Bob is transported into an alternate reality. He's not in Kansas anymore - Holiday Contest
|Bob scratched his bald patch. “So, this swirly thing between the giant magnets is a portal?”
The lady in a white lab coat nodded emphatically. “The entrance to a different dimension…hypothetically speaking.”
“Well, that's why we’re conducting this test. We're sending you through to learn the truth.”
Bob stepped closer to the machine, examining the web of multicolored wires and circuit boards threading through the metal frame. “Can’t you send a dog first?”
“Been there, done that.”
“Nine of the ten canine subjects returned. Subsequent medical tests found no anomalies.”
“Nine? What about Number Ten?”
“Never came back.”
Bob swallowed. “Why?”
The scientist shrugged. “We’re hoping you can tell us.”
“What about sending a robot?”
She sniffed. “We’re not amateurs, you know. No electronic devices survive the journey, but all animals except pigeons are fine.”
“We tried homing pigeons, but none returned. We suspect the magnetic field inside the portal affects their magnetoreception.”
“Say what again?”
She sighed. “Pigeons navigate using magnetic fields. The portal fried their brains.”
He gaped at her. “Fried their brains!”
“Don’t worry. Probably won’t happen to you.” She handed him a wristwatch. “Put this on. It’s clockwork, so it won’t be damaged. Come back within one hour of your time.”
“Sorry, my time?”
She rolled her eyes. “Time may move differently in other dimensions, dummy.”
She glanced at her clipboard. “So, you signed up for this as community service in place of incarceration?”
“It was either one day with you or a year on Alcatraz.”
“I’d heard they were reopening the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Out of curiosity, what did you do?”
“Got caught looting during a riot.”
“What were you attempting to steal? Something valuable?”
“Yes.” He sniffed. “They arrested me inside a chocolate warehouse. I’d eaten so much I couldn’t escape through the window I’d used to break in.”
She looked him up and down. “I can imagine that.” She waved at the portal. “Go on, then.”
He gestured to his stretched T-shirt and sweatpants. “Shouldn’t I be wearing one of those biohazard suits like you see scientists wearing on TV?”
She shook her head. “We’ve used simple mechanisms on long poles to sample the air, soil, plants, and insects from the other side. Everything is comparable to our world. Besides, we don't have any suits shaped like a beach ball. You’ll probably be fine.”
“Tell that to Dog Number Ten.”
Bob stepped in front of the portal, drew in a deep breath, closed his eyes, and walked forward. A sensation rippled over his skin as if he were passing through a thin sheet of ice-cold water. Suddenly, the air smelled fresher with a hint of spring flowers. He opened his eyes and gaped at the surrounding forest. Birds sang in the trees, and kingfishers darted across a nearby babbling brook. This clearing looked like a picture of Eden from the Children’s Illustrated Bible.
With a smile, he explored further into the strange realm. They’d given him an hour, so he mustn’t go far. Within a minute, he stumbled across a yellow brick path. There must be people here. He swallowed. Or evil aliens with horns and fangs. His thoughts turned to Dog Number Ten. Poor Fido!
Despite his fears, Bob was curious enough to follow the path. Ahead, he spied a village where the buildings were constructed from woven grass and tree branches. Around the structures stood women of all ages dressed in skimpy clothing. As he neared, they turned and smiled. A labrador bounded toward him, wagging its tail. Fido?
“It’s a man,” one pretty woman gasped.
“Don’t get many of those around here,” said another.
A young woman with a curvy body looked him up and down. “I hope you’re planning to stay the night.”
Bob shook his head in confusion. “Me? You want me to stay.”
She smiled, stepped closer, then ran a soft hand over his ample belly. “I haven’t seen a man in over a year.” He’d found Paradise!
The women eagerly dragged Bob into their village, depositing him onto a mahogany throne. Young girls ran over carrying bunches of grapes. “Let us feed you!” Voluptuous women with long flowing hair brought over flagons. “We have mead, if you are thirsty, sir.”
As he drank the sweet-tasting nectar, a stately-looking lady with grey in her hair rode into the village atop a prancing pink unicorn. She dismounted, marched over, and bowed to Bob. “Sir, what do you most desire? It is my duty as the lady of this manor to provide it.”
Bob slouched back in his throne, burped, slapped a girl on the butt, then turned to their leader. “Bring me the finest chocolate you have.”
She blinked and shook her head. “Choc-o-less? What is this thing you speak of?”
“Chocolate. You know. It’s brown, sweet, and made from cocoa beans.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I don’t know what coke-co beans are.”
He shot to his feet. “You have no chocolate here?”
Her face dropped. “I’m truly sorry, sir. I don’t believe we have. But, we do have the finest tobac to smoke and smooth kaf we can sweeten to your taste. Anything you desire that we possess is yours.”
Bob glanced at his watch. His hour was almost up. He sighed and glanced around at the many pretty girls. “Sorry, ladies. Gotta run.”
Their eyes widened. “No, you cannot go!” said one. “Please, stop” begged another.
Bob evaded their grasping hands and sprinted into the forest. The women were all fitter than him, but he had desperation on his side. Though his breath turned ragged, and his heart pounded furiously inside his chest, he still reached the portal ahead of the villagers and burst through into his own version of reality. “Quick, close the portal!”
The scientist’s eyes widened, and she hit a red button. “What happened?”
Bob regained his breath before answering, “Hell is on the other side.”
WORD COUNT: 1000