After accidentally creating a virus that catalyzes rapid evolution of the human genome, Dr. Nikola Woolf is metamorphing into a fifth dimensional being, capable of traveling to parallel universes. But the complications of the experiment, a mission to define and cure herself of love, may cost her life. While involuntarily traveling the Multiverse, Nikola learns that the extinction of humanity (and her own death) is imminent in many worlds. Will Dr. Woolf survive her own ascension, can she save the human race, and what will she do about her unwanted true love?
CHAPTER 5: Involuntary Travel
I was sitting at my desk when it happened again. My physical awareness faded until I found myself in a dark void, in between places, or in two realities at once. It felt like darkness pressing in all around me, like I had been tossed into outer space, with no point of reference by which I might grip my own sanity.
I tried to reach for my sense of logic, but found myself increasingly lost and afraid. Instead, I embraced both my terror and absolute ignorance. Then, and only then, did I find myself on solid ground again. Still, I had no idea where I was. I took a look around.
It was some kind of palace. The setting sunlight reflected off golden pillars, blinded my sight. I looked down to relieve my burning eyes, and noticed a mosaic of stones, lapis lazuli, turquoise, jade, and obsidian. My feet were barefoot on the cold tile. I stepped into a shadowy corner of the room, and whispered, “Where am I?”
A man walked pass me, and approached the sunlight. He appeared spectacular in a gown of golden threads. He dropped to one knee, and as he bowed his head, I saw her. “My queen,” he said.
The single throne must have been at least twenty feet in height. It was made of gold, mahogany, lion skins, and tortoise shell. It was occupied by a woman, adorned with jewelry and makeup.
Her voice echoed throughout the room. “Where is my son?”
The man stood. “Your majesty, the Roman army is at the gate. Octavius is on his way, right now.”
“I said, where is my son?”
The man tensed with hesitation. I felt my throat constricting. “Queen Cleopatra, please. We are going to die. Our numbers are small and we cannot hold the gate for long. Please speak to Octavius and ask him to spare us.”
The next moment was suspended in the now singularity. Fear, rage, and hope seemed to dance around a surreal carrousel. All of the Multiverse was revolving around this moment. Whatever the queen decided would ripple throughout all parallel universes.
Finally, the queen said, “Charmion, do you still consider me a friend?”
The man nodded. “Of course. Since we were children, you have been my best friend, Cleo. I love you. My queen, you have changed since.”
“Do you mean, since Octavius murdered my husband, stole my son’s birthright, and corrupted my soldiers? Yes, I have changed. Octavius is poised to destroy our sacred city, and you are asking me to bow before this filthy pig?”
Charmion cast his eyes to the floor. “I am begging you, my queen.”
“It shall never happen.”
I felt a storm brewing under Cleopatra’s skin. She didn’t seem to move, and her voice was calm. Her ability to make an ocean appear still during a hurricane, gave me a chill. “Where, Charmion, is my son?”
I heard a voice from across the hall, the sound of footsteps. A young man stepped into the sunlight. I noticed his jawline, wide and definite. It was identical to his father’s.
In that moment, I had a flash of recollection. I saw the young man’s birth, in a sacred hot spring. I caught a flash of his first steps, walking into the arms of his father.
I saw him, Julius Caesar, his face shape-shifted into that of… Kelly.
In this moment I downloaded a file, information of rich sensation, regarding Kelly and our past. More later.
I understood that this boy was my son.
The young man held his chin up. His eyes were honey in the setting sunlight. “I am here, Mother.”
Confusion stole over me, but only for a moment. First Virginia, now Cleopatra? This was a past life regression, surely. No, I could not have been these historical figures. There was another explanation. There is.
The queen relaxed in her throne. I felt her exhale. “Caesarion, come.” Cleopatra’s voice was soft, like the white rose petals, from which Caesarion’s first bed was made. Her firstborn was her favorite.
The young man approached the throne. His heart longed to rush into his mother’s arms and adorn her with hugs and kisses. Instead, he forced himself to stand still, like a man. Caesarion clenched his fists and flexed his chest, back, and arms. He had been training with the Romans, and he wanted his mother to see that he was a man. It was his time to come of age. He felt ready.
