“You believe in alternate realities?” Chavis asked his long-time buddy Claude, skeptical of all the alternate dimension nonsense. He was stroking his short, brown curls through his plump fingers.
“I do, yeah” Claude replied. “I think it’s not only possible, but likely.” He had his chin tiredly cradled in his palm with his fingers rubbing his bottom lip. His shaggy raven hair swept to the side.
“I don’t know, man.” Chavis said after a moment of thought. “If there are alternate realities, why haven’t we found them yet? Has anyone found Ambrose Bierce?” He said it like a joke but meant it.
Claude chuckled. “Nah, man. Bierce is in Mexico with Tupac, probably smoking right now. Let’s go outside and do the same.”
They went out the back door of Claude’s single wide trailer, and huddled next to the back steps as to keep warm in the cool Autumn night. Chavis pulled out a tightly rolled joint and lit it, took three long drags, and passed it to Claude. The pungent smell of marijuana quickly surrounded them.
“The stars” Chavis choked out, exhaling a large cloud of smoke. “They’re so beautiful.” He was staring up into the belt of Orion, the three kings twinkling back down at him.
“Diamonds are forever” Claude agreed. He passed the now finished joint back to Chavis, who took it and pinched it at the end, knowing there is always resin in the roach. Claude followed Chavis’s stare into the vast blanket of diamonds. “There’s your alternate reality” he said.
“How do you mean?” Chavis inquired. “The stars are there, and we’re here. This is the reality.”
Claude started walking off into his backyard, which led to an open soccer field for the elementary school across the street. “The time and effort it would take to travel to Orion’s Belt, would propel you into a different dimension.” He said. It’s like…lightyears away, man.”
Chavis followed him, and continuing their conversation, they both kept walking.
“I don’t think so. If we can travel to Mars and not enter a different dimension, I think we could go to Orion’s Belt, or anywhere in the universe.” Chavis challenged. He was enjoying the little debate with Claude. They were both intellectuals, and Claude was the only person he knew that would have stimulating conversations with him. He loved him for that.
Talking with his hands, Claude reciprocated.
“In theory yes, but the stars are moving further from us everyday” he started. “If they’re millions of light years away, we would never get there. Technically, they could all be dead already, and the lights we see in the sky are their carcasses.” He thought for a moment, then added “One last ray of hope” in a softer, ponderous tone.
Chavis hadn’t considered that notion. They really could be in a different dimension.
“Well, that doesn’t mean we would have to go to a different dimension” Chavis said, attempting to debunk Claude. “Just means by the time we got there, it’d be a complete and utter emptiness.”
Suddenly, Chavis felt an odd disturbance in Claude. He stopped walking and had a dissatisfied look on his face.
“That’s really sad, man” Claude said monotonously. “Why do you always have to ruin it for me?” He walked closer to Chavis, and there was a glimmer of a tear forming in his pale, blue eye. “You never think there could be somewhere better than here? I’d give anything to leave this fucking place.”
Chavis knew Claude had a rough life growing up. A broken home, a mother addicted to drugs, a father who hated him and a brother who belittled him every chance he got. He didn’t think he would have been offended.
“I’m sorry, bro” Chavis said. He put a hesitant hand on Claude’s shoulder. “It’s all good” he added reassuringly. “If you ever get up there, write about it, and your words could echo back” he paused, and then “or just leave like Bierce”, hoping light humor could soften Claude’s sudden despondence.
“Fuck you” Claude said, laughing. Chavis laughed with him.
“Come on, man, let’s keep talking.” Chavis said, walking away towards the elementary school. They were already half court of the soccer field.
“You ever think about leaving?” Claude asked after a moment of silence. The grass was wet with the mist of the October night, smacking against their shoes as they walked.
“Sometimes, I do” he replied. “Not to space, but like a different city. Do you?”
Claude thought about it, and after another moment of dragged-out silence he finally spoke. They were under a streetlight on the edge of the soccer field, standing in the turning lane for the school bus parking lot.
