Chapter 4: Parareality
Iggy, Ludwig, and Turn leisurely made their way down the slopes, seeing to it that they nicely missed any protruding rocks or other things that would have ended their vacation on a bad note. They did not know, however, that the surrounding foliage hid something that would end their vacation on a far worse note.
“Is everything ready?” a dark voice asked in the forest.
“Remind me why we’re doing this again, Captain.”
“Those three were seen in one of the Great Seer’s visions. They were seen killing me. Not just a clean shot to the head, either, but killing me in such a gruesome way that my parents wouldn’t let me watch it. So I gathered my elite group of super commandos and set off to nail them first.”
“I can’t believe you believe in that stupid Great Seer guy,” one of the stupider henchman said with disdain. The captain said nothing, but instead calmly stuck his knife through the henchman’s skull.
“Now, here’s the plan. When they reach the bottom of the slopes, they’ll run into the nets that we’ve set up. Once they do, we’ll shoot them with stun lasers into submission, beat them up for a while, then send them off on a NEVER-ENDING FLIGHT ON THE AIRLINES!” This last line was said with such fury and fervor that the trio stopped for a minute and looked into the forest. Just like every other sap in the movies, they shrugged their shoulders and skied down.
These particular commandos were from the planet Sirius C. Sirius C is a small planet around the Sirius star. It is notable for only two things. Firstly, the instant coffee there is some of the best in the universe, and Turn’s own jar was frequently filled with Sirius C coffee. Secondly, they are extremely superstitious about the Great Seer, a supposedly immortal being that says he or she is able to see into the future. Of course, he or she inevitably dies. The inhabitants of Sirius C just say that they have temporarily gone to vacation with the gods, and shall be reincarnated in a new body, which they then search for fervently until they find some young kid. They then put the ceremonial headpiece on him or her, and let them see what they can in the ceremonial crystal ball. Of course, what they prophesize is never true, and occasionally the Great Seer has been sent to their vacation with the gods with a Laser-o-matic beam. Some of the smarter ones (or stupider ones, depending on your point of view) say that the whole thing is a crock. As their punishment, they are usually chosen as the next body of the Great Seer.
The three commandos set up the nets at the bottom of the slopes and waited in anxious ecstasy. After it got dark and cold enough to dampen their ecstasy and their socks, they started to wonder what was taking them so long. They got out in the middle of the slopes and looked upward. All they saw was a small pit, similar to the kind that would be made by a landing starship. They suddenly felt themselves sliding backward on their snowshoes and falling into their own net. Unfortunately, they had spent the hours they had been waiting by setting up their stun lasers so that they would automatically fire once something fell into the net. The next morning, they were sent to the county hospital with a severe case of stun bruising and then were sent home. Unfortunately, they were sent home on the never-ending flight that they had planned for our heroes. Had sound been able to travel through the sound-proofed walls of the plane, you could have heard their agonizing screams from across the continent as they were served the worst meals known to man.
Iggy, Ludwig, and Turn were aboard The Imagination, congratulating themselves on being able to get off the slopes without even seeing the airport, thanks to Turn’s mini-transmitter.
“I just had a prodigious idea,” Ludwig told the other two, as well as the Koopalings through the projector.
“What?” Roy asked, silently laughing at Ludwig’s rather nerdy use of the word prodigious.
“Maybe we should go to the Space-o-tron™ headquarters and see what they could do about our problems.” Turn leapt to his feet upon hearing this.
“Why didn’t I think of that before? We could get a replacement Time Continuum Cone, I could visit the old warehouse where I get my stuff, and we might get the answers that we want! It’s perfect!” Turn paused only briefly to set the coordinates, then slammed the button marked “Rock and Roll” (an interior label that Turn thought was funny at the time). In no time, the ship took off at a speed that would make your eyes bleed from just looking at the numeric value of the speed.
