Saturday, May 30, 2009

Daily Story 45: Home Base

Abruptly, Quinn materialized in the park - much to the dismay of a woman walking her dog. Brushing himself off, he ran in the direction of what he fervently hoped was his house and skimmed down his mental checklist as he went. Climate, landmarks, street signs... everything looked right, looked like the world he knew. Dew collected on his shoes as he cut through yards, soaking clean through to his socks. Early morning sunlight shone around him, and a beautiful morning it was - a beautiful morning to be home.

Finally Quinn arrived, listening to the familiar squeak of the front gate as he opened it. Going around to the back, he looked through the window hoping to avoid an awkward confrontation if it turned out to be the wrong home after all. He couldn't find a single thing out of place; the same china in the cabinet, the same photographs on the wall. In case his hopes weren't high enough yet, he spotted a clipped-out article about his disappearance tacked to the refrigerator.

Keeping calm as best he could, Quinn went back around to the front of the house and slowly opened the door. Lavender scented candles - his mother's favorite - were lit in the hall and he had to fight back tears of happiness. Making a beeline to the basement, he found all of his scientific equipment was untouched, gathering dust or covered in sheets. Nervously he turned on his computer and typed his password... and was logged in.

Out of the hundreds of parallel universes Quinn had visited, so few had had his house, only a handful of those houses had a version of his family living there, and none of them had been the right one. Pulling out the dimensional remote, he saw that it showed only two minutes to his window - it was fortunate he had been able to confirm he was home so quickly. Quinn tossed the remote down and sighed in relief, feeling a slight pang of loss as it ticked down. Rolling his computer chair over, he sat and thought about how he would begin to adapt to a life not spent traveling between worlds.

Some of it would be good, of course. To start with he could ask Wade out assuming she hadn't moved or anything, and he could patent some ideas he had seen along the way. Unfortunately he couldn't publish the secrets of the wormhole generator itself, but a small collection of other breakthroughs had gathered in his bag over the years. Versions of Earth flashed through his memory as he sat there, some good and some bad. With the timer down to less than a minute he pondered some of the knowledge he had developed that he would never need to use again. Xenobiology, figuring out his waitress's tip in base seven, how to use some rather exotic toilets. Yet even if he had lost everything from his travels it was worth it to be home, watching the timer tick down, knowing... suddenly Quinn noticed the keyboard was missing a letter.

Zero.