"Are we still on earth?" asked Quinn, "Our travel device has never taken us off earth before."
"Of course you're on earth," said the giantess, "And whether or not you're going to be free depends on me."
She was very pretty. Had he never met Heather Hanley, he could easily have fallen for her, but nobody could compete with his long standing love for Heather.
"Surely you wouldn't kidnap us?" said Heather.
"You shouldn't assume anything about me. I almost joined the military. I've always been capable and confident. If I hadn't met my husband, and hadn't had my heart softened by his courtship, I'd have been a very different woman indeed, and our children might never have been born. But I've always been able to discipline them, and you're a lot smaller than they are."
"I respect your position, and we didn't mean to intrude in your garden," said Quinn, "We actually thought we'd ended up in a jungle. There's no way to control just exactly where the vortex dumps us on each parallel earth we visit."
"Parallel earth? You mean like in Star Trek or that Superfriends episode "Universe of Evil?" said the giantess.
"More or less," said Quinn, "I'm Quinn Malory, one of the two inventors of the Vortex Unit Remote Control. This is Heather Hanley, my inspiration throughout my school years and the love of my life."
"Quinn Malory?" said the giantess, as she picked Quinn up, held him in front of her eyes and stared closely at him, "It's incredible. You look almost as old as he did when we first met, and facially, I can't tell the difference except for your size."
"He?" asked Quinn, "Do I have a giant double on this world who is known to you?"
"I guess you could say that he's known to me," said the giantess, "My name is Mrs Maggie Malory, wife of your counterpart, formerly Maggie Beckett. Aren't you cute?"
"Suppose you continue being the wife of his counterpart and put him down," said Heather coldly.
"Relax, sweetie. I'm fascinated, not tempted. I love my family. It was just like looking into a tiny window to the past."
She put Quinn back down on the table beside Heather.
"Thank you," said Quinn.
"Sorry I was so defensive," said Heather, "He means a lot to me."
"As my Quinn means to me," said Maggie, "But tell me, are there other worlds out there with people my size?"
"None that we know of. They all seem to be our size, yet their time phase coincides with your world. So the other Maggies and Quinns out there would be your age."
(In fact the original Sliders had also visited three worlds in succession, where characters and events seemed to be more closely duplicated than usual. On one of the worlds, time flowed backwards, causing the Sliders to be mistaken for criminals and arrested for a crime, before it had happened.)
"Ages," said Maggie, "He's a few years younger than me, not that it would stop us."
"It didn't stop us either," said Heather, "Quinn was my student at school."
"And never was a student luckier," he said, "Of course she fell for the adult Quinn of another world first."
"I guess there's no point in asking you to make me one of those devices then," said Maggie, "I'd love to take my family on a tour of other worlds, but we'd be too big to travel safely into them without frightening people and accidentally causing property damage everywhere we went."
"I suspect that if you'd been meant to take those journeys, your Quinn would have invented a giant VURT himself," said Quinn, "But a family is something to treasure far more than a visit to a parallel universe."
"I agree," she said, "I'm sure my daughters would love to have a doll in the image of their father's youth, and you'd keep them amused as well, Heather."
Heather backed towards the edge of the table.
"Not much point in jumping off, is there?" asked Maggie, amused.
Quinn backed towards Heather and opened a vortex in front of him.
"Let's go, Heather!" he said, and was about to step towards it.
From above the vortex, Maggie's hand came down between them and the vortex opening.
"I said you were at my mercy, little ones, and you're going to be my daughters' dolls, whether you like it or not."
Unseen by Maggie, Heather had placed her VURT behind her back, while standing right at the edge of the table. She had pointed her VURT towards the lawn below and opened a vortex. Now she put her free arm around Quinn's waist and pulled him backwards off the table. They fell down into the vortex before Maggie could do anything to stop them. She reached into the vortex with her giant hand, but found the pull of its vacuum forces was hurting her arm. She yanked it free and watched the vortex close.
The other end of the vortex deposited Heather and Quinn on another world.
"That's the first time a vortex has been opened below us and we've jumped into it," said Quinn.
(The stunt had once been used by the original Sliders to escape from another world by jumping off the side of a cliff and sliding into an opening vortex.)
"We made it!" he said, "You saved us, Heather!"
He hugged her for some time, and then leaned his head back to see why she had remained so silent. She looked sad.
"Are you alright?" he asked, "We'll never be dolls for anyone now. We'll just have to avoid that world. I was thinking of building a new capacity into the VURTs, to enable us to tag and block the coordinates of hostile worlds we don't want to revisit."
"Your giant double married her," said Heather, "There's probably a Maggie on this world too. Are you sure about me?"
"I always have been. Besides, I don't think her character would ever come close to yours, even if it was the character of a Maggie not corrupted by the advantage of giant size," said Quinn, "I've loved you since I started high school, and that will never change. In fact I used to wonder if you were settling for me, when you really wanted the older Quinn."
"Maybe I thought about it many times, but I set my sights on making it work with you," she said.
"And you have. He told you he had to leave. He must not have been able to control the vortex timing like we can. Maybe he couldn't even control which worlds they went to, but you've kept encouraging me to find the way to perfect it, and with Arturo, we did. We can go to any world we like, and always come back to this one. I built an extra compartment into my VURT, thinking that I'd like to take something out of it at a suitable moment on another world, and I'd like to do that now."
He removed the lid of a small compartment on his VURT and took out an engagement ring.
"Heather Hanley, when I've graduated from university, will you marry me?"
"Quinn, you know I will," she said, and they kissed.