I clocked out and received my last pay just after I was done vacuuming the carpet with a Hoover vacuum cleaner. Here I was, done with another tour of duty at a menial job, the kind of jobs I have usually been getting the past year and a half.

After my arrival here two weeks ago, I got a job at the Einman Entertainment Center in San Francisco. These entertainment centers have various games. The most interesting games are the virtual-reality arcades, where people can actually step into a virtual world. There were many programs available. One program had people participating in a re-enactment of the American Civil War, complete with the rifles and the horses and the uniforms of that era. One can also play a fighter pilot in outer space, zapping aliens and such.

Today was my last day, and I was due to slide out. It was a Sunday by the way.

"Hey Colin," someone said. "Colin Mallory! Is that you?"

I turned and noticed the voice came from a woman about two inches shorter than me. She had long brown hair and a slender figure, and she wore a New York University sweater.

"Uh, hi," I said.

"Whgat are you doing here?" she asked.

"I was taking a temporary job," I said. "I just clocked out and received my last pay. I'm going to go get some supplies from the liquor store acorss the street."

"Do you remember who I am?"

"Uh, no."

"It's me, Molly! Back from high school."

"Well, nice to meet you. Where have you been?"

"I went to college in New York; I decided to come back to San Francisco to visit my family and friends. I can't believe you're here. It's been so long!"

I left the Einman Entertainment Center; Molly decided to follow me. I went into a 7-Eleven convenience store across the street. I purchased some Doritos and Evian bottled water for my next trip.

"Tell me what you've been doing," asked Molly as I exited the 7-Eleven.

"Traveling," I said, which was the truth. I looked at my watch; I would be gone in a few seconds.

I felt weightless for a moment, and then gravity tugged at my feet.

I looked around. I noticed Molly was gone. The 7-Eleven was replaced with an Arco gas station, and the Einman Entertainment Center was replaced with the Doppler Computer Superstore.

The library was closed on Sunday, so I decided to go to the computer store and see if I could access the Internet in there.

I entered the store, all lit wqith fluorescent lamps. My brother Quinn once worked in the counterpart of this store six years ago. I looked arounds the store. There were various brands of personal computers for sale, as well as hard disk drives, ZIP drives and disks, printers, floppy disks, CD-ROM drives, and all sortsa of accessories. I noticed some computer games available, like Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings.

I went to one of the computers on display, a Power Macintosh G4. I fouind out I could access the Internet. I went to the 411.com web sute and looked for Quinn Mallory.

As luck would have it, Quinn here was living in San Francisco.

I went to the Google webs tie to see if there was more information on Quinn Mallory on the World Wide Web. I entered his name and clicked search.

I clicked on the first link. It led to a web page for interdimensional resaearch. I took a few minutes to read it.

apparently, it is the web site of Slider Research labs, located in the San Franciso Harbor. They research quantum translocation, or as my brother put it, sliding.

This was it. Maybe this world's version of Quinn can help me find my brother and friends.

I turned around and saw about six people looking at me. I wondered if there was something on my face.

"Hey," a woman said, "you're Chuck Connor!"

"You must have me confused for someone else," I said. And then I left to see Quinn.

It took me a good while toi reach Quinn's, since the currency from the previous world was obsolete. So I had to walk. After many steps, my tired feet reached the front door to Quinn's townhouse.

It was a row of houses, all alongside each other. The one on the corner was for sale. I was hoping Quinn was home.

I rang the doorbell; it gave this strange chime, like from a horror movie.

The door opened, and Quinn revelaed himself. "Hey, Colin!" he said. "You came all the way here to visit me unannounced?"

I looked at this man. I did not know he was Quinn Mallory until I heard his voice. His brown hair was cut and styled to resemble spines from a porcupine sticking from his scalp. There was a large earring on his left ear and a nose ring on the right nostril of his nose. He was all dressed in black. I looked at the fingernails; they were painted black. He looked like some guy from a Gothic horror film.

