by TS Caladan
[The following short story does not take place in our universe or in our mirror-universe. It takes place in another (parallel) world entirely, and its mirror-world].
Eldan Meyer had a strange life up until his fortieth year. At that point, his life went into hyper, far into depths of mega-strangeness like he never imagined. He was the Oscar Meyer kid! He sang the jingle on the famous TV commercial in '67 when he was 10. "My bologna has a first name, it's O, s, c, a, r..." He was heir to the great Oscar Meyer wiener fortune. In fact, Eldan was made President and Chairman of the Board at 38 years of age with the last passing of the New York (hot dog) Meyers.
But in 1997, the man was forced to abdicate his high position, give up his valuable shares of company stock and was basically fired. He was fired at gunpoint! You see, Eldan had a heart and was a good man. That cute, curly-haired and very rich, little boy grew up to be a decent human being. He didn't partake in the usual pitfalls of the filthy rich. The unmarried, loner of a man lived as a recluse. Although. When President and Chairman Eldan Meyer discovered what really went into the company's meat products, he was about to 'blow the whistle,' go public and expose everything (before lawsuits rained in, he believed).
That's when GUNS entered the picture! His life would be sacrificed so the company could continue. Or, he could live. He chose to live. He kept his mouth shut. He was unhappy with his decision. Meyer knew what the company was doing was wrong. He vowed someday: He'd make things right, do something great for the whole world, if he could. Something. Anything big and wonderful, to change things and make up for his family's sins.
He accepted the deal the Men in Black feds offered him. Eldan went into a CIA 'Witness Protection' program in the LA area. His life reset; he started anew. The man was given a cushy, mid-level job at ZenoDyne Industries, where they were: "Dedicated in finding Future Power Sources."
He was alone, rich, and wandered through life, aimlessly. He searched for meaning in everything. His daily routine consisted of lab work in a fed lab that he thought was prestigious and was actually doing good research, specifically [his department] on the verge of creating what was known in sci-fi as a "Stargate." The possibility excited him, got him out of bed in the morning. He could have spent the rest of his life in comfort, but ZenoDyne intrigued him: Maybe they need not build rocket ships at incredible costs that come with great risk to explorers? Maybe they needed only to step through an artificially-created, mini-wormhole and arrive in a new universe? That was the promise of his department. The possibilities were limitless, if successful. They tantalized him; his mind was on fire.
Eldan worked hard on the problem and "burned the midnight oil" during late hours in a lonely quest to save the world. It was on his 40th birthday, after studying countless papers and math equations, suddenly...
The answer was as simple as pie? Or was it as easy as cake? He had it; he knew he had the answer that would create a stable portal or conduit to a parallel world. He tested his idea with the massive, metallic circle that the company often electrically charged to maximum intensity, but always powered down and notes were made. Never was there ever an attempt to electro-magnetically push further, go over the edge and really form the event horizon.
It was as basic as pulling the prime EM lever all the way into the red. A gateway vortex should form for a few seconds, enough time for him to step through and GO!
Why not? He tried it and SUCCESS! His test hamster made the trip without the mammal imploding or dying. Remote sensors sent back data from the Other Side that "Spammy," the hamster, was alive and kicking. That clinched it for Mr. Meyer. He wasn't sure if the journey into the unknown was the redemption he looked for. Didn't matter. It had to be the reason fate placed him here on the edge of the abyss. Tomorrow. He was going to make the leap.
When Eldan got home in the early morning hours, he knew he wasn't about to sleep. This could be his last night on Earth. Well, the last night on the Earth he knew. If all went "A-OK," tomorrow, he'd be alone in the lab in the early morning hours. The tests occurred so often that one more unscheduled surge (like the hamster test) should not be noticed. It also might mean that tomorrow will be his last night alive? Who knows how long Spammy's life will be on the Other Side, or his?
