Stellar Father

“Rigel! Rolls are ready!” Mundo yelled at the kitchen’s exit. She set a sheet of glazed cinnamon rolls on the table in front of Esther and Allen. Rigel, a blonde 8-year-old walked into the kitchen with eager eyes focused on the melted white icing. “Near and far, please,” Mundo said to her son, and handed him a small plate. Rigel nodded, then casually waved at the wall; two round portals appeared on it.

One portal was so clear that it looked like a hole in the wall, except that it looked outside on a dark night. The actual windows in the kitchen showed a bright, blue, beautiful day outside. The second portal appeared to be an actual black hole. It was pitch dark and seemed to be completely flat; no light reflected off of it. Mundo walked to the clear portal first.

“Think of the multiverse like a spectrum. Each Earth you visit is like a radio station; it has a certain frequency on that spectrum. You guys have radio, right?” She asked. Esther and Allen nodded, but neither of them spoke. They were mouth-deep in pastry. She pointed at the clear one.

This portal leads to an Earth that’s closer to where we are now than the other portal,” Mundo pointed at the black one. “Earths that are close to each other tend to be similar. It can be difficult to find any differences between them,” she turned to the exit. “Thank you, honey!” Mundo yelled, then the portals disappeared. The young mother removed her apron, then hung it over the back of a chair.

“I know I told you Mundos and plants couldn’t leave their Earth, but that was just to give you the general info,” Mundo said. She pointed at a sprig of mint pinned to her light-green blouse. “Now that you’ve learned the basics, you need to learn how to take care of yourselves out there.” Mundo turned to point at the wall again. This time, a green-tinted portal appeared; its surface rippled like emerald water.

“If you ever meet a Mundo or plant soul wearing a sprig of peppermint, you should assume they can traverse. Keep your guard up,” she said. “This sprig helps me, and any Mundo, create our own portals or ride through yours. But unfortunately, I can only traverse to certain Earths. They have to have been visited by Peppermint.” Esther tilted her head in curiosity.

“Visited by… is Peppermint a name?” Mundo nodded with a broad smile. She waved a hand at the wall to dismiss the green portal.

“Do you remember what I told you about Ballisea?” Mundo asked. Both guests nodded quickly.

“Run,” they said simultaneously. Mundo giggled.

‘That too, but the point is she’s really strong, right? Well, Peppermint is the Mundo version of her. He’s easier to run from, but he’s just as dangerous as Ballisea.”

“Wait. Did you get that from Peppermint? You met him?” Esther asked. Mundo nodded.

“Well of course,” Mundo said. “He’s a wonderful father; he likes checking in on Rigel.”

Stellar Orientation

“Whoa!” Esther flinched; she shut her eyes and ducked her head to avoid a face full of glass. Three seconds later the impact had yet to arrive. She peeked her eyes open at the same time she heard a young voice behind her.

“MOM!” a child shouted. Esther whirled around to find a young blonde boy sitting cross-legged on beige carpet. He looked up at Esther and she noticed golden stars glowing in his eyes.

“What is it, honey?” Esther turned toward the new voice. A mid-20s blonde woman walked into the living room through an arch; she was drying her hands with a dishtowel. The boy pointed at Esther as an answer and his mom immediately gave Esther a warm smile. “Hola, Estrella,” she closed the gap between them and grabbed Esther’s hand. “Join me in the kitchen and you can get out of Rigel’s way.”

“Where am I?” Esther asked, but she let the stranger lead her away. “Why aren’t you more concerned about a stranger in your house?”

“Oh, it happens all the time,” the woman laughed as they stepped into a bright, sun-drenched kitchen. Large windows let light pour in from outside and the white floor tiles reflected it. Esther sat at the small round table in the center of the kitchen. “My name is Mundo, by the way,” she introduced herself then walked to the refrigerator. “Would you like something to drink? Water? Coffee? Tea?”

“Water, please.” Mundo nodded and returned to the table with two bottles of water. “What do you mean it happens all the time?”

“My boy’s very special, a lot like you actually. I don’t know what you were doing before you landed in my living room, but I can tell you that you’re in a different universe.”

“Whooooaa,” Esther’s eyes grew big. “I entered the mirror universe!” She immediately looked down at her hands and began flexing her fingers. “I’m still right-handed though,” Esther said; Mundo giggled.

“You did not enter a mirror universe. It’s called, Traversing,” she paused and looked out into the living room. “Rigel, honey. Mommy needs a portal.” A small, saucer-sized black hole appeared vertically above the table between the two women. “That’s a portal to a different universe. You can make them big enough to walk through. So, what were you doing before you got here? That’s enough, thank you!” The portal disappeared.

“I was hanging a mirror, and it fell on me. Or, I guess, it was about to fall on me. But how did I get here? Why does it happen all the time?” Esther glanced at the kitchen entrance, then leaned closer to Mundo. “Did your son bring me here?” Mundo smiled and shook her head.

YOU brought you here. You can make portals too, you just didn’t know it yet. When you were about to get hit, it seems like your mind panicked and you traversed to avoid the danger.”

“I.. I did it? Does that mean I can make those portals or whatever?” Mundo nodded. “Okay. Not sure I believe that yet, but why here? If I really panicked, why didn’t I go somewhere safe?” Mundo giggled again and her smile grew from ear to ear.

“You did.” Esther nodded.

“Well, yeah I guess. But why not somewhere I’m familiar with?”

“Traversing is tricky. Portals are like magic doors connecting two Earths at one point. You can’t traverse to the same Earth you’re on, you need to at least open a portal to another Earth first. If you’re really good, you can open the two portals back to back so it seems like you went to a different spot on the same Earth.”

“Oh. So I just got put on a random Earth somewhere?”

“Kind of, but there’s more to it. You landed here because you were drawn to my son. He’s like you, but stronger. So in an emergency, blind traversal, the universe dropped you off somewhere helpful.”

“The universe?” Esther raised an eyebrow, but Mundo nodded.

“You’re about to learn more about the universe than you ever even considered, and it starts with your favorite number: 35.”

“Hey, that’s my favorite too.” Both women turned to see a lean, greying man standing at the kitchen entrance. “Hi, sorry. I don’t know how I got here, but your son said you did?”

“Have a seat!” Mundo smiled at the newcomer, then she cast a side glance at Esther. “All. the. time,” she mouthed silently.