Disclaimer: this story is purely for fun and very tongue-in-cheek. This idea came to me as one of a pair and the other one I'll write as soon as I finish up with numerous ongoing stories. As, I've already got a couple of serious Malices on the go, this one came out as a bit of light relief from that. It pokes a bit of fun at a few things, no harm is ever intended, and it really isn't meant to be taken too seriously at all. I am several chapters into this already so hoping to make fast work of wrapping this up...though let's see how that goes.

Also, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say a great big thanks to everyone who has generously left me comments for Mirana of Marmoreal / Alice Kingsley and Parting. I've really appreciated the feedback – it's kept the muse studiously productive (well, more than she normally is as standard). So this one is for all of you – you guys rock.

Prologue

The fabric of time is a blank canvas. Onto this canvas, God, or a mythical being, or science, or whoever takes your fancy really, paints a series of lines. Each line is perfectly parallel, never intersecting, always spaced some distance apart. Each one represents ourselves – a choice, a decision, the road taken, one not. Perhaps several, depends on the choice really. Now if you can imagine how many decisions you've already made today (yes, you that didn't have breakfast or sneaked that Egg McMuffin), you'll understand that that's some load of work. And it doesn't take any stretch of imagination to understand that whoever tirelessly works on drawing our universes might, in fact, actually get rather tired.

A slip of the hand is a funny thing – it's probably better than one of a tongue, infinitely better than one of the mind, but in the grand scheme of things can still have some pretty dire consequences. It's why not all the lines are precisely parallel, why some of them have a kink, a wobble, an outright curve. That in itself isn't so bad – it's a little less pretty, probably makes the one that made them frown a little; if he or she is a perfectionist, that is. But don't worry, it doesn't affect you. So if you are walking home tonight and suddenly veer off to the side, please don't blame the artist – your inability to walk in a straight line is not their fault. No, where the danger really lies is that the lines must never intersect, mustn't even get close. For there is only one rule that the fabric of time must follow – the paths of our different selves should never cross. For we already question, rethink the things that we have done, so faced with what could have been or what might never be, who knows what our current selves could possibly become? Except probably not our current selves but that's a separate story, one that I'll tuck away to tell another day.

Unfortunately, like most of our choices, the painted lines can never be erased. Once drawn, however clumsily, they may as well be set in stone. So that leaves possibilities, chances, and opportunities just waiting for what most deem improbability – a rift. A tear in the fabric of the canvas which somehow leaves little space between the lines, or even worse, allows the two to touch. Now, before you start panicking, take a deep breath (or as many as you need) – we are safe. Our minds don't conceive of such ideas, and more importantly, our mortal tools would struggle to create such rifts. But there are worlds, universes and magics which have no trouble causing such a thing.

This is precisely the story of such a place, such a universe, such magic.

Just as explained, it all starts with a slip.