Eldan fixed a stiff drink, put on soft music and simply rested for a good, long time on his soft couch. He smiled, looked around and saw his 5x5 Rubix's Cube that he only realized now he'd never solve. He missed his cat, Sheno. She had passed last month and was another reason that the man really didn't care to move on in this life anymore. He wanted something else now; he wanted FREEDOM or DEATH. It didn't matter which one. No one was more up for change than Eldan Meyer.
He laughed. Then he sang the end of a familiar song, "...My bologna has a last name, it's M, e, y, e, r. Ha." He laughed again and raised his glass. "Thanks, old man. Ah." He finished his drink. His mind turned to what he was going to do tomorrow, if he hadn't decided to jump:
He was going to buy one of those new computers. He asked himself: "What was it called, Dial-Up? That might havta wait, until I...if I get back, eh?" Then another thought popped into the man's mind. He said, "Oh, that's right. I shouldn't put off the ceremony for another day..."
Eldan got up and walked into the kitchen. He opened the door to the fridge and pulled out a very old, rotten pack of Meyer hotdogs. He tossed them in the microwave and set it on high. The stench was in some weird way beautiful to the man. Maybe he was burning his bridges to his past and the world he knew?
Later, he remained pumped with energy. He said to himself, "If I were to watch one last movie out of my vast number of movies on videotape, what would it be? Hmm." Meyer walked over to his shelf of classic films. "Not Casablanca or Citizen Kane. Ah, ha. I know." He liked his decision and laughed. Eldan pushed the 'Wizard of Oz' tape into the player and shouted, "Weeee're OFF to see the Wizard!" He smiled. It was fitting. What new world awaits?
Tomorrow night turned into early morning. The last person in ZenoDyne's 'Stargate' department said goodbye to Eldan. He was alone. He marched from one desk to another, checked his notes again. He made sure the metal mechanism would hit maximum energy yield for seven seconds, then automatically, and slowly, power down and shut itself off, like before. When all the red lights in a row lit, the Circle would be powered to maximum. That would be the moment to jump.
He was going to do it. Eldan took a big breath and smiled. This was it. All the preliminary procedures were executed.
The Stargate hummed, warmed up and got a bit brighter. Electro-magnetic forces got louder the more Meyer pushed the prime lever. It went into the red. He was excited and pushed harder. And the same result happened: inside the Circle, the vortex formed and a fantastic LIGHTSHOW appeared to the man's eyes. Pulsating, fast-moving bands of energy in blues, greens and yellows, criss-crossed each other in brilliant waves. The machine roared with power!
The critical moment came; the row of lights all lit RED!
Eldan Meyer, for better or worse, closed his eyes and leaped through the Looking Glass of Light and Electricity, and into the great unknown...
He didn't land in Emerald City or in Wonderland. His jump out of the Stargate... landed him on the metal ramp of the Stargate? ("Huh?") The amazing lightshow of a spiraling vortex stopped, behind him. There was the sudden power-down of the device that lowered in volume and lowered again. Vibrations decreased...
Elden grabbed his grey jumpsuit and made sure all of his body parts were there, intact, and in the places they were supposed to be. He turned back and saw through the circle, exactly like it normally was when not in operation. He walked up the ramp a few steps and touched the metal. It was cooler than he thought. "Wow." He looked around.
The large, mostly metallic room was the Stargate facility at ZenoDyne. No one was around. Everything seemed normal, like he never left. It was 2:30 in the AM. All was as 'quiet as a mouse.' Then, Elden saw it. "Oh, my God! Ha!"
It was Spammy! He ran from one giant electrode to another.
Elden soon corralled him in a corner and picked him up. "Hey, there. Little, buddy. You made it. Ha, ha. Oh, let me..." Mayer removed a sensor attached to the hamster. "There. Ha. That'll feel better, eh?" The man then placed the animal in the palm of his hand and inspected it. He started to pet Spammy, as he'd done a dozen times before. And...
The hamster bit him, hard.
"Augh! Fuck!" The unexpected pain jerked the hamster out of Elden's hand.
Spammy was soft and absorbed the fall without injury.
