Trapped, Short Sci-fi Story

Early spring when the weather changes is my favorite time of the year, the smell of new plants and sunlight on my skin are the greatest  sensations I know. When I close my eyes, relax, and let nature take me in is when I feel most at peace. 

I was so excited that spring was finally here that I decided to have my lunch break outdoors. It was Tuesday, so Mom had made me a chicken sandwich. She had a regular schedule of dishes to prepare for me. While I was eating, my friend called to tell me that he was at the hospital because his sister was having a baby. When I hung up, a black cat came by and I gave it some of my food. 

Moments after lunch, I walked back into the school to return to class. The floor of the hallway had red drops on it. Rumor had it someone had fallen and may have ended up with a nasty open fracture. I felt my stomach heave and ran to the bathroom to puke.

After another boring  afternoon at school I took the bus, and sat next to the girl that I usually sit with. She was listening to “ME!” by Taylor Swift. I could hear the song through her earphones. I arrived home tired from all these classes. There was only one thing that I was excited about that day. My favorite video game had a special competition and was offering us new weapons and a free pass for one whole year for the top three players. I was looking forward to it, and did my homework quickly so as to be done by nightfall. After dinner, it was showtime!

I had prepared my bedroom, chips, water, all the essentials to help me go through the night. I started playing really well, but halfway through the game, I made small mistakes that cost me the third place and ended up getting the fourth place. I was so upset that I didn’t feel anything, I was numb! How could I make such obvious mistakes?! I felt so shitty about myself.

My alarm woke me up at 6:45 in the morning. I sensed something different when I reached out to my phone, and I knocked something off. I opened my eyes to look on the floor for the phone, but instead found a book. That was weird because aside from school books, I didn’t have any. I wasn’t much of a reading person. I didn’t even recognize the book. I picked it up and put it back. I wanted to ask my mom why that book was there, but by the time I got out of the shower, I’d forgotten about it.

I went to school and couldn’t find my best friend around. He usually got to school before me. I went to chemistry class, entered the class and noticed that the date on the whiteboard was the same as yesterday’s and people present weren’t the usual ones. I checked my phone. Wait, why is it Tuesday again?! At this point I got confused. What is going on, is this some sort of weird dream or what? I left before the class started and headed to the class I had attended on the previous day. I couldn’t focus on the class, and zoned out. I convinced myself that it was just a dream, but the rest of the day got worse.

I literally remembered everything from yesterday’s lessons. If it was just a dream, how could I remember everything? Why was everything happening similarly to the previous day? Was it a game everyone around me was playing? I almost lost my mind, but lunch helped me calm down. I wanted to stay indoors, in order to do something differently compared to yesterday and test my tentative hypothesis, but I was tempted to go and eat in the garden. It was as I expected it to be. A chicken sandwich, my friend calling me about his sister giving birth, a black cat, back in the hallway some student fell down – but this time I didn’t throw up since I ignored the view of blood – and on the bus I sat next to the girl listening to the song “ME!”

I couldn’t wait to be home and play some video games. I was happy by then, having realized that I could play my game and not make the mistakes I had made the day before. I actually got excited, as I could win the new weapons and the free pass. I rushed to my room and opened my laptop, but what I saw was unexpected. There were no games installed on my laptop, nor any online games registered to me! I rushed to my mom, “Hey Mom, has anyone used my laptop?” I asked her breathlessly.

“No one has even been to your room. Is everything okay?”

“Well, no! My desktop background was changed, all of my games are gone, even my search history is different. Someone must have done something.”

“Wait, what? You and video games?” she asked, confused.

“Yes, Mom, video games. You know I’ve been playing them since, like, forever.”

“What are you talking about, Jason? You don’t even like video games.”

“What do you mean? You’ve bought me one every Christmas for the past five years.” I decided to go back to my room. However, my mom asked one more thing before I left.

“Then what was that about?”

“Nothing, really. Probably some teenage thing,” I replied, and went back to my room.

Back in my room, I sat on the bed and looked around the room. It was my room but somehow it didn’t feel the same. My eyes caught the book on my nightstand, titled “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” When have I ever deliberately read a book in my life? It felt like I woke up in someone else’s life. Same family, same school, same friends, but a different me had lived this life, and obviously a day behind. At this point I realized something. But it can’t be, it is not possible! Have I ended up in another universe? But, no, I mean how could I? Is the other Jason living my life? How can I contact him? Oh my God, no way. I started feeling scared and lost. I was breathing heavily and my heart was racing. “You need to calm down, take a few deep breaths, it can’t be that,” I told myself. It kind of worked for a short while. Then I came to the conclusion that that had to be the only possible explanation.

I ran to my laptop to Google the matter. I tried different keywords; how to know you’ve traveled to another universe? How to travel between universes? And so on. I stumbled upon an article about a phenomenon that involves traveling to another universe in your sleep. While reading the word “sleep” I froze in my seat. It reminded me of something weird. I had woken up a few times the night before. Each time it had felt like a strong light had hit me, so strong that it’d woken me up. But now what? How could I go back? Was I trapped here, in someone else’s life? How was he feeling in my life? Had he traveled into my universe, or into another one? I had so many questions, yet no answer. I searched a lot that night, trying to find a reason why this had happened, or a way to go back into my own life. That night, I wasn’t even hungry. The only reason I decided to have dinner was because I didn’t want my mom to think there was something wrong.