"Hi, Quinn," I said. "That's an interesting look."

"I've looked this way since high school," he said. "Where's Molly. She didn't come with you?"

"No," I said. "Listen, may I come inside? I need your help."

So I went inside. The living room looked normal, with a Sony color television and sofas and chairs. There were pictures of his parents, my version on this world, and a pretty young lady.

"There's something I have to tell you," I said. "I'm a counterpart of your brother from a parallel universe."

"What?" asked Quinn.

"Yes, I know you work with wormholes and such. I read about it in your web site."

"you want to visit parallel worlds?" asked Quinn.

"I've been doing that for a year," I said. "But something happened."

"What is it?"

"Six months ago, I, your counterpart, and two companionsentered a wormhole. Something was traveling in the oppsite direction, and I found myself separated from them. Soon, I found out I was sliding from world to world on my own, without any external equipment."

"Colin, if this is a joke, you're buying me, Mom, Dad, and Katie dinner. An expensive dinner."

"If this is a joke, then I'll do so. Why not call Colin?"

"I know his private cell phone number," said Quinn. He goes to a telephone in the kitchen and dials a number. After a few seconds, he hangs up.

"I guess you are buying us dinner," said Quinn. "Where are you staying."

Then the telephone rings and Quinn picks it up. "Hello, this is Quinn, who is this?" he asked. "You're kidding." He looked at me and then hung up.

"Who are you?" asked Quinn. "Are you impersonating my brother?"

"Not by choice," I said. "I am his counterpart from another dimension. If you check my fingerprints, they will be identical. My genetic structure will be identical."

"I think you should leave buddy."

"Or else what? You'll call the police and they'll arrest me? They'll take my prints and they will match with that of this world's Colin Mallory!"

"Okay, this must be a joke. You gave some guy at the studio your cell phone and told him to pretend to be you."

"Call your brother and ask him something only the two of you would know."

"And he would know if you told him."

"I could not have told him everything."

Quinn dials the number. "Hello, Colin, I know you're busy, but what's my birthday?....What high school did you go to?.....Where did you meet Molly?.....What was the name of that black Labrador retriever we had?......Well, if you're not Colin, you are very good at pretending to be him......It's complicated, and you'd have to see him for yourself to believe it. Well, goodbye."

"So what?" I asked.

"There is something going on," said Quinn. "I'll have to take you to the lab tomorrow. You can stay here for the night."

"Cool," I said.

Perhaps you would like to watch a DVD," said Quinn, taking a DVD case from the DVD rack located next to the television. I read the title, "Robotech: Macross".

I looked at the cover and it featured a fighter jet transforming into a robot or something. I went to the reverse side and looked at the screenshots. I recognized one of the people in the screenshots.

It was my duplicate from this Earth! Apparently he was an actor. I read the movie's description. The movie starred Colin Mallory, Kari Wuhrer, Ming Na Wen, Michael Biehn, and Edward James Olmos. The movie was directed by James Cameron.

So I decided to play the movie, which lasted three hours. And it was very interesting.

An alien spaceship crashed into the South Ataria Island on Earth in 1999. An international military force investigated and discovered it was a warship. The United Nations took control of South Ataria Island and the spaceship, and hired the greatest minds on Earth to rebuild the spaceship. The U.N. also formed a military force that would utilize the alien technology to defend the Earth from alien attack. A city called Macross City grew up around the ship and filled the island.

In 2009, the ship was commissioned the SDF-1 Macross, and placed under the control of the U.N. Spacy, which conducted military space operations for the U.N.. There was a celebration by the city's people for the maiden flight of the Macross. Captain Henry J. Gloval (Olmos) entered the bridge to conduct operations; he is assisted by Lieutenant Commander Lisa Hayes (Wuhrer).

Hayes contacts an airplane landing in Macross City. The pilot is Rick Hunter (Mallory), who is an air circus pilot. On the ground, he meets an old friend, U.N. Spacy Lieutenant Commander Roy Fokker (Biehn).