“I do” he said. “I think about leaving all the time.”
Chavis could feel the burden of something sinister but thought it wise to not be so direct about it.
“To where?” was all he could muster.
Claude looked up into the streetlight, and his eyes were watching the bugs zooming around frantically. “I think I’d go somewhere where I would never be seen again.”
“Are you talking about suicide?” Chavis asked. Claude just shrugged and started to walk away. “No, don’t walk away.” Chavis grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back around. “Suicide?”
Right as Claude was about to speak, he was frozen. His mouth was open, but no words came out.
“Come on, Claude” Chavis laughed nervously. “Suicide?”
Claude’s mouth was still open and motionless. In the light from the streetlamp, Chavis could see that Claude was looking over his shoulder. When he turned to look, he was greeted by a small, emerald colored orb that seemed to be gyrating and morphing in and out.
“What the fuck is that?” Chavis wondered. It was floating about four feet above them, off to the back of where they stood under the light. The illumination from above, trickled down and through the body of the orb, giving it a transparent appearance.
“Probably an alien” Claude finally spoke. He walked closer to it, until he was directly underneath it.
They were both flabbergasted by the orb. Chavis had heard old tales of orbs from the elderly people of their neighborhood, hell, even seen documentaries about ghostly orbs on television, but had never seen one in person.
Wherever they moved, the orb moved…like it was watching them.
“Put me on your shoulders” Claude said, motioning Chavis to his side with an excited wave of his arm. “I want to try and knock it down.”
Chavis, feeling uneasy about that proposal and the consequences he felt would surely ensue, was hesitant at first, but eventually gave in as he too, was quite curious to see it. He walked over to Claude and bent down to let Claude straddle his shoulders.
“Don’t rub your balls on my neck” Chavis jokingly said.
“Shut up, dude” Claude sputtered. He hopped onto Chavis’s shoulders, grappling his legs underneath Chavis’s arms and straightened up as he was hoisted into the air. Now, the glowing green orb was about a foot above Claude’s head. “Hand me something to toss at it.”
Chavis looked around but realized he could not bend down far enough to pick an instrument up and decided to reach into his pocket for his favorite BIC lighter. He handed it up to Claude. He took it from Chavis and steadied himself.
“This thing is weird” Claude said. “It’s like…looking at me.” He lowered his hand, healthily gripping the lighter in his palm. “When I say run you run, because I don’t know how thing will react.”
“Well, it’s not a wasp or a bee, Claude. Just a star.” Chavis urged.
“No, man. This thing has substance, whatever it is. It’s made of solid matter. It’s a glowing ball of snot.”
Chavis laughed and had to steady himself with the weight of Claude on his back. “Just get it down” he said.
Claude threw the lighter in the air…
There was a quiet pop! like one of those paper-wrapped poppers that you see during 4th of July, followed by a burst of green light intense enough to make Chavis close his eyes.
“Is it gone?” He yelled at Claude.
There was silence. Chavis then realized the weight on his shoulders was gone.
“Claude?” He opened his eyes, and there was nothing. Claude was gone from his shoulders, disappeared. The green orb that was hovering above them was also gone, not even a gas trail left behind. “What?” Chavis exclaimed. He twirled around, looked from side to side, up and down…Claude was gone. Chavis never felt Claude leave his shoulder…just, poof.
Despite the sudden disappearance of his best friend, Chavis walked away smiling, because he knew that Claude got what he wanted. Somehow, some way, the green orb had swallowed his friend up, and took him to another dimension.
There was no use explaining the disappearance, because he would just say he hadn’t seen Claude in days, which could not be proven. He decided to leave it be unknown.
On the walk to his house, Chavis kept his eyes in the sky, watching the diamonds flicker. “Diamonds” he thought. A few minutes later, he was in his own front yard, and waited to go inside.
He stood out in the yard, looking up into the night sky.
“Thanks for the great conversations, Claude.” And with a sliver of a tear in his eyes, he walked inside, went to his room, and dreamt of the different dimensions.