The heavy set man, with long hair, frizzed beard and focused eyes concentrated to such a degree that it seemed nothing could break his mental state. Indeed for the past four years, Professor Maximillian Arturo had done nothing but clench his mind to his work. He was absolutely determined to re create inter-dimensional travel as his student Quinn Mallory had once done.
The Professor tinkers with a few micro chips on his newly designed Timer and suddenly stops. He gracefully puts down his small tools and swallows hard. He leans back in his chair and rubs his eyes. It was as if all his past dimensional travels had hit him all at once. Maximillian flashes back on that terrible period four years ago, when he was stranded in the dimension he currently resides in.
Professor Arturo, Quinn Mallory, Wade Wells and Rembrandt Brown had been lost within the Mutli-Verse for about a year and a half. They had begun their fantastic journey in the basement of Quinn Mallory, Arturo's one time student. Mallory had successfully discovered a way to open gate ways to parallel universes, a process he called Sliding. But after a mishap with the Timer device, the four unwitting travelers found themselves hopelessly lost amidst the seemingly infinite wheel of alternate dimensions, unable to find their way back to their reality. After countless parallel Earths, several brushes with death and a better knowledge of the very concept of historical civilization itself, the quartet's quest seemed to come to an end when they thought they had finally made it back to their Earth prime.
The good Professor was unfortunately the first one to discover that this was not their home, but a close copy of their home dimension. Arturo was captured by his less than scrupulous double and chained up for weeks in his basement. It was his doppleganger's plan to take the credit for Sliding for himself and win a Nobel Prize. After being rescued by his other three traveling companions, after they to had figured out that they were indeed in the wrong universe, the Professor physically confronted his devious double on the front lawn the Mallory residence. In the confusion Arturo was knocked in the jaw by his double and missed his window of opportunity to escape to the next parallel dimension. This effectively left him stranded in the wrong universe, much to his dismay.
After months of falling into clinical depression and thoughts of suicide, Maximillian snapped into a mental state of sheer determination to make it back to his home Earth. He would painstakingly re create the Sliding dimensional technology if it was the last thing he ever did. Knowing he would need massive amounts of funding, he hit on an idea. Using his double's previous media spotlight to capitalize on Sliding, he took a proposal to the U.S. government. In exchange for limitless funds and work space, he would develop dimensional travel for military applications. This the government readily accepted and it was than that Project Multi-Verse was jump started. A top secret operation spear headed by Professor Arturo. Of course his plans were to never give the military what he was promising, he simply needed them to believe that he was developing inter dimensional technology, so that he could work unabated. All he wanted to do was get home.
Now after four years of toiling, calculation and frustration, he has done it. He has successfully built a new Timer and he fully intends on using it for himself to Slide out of this world. Just a few finishing touches with some said microchips and double checking some formulas…and he can once again continue his quest. He snaps the back of the new Timer into place and pushes a button. The numerical digital readout comes to life and displays a countdown of twenty three hours exact (23:00:00) to the opening of the next dimensional vortex. A smile of pure triumph crosses the Professor's face as he breathes a sigh of elation.
Just than a voice breaks Arturo's gaze "I'm glad to see someone is enjoying themselves."
Maximillian looks over and sees a tall tanned skin man in full Air Force dress uniform. This is Lieutenant Colonel Jason Chavez, head officer of security for Project Multi-Verse.
"Oh it's just you Colonel, you startled me." says Arturo.
"My apologies Professor, just thought I'd check in on you. You've been in this lab for two days straight without a break, what gives?" says Chavez.
"Yes well, I am nearing completion of my life's work Colonel. Rest is a second priority as far as I'm concerned." says Arturo as he gets up from his chair and over to a large wall mounted white board, where several long and complex mathematical formulas are written.
Chavez crosses his arms and gives a knowing stare "I can't help but notice that you've been hittin this pretty hard the past few weeks. Hell you've hardly been out of this laboratory. Now I've known you for the past four years Professor and you've always been passionate about this operation, but nothing like I've seen you the last few weeks."
"Haven't you ever heard of hitting a stride my dear Colonel! Well that's what has happened for past few weeks, I'm so close I can taste it!" shouts Arturo.
Continuing his suspicious stare down "Really, yet the Multi-Verse Project Bureau hasn't heard any official progress reports from your end Professor. You can see why they would be inclined to think your hiding something. In fact I'd say by the looks of that device, and the way it's counting down, it's a sure bet your hiding something." says Chavez as he picks up the Timer.
Aurturo strides up to the Colonel and looks him dead in the face, stone seriousness across his features. He looks slightly up at the taller man and than looks to the Timer "Alright, I've hit upon my goal if you must know!"
Chavez smiles "So what your telling me is you've actually done it. Tell me it's true that you can open door ways to other universes, other realities where things might be different…tell me Professor!"
Arturo walks a few paces ahead and shakes his head, knowing his cover has been blown. He turns around to again face Colonel Chavez "Yes it's true."
Chavez narrows his eyes "So just how long did you intend to keep this a secret Arturo? You know how much money the government has poured into this project, into you! But I see what your game is, you were gonna milk them for all they were worth until you got what you wanted. So now tell me what happens in twenty two hours and fifty minutes, according to this thing's readout."
Just than a woman, attractive, long dark hair, glasses and a white coat walks in the door. This is Dr. Maria Chavez, accomplished Astro-Physicist, assistant head of Project Multi-Verse and cousin to Colonel Jason Chavez "Hey Professor, listen I got your notes on stable wormhole resistance but I…" she stops when she sees the scenario playing out.