Fokker shows Hunter into a cockpit of a new type of fighter called the VF-1 Valkyrie. Roy was about to bring Rick for a flight when a combat alert was called. It seesm the ship's main gun had just fired on its own and destroyed two alien scout ships! Combat alert was declared, and Roy took off in his Valkyrie. While air combat was going on, Rick was ordered into battle by Lisa, who mistook him for a fighter pilot. He flies up into the air where there is a battle with alien fighters. One thing leads to another, and Rick pulls a lever that turns the fighter jet into a robot! The robot then crashes into a Chinese restaurant.

The alien forces invade, and Rick takes a few quick lessons at battloid control and rescues a young lady named Minmei (Wen). He finds out that the aliens are giant humans! Well, one thing leads to another, and an accident brings the Macross and the South Ataria Island to orbit around the sun near Pluto!

Macross City is rebuilt inside the huge ship, two naval vessels are docked with the spaceship, and Rick joins the U.N. Spacy along the way. There are more battles with the aliens, which are later identified as the Zentraedi. Along the way, the heroesare captured by them. They learn that the Zentraedi are extremely sexually repressed-all their reproduction is done by cloning. They of course escape and make it back to the Macross, but not ebfore three alien spies, shrunk down to size, were placed on board.

The movie ends when the ship lands in the Pacific Ocean; the people of Macross City returning to Earth.

I had to admit, this world's Colin Mallory was a good actor. I loved his portrayal of a young pilot who got thrust into an interstellar war. During the movie, his character grows, and Colin showed that growth pretty well.

I stopped the DVD and looked at the time; it was time to sleep on the couch.

The next morning, I had some Frosted Flakes and Minute Maid orange juice for breakfast. Quinn got dressed, wearing a black shirt with black pants and a black necktieAfter that, I sat inside a blue BMW which is Quinn's car. He drove to the lab.

"So, tell me more about your brother?" I asked along the way.

"Well, he decided to start an acrting career in Los Angeles after graduating high school in 1989," said Quinn. "The Robotech movie you watched was his big break, and he got his first million from that movie."

"Is he a good actor?" I asked.

"Well, yes. He manages to perform well, even if the movie wasn't any good. I can't wait to see the looks on people's faces when I bring you in."

Soon, after driving through the San Francisco streets, we reached the harbor. We had to go through a checkpoint.

"Why is the lab inside the harbor?" I asked.

"We're essenatuially traveling to foreign countries," said Quinn. "Congress passed a law requiring anything brought from parallel universes be cleared by Customs."

Quin parked the BMW in a reserved parking space and he led me into a nondescript building; it looked no different than the other buildings in the harbor. We went into the lobby.

"I know you," said a guard in the lobby. "You're Colin Mallory!"

"I seem to know you from somewhere," I said, which was true. I might have seen one of his duplicates in a previous world.

I signed in, and Quinn led me down a hallway and entered one of the offices, which I guessed was his office. I saw a woman in her late twenties with short brown hair, who was a little shorter than Quinn.

"Oh my God!" she exclaimed. "It's Colin Mallory! I watch your show every week! Can I get your autograph?"

"Well, okay," I said.

"Wade, this is a Colin Mallory," said Quinn, "But he's not the Colin Mallory of this Earth." He then faced me. "This is my secretary Wade Welles."

"What do you mean you're not of this Earth?" asked Wade.

"Well, I'm from a parallel universe," I said. "My brother, who is another version of Quinn here, built a sliding generator. I got separated from him and I know slide randomly from world to world and I'm just trying to get home."

"Come on, Colin, let's meet the research staff."

So I met the research staff of Slider Research Labs. The chief researcher, Dr. Maximilian Arturo, is a large heavyset man who speaks with a British accent.

"So you don't recognize me?" I asked. "I'm a duplicate of that guy on TV."

"I do not watch much American television," said Dr. Arturo.

"Hey, said Wing, another researcher, "I watch your show every week. Maybe I'll get to meet the real Colin someday."

