My invention was complete. After seven years, my work had paid off. I walked around the lab, admiring the beautiful machine I had created. It was a proton collider. The first invention I had ever succeeded in making.
“Chloe, Richard, Dylan. Come down and look at my latest project!”
My lab was the basement of our house, and my wife always warned me not to blow anything up here. She and my two kids ran down the stairs, ecstatic to see my new invention. As soon as they laid their eyes upon the collider, their eyes brightened.
“WHOA!” my kids shouted as my wife hugged me with tears in her eyes.
“You’ve done it Daniel!” she said. “For seven years, everybody mocked you. Laughed about you. Now you can laugh at them. Mock them.” I smiled at this. The thought of laughing at everyone who laughed at me was enough to make me laugh.
“Well, let’s see how it works Daddy!” Dylan shouted impatiently. I smiled at him.
“Of course.” I walked over to the collider and turned it on. It immediately began to hum as thin balls of energy began to form at the two endpieces. They grew and a thin beam shot out, connecting them. As I marveled at my invention, something odd began to happen. It seemed as if something was stuck within the beam. In the middle, there was a bulge that grew at an exponential rate. When it reached the size of a basketball, it stopped growing. I looked at it curiously. Then I realized what it was. It was too late.
“RUN!” I shouted at my family as the bulge exploded, opening up a black hole the size of a car.
I grabbed onto the table and shouted again, “RUN!” My wife grabbed my kids and ran to the back of the lab, frantically looking for something to help me. The black hole grew bigger and stronger as the table I was grabbing onto began to slide.
“DANIEL!” my wife shouted as I let go of the table and grabbed onto the steel pipe. Hot water moved through the pipe, scalding my hand but I held on tight. As I looked at my wife, she stared back at me with determination. She moved closer to me, making sure she didn’t get sucked in by the black hole and reached out her hand. The pipe groaned as the black hole now grew to the size of the room. I looked at her and closed my eyes. Taking a deep breath, I let go of the pipe, just as it exploded and leapt towards my wife’s hand. She looked at me and reached out even further as my fingertips met hers. Then the black hole grew once again as my fingers slid off hers, and I flew through the air towards the blackhole. I stared right at her and shouted over the howling wind, “I love you Chloe!” as everything went black.
I woke up in a field, surrounded by all sorts of miscellaneous items from my lab. I tried to recall what had just happened. Memories started to flow back into me as I grew more and more frustrated. Yet again, I had failed to create something that worked. As I looked around me, something caught my eye. It was the garden gnome that Dylan had made. That could only mean… Yes. I was in my yard. My house was right in front of me. Perhaps it had all been a dream. Perhaps I had fallen asleep and…
“DANIEL!” a familiar voice shouted. I turned my head to the voice. It was my wife Chloe. As I stood up to tell her what I had dreamed, I realized she was glaring at me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I told you to never show your face to me or my kids ever again and you have the gall to just show up in my yard and make a mess!”
I was shocked. Chloe had never spoken so harshly to me before.
“GET OUT OF MY YARD! NOW!” She shouted as I stared at her.
“Chloe I just…”
“GET OUT BEFORE I CALL THE POLICE!”
I looked at her one last time and walked away from the house.
I just kept walking. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. As I passed a supermarket on my right, a man walked out and I immediately recognized who it was.
“Ryan.” I said through gritted teeth.
He had been the person who had mocked me for trying to make a proton collider and even sabotaged my attempts in the process of creating it. “Oh Daniel. How are you doing?”
I was surprised to see he was being so nice to me. Normally, he would be such a jerk but he seemed so different. “Umm.. I’m great.” I turned to walk away but he stopped me.
“Hey, we’re still on for today’s dinner right. 5:30 at John’s?”
“Umm.. Yeah I’ll be there” I replied and walked away. I was so confused. Why was everyone so different from how I remembered them?
At 5:30 that night, I walked up to John’s and looked for Ryan. He was sitting at the booth at the far left corner so I headed towards him. He smiled at me and I sat across from him. The waiter came with some bread, so I ripped a piece off the loaf and started to eat. Then, something caught my eye as I choked. The man walking through the door was me.
I stared at him and he stared at me. We just looked at each other for what seemed like an eternity. Then he looked at Ryan and back at me. He dropped his cup and it shattered on the floor.
“Umm.. Ryan?” he asked.
Ryan stopped mid-chew and turned around. When he saw my doppelganger, he too choked on his bread. I tried to piece everything together. Why had everybody seem so different from who they were and why was there a clone of me?
Then I remembered how I ended up here. Everything started to fit together like a puzzle.
“Ryan. Other Me. When I tell you this, do not freak out. It might sound crazy but it’s true. Ryan, before when I met you outside the supermarket, I was with my family. I had created a proton collider that opened up a black hole that brought me here. When I got here, my wife acted like she hated me and you acted like we were friends. However, in my ordinary universe, my wife and I love each other and you are my worst enemy. This led me to believe that I was in an alternate universe. One that is the exact opposite of what I live in. That means you are my antimatter.”
Ryan and Other Me stared at me like I was crazy. Then they laughed. “Daniel. I’m sure that you’ve had a long day. Maybe you should just go home and rest for today.” Ryan said.
Other me looked at him and back to me. “Well, it may be possible. Although proton colliders aren’t supposed to create black holes. If you make a mistake with the wires, it may malfunction to create one. But what kind of universe have you ended up in?”
I looked at him. “Let’s find out. Other Me. Shake my hand.” I extended my hand to him. As soon as our hands met, pain seared from my hand. Almost like a burning feeling from acid. I quickly retracted my hand and looked at it. The entire layer of skin on my hand had burnt off. “This is what happens when antimatter meets matter.” I said to them.
