Saturday, 12 November 2011

Another World Away

Lydia Watson sat in the empty waiting room of the neurologist’s and remembered why she was there.  She had to ask about the time travel to see if she could do it; to see if it was possible to do it in her sleep.  However, what she was about to ask was going to be very dangerous; but then, she had always been a risk-taker, that’s how she had accumulated her millions.
The nurse walked out into the room and signaled for her to follow.  She rose from her seat, picked up her bag and unread book and walked down the hall to the end where her life-long friend stood just inside the door of his office.
He took the file off the nurse and dismissed her for the day and smiled at her as she walked into the roomy office and sat down, “Lydia, how are you?”
“Fine, Michael.” She smiled, “I’m going really well since my surgery.  No more seizures and no more meds.  It’s great.” She leaned back, relaxing completely in his presence, yet still nervous, “I’m going well.”
He sat behind his desk and placed the file in front of him unopened and leaned his arms over it, clasping his hands together and looking directly at her, “Then, why are you here?”
She sighed, “I need you to help me with a project.”
“It’s to do with you?”
“Yes.” She nodded, “It will take up a lot of time and energy; and money.” She smiled, “But the results will be wonderful.”
He stood and walked to the windows that overlooked the city as the sun reflected off the buildings from the dying day, “It’s your theory on time travelling in your sleep again isn’t it?” he asked.
“Yes.” She nodded, “And I’ve been having that dream again about the blue house.  I need to find it; it’s here in the States.”
He turned from the golden light of the glistening windows across town, “You’re kidding.”
“No.” she pulled from her bag a photo of the building she had dug up on Google and he took it from her.
 “The place is a wreck.”
“I can fix it.” She stood and walked to him, “I think there are parallel universes where there may be another me – another you – another everyone.  We’re all just living different lives.”
He let out a long sigh as he pulled his lips into a thin line and licked them slowly, “How do we know this will work?”
Lydia’s hands took his arm and tightened a little, “How do we know it won’t?”
“You’re crazy.” He whispered.
“No I’m not.” She said, “Look, I stopped watching ‘Dr Who’ so there’s nothing about the Tardis about this… you know the blue box… that’s not influencing me.  I’m not wearing anything blue; not even blue undies.  So, what’s wrong with this theory?”
He shook his head slowly, “There’s no proof.”
“Jeez, Michael, you’re so… I don’t have a word for it, but you’re it.” She snapped turning and sitting back in her seat again.
He looked back at the photo, then at this woman who had been tenacious since they met in high school.  She loved it that he was going to become a doctor; thinking he might cure her brain condition when it came back (and he was the only person in high school she told about it).  Michael had gone into neurology as a specialty to help treat people just like Lydia, so he could be there for her; and he had operated on her when the time came to remove the section of her brain where it was causing her seizures.  Now, she was as normal as anyone else in the city; and she was more adventurous and he loved her for it, “Look, you’ve been stubborn your whole life; and I’ve been there to back you up.” He walked to her and handed the photo back to her, “You let me know when and where to meet you and we’ll go and see how much they want for this place.” He smiled, “After all it’s your money.”
Lydia jumped up and hugged him tightly, “Oh!  I knew I could count on you!”
He wished he could talk her out of doing something like this, but he couldn’t, “And you let me know when you’re going to try this parallel universe thing, okay?”
“I want to monitor you.”

The house a bigger dump than it looked on the net.  The building inspector handed the report to Lydia and said she was wasting her money on it.  But she called in her building crews and got them to start work on it straight away.  And this place couldn’t be further away from the city if it was built in the middle of the Solar System.  Michael looked around and found it was a charming little place, but it didn’t have any hospital facilities around; not for twenty kilometers.  He hated that.
“You know, we’ll have to bring the technology here.” He said, “If something goes wrong, there’s no hospitals within minutes… it’s hours.”
She nodded, “I know.”
He grabbed her shoulder gently, “I don’t think you do.”    

Over the weeks and months it took to fix the house up, Lydia and Michael watched over the construction of the place.  She asked him what was needed in the way of a medical unit to be onsite.  Michael told workers what do and they followed his instructions.  Then, they were permitted inside and the place was taking shape well.  They found out there were plenty of rooms to work from.  One was installed as a monitoring room filled with security equipment, and main bedroom in the front had to be soundproofed and had reflective window tinting on the windows so when the lights were on, nobody could see in (just in case there was something going on at night).  The gardens were fixed up in such a way nobody could see in through to the house directly; that they had to walk part-way up the driveway to see the front of the house, thus giving the place much more privacy than it did before.  And yet, there was plenty of space in the yard for a helicopter to be landed, an ambulance to be brought in and other vehicles to be parked around the back; this is something Michael made sure of. 