“Mother, I wish to sacrifice myself to Octavius.”
Cleopatra chuckled, moving her head more freely now. “That shall never happen, Son.”
“Please listen. I never wanted to be dictator of Rome. I do not care for what Caesar did or did not do. All I wanted was to be here in Alexandria with you. I never wanted it to go this far. I do not wish for more bloodshed on my behalf. I will go to Octavius and ask him to cease the war.”
“Caesarion, my son.”
“Please, Mother. You said that I was destined to be great. You told me to behave like royalty. I believe this is what a regent should do for his country. Mother, do you see, this is why I practiced the Latin tongue, and I studied the Roman religion, and the Roman law. Not because I wanted to be like Caesar, but because I am a Roman. If Rome would murder their own kind, as they did my father, then I would be honored to die for Egypt.
“Mother, let Octavius take me to Rome, let me be his prize. I do not care for appearances. I value truth. Send me, Prince of Egypt, please, I pray thee, my mother and queen. Let Alexandria be spared. Or we shall all be dead by morning.”
I watched as Charmion held his tongue, and Cleopatra went inside herself.
Another decision was to be made. The queen could not stop her son, but she would never approve of this plan. Cleopatra’s love for the people was murdered with her dear Julius. Caesarion was all that was left of him.
The queen had watched her son grow in appearance, more and more like Caesar, everyday. In armor, Caesarion might look identical to his father. Cleopatra thought of how the sight of Caesar in full battle dress might strike terror in the heart of Octavius.
Caesarion stood with his hands behind his back, waiting, with respect, for his mother’s decision.
That’s when a Roman soldier walked in. I felt him move right pass me, almost as if he moved through me. He stood beside the throne. “My queen, the tomb is ready. The army is here, we must move quickly.”
Cleopatra exhaled, turning her attention to the man. She ran her fingers through his dark curly lochs. “Marc, my love. I will be there soon.” They kissed, and he walked out.
The queen waited another moment before speaking. “Caesarion, do you remember what your father taught you about warfare?”
The boy nodded. “Yes, Mother. Marc Antony has trained me as well.”
Cleopatra leaned in and whispered. “Your father was the greatest warrior who ever lived. Rome is because of Caesar. The greatness that built Rome lives inside you. Go into my chambers, into my golden chest, and you will find your father’s armor and sword. Listen, son.
“I want you to go to Octavius, but I do not want you to surrender. I want you to kill him. I want you to avenge your father. Do this, for me?”
Caesarion shifted. He glanced at his feet. I felt his throat constrict, his heart grow heavy. He fought the urge to cry. He returned his eyes to the queen, pushing his emotions down below. “Yes, Mother. I will do this for you.”
“I love you, my son.”
Caesarion jumped into her arms, knowing they would never embrace again.
Ancient Egypt started fading from my reality, as my mind was wiped clean of memory. Some force of nature was pulling me out of that world, and into the next. It felt like blood draining from my arteries. I grew drowsy, relaxed enough to allow the process. I had no other choice but to surrender.
Then I was standing in a mission control station. In the center of the vessel, there was holographic map of the Multiverse, countless blue and green marbles of life, infinite versions of Earth, against the dark matter of space.
There were electronic instruments there, all far more advanced than anything I had ever seen. I realized in that moment, that I had been summoned. But by whom?
“Hi.” A young man stood, not ten feet away. He appeared to be a bionic human. He wore a robotic helmet, only revealing his mouth. The left side of his body, from shoulder to foot, was mechanical. “My name is Trayvon Johnson.”
I tried to press his mindspace, but found an electronic barrier. I wondered if it could be hacked. I stood a moment longer, unsure of myself. I had an eerie feeling about him, and could not define it. Finally, I gathered my courage. I went closer and offered my hand. “Nikola Woolf.”
Trayvon, now towering above me, took it. “Dr. Woolf, it’s a pleasure. You can’t read my mind, and if you wanna survive your own ascension, let me help me. I mean, you. I wanna help you.”
Interesting slip, I thought.