What they didn’t know right then was that two rather important things had happened. One, the Sirius C group had escaped the airplane and managed to steal a starship and track The Imagination through space. Secondly, The Imagination went slightly too fast and as such, it broke through the boundaries of time itself. You see, Einstein’s theories on relativity state that the faster you go, the slower time is. The Imagination was traveling fast enough to get time going at a dead stop. While the universe around them progressed on, the crew of the ship did not age whatsoever. They emerged out of the speed, needing only a few galaxies to slow down, but the world around them had changed. The world around them was about two million years older.They stopped at what used to be the headquarters of the Space-o-tron™ Corporation. There was a small crater there. Someone had foolishly used a Time Continuum Cone on the whole area for reasons unknown, and lacking the quick-thinking abilities of Turn, they had all perished when time had unexpectedly slid sideways. Having nothing better to do, Turn decided to raid all of the warehouses and grab everything he could carry on The Imagination. He purposely avoided the Time Continuum Cones, having seen enough damage thanks to them for one lifetime.
“This is all well and good, but how are we supposed to get back to our time?” Ludwig asked with panic in his voice. Turn just grabbed a Space-o-tron™ Insta-Net kit out of the bins in the warehouse and brought up the LLF band. What he saw defied all that was good in the world and just spit in the face of optimism. He saw a screen which read simply “404 Error. Please press Reload.” and a host of other depressing remarks. Turn screamed bloody murder and cursed Tim and any other god he could think of for making such a miserable universe. He pressed reload, having nothing better to do with his time. Suddenly the screen lit up, and LLF was back online. He immediately went to the secret forum and read what he could about their predicament.
The LLF communications band says to travelers who have found themselves stuck in a time which isn’t theirs:
Get used to it. Chances are good it’s your fault. There is, however, a few ways out. They’re both extremely dangerous and have never been known to work. Of course, this could be because if you are in a different time, if it does work, it probably will either have been forgotten by the time you’re back to normal or it won’t have happened, depending on if you’re in the past or in the future. It is possible that you can get time to move backward through one of two methods. If you use a Space-o-tron™ Time Continuum Cone or an equivalent, you might be able to get time to move backward. It is also possible that you can find a freak space-time wormhole, jump through it, and hope it spits you out in the right time. The second option is highly not recommended, as there have been instances of moving in space but not in time when some poor moron jumped through it. Since approximately 99.99% of the known universe is empty space, and the 0.01% left is probably not habitable, in all probability you’ll end up in a vacuum or in a poisonous atmosphere. Have fun.
Have fun is, by an amazing coincidence, the slogan of the Space-o-tron™ Corporation. The only remaining piece of the headquarters, which had fallen off the building just before it was sent into an alternate dimension, was a sign that said in large, colorful letters, “Have Fun.” Turn pondered the words on the screen for a moment, then brought up the Instant Probability Calculator site on the Insta-Net kit. He asked it what the chances of finding a freak wormhole was, combined with the chances of it spitting them out into the exact time and exact place of where they were. The site thought for a minute, sucked up all its computing power, and finally, after a few minutes, starting typing out letters on the site.
“That’s a pretty big number,” it was saying, “I had to use all of my computing power to figure it out. But here it is. The probability ratio is, in scientific notation, 4.9 x 10 to the power of infinity minus 6.7 x 10-100000000000000000 against one. In other words, it’s a really big number times itself infinity minus a really small number times against one. The only thing more improbable than that would be the universe simultaneously creating thirteen new gods at once out of a jar of instant coffee and a spoon.” Turn, Iggy and Ludwig thought about this for a moment, then Turn spoke.
“Sounds like we’ve got a good enough chance. Let’s go.” Using the sensors on The Imagination, they soon found a small wormhole in the middle of a smallish galaxy and were sucked into it by the immense area of unreality around it.
They popped out on a totally deserted desert island. Amazingly, they had popped out on a planet. However, since they were in a starship, they didn’t have to worry about getting popped into space or on a poisonous atmosphere. That wasn’t what worried them. They were worried about alternate dimension plane killing, and death from underreality. Underreality is the kind of reality you experience when you wake up in the morning and you regret doing that, but you get up anyway because you’re already late for work and your boss said yesterday if you were late one more time you’d be fired. That’s underreality. Too much of it at one time can be lethal.
The LLF communications band has this to say about poisonous atmospheres: if you land on a planet where you don’t know what the atmosphere is like, you can test it as follows:
1. Get in the airlock.
2. Open the hatch.
3. Take a deep breath.
4. If you’re still reading this, the atmosphere must be fine.
This is usually not a very safe way of checking the air, but without lots of expensive sensors, it’s the only way. Having never splurged for the expensive sensors, Turn used the LLF method of determining whether the atmosphere was breathable.