Mayer bled, profusely. He got a cloth and wrapped his hand. "Never done that before." Eden chalked it up to the little guy must have been frightened or really went through radiant energy where he was damaged. Maybe mentally or psychologically?
Elden seemed fine. In fact, he felt great, great and tired. He thought: Might as well go home. He'd capture the little bastard, put him in the Habit-Trail and take him home.
All in all, Elden Mayer was disappointed. He was greatly disappointed, the more he thought about it. He wanted CHANGE. He wanted to reach Nirvana! Some new, alien realm, a different dimension, a Twilight Zone, some brave, new world? He wanted to be an explorer, a hero. But what kind of trick had the universe played on him? He believed he only achieved the same old routine and was back where he started. "Shit."
Later, when he got home to his apartment, and after he found a spot for the Habit-Trail, he undressed and prepared for a good, long sleep. Elden removed his company ID tag from around his neck and tossed it. It missed the dresser and fell to the floor. When he picked it up, Mayer got a better look at the name. "Can't believe it! You mean they can't even get my name right? All this time...and I never noticed? My name isn't Elden Mayer! HA!"
[What he didn't know: On the Other Side of the Mirror, it was].
Elden was on his waterbed that he'd slept in for the last 20 years. Something was different, an oddity that (at first) he couldn't explain. Why did the bed appear so large? Why was there less room in the room? He remembered he had a queen-sized waterbed. Why did it appear king-sized? Was it his imagination and the bed always was huge in size? Mayer wasn't sure.
It was 4AM. When he was well-rested and prone upon the fluid softness under him, he focused his thoughts. The room was dark and quiet. Elden contemplated many things in order to understand. He remembered a photo on the fridge that was never there before. It was of him on a boat, smiling, with his arm around a young boy. He wondered: Where was he? What boat? Who's the curly-haired kid and who took the picture?
He contemplated the incredible idea that his old world was gone and this parallel was a completely different universe. He put the pieces together: Spammy's now violent and he never was before. 'Habit-Trail' was different; Elden remembered the logo was one word, uncapitalized. The strange photo in the kitchen he couldn't remember. The waterbed that had magically enlarged. The name-tag. "My God." He realized that he was within a Twilight Zone, a different reality than the one he left. Maybe he was Elden Mayer here? He was fooled into thinking he hadn't left or the power-surge did nothing. He wasn't under a cruel joke. He wanted to leave and he left. 'Boy Howdy' did he leave! Here was the ADVENTURE he sought, possibly the chance to put things right? So he hoped...
It was 7AM. Elden caught a couple hours of needed sleep. The Sun had risen. And suddenly, he awoke to noises in his bedroom. What the hell? He wasn't alone. His eyes cleared and he watched and listened in horror, or was it total fascination?
"We're home. Toldja I'd be early morning by the time we'd get in from Grandma's." An attractive, brown-haired woman flit from here to there. She bloody well made herself at home. She unpacked a small suitcase and put things certain places. "Hey. Go back to sleep, El. I got a few errands, but you don't have to get up..."
Elden was ready to scream or say something to this stranger, then decided to play it cool. He'd listen and learn, under the covers of the very big bed.
"Luke loved the convention! Ha, he saw tons of creepy aliens; he was so excited, just what he adores. Shudda been there."
Mayer grunted. (Luke?)
"He's asleep in his room. All tuckered out, still. Ma was happy to see us. Perfect excuse to visit, her livin' near the convention center. Oh." She bent down and kissed a nearly comatose Elden.
He froze as she kissed him flush on the side of his mouth. The dazed man tried to pucker. He hadn't been kissed in more than ten years, by choice. He thought: Wow. This is my wife, we're married and we have a child. Wild. It really wasn't the journey I had in mind.
She rearranged more stuff and undressed at the same time. Off went the bra.
It had been ages since Elden, more like Eldan, saw bare titties. Then the moment was gone....