"What's going on?" she asks.
Jason looks back at his cousin "Hello Prima, I was just having a conversation with the good Professor here. It seems he's made some progress." The Colonel shows Maria the Timer and he points to the digital countdown.
Maria puts her hand to her mouth and walks over to Arturo "My God Maximillian, you've done it? You've completed the Timer…"
Arturo just walks over to the large white board and leans against it with his arm.
"Just when were gonna tell me about this Professor?" asks Maria.
"That's the beauty of it cus, I don't think he was going to. It's my guess that the good Professor Aurturo was going to jump into his big blue tunnel sometime tomorrow and leave us groping in the dark. Isn't that right Professor!" shouts Jason.
"Is that true…how could you do that? Dammit Maximillian, this was just as much my project as it was yours! You had no right in hell to keep this from me!" says Maria.
"Oh really now my good doctor! It was I who initiated the work to re create Sliding in the first place! You see I don't want to use this technology for warfare or anything else! I simply want to get back to my home dimension! Is that clear enough for you doctor?" says Arturo.
"What the hell are you talking about?" asks Jason.
"Max what are you saying?" asks Maria.
"You blistering idiots, if it isn't painfully obvious by now, I am not from this universe! That's right I am not this reality's Maximillian Arturo!"
"Does this have anything to do with that Mallory kid? " asks Maria.
"Yes, you see I started my Sliding journey more than six years ago. About a year and a half into it, me any my companions, Mr. Mallory, Miss Wells and the good Mr. Brown, Slid into this universe. We mistook it for our own and in due course let's say I was stranded here by the work of my deranged double! When the others Slid out of this dimension, my double took my place and I was left here. So for four years, I have vowed to duplicate the technology to finally take me home!" says Arturo.
"So the whole damn thing was a scam. You never intended to give the government anything, just use them to serve your own ends." says Jason.
"After four years of working together, I can't believe you would use me like this!" says Maria.
Aurturo puts his hands on Dr. Chavez's shoulders "Look all I can say is I'm sorry. But know that I had no intentions not to share this with you. In fact, I'm glad you're here, as you've heard the Colonel say I'm due to depart this dimension this time tomorrow. When that Timer hits zero, I shall Slide out of here and continue the journey I started over six years ago, until I find my home. However, although I am obviously taking the Timer with me, I am leaving it's blue print design and schematics behind with you, so that you may call Sliding your own and reap all it's benefits. Plus I want you to be here tomorrow to have video proof of the wormhole I shall open. It's my thank you, because…well quite frankly I couldn't have done this without you my dear Maria. You were almost like a daughter to me, much like Miss Wells."
"So that's it, what am I supposed to tell the military when they question me about all this? Asks Maria.
"You may tell them whatever you wish, my concerns no longer lie with this world or anything in it." says Arturo as he begins to walk towards the door.
Just than Jason puts himself in between the Professor and the exit "Hold on there Professor, you should know that I can't just let you leave like this. Now what your doing is considered federal fraud and treason. I have every obligation to place you under military arrest."
"Jason what are doing?" stammers Maria.
"However I am willing to overlook all of this, provided you do me one small favor." says Jason.
After a few moments of pause Arturo angrily shouts "Well out with it man, what the devil do you want?"
Jason tosses the Timer back to the Professor "That you take me with you."
"My God Jason you can't be serious!" says Maria.
"Good heavens man, you don't know what your asking." says Arturo.
"I know exactly what I'm asking Professor. You see the only reason I decided to sign on with this project was because I was captivated by the mere thought of more worlds out there. You've seen them Professor, I know there has to be universes out there far better than this shit hole I'm living in. The thought of meeting different versions of myself, maybe finding a universe where I could be happy and leave all this behind. Professor I'd give anything to go on a journey like that, it would give me more purpose and meaning than you could ever imagine. Take me with you…"
"The dangers you will face will be beyond anything you could comprehend Colonel. There are universes out there that contain horrors the likes of which you can scarcely dream. Not to mention that I don't plan on foregoing this journey forever, once I find my universe, the journey will end. From that point you would be going at it alone. Is that what you really want Colonel, to be potentially lost with a number of infinite universes the rest of your natural life?" says Arturo.
"Nothing would please me more Professor. Besides I've always heard you say that two heads are better than one." says Jason.
A smile begins to form on Maximillian's lips and he looks up to the Colonel "Alright, I suppose I could use a wing man as you Air Force types call it. "
"You two are crazy! Jason how could you just leave your family, your friends, your life for goodness sake?" asks Maria.
"Maria you know you're the only family I have, and this is just something I have to do. If there's a chance I can find my paradise out there, I've got to go for it." says Jason.
"What about it Miss Chavez, will you be here tomorrow to see us off so to speak?" asks Arturo.
Maria takes in a deep sigh and wipes a tear from her face "Do I have a choice in this."
Arturo smiles and gently pats her on the shoulder "Good show than. Now listen my boy, we Slide in precisely twenty two hours and thirty minutes. So between now and than you had better get any last minute affairs out of the way or last goodbyes or whatever. Because chances are you will never see this world again."
"Understood Professor…" says Jason.
"Alright than, until tomorrow Colonel, when we shall depart this universe forever." says Arturo as he slowly exit's the lab.