Then, came the day where all the furnishings, painting, and gardening was finished.  The workers were paid, the electronic equipment was tested out and everything in the house worked.  Michael was impressed, but he was still nervous.

Lydia still had to try out her theory.

He needed to work on a team of people who would work in secret; fortunately, he didn’t have to look far for that.  Lydia had them on-staff already.  These people were used to her unusual ways and he found this was just another different way for her to spend her money that she found exciting and interesting.
“You mean to say she’s done things like this before?” he asked as they all sat around the backyard eating lunch one Spring afternoon just before Lydia arrived.
“Yes.” Alex, the accountant nodded, “She’s done some fun things – like get us to work on some great experimental funds for people who have nothing; people she doesn’t know, and just give the money away to the first two hundred.” He smiled, “That’s still to come through.  We’re waiting for the call for those two hundred; it could be any day – or week – she knows it’s coming.  How, I’m not sure, but she knows.”
Michael nodded as he sipped his coffee, “I see.” He was beginning to worry as story after story was heard about what Lydia had done to keep her life exciting; with each story being more extravagant than the last, but all of them had to do with high risk spenditure of her money. 
The cook sat down, “I personally worry for her well-being, doc.”
“Call me Michael, please.” He said touching her shoulder as she wiped her hands on a towel and put it on her knee.
“Michael, I think you should do some tests… you know see if the EEG works.” She smiled nudging him and giving him a wink.
He grinned back, “It does need to be tested… and I was going to ask if she minded.”

After lunch, and cleaning up, Lydia arrived with a packed bag for her first weeks’ stay at the house.  She was shown to her room, along the blue-carpeted halls and into a large room at the front of the house.  It was plainly furnished with a large bed, a bedside table and a reading lamp.  A free-standing wardrobe stood near the door and a chair was by one of the windows closest to the right side of the bed.  
She put away her few clothes and sat down on the glory box at the foot of the bed as Michael attached the electrodes to her head, “Why are you doing this?  I haven’t had an EEG in yonks.”
“I know.  Just making sure the one we installed works properly.” He smiled but he couldn’t hold it, “I don’t want to have faulty equipment here; not so far away from a hospital.”
“Okay.” She nodded, “I understand your concern.”
“Good.” He sat nearby while he tested her completely and the laptop in front of him showed him that her brain cells reading were completely healthy.  She wasn’t out of her mind, she was just a free spirit.

The first night something happened, was scary.  Michael hadn’t attached any electrodes to Lydia’s head, but it was fortunate that the cameras were train on her; otherwise what happened in front of the six people in the security room – including Michael himself – would’ve been put off as a hallucination.
Michael watched his screen of the camera in the corner closest to Lydia’s side of the bed as she slept.  She moaned loudly (which she had been doing lately), rolled over onto her back and vanished.  The covers collapsed as she disappeared into nowhere.  Everyone nearly choked on what they were eating and drinking as they all talked at once:
“What the fuck...!”
“Bloody hell, where is she?”
“I’ll check…” Michael opened the door and raced down the hall, opened the door to her room as he shouted to them, “Keep that tape running!” he walked in and around the bed in the dark and then, he lifted the covers and looked up at the camera, “She’s gone people.” He pulled out a torch and walked out of the room, down the hall as they came at him from all sides, “Outside now!  Let’s get this party going.”

With three people in the security room waiting for her to return and ten people out searching, Michael didn’t want to be calling the police just yet.  They’d think he was nuts.  So, they searched for her alone with torches and infrared glasses on.
Not an hour into the search, in dense forest three kilometers down the road from the house, Alex found her under the trees sleeping.  She was naked with tree sap on her chest. 
“Jesus, how did she get here?” Michael whispered, “This is a nature reserve.” He was handed a couple of blankets and Alex and him wrapped her up as she slept on deeply, “She won’t wake up until morning.”

But she didn’t wake up; for another three weeks.

Michael traveled between work and the blue house constantly working with Lydia while she slept.  This experiment was costing her dearly in everything; and she didn’t even know it.  The times she was awake, he was able to get her to talk for only minutes at a time before she’d go back to sleep.  However, her memory was beginning to shut down as she was starting to have trouble remembering who he was; and yet, went along with whatever was happening.