Trayvon held his robotic arm toward the corner of a room where a few chairs gathered around a coffee table. “Please sit, we got a lot to talk about.”
He seemed like a child to me, a prodigy. I wanted to study him. I nodded. “Let’s.”
Trayvon sat and nervously brought his hands together on his knees. “I’m not really a prodigy, doctor. I’m just a lucky-as-shit kid. My world was destroyed and I’m the only human survivor. I come from a timeline that stems off yours. I guess you could say I’m from your future, 2084 to be exact. But since time’s not real, we have a chance to save humanity, not just in both our worlds, but in many.
“This station is in a secret pocket universe. I created it after my Earth was destroyed. She’s moved on to the sixth dimension, but those who were left behind, well, it was hell. This place, pocket headquarters, is my home now.”
“When you say ‘she,’ you mean,”
“The life force of the planet. Gaia, I think, is her most popular name. When she left us, the rain became acidic, all vegetation died. The oceans devoid of life. Some aliens landed, World War 3 begun. Democracy was overthrown and the president of the US became dictator, and Commander in Chief.”
“I was part of an underground resistance. It basically failed. In the end, the commander in chief abandoned ship, and nuked the planet. It was kind of like the great flood, except, ain’t nothing growing back this time.”
I knew that he was telling the truth, and I felt inclined to help him. It was not hard to believe that the extinction of humanity was a reality. I took a moment to observe before speaking. He reminded me of Caesarion.
I felt his energy for a moment. I missed him.
“Trayvon,” I said, “you’re the only human survivor of your world. Not only did you survive, but you’ve created a pocket universe with advanced technology. You have grand intentions of saving humanity. You attribute all this to luck. I find that fascinating, Trayvon. You summoned me here, didn’t you? How and why?”
Trayvon lifted his hand to scratch his robotic helmet, then chuckled. “Ah, I’m not used to this thing. Yeah, I’ve been monitoring the Multiverse for humans crossing the threshold into the fifth dimension. The helmet supports my brain development, thanks to your book, your experiment, I understood what I needed to do. I know you’re still writing it. It’ll change everything. I summoned you using a frequency that cannot be picked up by the dark ones.
“Long story short, doctor, my world was destroyed by an aggressive alien race. The dark ones are slave masters and they run the world in many universes. Humans are like cattle to them, and our species is in a state of arrested development. Kinda like how people used to tie a baby cow down so it couldn’t move? Then eat it? That’s basically what humanity is, a chained child awaiting slaughter. Anyone who crosses the threshold into the fifth dimension is hunted down and killed. So, your welcome. Now you know your life is in danger. And, welcome to the adolescence of human kind.”
I knew this. His words resonated deep inside me. That otherworldly terror, it was always real. “Wait, you read my science papers? How did it help you, exactly?”
Trayvon leaned forward, his elbows on the table, and rested his chin in his hands. “I shouldn’t have said that, no. It ain’t really safe to tell people their future.”
I took a deep breath and chose my words carefully. “Trayvon, you said it for a reason. I would like to talk about it. I need to make a breakthrough. Please tell me what you read.”
Trayvon looked up at me, surprised. “You wanna cure yourself of love, because you’re scared of being destroyed. So you wanna calculate an understanding through observation, but you won’t ever have enough data if you don’t experience it first hand.
“It’s not possible to love another if you don’t love yourself. That’s the general rule, but for twin flames, it’s scientific law. But Doc, this twin flame thing is not what you think. The Multiverse is bigger than you can possibly imagine. And we’re only five steps outside the 3D.”
He leaned forward, looked deep into my eyes. “You and Kelly Perez are in a state of quantum entanglement. This can be measured, tested, predicted. You’re about to learn much more about quantum energy, and you’ll unlock the unified theory the world’s been waiting for. Your mind is not ready right now. You need to follow your heart and allow the experience to transform you.”
There was a moment of silence.
“Doctor,” he went on. “These visions your having are of events that impacted infinite universes. Just like your experiment. You’re in a classroom, better yet, you’re in a laboratory.” Trayvon waved his hand in a particular way. I took it for an electronic command.
