"It is time."

I looked from my cell where I had spent the past week or so, and saw the guard and a priest. This was it. This was really happening. My watch told me I still had a few days left here. But I would be dead by then.

They took me out of the cell and marched me down a hallway. I was then put into a white Dodge Caravan and I felt it move.

Here I was. I was about to be executed for a crime my duplicate committed.

I arrived on this world about ten days ago. I learned that America is ruled by a theocracy, and its head of state was called the Prime Oracle. On this world, homosexual intercourse was a crime punishable by death. And the preferred method of execution is stoning. And I am not talking about oversdosing on marijuana, but having stones thrown at me.

Apparently, queers meet in these secret clubs to do each other. There was a raid by the police on one of these clubs, and my duplicate got away. But he was positively identified. the police just happened to catch me instead.

during the trial, I saw a videotape of my duplicate engaging in homosexual acts. I can not imagine any version of myself doing another man, but there it was, right on that Toshiba screen!

I tried to pursue every legal means to at least delay my execution until the slide, but to no avail. The execution is happening as scheduled. I prayed to God to deliver me from this world, preferably alive.

"Confess your sins, and make your peace with God," said the priest.

"I do not think God has abandoned me," I said. "I have faith. He won't leave me to die in this place."

After a long ride, I heard the van's engine shut off. The doors were opened and the guards let me out. I was taken to this place where there were a lot of stones laying around. I guess this is where queers and adulterers were stoned to death. there was already a huge crowd of people. Some of them carried signs reading "God Hates Fags", "No Tears for Queers", and "Fags Burn in Hell".

"Hello, everyone," said the executioner. "My name is Fred Phelps. I was been duly appointed by the Prime Oracle to carry out the execution as demanded by God. He demanded that if a man lie with another man as with a woman, they both have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death, their own blood is upon them."

I remembered last month when I got mixed up with extremist Christians, and realized that their kind were in control in this place and time.

There was a whole crowd of people standing near the stones. They were going to stone me.

This was it. I spent over a year traveling to parallel universes in search of my birthplace, and it ends here in this stone pit.

"Colin Mallory, you have been condemned to death for abominating with aniother man," said Phelps. "Do you have any last words."

"God has not abandoned me," I said.

"May He have mercy on your soul."

Phelps picked up a huge rock, and then flung it at me. I felt its impact on my chest.

And the world disappeared.

I saw a bright light, brighter than I have ever seen.

"God," I said. "I'm home."

I was hurting in my chest. I surely could not be in Heaven. Was I in Hell? I would expect to hear flame and to be tormented by this dimension's version of the Devil. I looked around and saw a room with white walls, a white tiled floor. There was a television in the room. I was laying on a bed.

Some lady in a white garment came in. I saw she was a nurse.

"You're awake," she said. "I'll go get the doctor."

Pretty soon, another lady in a white coat appeared; she was a doctor.

"Some kids found you in an alley," she said. "An ambulance brought you here. Your ribs were broken."

I touched my chest. It still hurt a lot.

Why was I brought here? Why would I be brought to a hospital if they wanted to kill me?

I then looked at my watch, which was still on my wrist. I then saw the time.

I had over two weeks here. I slid. I slid before my time. I do not know how, but I was grateful, even if my ribs were broken.

"What happened?" asked the doctor.

"A crowd threw rocks at me," I said.

"Why?"

"They mistook me for a queer."

I turned on the television, hoping to gain some information on this world. There was a news report about a President Jeff Williams, concerning his policy in Switzerland. There was ice hockey on another channel.

"Am I well enough to go?" I asked.

"What is your name?" she asked.

"My name is Colin Mallory."

Fortunately, the hospital I was staying in had cable, so I was able to watch MTV. There was some bottled water for me to drink.

Then some guy in a suit came in. He identified himself as Detective Xylo from the Fresno Police Department. I told him my name.

"What were you doing here in Fresno?" he asked.

"I travel around a lot," I said. "I'm trying to find my place in this world."

"And who attacked you?" asked the detective.

"There was a crowd," I said. "They mistook me for a queer. they threw stones at me. I found myself here in this hospital."

"Did you know your assailants?"

"No, I did not. I did not even get a good look at them."

"Well, Mr. Mallory, if you get any more information, please call me. Here is my card."

I took his card. I decided to watch the news.

Then I saw him. I saw Fred Phelps. He was leading this picket with people carrying signs reading "God Hates Fags", "No Tears for Queers", "Fags Burn in Hell", and "AIDS Cures Fags". His duplicate in the previous world was my executioner.

Coincidence is common to those who slide to many parallel universes.

I looked at a phone book for a Quinn Mallory. I found out that he has no number listed in the Fresno area. The only way I could find out his number is to search the Internet. I am well-versed ijn the Internet, since I had been using it for over a year to find incarnations of Quinn Mallory, first to find a way around the slidecage, and then to reunite with my brother and friends.