So I briefly told them what happened to me.

"So you're unstuck," said Dr. Steven Jensen. "You know, I've theorized that it would be possible to destabilize the dimensional bonds, but it was only a mathematical theory."

"And I'm the proof," I said. "It's not all bad, except I do not know where in the multiverse my friends are and I don't know how to get to them."

"Well, I suppose it would be worth studying you to unlock the secrets of the multiverse," said Dr. Diana Davis. "If we weren't curious, we wouldn't be in this business."

And so test me they did. they put me through X-Ray machines and MRI's and other acronym-named machines. I had this felling of deja vu, since I had gone through these kind of tests before. I just hoped this lab was not another Kromagg Dynasty Front.

After the tests, I went to Quinn's office. I went to the Internet Movie Database at http://us.imdb.com and decided to look up colin Mallory.

It looks like the native Colin has had quite a career since he starred in a movie back in 1990. Currently, he is a regular on a television series called Hollywood Detectives, which was on Tuesday nights. I read a short bio on him, and it turens out he is married.

I had lunch with Quinn. Spaghetti was being served.

"So how did you start working here?" I asked.

"I was a physics grad student who was recruited after I got my master's degree," said Quinn. "I actually solved the equation which explained sliding. That allowed us to track wormholes and store coordinates, which allowed for people to visit these other versions of Earth."

"Could it be possible to construct a sliding generator without knowing the equation?"

"Probably, but the equation was used to calculate universe coordinates and to track wormholes. Sliding would not be safe if there was no way to direct a wormhole to a particular universe."

That is what my brother had done. He and his friends went through before a system of tracking wormholes and storing coordinates was developed, and they slid randomly for three years. That is the situation I currently find myself in. "Well, that wopuld be kind of foolish," I said.

"After the wormholes were opened, we studied them over a year before sending a human through," said Quinn. "Well, tell me more about yourself. Do you remmeber that gift Katie got you for Christmas?"

"What?" I asked.

"Oh, I was talking about a different you."

"Well, I was born in San Francisco. My parents died when I was young, and I moved around. I lived in El Segundo when I began my journey. I visited many worlds with my brother for one year before the accident that made me unstuck."

"Did you have someone special?"


"Well, I guess I have to get back toi work. Maybe we can learn something from the test results."

After being subjected to more and more tests, Quinn took me back to his house. I was going to be here for a while, and I did not want to be too much of a burden on him.

I decided to watch the second Robotech movie. It was three hours long, and my counterpart reprised his role, as did Kari Wuhrer and Michael Biehn and Edward James Olmos.

In this movie, the Zentraedi did not give up on trying to recover the SDF-1 Macross after its return to Earth. They continued their attacks. In one attack, Lieutenant Commander Roy Fokker was killed. There was also a subplot of three Zentraedi spies who were shrunk down and assigned to observe the humans, whom thety call Micronians.

The Macross developed an experimental shield. There was another Zentraedi attack, and a city in Canada was destroyed and the ship was forced to leave Earth. There was another battle where the aliens actually managed to get on board the ship. It was during thios attack that some micronized Zentraedi sneaked aboard and asked for asylum.

The climax of the movie was nothing short of a thrill ride. One of the veritech fighter pilots actually married a micronized Zentraedi. Then the Macross made an alliance with a Zantraedi commander just before the main fleet arrives. There was a huge battle between the main fleet and the SDF-1 Macross, and the Macross used an overload of iots shield system to destroy the Zentraedi Headquarters Ship.

I removed the DVD and turned off the DVD player..

I used a computer in Quinn's study tyo access the Internet and do research on the Robotech movies. It seesm the movies were based on a Japanese cartoon called Macross, which was later brought to the U.S. as Robotech. The movies received excellemt rewviews, and the first Robotech movie was the highest grossing film in history. It was no surprise why my counterpart was a major movie star.

Well, all I can do is wait for the test results and find out if Quinn can reunite me with my brother and friends.