“Seems fine to me, guys.” Iggy and Ludwig stepped out, albeit reluctantly, while Turn grabbed the projector.
“So, where are we?” Lemmy asked.
It is well known that pronouns can cause extreme confusion, but this particular incident was the worst ever recorded. A passing intelligent microorganism in the air heard Lemmy say “So, where are we?” and immediately thought of the planet they were on, but then realized that since the strange, turtle-like beings on the projector were in fact somewhere other than that planet, he dismissed this line of thought. He then took to pondering what planet the turtle-like beings were on, and if, in fact, they were on a planet at all. After several days of deliberating over this, forsaking nutrition, he then pondered whether or not they were talking about the planet that he was on, and they had simply made a mistake when speaking. He raised his nonexistent fist in triumph, and promptly collapsed from malnutrition and died. This wouldn’t have been such a great loss except that he had told his fellows, who had told their fellows, and in no time, the entire race died out from starvation. Since the microorganisms were the only animal life on the planet, the entire planet was now scourged of intelligent life. Thanks to a stupid mistake on Lemmy’s part, he had killed off an entire alien race. A few days later, Lemmy started feeling guilty for no reason, and expressed his feelings on the public part of the LLF band that he could only access thanks to the Projector that he pilfered from Turn (remember, he was a clone). Having seen dozens of cases just like this, the members of the secret LLF board thought about their microorganism friends who had all disappeared, and put two and two together and came, amazingly, to the correct conclusion.
They decided to wage war upon Lemmy, and assembled a few dozen surplus Oonorthian battle cruisers, and were about to descend screaming upon Googorn when the entire fleet was destroyed by a fifteen-millionth of the Slarnian fleet.
Of course, Lemmy didn’t know this, because he couldn’t see the microorganisms.
Before this all happened, however, Lemmy had asked “Where are we?” Turn replied that they were off the planetary sensors of The Imagination. According to the sensors, they weren’t on a planet.
“Well, this is obviously a planet. Where else could we be if not a planet?” Ludwig asked.
“Hmm… it’s possible that wormhole spit us out on an alternate plane,” Turn replied. This caused some confusion, so he explained.
An alternate plane is different from an alternate universe or even an alternate dimension. You see, technology has advanced itself to the point of being able to handle all of the parallel universes and dimensions that have only recently come to the attention of the scientific community. However, they cannot handle a highly hypothetical situation of alternate planes.
The problem with science today is that anything hypothetical, thanks to improbability calculators and the discovery of space-time wormholes, can be tested easily. The inherent problem is that since wormholes are only hypothetical and may not really exist, despite eyewitness accounts, anything tested in them is still hypothetical, including the existence of wormholes themselves. Since you can get to other universes that have been proven to exist through wormholes, philosophers have recently raised the question of whether we exist, since to another universe, we are through a wormhole. The Chief Philosopher was going for the dramatic part of the speech in which he claimed that the room they were sitting in did not, in fact, exist when the entire room suddenly disappeared, and the Chief Philosopher was proven correct. The only lesson to be gleaned from this story is never to doubt your existence, or for that matter, write about it—
A Note From the Editor: Due to the matter of the previous writer doubting his existence by thinking about it and therefore ceasing to exist, we have replaced the writer with an exact clone that we kept for just such a purpose. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Back on the subject of alternate planes.
An alternate plane is a completely different thing than an alternate dimension, despite sounding the same. We live on a plane of reality, while an alternate plane is a plane of something other than reality. Eyewitnesses have described planes of unreality, in which everything appears to happen at once but in fact nothing happens. There have also been planes of superreality, in which everything happens and it really does. Finally, there are planes of parareality in which there are no eyewitnesses, but then again, they’re all hypothetical anyway, so there’s never any eyewitnesses.
Turn, Ludwig, and Iggy were currently on the plane of parareality. Turn figured this out when a nearby couple popped out of a wormhole and said, quite clearly, “We must be in that place where there’s never any witnesses since—“ and suddenly disappeared. Turn shouted out quite clearly to the Koopalings.