The doctor gave me an X-ray picture of my ribs. They were clearly fractured. She did say that the injuries were not life threatening. So that meant I could leave the hospital and go to the Fresno Public Library.

So that is what I did the day after my arrival. I signed some forms and then went out to look for a public library. After browsing a map at a Chevron station, i found the library.

it was a huige building, given that it was the main branch. I went inside, and I saw computer terminals as well as a whole lot of bookshelves. I also saw a poster asking for volunteers to read to children. I asked the librarian to show me if I could have Internet access, and he pointed me to a web browser terminal. There was a sign limiting web access to thirty minutes whenever there are patrons waiting.

I used the web browser, powered by Netscape, to access the 411 web site. After looking for Quinn Mallory. I found a hit.

Quinn lived in Anaheim, California. I did some more searching, and I found out that Anaheim was about twenty or so miles southeast of Los Angeles, and at least two hundred miles south of Fresno.

I certainly could not walk two hundred miles, even if I did not have broken ribs. Just thinking about it made it hurt. Maybe I could call Quinn. I went out to a public pay phone located just outside the building. I dialed 0 for the operator.

"Collect call for Quinn Mallory," i said. I gave the operator the number.

"your name, sir?" she asked.

"Colin Mallory," I said.

I waited for less than a minute. "No one is answering the phone, sir. Do you wish to try another number?"

"No."

I went back to the library, this time to do a Google search on Quinn.

I found a link to a physics graduate thesis from Concordia University, written by Quinn Mallory. Well, at least this incarnation of Quinn was a physics graduate student. I just hoped that he was working in the right field. After all, it is a long way to Anaheim from here.

And so I began my journey.

I had sold pints of blood earlier that day, so I had enough money to go to to Greyhound bus station in Anaheim. I boarded the Greyhound bus and then it went south on Highway 99, which was known as the Golden State Freeway. Many times over the past year have I traveled across the state in order to find out if Quinn could help me and my friends. At least I did not have to hitchhike, like I had to do a few times before. I looked out at the farms of the Central Valley.

The bus reached Interstate 5 just south of Bakersfield, and then it continues over the Tejon Pass into Los Angeles County. After a four hour journey, the bus reached downtown Los Angeles. I had to make a transfer at the Los Angeles bus station before I could get to Anaheim. After a twenty minute wait, I boarded the Anaheim-bound bus. The bus drove south on Interstate 5 and through several areas of heavy traffic before exiting of Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim. It finally made a stop at the Greyhound bus station which was located on Harbor Boulevard. it was already night when I arrived.

I got off the bus and went into the lobby of the bus station. There was a newsstand in there, as well as posters showing the Greyhound bus routes across the country. I went to a GTE pay phone to ask for a taxi.

A yellow Ford Crown Victoria taxi arrived, and I went in. Already, I coild see that the taxi ride was going to be more expensive that the $19.95 I spent going from Fresno to Anaheim. But the taxi did reach its destination, a block of Glenview Avenue.

I looked at the address, checking the number to see if it matched the address of Quinn Mallory that I retrieved earlier. I found the house. It was a simple and modest one-story home. I walked up to the door and rang the doorbell.

A blond-haired lady in her mid-twenties answered, opening the front door while leaving the screen door closed. "Hello," she said.

"I'm looking for Quinn," I said. "May I please see him?"

"And what is your name?" she asked. I noticed she had a gap between her front teeth.

"My name is Colin," I said. "I'm his brother."

"Brother?" she asked. "How dare you lie like that!" She shut the door.

I went out to the sidewalk. Maybe Colin Mallory was not born on this version of Earth. It was a lot easier to gain an audience with Quinn when I had my own version of Quinn to bring along.

I went back to the house and rang the doorbell.

"We don't want anything," said the blond-haired lady. "We're gonna call the police if you don't stop."

"I'd like Quinn to see me," I said. "If he does not want anything to do with me, I'll be on my way."

Then Quinn came. I saw that he had long brown hair and wore eyeglasses. He took one look at me.

"This can't be right," he said. "You're dead. You can't be him."

Dead? That would explain why the blond-haired lady did not know who I was.

"My name is Colin Mallory," I said. "Do you know about parallel universes?"

Quinn stayed silent for a few seconds. "Yes, I do. They usually interact with our universe via quantum interference between corresponding particles."

"I am from a parallel universe. I correspond to the Colin Mallory who came from this Universe. Have you ever traveled to parallel universes?"

"No, I have not."

"Oh," I said. this Quinn here was not familiar with sliding.

"Find yoiurself a motel room," he said. "And then call me."

"So you believe me?" I asked.

"I can't verify your claims, Colin, but there is a place where I could do just that."