Once in the kitchen, shockingly, I saw Dad sitting at the table. I stood rooted to the spot, staring blankly at my dad.

“Why are you shocked?” he asked me.

“Huh,” was all I could say. I was still frozen in place.

“It’s like you’ve seen a ghost,” he said, laughing.

I managed to get my focus back, “Sorry Dad, I’m a little tired,” and hugged him awkwardly. My dad seemed to be a little shocked with the hug. Maybe in that universe Dad had a different job and we got to see him more often. 

After dinner I went back to my room and thought some more, trying to get my head around what had happened. By 1:00 a.m., I finally decided to go to bed. I lay down and closed my eyes, but wasn’t able to sleep. My chest was so heavy and I started breathing hard, as if there was no oxygen. I sat on my bed and tried to calm down. At least you are in your own room, you still have the same family and friends, I thought to myself. That was true, Everything was still almost the same.

I went to the kitchen and got myself a glass of water. The kitchen was a little brighter than the one from my universe. I noticed it had more lamps. Once in my room, the other Jason’s room, I sat on the floor and decided to take a look at the book. After all it was about space, something I was interested in. To my surprise, the book had nothing to do with space, nor even with the solar system. I put the book back where it was. I took another look at the room. Why were our rooms so similar? My curiosity didn’t stop there. I realized I was digging through his stuff. Old photo albums, a diary, and other personal things. I don’t normally look through anyone’s personal things because I wouldn’t like it if someone did it to me, but I didn’t feel weird checking out his stuff. I needed to know about him. At about 3:00 a.m. my eyes started feeling heavy. My next move was to jump onto his bed, which smelled different, but not unpleasant. I hoped that in the morning I’d be back in my own life. The next morning, I opened my eyes before hearing my alarm. The thoughts rushed back. Another universe. My hands anxiously reached for my phone, so I could check the date. I felt the book still sitting there. I had never felt this disappointed in my life. “Damn it,” I said aloud to the empty room.

I got into the shower and let the water run over me. I stayed there longer than usual. Once out of the shower and in the kitchen I saw that my mom had left me a note saying that she’d had to take care of some stuff, but had prepared my lunch already.

I had my breakfast on the bus because I was running late. A while later, I walked into Jason’s school. I saw Tom waving at me from his locker. I waved back. My questions took over again, why do I have the same best friend? Why does he have the same locker? The more I thought about it, the more blurry my mind became.

“Hey! Are you OK, J?” he asked me.

“Yeah, and you?” I replied.

“Hmm, you don’t look okay,” he said. After a short pause he continued, “You seem pensive.”

“Oh! I just didn’t sleep well, no big deal.” Being in class wasn’t more helpful. It didn’t take my mind off things. My body was there, but my brain was everywhere but there, spread so thin that I couldn’t collect my thoughts. Another set of questions started flooding. What if the other Jason didn’t end up in my universe? What if there are no Jasons there? My mom, oh my mom will be devastated, and my dad being overseas can’t help much. I shook my head to push those thoughts away, but each time they came back stronger. I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to talk about it to someone. It was lunchtime. I expected to have pasta, but instead Mom made me chicken nuggets. So this universe was not so similar after all. As we ate I told Tom that we needed to talk privately after school.

Once the final bell rang, we went to a nearby park. He was curious as to why I had chosen such a quiet place. I took a deep breath and told him that he wouldn’t believe what I was about to tell him. “Try me,” he said. I explained everything to him in detail. He didn’t say a word while I was talking. Once I stopped talking, I expected him to say something, anything, but he stayed silent.

“Say something,” I said desperately, and added, “Please.”

Somehow I felt he believed me. He looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m not saying it’s not true, but buddy, how in Hell is this even possible?”

“I don’t know, I wish I knew.” I felt overwhelmed and tears welled up in my eyes. I felt like I was losing control.

“Do you have a tattoo?” Tom suddenly asked me.

“What? No, I don’t. Why?” I asked him.

“You, I mean the other Jason, had a Deathly Hallows tattoo on his arm,” he said.

I showed him my arms, and there were no tattoos. This convinced him that I was telling the truth. I couldn’t blame him, I wouldn’t believe me either. We stared at each other for a while. “Now what?” I asked him.

“I don’t know, but I got your back, as always.”

I felt so much better after our conversation. My heart seemed a lot lighter than it had an hour earlier.

*  *  *

For a while, Tom and I looked up possible methods to go back to my own original reality, but we didn’t know how to make any of them work. I finally accepted my fate. After all, almost everything was just as before.

One day, I went to the park. I was feeding the ducks by the artificial lake when I heard a person say from behind me, “I knew I’d find you here.” The person sounded so much like me. I turned around. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The other Jason was standing right there.

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