This is the final chapter of a new sci-fi story I’m working on. To catch up, you can read parts 1, 2, 3, and 4. Also, this is a rough draft that I’m still working through, so any constructive feedback is welcome! Enjoy.
I stumbled into Miniver’s that night with basically just one goal in mind: to forget about everything by getting completely drunk. I took a seat at the bar and ordered a beer.
“Comin’ right up,” said the bartender.
The place was pretty packed. I spun around in my chair to look around a little bit, scanning the crowd for familiar faces. After the incident last time, I really hoped I didn’t see any freaky alternate versions of my wife here messing things up with her perfect new guy. Of course I couldn’t see everyone in the place, but from what I could tell the coast was clear.
But see, I guess I had lied to myself a minute ago. ‘Cause as it turned out, there wasn’t just one reason I had come here tonight. It wasn’t just the escape and it wasn’t just the alcohol—although those were part of it too. But no. It was her.
Even though I had left in a hurry last time, I remembered what Kelly had said. She was gonna be back here over the weekend, which was now. And it just so happened that I was lucky enough to find her now, sitting by herself at a small table in the center of the room. I grabbed my drink and walked over.
“Now there’s a pretty face I recognize,” I said. “Knew there had to be a reason I came tonight.”
She looked up at me, paused for a quick second, then smiled. “Hey there!” she said as she stood to hug me. “Rob, right? I didn’t know if I’d see you here tonight!”
“Yeah, well, I figured I’d stop by,” I said. “You said you’d be here this weekend, so I couldn’t forget that. Had to at least try to find you. Although I didn’t really know when exactly you’d be here. Guess I just got lucky.”
“Well, not yet,” she said with a wink.
I glanced up at her. “You mean…?”
“Here. Come sit with me,” she said, pulling my arm gently. “Let’s sip our drinks and just enjoy the band for a while.”
“Sure,” I said. I sat and took a drink. I listened to the band. I looked at Kelly. And I started to relax. It felt good. At that moment I wondered why I didn’t do this a hell of a lot more often.
“Did you really come down here just to see me?” Kelly asked sometime into my second drink.
The question caught me off guard a bit. “Well, sure,” I said. “Or, at least, that’s a big part of it. I mean, there’s you, which is great, by the way…but also, I think I just needed to get away for a bit, you know?”
“Got a lot going on back home?” she asked.
“You could say that.”
“You never really did tell me where you were coming from. Or what you do. Still just passing through town for the night?”
I clenched my teeth a bit. Should’ve seen this question coming sooner. “Well, uh, yeah. I’m a security guard. Work’s not bad. I mean, it’s not amazing, but it is what it is, right?”
“I didn’t think most security guards got to travel that much,” Kelly said.
“Yeah, well, that…it’s complicated,” I said. Which was true. More complicated than even I fully understood, really. “Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime.”
“Haven’t had enough drinks to open up just yet?” she teased.
“Guess not,” I said with a smile. “Maybe I better have some more.” I swallowed another mouthful.
“Still, it’s pretty late to be traveling,” she said. “Especially this time of year. You have a warm place to stay tonight?”
“No, not really,” I said. “I was probably gonna head back home after a while. I’ll be fine. And besides, I got to get back to my w—”
Wait. Nope. Don’t say “my wife.” That was a close one.
“Hmm?” Kelly asked.
“Got to get back to my work,” I said. “Although, then again, I don’t gotta work again ‘til tomorrow night. The late shift. You know.”
“Sounds like you might be better off staying in town tonight, then,” she said. “Hey. Don’t worry. I’ve got a really nice apartment just a couple blocks away. Whole place to myself and everything.”
“You…want me to spend the night at your place?”
“Yeah! What do you say?”
“Well…who am I to refuse such an offer?”
I ordered another drink after that. At least one more. I’m really not sure. Honestly, the rest of that night is still just a blur in my mind.
* * *
I woke up with a major headache. The sun was too bright and I was still recovering. Crap. How much did I drink last night, anyway? Should’ve known that was a bad idea.
