shirt from the previous day. “What the hell?” Owen realized she wasn’t just dressed differently; she seemed to be unaffected by time resetting. That day she came into the coffee shop hours after she left it the previous day.

Owen watched her accept her drink. Instead of the going to the same seat she sat in yesterday she walked straight to his table and sat down across from him.

“Hi!” she smiled. Her eyes sparkled with a glassy, bright pink color he’d never seen in someone’s eyes before.

“Hi,” Owen replied. “Uh.. can I help you?” He mentally kicked himself; he planned to be smoother when talking to her. She nodded.

“I think so. My name is Bijou,” she said and extended a hand across the table. Owen shook it.

“Owen,” he introduced himself.

“I need someone that can control time,” she said. She looked around the cafe with a suspicious eye then winked at Owen. He caught a glimpse of a tattoo on her eyelid but it disappeared again before he identified it. “Kind of like what you’ve been doing for a few days.”

“How did you know!?” Owen hissed across the table with a loud whisper. She winked again with the same eye, slower this time. Owen saw her tattoo clearly. The number 47 in black with a small golden crown atop the seven decorated her right eyelid.

“I’m a Queen. I recognize power when I see it.”

Fated Meeting

The skittish mugger looked at his gun, then back at the lean, wispy man. It looked like his skin was pulled tight over his bones; his apparent malnutrition is what gave Linus the courage to victimize the man. He did not plan on firing a single shot, much less six. Now that he was approaching 50, Linus had learned that plans are made to be broken.

“Fate, huh? So can you change mine?” Linus asked. Fate cocked his head to the side and gave him a questioning look.

“You don’t need me for that,” he replied with a calming, even tone. Linus gave a half nod and hid his gun under his coat.

“Yeah, I suppose you wouldn’t seein’ I just tried mugging you,” he shook his head. “Sorry, and thanks for not killing me.”

“Why would I?” Fate asked. He seemed perpetually confused as far as Linus could tell from the short five-minute interaction they’ve had so far. Linus only meant to fire a warning shot to scare the man; he did not seem to understand he was being robbed.

“‘Cause I tried to take your money and kill you. It’s only fair you’d want revenge. Anyone that can take six shots in the chest without blinking can probably make short work of me.”

“Do you wish ill upon the breeze that caresses your face?” Fate asked. Linus shook his head in equal parts astonishment and offense.

“That’s all those bullets were to you? A stiff breeze?” Linus asked. Fate smiled at him.

“A gentle breeze. Do you want money?” Fate asked suddenly. Linus laughed. He had grown used to Fate’s quirks already. He was not surprised Fate did not know what a mugging was. Fate reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out a small, glassy rectangle about the size of a playing card. “I’ve been told this works as a credit card if you swipe it.” He tossed it at Linus. “She said it has no limit,” Fate shrugged. “I don’t know what that means, but I’m sure you do.”

“And you’re just giving this to me??”

“I don’t need it. You don’t either, but it seems like you need to learn that lesson for yourself.” Linus stared wide-eyed at the device. When he touched it, it lit up like a display and showed the current time with an infinity symbol next to it.

“Wait a minute. Who’s ‘she’ that you mentioned? Is this hers? Is she gonna come back for it?” Linus began to push the glass card back to Fate; but, the frail man shook his head.

“My queen, Bijou, gifted it to me to keep me entertained while I wait for her. She’ll be here soon. My wait is almost over.”

“Your Queen? Fate has a queen? How does that work?”

“How does what work?” Fate asked.

“I mean, you’re fate. You control and guide people’s lives. You decide people’s circumstances. I never thought you’d report to anyone.”

“Oh,” Fate chuckled. “You’re confused. I’m not…,” he used air quotes. “FATE. My name is Fate but I decide my own. Just like you.”

“But then what are you? I know I shot you point blank.”

“I’m a Unique Soul. #42, La Calavera.”

“I don’t know what that means,” Linus shook his head.

“It means I can make short work of you if I wanted to.”

“Fair enough,” Linus nodded. “But what ab-” he stopped talking. His mouth dropped open and he stared at something behind Fate. A pitch black portal, somehow darker than the dark alley, opened in the air. A short dark-haired woman walked out. Though she stood in shadows, Linus clearly saw bright pink crystalline eyes staring at him. Once she walked up to Fate Linus got the impression that she stared at him just to ignore him. She looked at Fate.


“Yes my Queen,” Fate said with a deliberate nod of his head. Then he turned around and walked through the portal. Bijou followed and the portal closed behind them.

Expository Potty-break

Billy stared at the door and sighed quietly. He chose this Earth because it was empty, but somehow that didn’t stop random Uniques from showing up on his doorstep. Another sharp knock came from the door and he decided the visitors would be on their way faster if he answered the door and asked to be left alone. He opened it without checking the peephole and instantly recognized the man and woman on his front porch.