A droid, far more advanced than the robots in my world, approached us. It actually looked human. If it were not for its blank stare, its appearance would have passed for a person. It set a bottle and two glasses down.
Trayvon picked up the liquor and poured. “Thank you, Rosie.” He slid one glass toward me as the droid left us. “This is an elixir containing a biogenetic supplement. Can you guess what it’s for?”
I paused a moment, feeling the liquid in my hands. I could ask my mind to bring me the answer, or, I could go for the feeling in the glass. I chose the feeling.
I felt tiny conscious beings, swimming about. They tickled my palm, joyful in nature, as they were programmed to be. Their purpose, I felt, was to feed my blood cells the energy needed to initiate rapid mitosis. For, I feared, I may die soon.
Trayvon chucked, “Dropping blood is normal at first. The bionic cells will multiply as the crystalline alchemizes to carbon again. There’s a trigger in the protein sequence.”
As I drank the concoction, I learned its recipe. I would recreate it in the lab.
I folded my hands and took a good look at my companion. One half of his face was human. He still had baby fat, light facial hair. I guessed seventeen. His wisdom was ancient. “Tell me who you are in relation to me.”
Trayvon’s smile widened. “Let’s just say I’m the Rebel archetype.”
Trayvon leaned in closer, blinked, and said. “You’re fading. Listen, the dark ones are hunting us, you need to-”
Then I was sitting in the passenger seat of a sedan. It was nighttime, and the car was in motion, reckless driving. Kelly was in the drivers seat. She appeared much younger, her mid-twenties, I guessed.
The car was littered with water bottles, fast food packages, gym clothes, and trash. I remembered this car. This must have been fifteen years into the past, maybe 2006, before we had met in person. Kelly was not so sloppy anymore.
She glanced at my direction.
“Look, Nikola, I know that I’m crazy. But it really feels like you’re sitting here in my car with me. I don’t care what it looks like to anyone else. I may as well embrace the crazy, right? I mean, it’s just me.”
Kelly seemed to look deep into my eyes, then threw a glance at the road, swerving away from the curb. “See, it’s like you’re invisible.” She laughed. “I love being psychotic because I can talk to invisible people in my car.
“Anyways babe, I feel bad for not calling you back or texting you. I know that’s what you want from me right now. But it’s just that you keep spitting game at me, and that’s not gonna work, boo. Please just tell me something real. I want to know how you really feel, like, show me your heart.”
I let the silence set in for a moment, as I watched Kelly run her fingers through her short, boyish hair. Her eyes moved from the rearview mirror, to the side views, to the road, then back to me. I realized that I liked watching her when she thought she was alone.
I said, “Kelly, I can hear you. I’m here in the car with you.”
Kelly nodded. “Yeah, I know. I’m psychotic. If you knew I was talking to you in my head, you would probably call me psycho and never speak to me again.”
“You have a gift, Kel. Your exes called you psycho, and maybe you’ve done some unhealthy things, but that’s not who you are. You can communicate with unseen entities. That’s brilliant.”
Kelly reached into a paper bag in the center console for a french fry. Her mouth half full, she said, “Well, thanks. That means a lot coming from a figment of my imagination.” She laughed. “See, why can’t we have conversations like this?”
I recognized the city of Las Vegas, the neon lights of Fremont Street.
Kelly ran a red light, as a car swerved to miss us. “Listen, Nikola. You’re so hot, you probably get every woman you want. The only reason you want me is because you can’t have me. Not until you give me something real, at least. When you’re done being a player, let me know. Until then, we will have imaginary conversations in my car.”
It was no use trying to argue. She was convinced of her insanity, and according to the DISM, she really was psychotic.
I asked. “So, you are attracted to me then?”
“Hell yeah,” Kelly glanced at me. “I think about you when I masturbate.”
“Really?” I was surprised to learn that this is the kind of information I so longed for.
She chuckled. “Yeah, I have a pretty intense sex drive, and you take me there. It’s too bad you think you’re a player.”
“What if I told you I’m not a player?”
Kelly shoved another fry in her mouth. “I would call you una mentirosa. You lie.”