The next time Lydia was awake for an extended period of time, he was on duty to watch the screens.  He made sure he was the only one she talked to; as he knew she wouldn’t remember anyone else.  He watched her wake up from the security room; however, there was a sign she’d be awake this time – rain.  It poured only a minute or two before she woke.  This had been happening for the last few awakenings; and he was glad he could predict her waking up through this freak occurrence in the weather.  This time, it poured heavily; meaning she would be more lucid than usual.  This was good.
As he sat there, his mobile rang and he answered, “Hello?”
“Michael, is she awake yet?” his voice was deep, yet smooth.
“Lydia just begun to stir.” he arrived at her door and waited.  He was early and that was good, “I’m not sure she’ll remember who you are; so you might have to remind her.”
“Bullshit!” he chuckled.
The door opened and Lydia was standing there bleeding from the mouth muttering that she needed a tissue.  From his pocket he pulled out a clean one out and handed it to her, waited for an appropriate amount of time so that she could clean herself up and handed her the phone, “It’s him.” She gave him puzzled look as she took the phone with great hesitance; he knew she wouldn’t have a clue who he was talking about; let alone who he was; yet they’ve met on a dozen occasions before.  This disheartened him; making him feel more distant from her each time she woke… Michael wished he had told her how much he loved her before she went and did this; well before.
She wiped her mouth again before speaking, “Hello?” she listened intently as her gaze move to his face then around the halls of the house where it had fallen silent; thankfully.  Then, she glanced back at him; trying to place him again, but not quite able to, “Okay.” She finally replied nodding.  Then, she pulled the phone from her ear and whispered:  “Who’s on the phone?”
“Oh, you know him well.” He said, now knowing he hadn’t told her his name.  She was either going to play along or hang up and panic; and in a sequence like this, they didn’t need her being disorientated in either universe, “He’s known to you very well.” Michael smiled.
She went back to the phone, “What can I do for you?” then she walked past him and to the next room where her Accountant was sitting waiting at a large desk dressed exactly like him (they decided to keep the dress code as basic as possible so she didn’t have to remember details too much).  There were ledgers, books, a computer and a cheque book place around the desk ready to use.  Walking straight to him, she sighed, “We need supplies for two hundred people; do we have it?”
He looked over one of the ledgers, checked the computer and shook head, “No.  But we have enough money.”
“How much?”
“Millions.” He grinned at her.
“Right, set up two hundred bank accounts with two thousand dollars in each at The Bank. Each person gets one account each.” She told both men at the same time, “Is that clear?”
The Accountant nodded, “Yes, Lydia.”
She listened to the phone for a few seconds and then hung up and gave it back to him, “Okay, that’s done.” She looked at Michael again carefully, “Now, do I know you?”
He smiled again hoping he seemed friendly, “Yes, you do.  This has happened before Lydia; and it will happen again; in this very house.  You’re okay.  You’re safe.”
“Where am I?”
His smile faltered as he swallowed thickly:  She doesn’t remember.  Alex, the Accountant behind her looked to the desk sadly as he shook his head, “You’re in a house you purchased a long time ago and renovated.”
“What colour is it?”
She smiled at him now, “You’re Michael.  I know you now.”
As suddenly as she remembered me, she began to blink and yawn sleepily; but she didn’t panic.  He could see that Lydia wished she could stay – he could feel it – but as she took a few steps forward, she staggered with her arms out feeling heavy.  He quickly pocketed the phone and caught her as she collapsed; before she crumbled to the floor.  Kneeling down, he picked her up and took her back to her room, removed her dressing gown and laid her back into the bed. 
He wasn’t supposed to feel anything towards his patients; but Lydia has been friends with him for such a long time his feelings about her grew on him over that time.  He almost loved her; but if he told anyone, he wouldn’t know what to do.  Michael was her doctor for Pete’s Sake!  Why didn’t he stop her?   He pulled the covers up and made sure there was no draft to bother her slumber.
One of the ladies folded the dressing gown over a nearby chair and turned to him, “Did it work?”
“A little.” He looked over at her, “Just as she remembered me, she went back to sleep.”
“The cycle wasn’t long enough.”
He shook his head, “We just have to keep this house in her head so she comes here to communicate with us.”
“She a tough one.”
“True.” He nodded, “It’s time to go.”

