19: Jack


She was a spook, he reminded himself. Even so, he could not believe her. She seemed too human.

“Not possible.”

“When you see me in better light, I’ll probably look a bit older than you seem to think now,” she admitted, then affected a mock-serious look, quirking an eyebrow. “I have five grandchildren. But call me ‘Gran’ and you’re a dead man.”

With a grin, she looked back to the fire… and the alien spook transformed into a proud mom chattering about her kids. “So I have two sons with children of their own. The younger commands a ship for the Crown, the elder soldiered for many years and now runs our steading… our farm, I expect you would call it. He also serves in the provincial ministry.” She looked back at him. “I also have a daughter, but I had her much more recently. She is of an age with my grandchildren.”

Jack gazed up into the night and told himself to stop fighting it. She was clearly serious and it was the least fantastic thing he had confronted so far tonight. He had a lot of things to accept, actually… but a realization struck him as he observed the stars. “If this is a different world,” he wondered out loud, “how come the sky looks like Earth’s? I see constellations I recognize, and that looks like our moon, too.”

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Rogan nodded sagely. “Aye, they would have to, actually, though they’re not exactly identical. You might call them siblings. If you look with more care, you will see the markings on yonder Moon are different than yours.”

Jack tried to put that statement into a framework he understood. “You’re saying this is some kind of alternate reality or something?”

“Mm,” Rogan pondered, then stated, “Well, it’s not my field, but I’ll try to explain.”

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He stared at the fire, contemplating his answer for a while before beginning.

“I’ve spent a fair amount of time on Earth, and I’ve seen some of your cinemas and such, so I know the make of story you mean by ‘alternate universe’. You cannot think it in such terms though. There’s only one reality. Things either exist or they do not. Any other choice is a theorist’s fantasy, a over-simplified solution to maths your physicists don’t properly understand yet. Earth, Trin, Chald, and hundreds of thousands of other worlds are merely different pages of the same book. We call that book the Multiworld, and each version exists along with its own universe as vast as the one your world has learned of.”

Rogan had paused for a sip of tea and a look up at the sky. He waved his hand broadly, gesturing to all. “All the other planets, suns, moons, and stars, exist in the same place as those you see, but at different spin velocities on seven different axes which you don’t know about. You can think of them as different frequencies. If you increase or decrease the spin of the particles of your body to another stable frequency, you move yourself to another world.”

Whether it was his field or not, he had already exceeded Jack’s vague knowledge of physics. He plunged ahead. “Matter may only interacts with matter at the same frequency. Same is true for the electromagnetic forces that act on it. But gravity’s the great uniter. It leaks a bit between frequencies and that leakage keeps stars and planets at each spin roughly the same size and shape. Even the continents and oceans are roughly the same. As you spin from one world to the next, only the smaller features differ, the rivers and hills and climates and such.”

Rogan leaned forward with a piece of firewood, carefully inserting it into the fire. “So, your world is right here. It’s a phantom in this world and you and I are phantoms to Earth. All of the hundreds of thousands of worlds one can travel between by changing one’s spin exist together in the same point in space.”

Jack returned his gaze to the stars, stared at them for a long time, trying to make sense of Rogan’s explanation.

Not the same stars, but in the same space? Hundreds of thousands of worlds all present in the same place? Potentially, other people even sitting in the same place where he sat. It was too much to imagine.

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