“Mentirosa? Seriously?” I leaned back into my seat, arms crossed. “The truth finally comes out. You really don’t trust me.”
“Nope. You lie about your age, your relationship status, what else? Everything you say is game. Don’t get me wrong, I like it. But if you want something real with me, you gotta get real with me.”
Kelly’s phone went off, and I watched as she reached into her pocket. “Hey, what’s up? …No dude, just talking to my invisible friend.… Nope, we broke up on Wednesday.… because fuck her, that’s why. The point is I’m single until next week.… Remember that one chic that kept buying us shooters that one night? Yeah, it’s her birthday next weekend. I’m gonna take her out and make her my new girlfriend. But that gives us one whole weekend, bro.… Ew, that’s my ex, but go ahead.… She’s all yours, dawg.… Girlbar, for sure.… Alright, yeah, I’m down.… Okay, late.”
Kelly tossed her phone on my lap and shoved another fry into her mouth.
“And you call me a player.”
Kelly glanced over again. “Oh, Niko. The difference between you and me, is that you lie to people, you hide things. That’s called playing. But everyone I fuck with, they know what’s up, and I’m faithful.”
“Excuse me? I’m faithful, too. Look, if I’m not in a relationship with that person, I don’t owe them anything, and furthermore,”
“The point is, you lie and hide shit, that’s called being a player. But when you’re straight up and give people the truth they deserve, and they still wanna stick around,” Kelly popped her collar. “That’s called big pimpin, Mami. Feel free to take notes.”
I scoffed. “Wow, you’re conceited.”
Kelly looked straight into my eyes again. “Yeah, I know. My ego is all I have. The truth is I’m psychotic, I hate myself, and no one else loves me either. That doesn’t exactly attract a whole lot of chics. You feel me? What about you, Niko? What’s your truth?”
Then, I was being yanked out that world, violently, it seemed.
I woke up at my desk, groggy and confused, to the sound of Lisa’s thoughts. She stood above me, a manuscript in hand. She’s love sick. That’s the answer. My best friend is love sick and that’s why she’s losing her shit.
As I came to, I noticed the clothes I was wearing, trying to remember when I had put them on. I wondered how long I had been out for this time. I reached for my glasses, but before I managed to put them on, I realized that my vision was perfect.
“Hey, best friend.” Lisa pulled a chair up beside mine. She flashed a fake smile, angry and sarcastic. “Remember when I told you I would send out an inquiry for love stories? Now I understand what you meant when you said, ‘the story is true’.” Lisa dropped the manuscript on my desk. The title page read:
THE LOVE PAGES
by Kelly Perez
Lisa went on. “But how did you know that she was writing it? Don’t answer that. I think her philosophies align with yours. You know, your idea of soulmates. Or, dare I say, twin flames? Coincidence? She named her story ‘the Love Pages.’ That’s intense, don’t you think? But the coolest part about it. There’s this character named Nadia Roof. I think I can convince her to change it to Nikola Woolf. It just has a better ring to it. What do you think?”
Vertigo took hold of me, as the urge to vomit creeped into my chest. I let my head fall onto my desk. I felt a sharp pain in my heart, twisting my guts. Then everything went black, again.
I regained consciousness in Lab one. I heard the voices of Luke and Lisa. I decided to eavesdrop for a moment.
Luke tried to keep his volume low. “You might think that she has this all under control, but I’m telling you. Whatever she’s doing is dangerous. I will not take the fall for any illegal, not to mention, immoral acts. Talk some sense into her, because once I leave the institute, there will be no one to cover her tracks.”
There was a moment of silence before Lisa spoke. “You know what, Skywalker? If you’re that concerned about your career, don’t let the door hit you. I’m worried about her life.”
“I am, too.”
I heard Luke walk out, and felt Lisa shift her attention to me. “If you don’t wake up and get your shit together, bestie, I will contact Kel…”
The next thing I knew, I was standing in a dark cell made of rock and iron. Torches along the walls cast moving shadows everywhere. Moonlight shone in through a window, onto a hooded figure, huddled in the corner. The stench of urine and vomit came to my awareness. Outside the iron cell, I noticed the guard fast asleep, sitting upright in a chair.