“What do you want?” he asked the pair. They seemed surprised to see him too. He saw the woman, Alliane, slit her eyes at him.

“Hi,” Jonah said. “Can we use your restroom?” he asked casually as if they’d been acquaintances for years, though they only met briefly a few days ago. Billy made a point of stepping out of the house and looking past them at the barren, dry landscape.

“There’s a whole empty Earth,” he said. Then he wiggled his hand in the air and opened a small dinner-plate sized black portal. “And infinite other Earths. Why mine?” Alliane shrugged.

“You know how Traversing works. This is where we landed. I’m not going to use a bush when you have working plumbing.” She wiggled in place. “If I go through another portal I’ll come out the other side with wet pants. Can I please use your restroom?” Billy sighed but stepped back into the house and opened the door wider as an invitation. “Upstairs. First door on the left.”

“Thank you!” Alliane blurted then dashed into the house and up the stairs. Jonah stayed on the porch ready to wait.

“Never let it be said that I am a poor host,” Billy said. “You’re welcome to wait inside.” Jonah looked the lanky, suited man up and down then shrugged.

“Okay, thanks.” He accepted the invitation and walked in. Billy closed the door then looked at his guest blankly. He did not want to start a conversation because he did not want to risk prolonging their visit, but he also hated standing around in silence. Luckily Jonah decided for him.

“How does Traversing work?” he asked.

“What? What do you mean?” Billy asked. “You’ve gone through more than a few portals I’m sure.” Jonah nodded.

“I have, but Alliane said, ‘you know how Traversing works’. What does that mean?”

“Oh. I thought your girlfriend would have explained it by now,” Billy replied. Jonah shrugged.

“She would if I asked her. I didn’t know it was a thing until she mentioned it just now. And she’s not my girlfriend, we’re engaged.” Billy realized he had two options to fill the uncomfortable silence. Either answer Jonah’s question or start a conversation about their relationship. He lifted a hand and made a gesture in the air.

“When I open a portal it’s not about going to a certain place.” A hole opened in the air. “There’s too many Earths to pick a specific one. I’ve missed a few times even when I have a target frequency. So the way it works is, I feel where I want to go. I trust that I’ll find what I need on the other side, one way or another.”

“So we ended up here…?” Jonah asked hoping that Billy could fill in the blank.

“Alliane…,” he skipped referring to her as Jonah’s fiancé to avoid the topic of their relationship. “…probably wanted to go somewhere secluded but still comfortable. Since we’ve already met, my home became an option apparently.” The men both heard footsteps at the same time and looked up the stairs. Alliane smiled at Billy on her way down.

“Thank you so much,” she said. “I appreciate it enough to forgive you for stealing our canoe,” she reached the bottom of the steps and wrapped her arm around Jonah’s.

“You mean for getting to the abandoned canoe that anyone could take, first?” Billy asked with a smug smile. “Thanks for dropping in, don’t make it a habit. Please leave,” he asked. Alliane was already waving her hand in the air. She opened a black portal next to Jonah.

“See ya around, Billy,” Alliane waved then stepped into the portal. Jonah followed her; then, the black portal disappeared.

Expository Lunch

“What’s your name?” Bijou asked Agent Mundo. The two women sat in a red and gold booth in a Chinese restaurant. After placing their orders, Bijou decided to start the questioning. The federal agent promised her answers.

“It’s Mundo,” she said. “Agent is just a title.”

“But what’s your first name? Or is it Mundo?” Mundo gave a half shrug.

“I was born Olive Brooks, but I changed my name to Mundo when I was ‘Awakened’.” Bijou nodded. She didn’t know exactly what ‘awakened’ meant, but she knew she’d get the answer soon. Her mind latched on to a more immediate question.

“Do I have to change my name too? To Corona or whatever you said I was?” Bijou loved her name too much to change it. Luckily Mundo shook her head at the question.

“No, it’s mostly a Mundo thing. Not all Mundos do it, but it makes things easier for everyone.”

“Okay, you’re starting to lose me,” Bijou said. “How many Mundos are there? You said we were called Unique Souls, but it doesn’t seem very unique if there’s more of you, and you all change your name to Mundo.”

“Most Earths produce a Mundo at some point,” Mundo said.

“That! That’s what I want to know. You said, ‘This Earth hates unicorns.’ Are alternate Earths really real?” Bijou asked. Her crystalline pink eyes sparkled with hope. If alternate Earths were real she knew she could find the right one to make her dream come true. Mundo nodded.

“Yeah. Real and easily accessible for Uniques.” Bijou grinned broadly.

“Can we go??” Bijou imagined Mundo giving her a tour of her favorite Earths.

“You can,” Mundo said. “I can’t leave my Earth.” Bijou’s smile dimmed slightly.

“Why not?”

“It’ll help if I explain how Uniques work in general,” Mundo said. She sat up straighter and smiled at Bijou. There’re 54 different types of Uniques broken down into six tiers.”