She changed into black clothes and continued with: "I didn't know Captain Kirk never said, 'Beam me up, Scotty?' Huh. It was always a variation like 'Beam us up, Scotty' or 'Beam me up, Spock.' Never knew that. It was all the buttons and T-shirts that said it, eh? Reminds me of in 'Casablanca,' people still think Bogie said, 'Play it again, Sam.' Nope. Never said it, it was always: 'Play it, Sam, play it, Sam.'"
He agreed, "Ah, huh."
"Also reminds me...remember in college you told me, that during Vietnam, there was a rumor went around actor Jerry Mathers was killed in the war? The Beaver! Well, that was wrong; he lived to be an old guy. Just sayin'...people believe rumors, things that aren't real, but they make it real because they believe them to be. Hm? El?" She looked at him. Her new outfit in the mirror looked great.
Mayer only uttered one word: "Crazy."
"I know! Watch watcha believe, I guess. I'm babblin', hon." She looked around. "I think I have anything. Oh. I loved the convention, too. Sulu was there, and, and, wait until you see what Vulcan crystals are, my friend. Far-out, ha. Ah. Nothing on the agenda for Luke. It's raining. You two can watch movies or whatever you do when I'm not around? Okay. Dude. We'll fuck later. Bye." The pretty girl dashed out of a bedroom bathed in morning light.
(I thought it was raining?) The man waved bye. He only had his head above the covers. In total confusion, he whispered, "Okay, honey, darling, whatever. We'll fuck later." He was spooked. He took a big breath and then exhaled: "Wow."
An hour later, Elden got a good look at his young "son" in the kitchen at breakfast. Luke had much lighter hair than he did. The boy was almost a blonde. It felt wonderful to cook eggs for a son he never had before. The man played along in this dream world. A box of 'Fruit Loops' was on the table.
Later, the boys found themselves around the TV and VCR in the living room. The rain was back and it was the perfect time for movies.
"Hey, matching Sketchers!" Dad saw that they wore the same tennis shoes. He didn't notice that the name wasn't the same.
"'Course. Yeah. You were there when ya bought'm for us? You don't 'member, dad?" The boy seemed bored.
"Oh, right, right, Luke. So....ah, what do you want to watch?" Elden rose to his feet and looked at the movies on one of the shelves. He thought he'd choose for the young man. "Ah. How about? Aaah...Berenstein Bears?"
"Dad! You know I don't watch that anymore. I mean, I know was gonna happen..."
"Wait a minute!" The man got a better look at the tape box cover that he thought he knew very well. "No way!"
"This has to be a misprint. Maybe a bootleg knock-off? That must be it."
"Huh?" Luke moved closer to his father.
"What? They're not Jewish, anymore?"
Elden shoved the cover directly in front of the boy's eyes and asked: "Take a close look at the bears' name, Luke. Was the name always BerenSTAIN, like you make a stain on your clothes?"
"Whaddo you mean?"
Mayer realized: it could be important. "Did the bears always have this name, son? This name exactly, the way it's spelled here? Or was it different? Do you recall?"
"I member it like dis, daddy. My Berenstain Bears...you can burn that, you know?"
"Funny. Yeah, I also had a joke about Smokey, you know? Only you can put out forest fires. What's Smokey's middle name?"
"Huh? Smokey Bear's middle name?" Luke asked in confusion.
"Yeah. What's the bear's middle name?"
"I dunno. Tiberus. He doesn't have a middle name. Dad!"
Elden stated, "It's 'the.' Smokey the Bear. It's supposed to be funny?"
The boy expressed, "I don't get it."
Mayer saw crayons and Luke's coloring book. "Oh, ah. Yes. Luke? Bet you can't spell mommy's name?"
"Sure, I can. What I get? You think I'm a dumb bastard?"
"Luke! Language! What do you get? You're gonna get a good spanking if you don't write down mommy's name, perfectly. Here. It's a test." Elden gave the boy a red crayon and tossed the book into Luke's lap.
"Right. Spanking? You? All right, I'll do it," he said, reluctantly.
The 4 letters were: 'R,' 'U,' 'T,' and 'H.'