The hooded prisoner, cast off its hood, and gazed at me. “Guardian angel, you have come, at last. What news from Saint Michael?”
I stared in astonishment. It was Kelly. Except that her hair was blond, her skin light, and her eyes blue. Otherwise, it was an identical match.
The prisoner wore a tattered and bloodstained cloak. The agony in her soul, the confusion, the fear, they invaded my reality like a ominous mist on a dreadful morning.
Kelly got down on both knees, and pressed her forehead to the floor. She returned her gaze to me. “Guardian angel, I am Joan D’Arc, knight of France, and messenger of the holy Christ, in this life and the next. I have kept my sacred vows and confessed my sins. Please, sweet angel, they are going to kill me if I do not give false testimony.” Joan turned toward the sleeping guard.
When she faced me, her blue eyes glistened with tears. Her lips trembled as she spoke. “Why do they hate me? Why do they not love me? The king has abandoned me. My only desire was to serve the holy Christ, the same God they also serve. I do not understand. Please, I pray thee, help?”
I was struck by her innocence. Did Joan not understand that their love was not real? That she was only a pawn to her government? That people use each other everyday?
I recalled the story of Joan D’Arc, and wondered how much truth was preserved by history. I accessed a stream of information.
It was during the Hundred Years War between France and England.
After serving the king of France as a messenger of god, and a fierce warrior, she was taken by French traitors, handed over to the enemies. There in English custody, the Catholic Church accused Joan of heresy, murdered her, and then made her a saint. Joan was burned alive at the stake.
I caught a vision of her body engulfed in flames. It struck my heart and took my breath.
I felt a surge of rage energize my nervous system. My body was exploding with heat, as I heard Joan’s voice, screaming, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”
Torture by fire. Hell on earth, by authority of religion. This was a system designed to lure innocence, monopolize absolution, and control populations.
The moment passed as I grounded myself in the prison cell. My body was not on fire. Yet, this was Joan’s imminent future. It would be unwise to change this fate. Or would it?
I recalled how Kelly helped Virginia. I would help Joan.
I knelt before her and took her into my arms. Joan rushed into my embrace, like a child, and broke down into a bawl. In that moment, my carbon body materialized, and I found that I was flesh and blood. Warm tears streamed down my face, in silence. I don’t remember the last time I allowed myself to cry. I didn’t think I could be this strong, but for her, I would.
I leaned back onto the stone wall. Joan fell asleep in my arms.
If I wanted to change her fate, I could.
Wait. Why could Joan see and touch me now, but Kelly, in our world, could only hear?
Suddenly, the entire prison was blinding white. I gave my eyes a moment to adjust as the being came into view. It was Metatron.
They looked into my eyes and spoke telepathically. Well done, Nikola. You are evolving nicely, right on schedule.
I glared up at the angel. Isn’t it your job to protect us?
The angel folded its great wings, and knelt down before me, to let me see their face, glowing a golden hue, a symmetrically perfect statue. Their white and yellow eyes shone brilliant with intelligence and peace.
Yes, child. I am here to protect you both. However, I cannot save you from your own will. Joan chose this path everyday of her life. If she wishes, she could appease the priest to spare herself. Joan is willing to die for her honor. Her sacrifice is of benefit to countless others, and she knows this.
She is destined to die, then?
It is her choice, Nikola. She is accustomed to suffering, but this is not permanent.
You’ve been manipulating her sickness for some divine cause?
Nikola, please understand. Joan D’Arc is not a child., neither is she sick. She is a sovereign soul. Joan is a mighty warrior, and this is a warrior’s path. When Joan chooses to die for her honor, because she will, you may help guide the soul out of the body with minimal suffering.
The angel stood. You will take her to her medicine father of the Apache land. Take her to Geronimo. You will learn much upon arriving.
You are exhausted, Nikola. Save your questions. Rest now.
I closed my eyes. After a few moments, I opened them. We were surrounded by glowing angels. Their light was like a hot, relaxing bath. I fell asleep.