Leaky faucets and parallel worlds
The faucet wouldn’t stop dripping. Promises had been made by everyone from the super, to the landlord, to the professional plumber, that the faucet would be fixed. Though their intentions were pure, the promises were ultimately broken as the faucet continued to drip with out any indication of stopping, ever. At first it was funny, in the sense that one could laugh at the bumbling Super trying to save a buck, or the incompetent land lord profusely apologizing for the Super’s incompetence. But when the plumber (professional and accredited by whatever organization accredits such work) finally admitted defeat, the situation was no longer, by any means, humorous. The entire sink had been taken apart and put back together with new shiny pipes and levers, twice, and still - as if cursed - dripped incessantly.
Oded had finally realized the only way to go on was either move or purchase heavy duty ear plugs. Moving, though an entertaining prospect to consider, was one which was also financially unviable; thus every night before going to sleep Oded would insert two thick rubber ear plugs into each ear, then cover them with a pair of ear muffs. This routine saved him the trouble of finding new lodging and provided him the means to finally fall asleep. At the same time it significantly reduced the usefulness of any alarm clock or fire alarm, or any other loud noises for which one should awake upon hearing. Had the faucet not been dripping he would have no need for the earplugs and would not have found himself caught in the series of events that were about to occur.
When one thinks of the most magical cities in the world Boston, Massachusetts isn’t one that jumps out at you. Perhaps Paris or Moscow might spring to mind, Tokyo or Manhattan, London or New Delhi, or a plethora of other enchanting locals, but not Boston. Which is not to say Boston is without its charm. Boston is a charming city with a delightful baseball team, a rich colonial history, and an eclectic population due mostly to the copious amounts of colleges and universities found in the city limits. The home of Harvard, MIT, and Northeastern, Boston prides itself on science and reason and rational thought. Magic just isn’t in the equation.
Oded had been living in Boston for close to seven years. Long enough for most of his friends to get over the fact that his name was Oded, but still not yet long enough for the giggles to subside when discussing his sister, Osnot. Both names are elegant in Hebrew, but in English they sound too much like “dead” and “snot” neither word really suitable for a person’s name. If asked a friend would tell you Oded was hard working, loyal, a bit of a hypochondriac, and always unintentionally funny. It wasn’t that he consciously would stumble into a pratfall, but if there was a banana peel anywhere within fifty meters of his location, rest assured Oded would slip on it completely accidentally. It was just his way.
So it was no surprise to any of his friends that even after so much time and work, the faucet continued to drip. What would have surprised his friends, and even Oded himself, was the fact that the dripping had less to do with a flaw in the building’s plumbing and more to do with a fundamental flaw in the structure of the Universe.
It was precisely 1:06:37.25 AM, exactly eleven months, eleven days, eleven hours, eleven minutes, and eleven seconds after the dripping started, that it suddenly stopped. One second later (1:06:38.25 AM) it started up again, this time going in reverse. Instead of a single drop dripping down from the faucet to the drain as gravity would suggest, a single drop floated up from the drain and into the faucet in direct opposition to gravity. If that affront to gravity was not enough light (in all forms, both as a particle and as a wave) slowed down from the standard 186,000 miles per hour to a staggering 10 miles per hour. Light traveled so slowly in the apartment that Oded – were he awake – could have seen the photonic progression of all the various rays of light as they traveled across the room.
The reverse dripping increased speed and volume until a thick stream of water traveled up from the sink into the faucet. In fact, the faucet was far too thin to collect all the water, causing the excess drops and rivulets to careen upwards and pool on the ceiling.
Then the wooden furniture emitted a soft and very deep rumbling as if they were clearing their voices remember after so long that they could actually talk. But just like everything else that was happening, Oded slept right through it, content in his silent dreams, protected from the goings on by the earplugs held securely in place by his earmuffs.
It was only at that point that the Universe said “Enough, I’ll take this effrontery to my laws, my rules and regulations, no longer.” And Oded’s apartment and everything in it was expunged from the Universe, leaving a gap quickly filled in by the Apartment building collapsing into itself.
It has been theorized that ours is just one of many universes parallel to each other. I am happy to be able to inform you that this is quite accurate. There are in fact a near infinite amount of universes (realities so to speak) parallel to each other. What isn’t theorized (but still true) is the fact that they co-exist much like vendors and customers at a swap meet. The phrase “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” works just as well on a macro level as it does on a micro one. So, when our universe tossed Oded’s apartment into the void, another universe saw the apartment and thought to itself, “What a delightful find. I have just the perfect galaxy to put this.” And Oded’s apartment was snatched and reintegrated quicker than it was discharged. Oded himself was lucky enough to sleep through the entire ordeal.
Xzgnth hated her name. Mostly because it contained no vowels. Everyone else she knew had vowels in their names. Not only that but they had normal names like Tiko or Chayla, or Bologna. Now 20 years old she was beginning to suspect that she was not named after an ancient sword wielding, battle axe throwing dragon slaying warrior her mother claimed, but rather xzgnth was just the first sound her mother was able to utter after the long and painful labor and subsequent delivery when the mid-wife asked what she wanted to name her daughter. This suspicion grew partly due to the fact that no one she knew had ever heard of the ancient Xzgnth warrior woman. That and the mid-wife who birthed her admitted as much. To avoid confusion, and just to make everyone’s life easier, Xzgnth went by the nickname Zee.