“Whatever you do, don’t think about existing!” Turn immediately hit them on the back of their heads to keep their minds off of existing, while he thought of a teakettle. It wasn’t easy, since he was trying to think of why he was thinking of a teakettle. He used up all of his mental faculties thinking about teakettles and how pleasantly warm they were, and the stuff that came out of them, which was almost, but not quite, as good as instant coffee. In the meantime, Iggy and Ludwig, not knowing of the philosophical dilemma that had plagued the universe for years, since the philosophers always disappeared as they figured it out, searched for shelter. They found a lovely little clearing in the palm trees on the island, found a few coconuts, and in no time had a small campfire going, thanks to the bounty of Space-o-tron™ emergency stuff that Turn had with him. hey had no idea, of course, that they were not the only ones on the island.
It is true, of course, that Lemmy accidentally killed off the only native life on the planet. However, there was in this very forest, a monster, or rather two monsters, that were so hideous and evil that they wouldn’t even consider not killing someone for insulting their taste in sneakers, which was astoundingly bad. They had sneakers so ugly that oftentimes they killed by merely showing people their shoes, which for the weaker-minded beings, were lethal. They were known only as the Kaltracian brothers, the only two surviving members of an alien race that eventually died out due to being forced to look at each other’s shoes all day long. Only these two, the ones that had been born immune to the shoes' lethal effects, survived, and for reasons unknown, decided to kill everyone in the universe. Luckily for the universe, however, thirteen minutes after deciding this, they fell into a space-time wormhole and were never seen again on our plane. For that is the unusual thing about parareality planes: they are a haven for odd things that disappear, such as ballpoint pens and single socks that used to be part of a pair. The real reason they disappear is that they start pondering whether or not they really exist. On the reality plane, you don’t always disappear: this is why philosophers are still around. If you do ponder it, you are sent to the parareality plane, where if you start pondering whether or not you exist, you disappear again, to an unknown location.
Modern science has often raised the interesting point that ballpoint pens and socks are unable to ponder. The philosophers have chosen to ignore this little unimportant fact. Besides, as our heroes were about to find out, it was true.
The only unusual thing that Iggy and Ludwig were seeing so far was Turn sitting in a corner of the clearing, mumbling about teakettles and instant coffee, and an inordinate amount of ballpoint pens and socks on the ground.
Without warning, something so hideous it could make your toenails quiver and wish to be nibbled to death to spare it from the monster burst out of the jungle. The thing was that Iggy and Ludwig couldn’t see it. They assumed it was the wind, shrugged their shoulders, and went on roasting a few marshmallows. It was lucky that they couldn’t see it, because if they had, they might have had permanent brain damage. Turn, however, had seen this too many times to not be suspicious.
“Okay, guys, I’ve got a plan. The next time something comes into this dimension, we run into the ship and get out of here. There’s something in the woods.”
“What? Something hideous and something that eats Koopas?” Iggy asked in an obviously sarcastic tone. Iggy and Ludwig were both feeling a little fatalistic about this whole thing, and they really didn’t want another danger right now.
“Well, it might not eat you, but it’d probably be worse. It’s in our campsite.”
“How can you tell?” Larry asked, always interested about something that would improve his spying or ninja abilities.
“Because that twig just snapped by itself. I think I know what it is. It’s two organisms, actually. They’re hiding behind each other.”
There has recently been a remarkable breakthrough in cloaking technology. Rather than mucking around with dangerous cloaking devices and other such obsolete junk, there is now the rather intuitive method of hiding behind something else while it hides behind you. If it sounds impossible, it is. But then again, some people say it’s impossible for a pair of brothers to be picked up by a humanoid from Ulata Gamma and then tour the universe and end up in an alternate plane. It’s all in how you treat the impossible. If you think the impossible is impossible, you’ll be right, but you’ll never do anything impossible. There is currently a metaphysical debate upon that subject, the stakes of which are particularly high. If it is decided that the impossible is indeed impossible, thousands of motivational tapes will be rendered incorrect. Anyway, the subject at hand was about hiding behind each other. The new theory is that if two beings hide behind each other, they’ll disappear. This makes perfect sense, but the trick is in pulling it off. The LLF communications band has detailed an easy-to-follow list of instructions for this.