Time dragged on and Lydia’s time travelling went on as well.  She travelled for over a year when one day, he was out in the yard and one of the security guys paged him: “Lydia!”
Michael turned from the morning sun and ran inside, up the back stairs, along the first landing and stopped halfway along.  Her bedroom door was open!  This meant she was awake again.  He almost didn’t walk in, but somehow found himself standing at the foot of her bed where she was sitting on the edge of it.
“Lydia?” he whispered.
She tilted her head, but didn’t turn, “Not quite right, but almost.” She turned, “Where’s my meds?” she pointed to her beside table, “And my budgie; I can’t hear my bird.”
Michael walked around and sat next to her, “You’re Lydia Watson.”
“No, I’m Linda Johnson.”
He frowned at how similar the names sounded, and yet both people were exactly the same, “So, where is Lydia?”
She smiled, “I’d say getting used to taking medication again.” She stood and walked to the window, “Where the heck am I?”
It was then he noticed her accent was different.  Linda had an Australia accent, not a Californian one.
“Where are you from?” he asked.
“Where am I?” she turned from the window, “Answer my question first.”
“You’re in West Virginia, USA, Solar Planet, Earth 4.” He said, “But you’re safe.”
“I’m in a parallel universe?” she blinked as she picked up the dressing gown looked at it and realised it was too warm to wear it and walked to the wardrobe and opened it, found a summer robe and put it on instead, “How could that be?”
“Well, Lydia has a lot of money.”
“I don’t.” she slammed the doors hard and walked out the door, down the hall and the way he had come and out into the day, “Shit… I don’t understand.” She turned to find Michael standing there behind her, “Who are you?”
“I’m Michael Turner.” He said, “I’m a neurologist of Lydia’s.”
“And so you’re both cosy?”
“No… I operated on her to remove her Epilepsy; and it was successful.  She has no need for meds anymore.”
“I wasn’t a candidate.”
He pulled out an iPad and a pen and wrote down what Linda said, “That’s amazing.  Can you tell me more about yourself?”
“Like what?”
“Where are you from?”
“Earth.” She shrugged, “You know, third rock from the sun… Milky Way Constellation.”
“Oh… you’re from there.” He muttered looking up, “I thought you were from across the Pacific Ocean.”
“I am.”
“Come and sit down, I think I you misunderstood me before.” He didn’t wish to touch her in case she freaked out as he offered her a seat on the back porch, “We are on Earth 4.”
She blinked a few times, then she swallowed, “I think I need a stiff drink.”
“Which Earth are you from?”
“How many suns do you have?”
“We have one.”
He smiled, “Oh… you’re from that one.  It’s a rarity to hear from there.” Then he looked at his feet just as he was about to write, “So, if she’s there and you’re here, what’s your technology like?”
“Well, we have iPads and blueray players, GPS… um… cds and mini cds and e-readers… stuff like that.” She smiled.
“Good; that means there’s no real books on Earth.”
“No, we still have those.” She smiled, “People love them.  We still have VCR’s and turntables and vinyls too.”
“Oh dear.” He muttered, “She may be a little shocked at what your planet looks like.” He brightened up, “Well, okay, your cars, all hovercrafts, right?”
“Wheels still touch the ground; and we’re just starting to use solar power… and the polar caps are melting.” She muttered, “I don’t drive a car… what does yours look like?”
“They have keyless entry, right?”
“They’re just bringing that in.”
He put down the iPad and pushed the pen in to his pocket.  As he did, the screen saved his work and switched off, “Okay, you must tell me what year it is; because this sounds very much like it’s early twenty-first century.”
“It is; it’s 2011.”
All Michael could do was stare at her, “What?”
“What year is it here?”
“I can’t tell you… it’s much later.”
“Oh, come on, it obviously got past 2012… so what year.”
He looked around them and the yard was cleared of people; yet the cameras were still running – still recording their conversation – and he wished the place could swallow him up whole, “It’s 2111.”
She just blinked for a moment, like she did before; and he wondered if she heard him.  He was about to repeat it when she put her hand up, “I heard you.  Are you sure?”
Pulling out his pen for the iPad, the pad lit up and he tapped for the date; and it showed promptly, “I wouldn’t lie to you.”
“How do I get back?”
“You have to go back to sleep.”

