A sharp chill through my body stirred me awake. This wasn’t too uncommon. I was the most recent addition to the already crowded workhouse, so I got the bed by the broken window. I reached out lazily to close it, but my hand was met with warm steel.
I opened my eyes to find myself ensconced in a small metal room, the floor largely taken up by a simple, yet very comfortable bed. The room was dark. I scrambled to see if there was a candle, or perhaps some matches, but I couldn’t find either.
“…come on… lights-”
As if heeding my command, strange glass objects in each corner of the ceiling began emanating an orange tinged glow, like fire-light.
The walls were bare, save for a single picture, small and square. It wasn’t a painting. The surface was smooth, and clear. As if I were looking upon their face right now. My face. But not. The way they stood, their whole demeanour, their smile. It was all different, as if I were looking at a twin and not myself. Their eyes, were yellow.
There was a door, to my right. I needed to know where I was. I stepped onto the grey floor, and I felt it shaking, ever so slightly. As if I was perhaps on some kind of ship, out on gentle waters. Had I been taken out to sea?
I stood before the door, only now noticing that I wasn’t wearing my nightgown, but soft, white and loose fitting attire; a shirt and trousers, like a man. I opened the door, onto a dark metal hallway, lined with several doors either side just like my own. Down the hall was a distant blue light.
Cautiously, my heart thumping in my chest, I followed. The light was bleeding through the crack in yet another door. I slipped inside.
A massive blue light, emanating from a swirling body of dots, like stars? It could be seen through large windows, dominating every wall of this otherwise unlit room. Below the windows stood strange, box-like contraptions, littered with tiny blinking lights of various colours. Only then did I notice the stranger sitting in a large, comfortable chair, at the far end of the room. Their back was to me, as they looked out into the blue, all the while interacting with the odd flashing lights before them. I considered what to do next. Perhaps I should attack my kidnapper while I had the element of surprise.
“Can’t sleep then?” My heart turned cold.
They turned to look at me with a tired, yet mildly concerned expression. I didn’t know what to say. Reason was wholly absent here. But, I couldn’t help but return my gaze to the blue.
“Where are we?”
They seemed uncertain, but waved me over.
“Just outside the Leoncino Galaxy. We’ll be making planetfall at Serendipity in about 12 hours.”
I didn’t understand what he was saying. I just stared out of the window, the light surrounded in darkness, with distant luminous pinpricks to break up the endless night.
“What’s your name?”
Without thinking I half muttered, “Miss Elizabeth Barley.” The stranger furrowed their brow with some confusion.
“I don’t recall having that name on my passenger manifest…”
They did something, and alongside some writing a picture appeared on the main window, it was the version of me from my room.
“Says here your name is Via Prixx.”
Before the light, in the window I saw my reflection. I had yellow eyes.
“… are you alright?”
I was quiet. The stranger gave me his attention.
“I’ve been working the night shift, so I didn’t see any passengers embarking. Where did you join us from?”
“On New Mars?”
“Wow, that’s a long way. We didn’t even start this flight near there, where’d you get a connecting flight?”
“I… don’t… how far from Liverpool are we?”
“Well… 25 million lightyears or so, a few years even by warp travel.”
“Years…? What’s the date?”
“22.1834.22.6.” I just went blank. “…But, the date on Earth is 4th June 1834. When did you leave Earth?” I was hardly listening.
“I, it was 4th June 1834…”
We both fell silent. This couldn’t be real. None of it. It just could not be. This had to be a fever dream. I was sick in bed and any minute I would wake up at the workhouse, safe and certain.
“I’m just tired. I’m going to go back to bed.” Before waiting for a response I flitted into the hallway, back to my room, and into bed. I asked the glass lights to blow out, they did, and I tried to go to sleep. In hopes that I would wake away from here.
Or I thought I would. Instead I was hovering above this room, watching someone who looked just like me packing objects into a box, before hiding it away. They then lay on the bed, directly facing me, their yellow eyes gazing into mine, almost like they could see me.
“This is a memory. Open the box.”
I woke up.
I was still in the metal room. Everything was quiet. I was scared. But the dream, or dream within a dream, felt real. So, I reached under the bed; to find a box. I pulled it out. Inside were several sets of odd clothes, what appeared to be currency, and a journal. I opened it.
I am you. One of many, from one of many universes, which I wanted more than anything to explore, and this was the only way. But if your anything like me, you will see this as a gift.”
I kept reading, well into the night and into morning, only stopping when I began to hear the sounds of bustle outside my door. We had arrived.
I got dressed and in minutes I was following my fellow passengers off the vessel, on to ‘Serendipity’.
It was glorious. The spires, the people… The journal showed me a way home, through the machinery the other me used to do this, fitted in my brain. I felt like I could hear the sounds of Liverpool in the back of my mind.
After a moment I pushed it away. And I strode out into this new universe, as Via Prixx.