1. Find a friend to hide behind. Make
sure he knows what he’s supposed to be doing.
2. Very slowly, circle around each other until you block the view of the other from a certain angle.
3. This is the tricky part. Very slowly, move behind each other so that you almost switch places, but stop exactly when you get to the other side of the person. The entire time you must be moving in exactly the same way, so that you can block the view of the other the entire time.
4. If you move behind something that’s blocking the view of you, you’ll disappear. The trick is to have your friend do the same thing. If done correctly, you’ll both disappear.
5. Now simply move about with the same movements so that neither of you is at any time in a different position than the other. Congratulations, you’re now invisible.
While this method is largely controversial, and rather difficult to pull off, it is entirely possible, and well tested. A twig snapped behind Iggy and Ludwig, but they ignored it. Suddenly, one of the monsters fell against a tree and they both phased into view.
They were mostly unremarkable. They were a little green, and a little tall and furry, and a little multiple-eyed, but mostly they were normal. It was their shoes that defied description. Imagine a blob of unrecognizable goo. Then twist it into a shoe shape, allow it to sit for a couple of weeks so that various fungi can grow on it, dip it in skunk oil, and paint the pictures of the ugliest celebrities ever. That would be nothing like what their shoes would be like, since they defied description. Haven’t you been listening?
Iggy and Ludwig took a glance at the sight, got a glimpse of a piece of footwear out of the corner of their eyes, and immediately went into a fit of projectile vomiting. Once that was over, Turn decided that the best thing to do under the circumstances was run like a sissy. Iggy and Ludwig chose the same action. They panicked so much, in fact, that they completely forgot all of their Space-o-tron™ stuff. The rest of the Koopalings, being stranded with the Holo-projector, took a look at what they were all screaming about, and immediately went into a coma that lasted the next couple of days. Our heroes jumped into The Imagination and hit the throttle as hard as they could, and went so fast that they tore a hole in the fabric of space-time. This was rather unfortunate for all, as it meant that that particular alternate plane simultaneously imploded and exploded, which is as impossible as hiding behind someone while they hide behind you to become invisible. The brothers inside the plane were launched into the air while being sucked down into the core of the plane, which is also impossible. Their current status is unknown. The only thing known about them now is that they’re alive, because it would be impossible to survive such a thing.
Turn, Iggy, and Ludwig flew through yet another rip in space and time that had been caused by going far too fast. An analyst looking at the situation posthumously could only state that it would be impossible for them to pop out exactly where they wanted to be. As it happened, they popped out of the rip right in front of Space-o-tron™ headquarters, since it was impossible. Similarly impossible would be the rip sewing itself back together, which happened. A rip in space-time is no joke. Almost anything impossible happens at once. Since that’s impossible, it’s exactly what happens. Anyway, the first thing they saw back in their own plane was the letter H in a large, colorful font. They backed The Imagination up a bit and saw that they were looking at the H in the words “Have Fun” in five hundred and seventy-two different languages, the one they were parked in front of being in English. One could even argue that the words were in a large, friendly font, despite there being no possible way a word can be friendly. Next to the sign was a small plaque listing all the possible ways of using your Space-o-tron™ Time Continuum Cone and where to call in the unlikely event that it slides you into an alternate universe. Turn parked The Imagination, walked inside the headquarters, and beckoned Iggy and Ludwig to follow them. Walking inside, they were greeted by large bins of free samples, most of them keychains that lit up with the intensity of five hundred suns.
The problem that the Space-o-tron™ Corporation most frequently gets is that of their products being largely useless. About half of them have great practical use, such as the Space-o-tron™ Holo-Projector. The other half work perfectly fine, but are rather lacking in the department of practicality. For example, the previously mentioned keychains. Not only is a light of that intensity strong enough to burn through walls and small lizards, it also requires changing of the batteries every 2.2 milliseconds. Since the batteries are only available from Space-o-tron™ at a huge markup, very few people buy them. As such, Space-o-tron™ had no choice but to fill large bins with the keychains. Once the novelty of that wore off, they put the bins in the front lobby and took bets on who would take one every time a group came in.