Linda spent the whole day looking around the place, writing in a book for them to research – writing down everything about her planet and what her life was like – and then eating whatever was cooked for her.  They found out the hard way that she was vegetarian and she loved plants and music and had asked for an upright piano (something which hadn’t existed in over fifty years) and they said they’d look for one for her. 
Then, it was time for her to go to bed.  Michael accompanied her to the room after she showered and her sheets had been changed.  He watched her drift off and wondered when the next time will be for her to come back.  Will it be Lydia or Linda? 

The next time he saw Lydia was during the day.  The sun was out and he saw her walking up the drive of the property.  Nobody had seen her yet; nobody but him as it was too early in the morning.  She arrived in her blue dressing gown and stood under the massive oak near the end of the drive next to the letterbox.  Michael opened the front door of the house, but he didn’t think she saw him as she didn’t give any signs of acknowledgement.
He slowly walked down the steps and out to her as she looked at the house in the morning light, “Hello, Lydia.”
She looked at him, “This is the place I bought?”
He nodded smiling looking up at the large blue house, “Yes.”
“When?  I’m poor.”
It was then, he realised, he wasn’t talking to Lydia; but Linda.  Turning to her, he whispered, “You are not poor here.”
“I wish I could stay, but I can’t.”
She smiled, “I’ll try to get back here.  I’ll try to remember where it is; but there’s no big promises, okay?”
“You know who I am?”
“Michael.  But I don’t know any Michaels in my life.” She turned and walked from the property.
“Where are you going?”
She stopped at the roadside, “My alarm is about to go off.”
As he watched on, she vanished from his sight.  He knew that she’d try to make it back; at some point she would.  But until then, the Lydia he had here would sleep ever on until the one he knew returned.  He walked back to the house deep in thought knowing that he’d only get small snippets of astral images of her once in a while; but what was really puzzling him was exactly how she was doing this.