I opened my eyes. Where was I? I didn’t recognize it. Until my head started to clear after a minute. I was in bed, in a bedroom much more neat and fancy than my own. I looked down and saw Kelly lying there next to me, still asleep. She still looked just as beautiful as ever—hell, even more so, in what she was wearing—but somehow it just didn’t feel right this time.
“Damn!” I spat out. “This…could be bad.” I got out of bed and began scrambling on the floor for my clothes.
Kelly rubbed the sleep from her eyes and looked up at me. “Good morning,” she said slowly, still waking up. “Good time last night, huh?”
“Yeah,” I said. “It was amazing.” I still could barely remember any of it. But I remembered enough to know I had screwed up bad. “Hey, uh…what time is it?”
She reached over to a bedside clock. “Like one.”
“Crap. I gotta get going.” I looked back up at her. “I mean, I’m sorry to run and all…”
“Hey,” she said. “I get it. I mean, it’d be great if you could stay, but you did tell me you had to be back for work tonight. Long drive ahead of you?”
“Yeah, sure,” I said. “Crap. Look, it’s not you. I hope you don’t think that. It’s just I really shouldn’t have stayed so long.”
“I understand,” she said. “Don’t worry. But hey, maybe another time?”
I grinned as I buttoned my shirt. “Maybe so.”
And maybe there would be another time. I didn’t know yet. I was still figuring a lot of things out. But honestly, that other time is not what I was thinking of on the walk back home and the—uh—whatever you call the trip between dimensions. Nope. I was really just thinking about Mona. I may not be the brightest guy in the world, but even I know that, if I was trying to patch things up with her like before, then this sure as hell wasn’t the way to do it.
But she didn’t have to know, right? That’s what I told myself. I could tell her I went to the bar with Vince and then stayed at his place ‘cause I drank too much to get home safely. Yeah. That would work. She might still be mad, sure, but she’d probably buy it, and then I could just forget about this whole thing with Kelly and leave it all behind me. It would work. It had to.
I got home and stepped through the door. “Hey, Mona?” I called out. “Babe?”
No answer. Maybe she’d be upstairs in the bedroom.
But no. I checked and she wasn’t there either. Maybe she was out somewhere for the day?
I went into the kitchen and called her name again. I didn’t see her. But I found a note on the fridge. And man, I did not see this one coming at all. The note said:
I don’t know where you are or what you’ve been doing, but I’m sorry. I can’t put up with this anymore. I was really worried about you at first, but it seems like you’ve disconnected your phone, so I guess you don’t want to be found. I just can’t handle waiting around for you anymore when I’m obviously not a priority to you. After the second day or so, I decided I needed some space. Please don’t try to call me for now. Maybe we’ll talk again when we’re both ready.
A million thoughts went through my mind, but one of them jumped out right away. Second day? I was gone overnight, yeah, but definitely less than one full day. Unless—
I ran back up to the bedroom, to the calendar Mona always kept. It should be Sunday, ‘cause last night was Saturday. But the calendar said Tuesday. And the bedside clock said the same.
“No, no, no! That’s impossible!” I yelled. “It’s been a day! Less than a day! I know it! What the hell happened?”
I looked down to my wrist. It was this stupid watch. Had to be. No other explanation. I don’t know how, but somehow it wasn’t just messing with dimensions. It was messing with time, too. The time I spent over there took up more and more time here. I should’ve seen it before from all the other times Mona had told me I was late. But I didn’t. I had stayed out for nearly eighteen hours this time, but that was what—three days here? More? Among other things, I had missed a few days of work. Mona had tried to call me, but I guess cell service doesn’t carry well between dimensions. Now she was gone and I had blown it big time.
I ripped the watch off my wrist and threw it against the bedroom window. It fell to the floor along with broken shards of glass.
Then I sat on the bed and screamed out loud. And I wondered if there was anything to drink in the house. I guess maybe I should never have been so eager to get away. I should’ve forgotten all about that other dimension and just left that crazy life alone. I figured I’d be okay with staying home a lot more from here on out. But something told me home just wasn’t gonna be quite the same anymore.