“Well if this is true, we have to find a way for you to get home,” Ryan said to me.
“Well let’s establish something. If I have any more physical contact with Other Me, we will both be completely destroyed. No more touching alright?” I looked at Other Me and he nodded. “Okay. I think I have a way for me to get back to my universe. I need to make another proton collider in order to get back home. It’s an extremely risky move and I could theoretically end up in any other universe or possibly even get stuck in the time-space continuum, but it’s the only way. Do any of you have a lab lying around anywhere that I can use?”
Ryan just shook his head but Other Me’s face brightened as he looked at me and asked, “Did you say proton collider? I have a lab with one already made. The problem is where it is…”
I looked at him excitedly. “Where is it?”
He hung his head low. “It’s in the basement of Chloe’s house.”
I looked at him. Just why. Of all places, WHY?! “Oh yeah. What happened with Chloe?” I asked.
He sat down. “It’s a long story. Let me tell you.”
“When Chloe and I got married, we each had different aspirations. I wanted to be an inventor who created inventions that changed the world. I wanted to travel around the world and enter competitions and constantly keep learning. Chloe wanted to start a family and raise them to do great things. I decided that my dreams could wait and I would help Chloe raise a family. After we had our second kid Dylan, I decided that I would enter a small competition in our state and invent something. When I won first prize, I realized that I had so much talent and I could be an amazing inventor if I had the chance. I decided to go big. Without telling my wife, I bought a plane ticket to Australia to go and compete in the international competition. Surprisingly, I won and although my wife was upset with me for not telling her about it, she was proud. After winning the international competition, my wife thought that was the end of my journey and I should come home to be with my kids, but I wanted to become even greater at inventing. I wanted to solve the world’s greatest mysteries. When my wife heard about this, she and I had an argument. I decided to go my own path while she followed hers. For the next three years, I learned many things about the world and even managed to solve three of the world’s greatest mysteries. Then I found out my son Richard had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I automatically headed home only to find out that he had already died. Heartbroken and clueless what to do next, I tried to go back home, but she closed the doors on me.”
I looked at Other Me. He had gone through so much. “I’m so sorry.” I managed to get out. He looked at me and said
“We have to find a way to get inside the lab with or without her permission.”
I nodded my head. “When should we try?”
That night, we all met in front of Chloe’s house. The mess from before had been cleaned up, and all the lights in the house were off. We walked to the front door and Other Me took a key out of his pocket.
“Don’t tell her I have this,” he told us. “She hasn’t changed the locks on the door since I moved out so I still have access to the house.” He slid the key into the keyhole and turned. With a small click, the door was unlocked. He slowly opened the door and stepped inside. Ryan and I followed, careful not to make any sounds. We walked towards the basement stairs but as we opened the door, Someone turned the corner and stopped in their tracks. It was Dylan.
He looked at me and then Other Me, and then Ryan and back to me. I could tell he was confused, so I whispered to him, “Dylan, don’t tell your mom we were here. Just go back to sleep and forget any of this happened.”
He stared at us as if we were crazy so we just closed the door to the basement and walked down the stairs. I looked at Other Me and he looked at me, smiling, with tears in his eyes. “He’s grown so much,” he said to me. “I haven’t seen him in seven years.”
I smiled at him. ‘Hopefully you can see him again someday,” I said.
The three of us walked down the stairs, and I looked around the lab. It looked exactly like my old lab. I asked Other Me, “Where’s the proton collider?” He pointed over to the machine covered in a blue sheet. I walked over to the machine and took the sheet off. Then I unscrewed the screws that held a steel plate on. After the steel plate was off, I looked through the wires. Everything was the same as the one I had made except for the ones right on top. They were twisted together, but when I did it, I had tied them together. As I untwisted the wires, I thought about my wife. My kids. I thought about how Other Me had it so hard. Wife hating him, dead child. I almost wanted to give him my place and let him live in my universe.
After the wires were “fixed”, I walked over to the other side and turned it on. The energy began to flow just as it had before. Then, I heard a loud harsh voice.
“DAAAAAANIEEEEEL!!! HOW DARE YOU COME INTO MY HOUSE WITH YOUR FRIENDS AFTER WHAT YOU DID BEFORE! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!” Chloe was at the back of the lab glaring at me.
Other Me came out of the shadows. “You’ve got the wrong guy,” he said. “I’m sorry, Chloe. For everything. But we need the lab just for another minute.”
“No” she replied curtly. “Get out.”
“Please Chloe,” he pleaded.
“Well first, why are there two of you?” she asked.
“Let me explain,” he said.
I looked back. The bulge had already started to grow. “Guys, I think this is my cue to exit.” I walked over to Ryan and gave him a big hug. I turned to Other Me, and I nodded my head. “Thanks for everything” I said to them as I turned back. The bulge exploded once again as it dragged me in. But this time I was prepared. I closed my eyes and let the blackness overwhelm me.
I woke up for the third time that day. I looked around and saw the garden gnome. I hoped it wasn’t foreboding as I walked up the steps. I took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. After a couple seconds, the door opened and I saw the love of my life standing in front of me. With tears in her eyes, she threw her arms around me and I wrapped my arms around her, patting her back. I saw Richard and Dylan in the back, so I invited them into our embrace. We hugged for what seemed like forever. Once we had released from our embrace, I smiled at them. “Let me tell you everything.”
As I walked inside, I heard a crash outside. I turned around and looked out the window. Other Me and Other Chloe were back.