I looked through the supply cabinet, reading each name aloud. Then I found the ointment, which was in a yellow tube resembling a toothpaste tube, though one whiff from the open tube would tell you that it wasn't Aqua Fresh toothpaste.

I walked across the parking lot to a quonset hut. Inside the hut, Javier was attending to someone lying down in a bed.

"Is this it?"' I asked.

"Yeah," he replied. He proceeded to apply the ointment to his patient.

In this huge quonset hut, about thirty feet in length and eighteen feet in width. I saw many people lying down on beds. They all suffered from radiation poisoning. Since my arrival here, I saw a few people die from the radiation sickness.

To my fellow volunteers helping these irradiated people, I was just another volunteer. But if I told them of what happened to me, and what I had been doing for the past year and a half, very few, if any, would believe me.

In February of 1998, I met my brother Quinn, who along with his companions Rembrandt Brown and Maggie Beckett, led me on a journey through many different universes, as Quinn called them. These seaprate universes usually interact through interference effects, but Quinn had a device which opens what he calls an Einsten-Rosen-Podolsky Bridge, allowing for actual travel between these universes.

But two months ago, on a warm June night, something happened. I was separated from my friends. I found out later that I was unstuck, which meant that I now slide from universe to universe without a timer or any other external device. In effect, I have become a human timer.

Since my separation, I have slid from world to world, taking up odd jobs to earn enough money to feed myself. I have tried, whenever I had the time, to look for someone who can help me reunite with my brother and friends, but I was unsuccessful so far.

I arrived on this world days ago, and I found out there was no one who could help me. Then, the Terminal Island Nuclear Power Plant melted down, spewing radioactive material into the atmosphere. A large portion of Los Angeles and Orange Counties are now uninhabitable for many, many years, because of the radiation.

I was among the first to volunteer as soon as I heard the news. For the past two days, I had been providing medical aid to those who fell sick to radiation poisoning. I watched the news, hearing statements from the President of the United States and the Governor of California.

I have also spoken with my co-volunteers. I heard trivia about their lives. About my life, I told them I was born in San Francisco, and later moved to El Segundo, which is true.

And of course, I got free food.

There was a Sony television tuned into Fox News. I saw Christopher C. Morton, the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, make another statement, which he has been doing since this terrible disaster.

I walked over to one of the patients. Her nasme was Jennifer. She was just a mile from the power plant when it melted down. For two days she had been fighting for her life, her cells ravaged by the radiation. She looked terrible. I often saw blood coming out of her nose.

"Are you all right?" I asked.

"No," she weakly answered. "I just...want..to sleep."

Then I heard a continous beep. it came from an electrocardiogram, and it was a flatline.

"We have a flatline!" shouted Dr. Eileen Stanley, who was one of the volunteer physicians I worked with these past two days. I remember she went to medical school in San Francisco. She and some other emergency doctirs tried to use paddles to revive Jennifer. they tried over and over again, fir God knows how long.

In the end, her radiation-wracked body could not handle the burden, and so she gave up the ghost, and died.

Dr. Stanley noted down the time of death. Within minutes, Jennifer's body was placed on a gurney and moved out. I looked on, somberly.

"What a shame," said Javier. He just left.

It was almost time for me to go, so I said goodbye to those whom I worked weith, as well as those survivors of the nuclear meltdown, who were still struggling to get a grip on their lives.

I went out on a walk in this warm August night. There was just a warm breeze. I was glad to be able to be away from all that death and suffering.

I had seen many things while sliding, both good and bad. But the one constant was the poverty. Currency in one world may be useless in the next. We certainly could not get high-paying jobs, since any information we give about ourselves will be ebelived to be false.

"Stop right there!" someone shouted.

I looked, and I saw a California Army National Guard soldier, brandishing an M-16 automatic rifle.

"This area is off limits," he said.

I saw a roadblock, manned by some soldiers. Two Humvees were parked nearby. Beyond the roadblock, all the lights were off.

My feet had taken me to what news reporters called the No Man's Land, where radiation levels were too high for anyone to live. I looked and saw helicopters flying above the No Man's Land.

The soldier checked me with a Geiger counter. It was clicking slowly, but then it started clicking faster and faster.

I looked at my watch. Less than twenty seconds before I slide out.

And then I felt myself weightless and off-balance.

When I regained my sense of balance, I was in an alley.

I looked at my watch. I had forty hours left until my next slide.

I walked out of the alley. I could see the storefront signs, wiritten in English. I could not tell what city I was in.

"Stop right there!" someone shouted, in a voice I heard before. I looked, and I saw a soldier brandishing an M-16. "show me your papers?"

"Papers?" I asked.

"Show me your papers!"

"I don't have papers."

"Then you are under arrest."

I was put into a green police car and I was driven away.