The Space-o-tron™ Corporation, for all of its outwardly competent appearance, is in fact a very irresponsible and immature company full of drunkards. The founder of the company, Ooblork Ysfield, was told by his fifteenth father at a young age that he would never amount to anything. This, it can be argued, is true. It is only fortunate that the R&D section of his company is banned from all of the company parties, because otherwise he would have a serious lack of products. There is a rather persistent rumor in the system that inside the company walls the largest party ever recorded exists inside, which may account for the faint sound of John Lennon’s voice that exists throughout the entire planet. Being extremely disgruntled that they aren’t invited to any parties, and distracted by the sound of Lennon’s voice in the building, the R&D team makes 50 percent of their products completely useless. Since they all work exactly as they were intended, the CEO of the company has no qualms, and in fact only looks at them for a few seconds before returning into his office, where the music seems to be loudest. A large amount of the company gambles quite frequently and in fact bets on anything that they can find, such as free sample bins and who will take one.
The trio walked inside and, thanks to a suspicious lack of security guards, easily made their way up to the CEO’s office to ask for help. They opened the doors using a keychains beam, which won an employee several million units of currency, and were welcomed by a sound like no other. It was a sound that thumped their very marrow and rattled their patella. It was a sound that made their eyes shake and their ears wiggle. It was the sound of John Lennon screaming “Twist and Shout”. They attempted to cover their ears with whatever they could find, such as bottles of chocolate milk, which shook themselves for them. They made their way through the thousands of guests, who where all apparently extremely intoxicated from Hawaiian Punch, and finally found the CEO, who had his ear pressed to the speakers. He was also blue and had an extra leg.
“What are you doing?” Ludwig attempted to ask, but found it impossible to say anything without being drowned out by the immense noise. Actually, his words weren’t so much drowned out as they were chained to a cement block and dumped into a river. Turn shone the keychain on the speakers, which melted through the audio cone and got the CEO’s attention.
“What did you do that for?” the CEO asked, clearly used to speaking in the din, as he yelled at the top of his yellow lungs.
“We’re here for your help,” Ludwig informed. Iggy’s curiosity was of a different sort, and he asked a different question.
“Why did you have your ear to the speaker?”
“Somebody turned the volume down, it’s all I could do to hear it.” In actuality, he was almost completely deaf. “Now, what was that about needing my help?
“If you wouldn’t mind, could we step outside?” Turn asked.
“What?” the CEO inquired. Turn sighed and carved the words in the ceiling with the keychain, which he had hooked up to fifty-two portable generators. “Oh, sure.” The CEO walked outside, pausing only to grab a cup of punch, and closed the door. Unfortunately, since Turn had melted through it, the sound still got through, meaning that they now had to yell at three-fourths to the top of their lungs.
“Well, we’d like you to run a few tests to see if Ludwig’s got anything special in that body of his.”
“Yeah, okay, I’ll tell the R&D guys about it.” The CEO called them on his phone, made a few of them deaf with his yelling over the music, and told them to make their way downstairs to the R&D room.
The R&D part of the building was a completely different section. It exuded confidence, official-ness, and competence. Everybody in it seemed to have a case of manic depression thanks to their dour faces and the music pounding above their heads. Large signs in the CEO’s handwriting said such depressing things as:
“Music? What music? There is no music.”
“We deny the existence of any parties above your heads.”
“Remember, music is the enemy.”
“Work faster, harder, and with less partying.”
Next to these signs were photographs of the one R&D member who snuck upstairs and got into the party. Because of the highly crowded nature of the party, he was unable to get out of the crowd and subsequently died of Hawaiian Punch overdoses and starvation. His body is still in the crowd, and recently one of the mathematicians figured out that they could save fifty dollars a month if they stopped giving it drinks. Of course, nobody could tell the difference between the corpse and the rest of the party. Rigor mortis and decay were rather difficult to find since most of the party looked like that anyway.
Turn, Ludwig, and Iggy sat in the rather hard chairs in one of the R&D cubicles waiting for the results of a preliminary test that Ludwig had taken. Finally the door opened, and a slightly nerdy R&D fellow came in with a large sheaf of papers.