A World Where Things Were Once Perfect
“Do you believe in parallel universes?” Roger asked Maya.
“I do not think so, Sir. We have been trying to prove this mere belief of yours for since thirty years but to no avail. I think you should give up now.” She sighed.
“But Maya? What about those observations? What about that voice? That cannot be just a mere belief, or a hypothesis. I know she is out there somewhere, in a world better than this.” Roger had never been more confident.
“Maybe, it was just you, trying to believe in your fantasy. Dr. Trent, in one of his lectures, said told that sometimes when the brain is exposed to some idea, some belief, and some fantasy repeatedly, the idea no longer remains an idea. It becomes an entity that the brain believes exists. You have always believed in the existence of a parallel universe, even before you heard those voices,” Maya tried to reason.
“I do not know Maya. I believe you are right.” Roger sat down, hiding his head in his greasy hands, like a man who had lost a battle, he had believed he would win.
“It is ok Roger.” Maya tried to console him, but no amount of consolation could help a man, believe that his thirty-year-old research was infructuous.
Hours passed. It was eleven thirty in the night. Maya had left the laboratory about an hour ago. She was out on a date with her new boyfriend. Roger stood there watching his computer screen, fixedly like a man waiting for a miracle to happen. One hour. Two hours. Three hours. Roger fell asleep.
The clock struck five thirty. Roger was still in his chair when it finally struck him. Professor Lawrence, an expert in the field of black holes had written in one of his papers that “If a parallel universe does exist, it exists beyond an interface. The thing separating us from another universe is something as small as an interface. It could be a door, a small crack in a wall, or maybe a hole in the ground.”
It was then that it struck Roger that his lab was not the ideal place. The interface existed back in his room, where he had heard those voices, telling him about the necessary mechanics, the energy required in one pulse, the Gateway Theory that was the basis of his research. He packed up his bags with all the equipment when a shadow appeared at the entrance.
“Maya? Is it you?” He enquired. The shadow stood still.
“Who is it?” He shouted again, walking towards the entrance. The shadow dashed away from him. He caught a glimpse of the darting. The bag in his hand fell. He began sweating profusely. He could not believe his eyes. After all this time, it was her.
He dialled a number on his phone. “Pick up the goddamn phone, Maya,” he yelled. No answer came.
“Eureka. Eureka. She came like she promised. A parallel universe exists.” he typed and hit send.
Picking up his bags, he dashed for his car. In no time, he was in his room in front of the wall, from where ‘they’ came for the first time. He put the pulse generator, near the wall and wore the suit. His fingers trembled as he held the remote, his thumb at the start button. He closed his eyes, clenched his teeth and hit the button.
Nothing happened. A drop of sweat fell from his forehead and that was it.
“Did anything happen or not?”
“Did I reach there?” He spoke out loud expecting an answer in return but nothing happened. The pulse generator, the wall, his suit, his bed, everything seemed same. But that was the whole concept of a parallel universe, wasn’t it? A world so similar, that you cannot tell the difference if not for the people. Roger decided to move out and decide for himself.
As he stepped out of his house, his eyes fell on her, the girl in the shadows, the girl who visited him thirty years back.
“Hey Melissa!” he shouted.
“So you finally came here?” she smiled.
“So is this it? The parallel universe?” He looked around.
“Indeed. What do you plan to do next?”
“I do not know. I never really thought about it. I was always more focused on reaching here than thinking about the day when I actually reached.” He was still looking at the sky, the surroundings, in awe.
“Do you want to meet Maya? Or Dr. Trent?”
“Let’s meet Maya.” He jumped in excitement.
They drove together to his lab.”I will wait here. Go meet Maya.” Melissa smiled at him.
Maya was working at the pulse generator, totally confused. “Maya!” he exclaimed. “So you have returned? Where have you been? My phone got stolen last night,” she said, still working on the generator.
“I finally cracked it, Maya. A parallel universe exists. I messaged you last night.” He trailed off, finally realising that this was not his Maya.
