Prompt Reply: The Bench

Pen Friends ~ Please enjoy this Prompt Reply by Caleb Robinson. Thanks Caleb for participating!
The Spinning Pen Prompt:
The bench was deceivingly inconspicuous. So plain was the chipped white paint and creaky wood, it practically promised that if you sat on it you could enjoy your brown paper bag lunch, watch pigeons in the park, without any life altering events…

It was a Convergence. That’s what Lazarus had called it. A rare place where all reality converged; a fixed point in time and location that coincided with the other Laterals. Elex still didn’t fully understand how it worked, and he suspected that he never would. He had only been to two Convergence.

The first had been a complete mistake, and it had taken him days to figure out anything was different. He had stepped onto the small elevator in Pap’s nursing home. Usually he took the stairs, but he had a box of his grandfather’s childhood belongings that had been left in his garage. He had pressed the button and waited. There was a soft buzzing and then a sudden feeling of vertigo. It passed quickly and the door opened to Pap’s floor, like nothing had happened. Only small differences had surfaced. His phone case had been an R2D2 case instead of the regular Tardis Police box. Pap didn’t wear glasses. His sister had blonde highlights instead of orange. His bike had a big dent in the handlebars that he couldn’t account for.

The second time had been much more noticeable. Elex had been walking into the hotel on 44th street to visit his aunt. He had missed the “out of order” sign on the revolving doors while checking social media. He spun the doors and walked through to the other side. The vertigo caused him to double over..

This Lateral had been much different. He quickly found out from an embarrassing conversation with the clerk that his aunt was not staying there. In fact, he had no aunt. His sister hadn’t gone to college but had instead chosen to pursue her musical theater dreams. Their parents had never split up. He didn’t work at the dumpy fast food restaurant on 13th anymore. This reality had seemed much better than his own. But something was wrong and he knew it.

That was when Lazarus had shown up. Lazarus had explained everything. Or at least as much as he was allowed to. Elex was one of few people that had multiple Lateral Equivilents with the ability to travel between. Traveling between parallel universes was difficult because there always had to be an equal trade between both Laterals. If Elex left his universe, a different Elex would have to enter. Many people had the ability to travel between universes, but didn’t have another Equivalent with which they could trade places.

These exchanges could only occur under precise conditions. Elex had a rare number of Lateral Equivilents, so these places were more common for him. Lazarus had the job of sorting things out and getting everyone back to their proper places before things took disastrous turns. In the second switch, Elex had been reluctant to comply. His sister was following her dreams, he didn’t work at a dump, and his family was still whole. Lazarus had been thoroughly convincing, especially with the strangely shaped weapon he had brought with him.

The third convergence had come at the most unexpected place he could have guessed. The bench was deceivingly inconspicuous. So plain was the chipped white paint and creaky wood, it practically promised that if he sat on it he could enjoy his brown paper bag lunch and watch pigeons in the park without any life altering event.

He had sat down and enjoyed the peace. It lasted a fraction of a second before the vertigo had come. Part of him was filled with fear by the sensation, but part of him wanted was anxious to see if perhaps he had found a more pleasant reality to enjoy for a few days before Lazarus found him.

He had not. That much had been clear as soon as the vertigo had passed.

No one was in the park. In fact, Elex couldn’t see a living thing stirring. The sky was black and the wind chilled his skin. The skyscrapers were without their usual shine and were instead covered in grime. Half of the windows were shattered and chunks of some of the buildings were completely absent as if a giant had ripped off these parts and cast the debris into the street. The trees in the park were all dead and leafless. A newspaper fluttered by on the dusty sidewalk. Elex’s eye caught the date typed in black ink in the corner.

It was four months old.

The title read, “Where did it come from?”

Elex’s mind reeled.

Where was he?


Prompt reply by by Caleb Robinson.

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