It had been over a year since they detected Lydia on the scanners.  And in late-August – when the weather had turned hot and muggy and still – Michael noticed she was moving a lot and smiling in her sleep.  So, he decided it was time to take a walk around the area to see if she was in the local vicinity of the house.  He took an infrared scanner with him, a phone, his pager and a camera to take photos.  But this time she wasn’t anywhere in the house; so he went outside – taking the scanner with him - and found a fairgrounds not far from the blue house.  It was a massive field full of people having fun playing games, and running around.  The sun was bright as the wind was cool against everyone’s skin.
Over at the main permanent pavilion, he spotted her.  She sat at the wrought iron picnic tables watching everyone have fun.  Every now and again, somebody would approach her and ask if she’d like to join in, but she’d smile and say no.  He walked over toward the oaks lining the main drive and watched on using the scanner to make sure it was her when his phone went off.
Answering it, Michael kept his eyes on her, “Yep.”
“The one in the bed is moving a lot.” One of the guards in the control room said.
“I know.  I found her here.” he said and hung up as his scanner went bananas as he pointed it at her.  Smiling, he began to walk toward her, but she had spotted something in the distance and stood to walk toward it.  He stopped and waited to see what it was Lydia was looking at.  She walked across the road, along the trees and across two fields to the main treeline where she stopped and peered through to where she spotted the blue house.  As she stood there, he watched her vanish into the heat haze.
“Damn, her alarm went off again.” he muttered and began walking back toward the house; in the same direction where he had last seen her.
As he approached the back of the house, past all the parked cars, he was greeted by an armed policeman, “Can I help you?”
“Yes.” He frowned as he gestured to the scanner and camera hanging off his hip, “What were you doing in a fairgrounds area with that equipment?”
“Monitoring a patient of mine.” He said, “She got out and I followed her.”
“Dr. Turner, I’m sorry but you can’t have that kind of equipment where there are children around.”
“Fortunately, this scanner also records, so I can show you something about my patient that you probably won’t believe.” He walked past the policeman and inside, “If you’d follow me please.” Michael walked up to the first landing and to the door of Lydia’s room, “My patient is inside here – for now – she got out and came home.”
“Can you show me your patient?”
“Sure.” He handed the scanner, camera and phone to one of the security guys, “Upload this stuff onto disk, ready it for inspection.”
“Yeah, sure; no probs.”
Michael turned the door handle and poked his head inside to make sure Lydia was still in bed; and she was.  Breathing a silent sigh of relief, he opened it wider and allowed cop in and stepped out of the way, “This is Lydia Watson.  She’s currently travelling between universes.”
The cop turned to him, “What?”
Michael’s chest tightened slightly as he wondered how he was going to explain this, “Well, she had been dreaming of a blue house – this particular one – and so she bought it and renovated it; then, wanted to conduct a time-travelling experiment with me as her doctor.”
“What makes you so special?”
“I’m her neuro-surgeon.” He replied, “I operated on her when her Epilepsy became uncontrolled; it was successful and now she leads a very normal life… until she did this.”
“Is she in a coma?”
“No, she’s sleeping.”
“Does she wake up?”
“Yes, but not for long.” He said, “But sometimes, we get another person.”
“She’s insane.” The cop whispered, “Can’t you stop this experiment?”
“I’ve tried to keep her awake but she just drops off to sleep.” He said sitting down on the glory box at the foot of the bed, “It’s as though they’re taking shifts being awake and sleeping.  I have found out that her alter-ego, other personality from across the universe is just like her, but their technology is in its infancy.”
Suddenly, the room began to darken and clouds gathered outside.  The cop looked out the window and he frowned, “It’s not supposed to rain today.”
Michael glanced at Lydia’s sleeping form, “We have to leave.  The rain means she’s about to wake up again.”
The cop took a seat, “I want to be here.”
“You’re a fool.” He said, “Get out.”
“I want to see who this other person is.”
“And then what?  Shoot her?” he retorted, “Because that’s what you do with things you don’t understand.” He threw a thumb over his shoulder, “Get out.”
Rain teemed from the sky as thunder grumbled overhead, “Michael?”
He turned and was at her side in a moment – sooner than the cop – and sat on the edge of the bed, “I’m here.”
She took his hand, “Who is that?” she pointed.
“A cop.  I was caught doing something illegal here and he was called in to order me to stop.” He sighed, “Now he won’t leave.”
The cop stood from the chair and looked at her, “Are you Lydia Watson?”
Michael gave her a concerned look and she caught it in time, “Yes.”
“What kind of experiment are you conducting here?”
She glared at him, “The kind that requires you to leave and that it’s none of your goddamned friggin’ business!”
The cop almost lunged for her – Michael could see it in his stance, how he moved his weight from one foot to the next – but he thought twice as he looked around and realised he was being watched by four different cameras in the room, “Right.  I’ll go.” As he arrived at the door, he was confronted by Michael’s security team, who escorted the cop to his car. 
Michael looked back at Lydia as he took her hand, “Lydia or Linda?”
“Linda.” She sighed sitting up, “I caught that concerned, weird look you gave me and just played along.”
“Thank god you can sound like Lydia.”
“We’re both stubborn.”
“She didn’t do anything to your life, did she?”
“No.  Left vinyls sitting out and my piano lid open, but that was it.” She smiled, “What happened?”
“You showed up at the fairgrounds behind here and I followed you with a scanner, then you vanished.”
“That wasn’t me.”
“Lydia was there?”
“Okay.” He smiled, “Didn’t know you guys could switch and swap like that.”
She looked at him, “Neither did I, cool, eh?” standing up, she walked to the chair and grabbed the gown that was waiting for her, “So, what have I missed since my last visit?”
“Not much.”
“Oh, jeez…”
“Today’s my laundry and jobs day.  I left a list for myself to get in and clean the house.” She groaned, “It’s on the kitchen table.”
Michael laughed, “Oh, she’ll love that!”