“Really?” Maya stood up from her seat. “You always told us that it exists but we never believed you. You, of all people, were the biggest hurdle in our research and see how happy you are today.” She hugged Roger.
“So, I was a hurdle.” He smiled to himself.
A car came to a screeching halt outside his lab. Dr. Trent entered the lab. Maya jumped in excitement and hugged Dr. Trent. “Doctor, we finally found the parallel universe. You were right when you told us that sometimes when the brain is exposed to some idea, some belief, and some fantasy repeatedly, the idea no longer remains an idea. It becomes an entity and the human brain is capable of making an idea become real.”
Roger could not believe himself. This really was the world he dreamt of. It was his parallel universe. He picked up the pulse generator and ran outside.
Melissa sat in the car, waiting for in.
“Hop in Roger. Let’s meet your doppelganger.” She winked.
It had never occurred to him- the idea of meeting his own parallel self. The idea fascinated him and his heartbeat raced.
“So, that means there will be another Melissa in our world too, right?” Roger enquired.
“Of course, Roger. Now do not talk like Maya.” She laughed.
“So how are we acquainted? Why did you come after me thirty years ago?” Roger questioned.
Melissa’s expression grew pale. The morbid expression of nervousness could be easily seen on her face.
“We are friends Roger.” That was all that came out.
“But why did you come thirty years ago?”
“Well let’s talk later. We finally reached your house.” Melissa cut off the topic.
Roger could sense that something about Melissa was strange. Something that was amiss but the adrenaline rush of meeting his own parallel self seemed to overpower all his senses.
“Go to your room. He is waiting for you.” She smiled.
“Won’t you come?”
“No. I am better off here.” She pushed him inside.
With each step up the stairs, Roger’s heartbeats seemed to race. Finally, he would come face to face with himself. “What will I say? Should I say Hello? Maybe I should say- ‘See I told you.’” The thoughts lingered as he stood face to face with the door of his room.
He pushed the door and there he was, in front of him, against a wall. His eyes widened in disbelief.
“Dead?” The photo hung on the wall, written underneath it was “20th February 1998 – 17th June 2013.”
“17th June, 2013? Is it not the date Melissa came to me?” Roger was sweating profusely. He could sense danger.
What else could he do? He had left the pulse generator with Melissa. He had to return and right now, Melissa didn’t seem someone whom he could trust. Her nervousness on being asked about herself, her strange behaviour, a dead parallel Roger, all seemed to point towards some grotesque scenario. But he had no other option. He needed the pulse generator. He stood there, thinking of the other possible options when the door to his room resonated with loud knocks.
“Darling! Open the door. I have brought tea for you.” Melissa’s voice came.
“Who are you? Tell me.” Roger shouted frantically.
“I am your wife, Roger. Don’t you remember me? People never believed me that you were alive. They claimed that you were dead but I knew you were there, in another world. You went, searching for a parallel world but you never returned. You fell in love with that bitch, Maya. Didn’t you?” Melissa’s voice sounded angry.
“Your Roger is dead Melissa. I am not him. Why don’t you understand? Let me return. Give me my pulse generator.” Roger stood holding the door tight.
“You are he. You are he.” Melissa’s voice broke off into sobs.
The door opened. Melissa pushed through the door.
She fell down on her knees, crying, beating herself. Roger was gone, once again.
Dr. Trent closed the diary, which read “A world which was once perfect, by Melissa Lockwood”
Dr. Trent continued, “Here we have with us, the author of your favourite book, Melissa Lockwood. Roger did not exist, neither did Maya. But here, Melissa saw them. It was not schizophrenia or some disease that we know of.
But as I said, sometimes when the brain is exposed to some idea, some belief, and some fantasy repeatedly, the idea no longer remains an idea. It becomes an entity that the brain believes exists. I do not know why I was a character in this story.”
“What was it then, Sir?” a voice from the crowd came.
“It was a writer who lived his book, rather than just writing it.” Dr. Trent went down the stage smiling.
~ Abheet Srivastav | Edited by Farrokh Jijina