"Ah, like Baby Ruth."
"Movie! We can't play outside. You didn't answer what you wanna see?"
Luke's reply stunned the phony father: "You really are a dumb shit if you don't know?"
Elden stood over the boy with his hands on his hips. "What did you say to me, young man?"
"How stupid are you? Don't get all, uh, fatherly on me, now. What if Ruthie fown out what ya been doin' to me on our, uh, camping trips? Out ina woods?"
Mayer was shocked. It was like the cute kid was suddenly 'Damien.' Did he just turn evil or was he always evil? The boy had to be lying. "I never touched you improperly, Luke."
"Oh, yeah? Yeah? Then who's dick was I jackin'? Who's cock was I..."?
"MOVIE!" Elden screamed the word so loud at the boy that the kid was scared. The man realized this was a mistake, or was it? Maybe the other Elden had molested the boy? The other Elden, or the Elden to his Eldan. The punk little kid may have been victimized by a 'Mr. Hyde' version of himself? It could very well be that Luke was not lying. This could be the Dark Universe, one of anti-matter, where right was wrong and wrong was right? Mayer maintained a firm hand over the ten-year old, terror-child. He demanded: "What movie do you want to see, Luke?"
"What I ALWAYS wanna see: Empire Strikes Back....dummy."
Mayer understood, to a degree, that he may have jumped into hell. The "dummy" comment hit him like a rock. Funny, he didn't notice horrible vibes from the wife, Ruthie. Elden got the feeling that the rugrat-monster they spawned in this twisted and upside-down world, was always a holy terror. He didn't cause it by the Jump. No. This was a negative universe, a bad one that he now felt. The man wondered: Would he ever get back home? Now, he wanted to return. If this weird dream was a nightmare, he wanted to wake up.
Luke took charge. He put 'Empire' in the machine and forwarded the tape to his favorite part in the entire film. "There."
Both sat down. The negative Luke was transfixed to the TV screen as soon as the light came on. They relaxed and watched...
(Luke to Darth) "Obi-wan said you killed my father!" Skywalker yelled as he hung from the tower.
Darth stood over the boy, reached out with his hand and said: "No, Luke. I am your father."
Luke, in the room, was instantly and utterly amazed. "What the fuck? He said my name! He said my name!"
Mayer reacted: "What?"
The boy leaped to the VCR and played the part again. In shock, he heard the same thing. One more time, Luke rewound the tape and played it. "Luke" was heard each and everytime Luke played the tape. "That's not right."
Elden was also astounded, not by the tape, but by the violent reaction in the boy.
The 'son' turned to his 'father' with fear in his eyes. He shook. The confused boy tried to understand, but couldn't. "Why'd he say 'Luke,' daddy?"
"Luke. I don't know what you mean. What's wrong?"
"What's wrong? Everything! Last night we saw Mark Hamill repeat Darth's words on Late Show! It was always 'No. I am your father.' Now 'e's sayin' my name! Dad. It never did dat before."
"Easy. Well. Maybe you're mistaken?"
The kid just stared at the man and tilted his small head.
After a slight pause, it dawned on the man that this world on the Other Side of the Mirror...could be changing. Was changing~
Elden's mind was suddenly blown to pieces when he just realized: He went home to his apartment. But now, he and his family live in a house?
"Augh! I'll prove it..." The boy ran off toward his bedroom, then ran back into the living room.
He set a plastic model of Darth Vader down on the coffee table with some force. He held it steady. Luke, with tears in his eyes, turned to his 'dad' and proved the point. "Listen. Wazzit gonna say?"
The boy pushed the button, like he'd pushed it a thousand times before.
Plastic Vader with his arm out said: "No. I am your father."
When Luke pressed it again, it repeated the same words. Then he asked Elden, "What'd ya member, dad?"
Mayer thought: The little terror-child sang a 'different tune' at the moment; he was scared. Elden replied, "It doesn't matter what I remember, Luke, what matters is...I believe you."
They shared a moment. The boy hugged him. It felt good.