Lydia’s eyes opened and she sighed as the alarm went off.  Looking at the time, she saw it was 6am; and time to take her first lot of meds.  Damn, she hated doing this before and she has to do it again; and she’s also got a stupid budgie to look after too.  Who gets a dumb bird as a pet?
Pushing the covers back, she sat up and stretched and reached for the Epilum and took one with a sip of water as she reset the alarm for 7am.  The next door neighbours bashed and crashed through the wall, thundered down the stairs and slammed around their kitchen.  Did they have to be so bloody noisy?  She heard the side door slam close and one of them walk past.
Lydia had had enough!  She raced to the window, “Hey!  You wanna wake the rest of the fuckin’ neighbourhood with your bad mood, or just me you dumb bitch!”
“Get fucked!” the woman screamed.
“And for the love of Christ, fix the damn doors on your car!  Nobody wants to hear it!” she yelled back, “It doesn’t take much to fix your doors or quiet your engine down!”
This agitated the woman more:  “Fuck off!!!”
Lydia wanted to hit her so badly, but didn’t have the energy… damned meds!  She turned from the window as the neighbour’s wife started the car angrily, revved the crap out of the engine and sped around the unit complex – almost out of control – and was stalled at the front car gate like a wild horse chaffing at the bit waiting to get out of a yard.  She had the feeling she was going to be stuck here in the world of vinyls, old-world pianos and a budgie for another day.  She wondered if she could stop this time travelling; and if she could, how would she do it?
The day passed by slowly.  During that time, she figured out how to use the washing machine – and was shocked that she had to physically hang out the laundry and pull it in!  Normally, she gave that work to her housekeeper.  She found a list of things that needed to be done; and she thought to be good and do them.  She washed up and cleaned up the kitchen, cleaned the two toilets and part of the bathroom, put away the laundry and cleaned out the budgie’s cage (which the budgie didn’t seem to like her doing; and crapped all over her hands!).   By around 2pm, she didn’t want to do anything but sit down, but something in the house stunk… and she didn’t know what it was. 
So, she walked around and looked for about ten minutes and found it was the rubbish bin, “I am so not touching that.” But seeing the smell was getting worse, she decided to give it a go, pulled up the sides, tied the handles and took the whole bin outside to the wheelie bin where she stopped and didn’t want to touch that either!  But she opened the lid quickly and put the bag of rubbish in.  Then, she looked around and found the carport was full of leaves, so she went inside and grabbed the broom and swept it out completely.
By the time it was getting dark, she had had a shower and prepared dinner and ate and took her meds.  Lydia felt as though she hadn’t sat down or did anything for herself all day… is this what it felt like to be poor?  There wasn’t anything on the television worthwhile to watch, so she washed her hands and opened the lid of the piano after pulling the seat out and began to play.  Before long, somebody bashed on the screen of her front door.
Looking at the time, she found it was just after 7pm and she rose and answered it, turning on the light, “Hello?”
There was a person standing there with bleach blond hair and an angry expression on her face, “Stop playing that fuckin’ piano!”
“Fix your fuckin’ car.”
The woman blinked, “What?”
“It’s a musical instrument that was here well before you; and I’ll play it whenever I want before 10pm… so fuck off.” Lydia closed the door, locked and deadlocked it and turned off the outside light without waiting for her to leave.  How she knew those things about the piano and the rules about the place was beyond her, but it was interesting.  After an hour or so of playing, Lydia locked up the house completely, turned out the lights and went to bed.

Linda had been asleep for only an hour when her eyes opened and she sat up.  Michael was in the room to find out what was wrong and he sat on the glory box at the foot of the bed.
“Michael.” She smiled, “Am I glad to see you.”
“How was your day there?”
“She left me a list of things to do.” She pouted.
“I’m sure it was a job list for herself.” He said.
“It wasn’t!  I had to clean out the bird’s cage and the bloody thing crapped on me!” she shuddered, “All over my hands, blech!”
He laughed, “Listen, Lydia… she knew she had left it there and was bummed out she had.  She likes to have her jobs to herself as it gives her time to do things around the place; she didn’t want you doing it… she didn’t mean for you to do it.”
Lydia sniffed, “Oh, I see.  So, the list was for her.”
“And her neighbours are circus freaks.”
“I think she knows that.” He gave her a withering look.
“They hated me playing her piano… especially at night.”
“I see.  So, you caused trouble for her?”
“No… I just told the neighbour’s man of a wife to take a flying leap.” She smiled.  Then, her face turned serious, “But I do have to find a way to stop this… it’s getting too hectic.  I want my old life back; as I’m sure Linda does too.”
“Okay… how are you going to do that?”
“I’m not sure.” She shook her head, “I’ll have to figure that part out.”
“What if we put you on some meds…”
“No! I hate that shit!” she blurted out.
“So does Linda… but she lives with it.” Michael soothed as he reached out and touched her shoulder, turning her around to face him, “Now, come on, you have to understand this universe-hopping is killing you; and making Linda think she’s having delusions.”
She giggled, “She thinks they’re dreams.  She’s been writing them in her dream journal.”
“Well, at least she’s been keeping one here too.” He said turning and indicating to the book by her bed, “Have you thought of doing that?  Isn’t this what the whole experiment was all about?”
She looked at the book, walked over, picked it up and began leafing through it.  When she found all the pages covered in words, dates and times of Linda’s experiences here, she thumbed through the rest of the pages; finding that the woman from across those lightyears of galaxies had been keeping this journal each time she arrived – or at the very least tried to.  Lydia turned to her neurologist as she closed the book gently and put it back where she found it, “Okay.  We have to find a way to finish this.”
“I need to put you into an induced coma… so you can both talk without waking in either world.” He said as he sat her down on the bed and he joined her, “But instead of going to her world, I want you to set her free in her world permanently.”
“That means I have to leave her alone.” She muttered.  Lydia suddenly felt sad.  Her feelings for Linda’s world – which had driven her crazy at how primitive it was in its ways – made her feel as though she was leaving behind a home she had never known, “I need to write a letter to her so she knows I didn’t mean any harm to her or her life.”
“Okay.” He nodded, “You’ve got the day to do that.”