“Oh, those are the numbers you told me, right? You said you you’re #37 and I’m #47. Does that mean I’m stronger than you?” Mundo shook her head.

“Nope. The numbers themselves don’t mean much other than identifying the Unique. You probably are stronger than me, but technically you’re on a lower tier. The ranking isn’t about how strong you are, it’s about what you can do.” Mundo pointed at Bijou.

“You are La Corona, so you’re in the Conqueror tier. Everyone in that tier is powerful enough to conquer the Earth they’re born on.”

“Oh yeah! You said I was born to be one of the most fearful things on Earth,” Bijou said. “That’s to help me conquer the Earth?” Mundo nodded.

“Yeah. Each one goes about it a different way. Coronas are the strongest conquerors and they’re born in the form of whatever the humans fear at the time. I guess when you were born people were really scared of unicorns for some reason.”

“What tier are you? What do you do?”

“I’m in the tier above you, called Celestials. Celestials can open portals to travel between universes. Conquerors can easily conquer their Earth, celestials can easily conquer several.”

“But you said you can’t leave?” Bijou asked.

“Right. That’s specific to Mundos, and one of the lower tiers. My ability is knowledge. When I got my tattoo it flooded my mind with information on Uniques and the multi-verse. It’s weird to doubt and generally not think about other universes one day; then, to know for a fact that they’re real the next. Mundos help teach Uniques about themselves and their abilities.”

“Wow, it’s a great thing I ran into you!” Bijou smiled. Mundo nodded.

“It would have happened eventually. Uniques are drawn to each other, it actually makes my job easier. When I heard about the unicorn attack at the university, I assumed there was a Unique involved. All I had to do was show up, and there you were.”

“So you can’t leave this Earth.. but have you met travelers from other Earths?”

“Oh yeah, quite a few. I’ve got some friends that come by regularly.”

“Wow, what are their universes like?”

“Their particular universes are kind of boring, but there’s a lot of awesome stuff out there. If you can imagine something, there’s probably an Earth like that.”

“Oh! What about aliens?” Bijou asked. Her sole reason for attending college was to become an astronomer, but even that was a means to an end. More than anything she dreamed about meeting alien life. Now that she had access to other universes she could just find one with aliens in it and meet them. Unfortunately, Mundo shook her head.

“Sorry, no aliens.”

“You’re kidding me! Out of all the travelers you met, not one of them came from an Earth that’s met alien life?” Mundo nodded.

“Pretend this Earth is an apartment in a very trusting building,” Mundo said. Bijou nodded. “There’s only one key to open the main door, and all the apartments are unlocked. Once a Unique has been to your apartment, it gets a key and can come back any time to any of the apartments. Not only that, but Uniques share the key with everyone they meet.” Bijou’s eyes narrowed with confusion.

“Aliens?” she asked to get Mundo back on topic.

“Yeah. No one that has come into this apartment building of ours has met any aliens, nor met anyone that has met any aliens yet.”

“You can’t know that for sure, right?” Alternate Earths were great, but Bijou wanted to see the universe, not just more Earths.

“Once aliens have the key to our building we’ll have the key to theirs. Then we’ll be able to enter all kinds of new Earths that have met aliens.” Mundo shrugged. “There’re infinite universes out there. Sure we can travel between a few, but it’s still only a small corner of infinity.”

Area of Conversation

“AREA-51?? Bullshit, you don’t know anyone there,” Aurelio said while pulling into the parking lot.

“Clearly I do, or you wouldn’t have gotten the offer,” Maizy chirped pleasantly from the passenger seat.

“Don’t bet on it, I am from an alternate universe after all. Everyone’s curious I’m sure,” he replied.

“Funny you should say that,” Maizy said. Gravel crunched under her sneakers when she exited, then she looked over the top of the car at Aurelio. “Herbert, your new boss, didn’t seem interested until I mentioned you were a Unique. I get the feeling he knows other Uniques, you know? Joking aside, he might be able to hook you up with a ride home.”

“Knowing that changes everything,” Aurelio shrugged. “Let me get that for you.” Maizy paused at the door and punched him in the shoulder.

“Nice try but I’m still annoyed you didn’t believe me,” she said then walked through the door.

“One could argue that it wasn’t you I didn’t believe in, but the existence of aliens or Area-51 at all.”

“Personally I’d argue that you didn’t believe me,” she stuck her tongue out at him. “Quality friend you’re turning out to be.”

“Regrets will pop up later, I’m sure,” he sat down in a booth across from her and visibly rolled his eyes. “Seriously though,” he smiled and looked into her eyes. “Thank you for setting me up with a job, no matter where it is.”

“Under your nose,” Maizy smiled. “Very, very close.”


“‘X’ marks the spot,” she pointed at a white ‘X’ painted on a semi-hidden door.

“You can’t be serious?”

“Zero percent kidding,” she smiled.