Zee also hated her husband. He was a very loud man who seemed to enjoy everything a little too much as far as she was concerned. He was thirty years her senior and had a body that was ravaged by hero work. Heroing generally was a young man’s occupation. The best heroes were the ones with a Destiny, or a Prophesy, or some sort of Shadowy Past – just as often royalty as an orphan scraping by cleaning out pig pens. The worst heroes were the ones just in it to impress their fiancé’s or live up to their parents’ impossible standards. Those often ended in death or at least serious dismemberment. Bologna, Zee’s husband, was just a man who could have equally been a ruffian as a hero. He was a brawler, more a soldier than a warrior, who chose hero work so he can be his own boss and make his own hours. After thirty-three years of hero work (quite a long time for someone with no Destiny, or Shadowy Past) Bologna decided to settle down. He found a nice small hamlet by the sea plagued by a nice small coven of vampires. Instead of the regular payment he asked for a bride and a nice spot of land to start his retirement. The terms were agreed upon, and after slaying the final vampire, Bologna chose Zee as his wife (she had no say in the matter) and they moved into a small cottage on the far side of town. The town paid him a monthly stipend to keep him on retainer in case any monster, ghoul, ghost, or evil aristocrat, threatened their land. Bologna chose this specific hamlet deliberately as he knew the chances of this tiny town being in peril a second time were so slim it wouldn’t happen during his lifetime.
Bologna was perfectly happy spending the rest of his life in this nice small hamlet by the sea with his wife Zee never having anything to worry about anything save the cost of beer and fresh vegetables. Zee couldn’t think of a worse future to have. Bologna was perpetually happy. Drunk or sober he would have a happy smile plastered across his face and the bastard would be sincere about it too. More than anything else he was just happy to be alive. He had no illusions about his chosen livelihood and never expected to live to be thirty, let alone fifty. As far as he was concerned every day was a blessing and he loved life and everything in it, especially his wife Zee. She was not the prettiest of all the girls in the town but neither was she the comeliest. At an average five feet seven inches, she had a very plain figure. She was strong from swimming, her shoulders a bit broader than most other women. She was not muscular, rather well defined, her muscles taught, and visible through her skin. Her hips were a little to small for good child bearing, and her legs a bit too thick to appear attractive in the tight pants in fashion for women at the time. Her nose was a bit crooked as were her bottom teeth. The only real features that set her out from other women were her brown eyes and curly hair. Most women had curly hair in town but Zee was the only one who didn’t have to work on hers. The other women spent at least an hour in the mornings controlling the frizz, taming the unruly curls. Zee needed just to wash it and her hair would fall into place with the perfect amount of bounce and weight. But this was not a trait men noticed, just a trait other women envied. It was her eyes that took this plain girl with a plain face, and made it something alluring. Almond shaped and perfectly placed on either side of her nose her brown eyes were what drew Bologna to her.
“Good morning wife.” Bologna said as he walked into the cottage, all bright eyed and perky for the day. God she hated him and his perpetual cheer. “I’ve brought breakfast.” By which he meant he brought the ingredients needed to prepare breakfast; five eggs and two raw potatoes.
"Thank you, husband.” She said as she took the eggs and potatoes and began preparing the morning meal. It wasn’t so much his cheer and good nature she despised, in fact those were the attitudes she admired, though would never admit it to anyone, especially herself. It was the simple fact that she would be stuck in this small hamlet by the sea for the rest of his life, possibly even hers. Most people who grew up in this small hamlet (so small it didn’t even have a name) had their futures all set. They would either grow up and continue living in the town working as a farmer or a fisherman (the blacksmiths family being the sole exception, being blacksmiths which is neither fisherman or farmer) and would raise their children to do the same; or they would be born with a Destiny, and leave the town to fulfill their Destiny. This really had only happened twice. Once three hundred years prior the great hero Balder was born and grew up here, only to move on and save the land from the dreaded Evil Kip. Granted Balder claimed he grew up in Glonth simply because it’s very difficult to tell people where you are from if where you are from has no name. The second time (which was actually the first) occurred both seven hundred and sixty-six years prior, and five hundred years in the future. It was one of those bizarre time traveling quests that are ever so difficult to qualify when they began (or will begin) and when they ended (or will end).
Zee had no desire for a Destiny. She didn’t want to go off adventuring, saving the world, or the various kingdoms one maiden (or whatever the male equivalent of a maiden is) at a time. That was a sucker’s game as far as she was concerned. All she really wanted was a place of her own, maybe in Glonth or Baycity and get a job, maybe as a scribe, or a librarian, or an artisan (she wasn’t quite sure what an artisan was, but she was talented with wax and clay and thought perhaps that was enough to be considered one). All she knew is she didn’t want to be stuck in a nameless town with a perpetually happy husband just rubbing her face in his happiness for the rest of her life.
“Oh what a glorious day this is. I couldn’t be happier than I am right this moment.”
“Here’s your breakfast.”
“I meant this moment.” He said as he took his first bite of scrambled egg.
“I hope you enjoy.” She said hoping he’d choke.
So, what are your plans for the day, wife?” He asked.
“I don’t know yet, husband. I was thinking of taking a boat out to sea and drowning myself. But if that doesn’t take I figure I’ll just go visit my brother’s farm. I haven’t seen him for a while.”
“As I have the utmost confidence in your ability as a swimmer I would like you to send my brother-in-law my regards, wife.” Damn it I have a name, she thought, then realized being called Xzgnth wasn’t a big improvement than being referred to as “wife.”
“Of course, husband. In fact, unless you would like seconds, I was hoping to leave this morning.”
“No dear wife, I have eaten my fill. My stomach is engorged with food and my hunger satiated. I am truly content. Before when I said I couldn’t get any happier, I was mistaken, for now, haven eaten my fill, talking to you dear wife, this is the greatest moment of my life.” This was no idle complement or everyday hyperbole; he was truly and utterly content at that moment. It was unfortunate, Zee thought - looking back on the whole affair - that the moment was cut short by the sudden materialization of Oded’s apartment in their kitchen.