Linda felt drained as she went about her day with her budgie talking and chatting excitedly to her.  This bird acted as though she hadn’t been around for over a week; when really it was only a day or so.  She relished the time with her as she never really knew when she’d be falling asleep again.  So, Linda rushed around and did her housework, tidied up the bird’s cage and played the piano for the afternoon before working on her painting that was sitting on her easel.
Night time came and she ate, watched television, closed up the house and went to bed.  She didn’t know this was going to be the last time she’d dream of the blue house.

The yard was empty of cars, but there were two chairs sitting out in the middle under a large oak.  Lydia was there waiting in one.  She appeared impatient and was holding onto an envelope.
Walking up to the chairs, Linda sat down, “Hi.”
Lydia didn’t hear her, but she looked off to her right where Michael was standing with a scanner, “Is she here yet?”
He looked, “She sitting in front of you.”
The woman looked at Linda, “I can’t see you as we both work on different wavelengths within the universe; and to see each other physically would cause something dreadful to happen – like the end of the world – so I’m going to leave this envelope on my chair and stay here; and you’re going back to your universe.” Lydia’s eyes filled with tears, “I didn’t like your bird at first, but now, I’m thinking of getting one as yours is so cute.” She rose quickly and left the envelope on the seat.  Linda reached out and picked it up as she looked off to her right where she could hear music beginning to pierce the dream world.  She stood and walked toward it with the envelope in her hand…

Opening her eyes, she found she had an envelope in her left hand.  Switching the alarm off with her right hand, she rolled onto her back, opened it and read the letter:

I can’t keep hopping between universes anymore; and I’m sure you can’t either. Your world isn’t dying, it’s going through a change; and your people will catch up with it. But they will scare themselves into thinking it’s dying until they realise they are not only the problem but also the solution.
We are two of the one person.  I’m glad to have seen your world; and I’m sure you’re glad to have seen mine.  But I have somebody here I’d like to settle with. Michael means a lot to me; and so I wish to stay with him.  Your bird is just the cutest – even when it’s pooping on me for cleaning its cage – I might get one myself if I can find one here.

Linda folded up the letter and put in the top drawer of her dresser by her bed.  It was time to take her meds.  She grabbed her Epilum and took one with water before setting the alarm for 7am and laying back down and looking outside to the waking day.

Michael sat by her bed in the room three days later and Lydia still hadn’t woken up.  He had measured out the correct doses for this and knew what he was doing.  The EEG read that she was still going and her heart rate was good.  He just wanted to shake her hard and scream at her to wake the hell up!  But he knew he couldn’t do that, he knew that he just had to wait.  But, for how long?  He leaned back and stretched a little when he heard her move and he quickly moved to her side again.
She groaned as her eyes fluttered open slowly, “Michael.”
“Yes.  I’m here.” He took her hand, “Please, squeeze my hand hard as you can.”
She smiled, “Hi there.”
“Yep, that’s me.”
“You did great.”
“Out in the yard?”
“Yep.  She took the letter too and went back.  But you have been sleeping for three days.”
She frowned as she struggled to sit up, “What?”
Propping more pillows behind her he sat on the edge of the bed facing her, “Yeah, after you and Linda went your separate ways outside, I lost track of you.  Where did you go?”
“I’ve been hanging around the house trying to get back here.” She said, “I’m starving.”
“Oh, God, no… have you got any eggplant?” she smiled, “All that vegan food did me a lot of good… she didn’t have a scrap of bovine in that house.”
“Sure.” He nodded, “We’ll do up something to do with eggplant.”
“Cool, thanks.”
Lydia didn’t know what had come over her.  Had parts of Linda’s world rubbed off on her during her few visits?  She wondered if some of her had rubbed off on Linda.  Lydia would never know as she relaxed laying back down and looking outside to the waking day.