Through the Dimensions

17 Dec

by Maitlan Carabello

Zoë sat, sullen, in the back of the car. She was sulking because her parents were taking her with them to some stupid work colleague’s house, where they would stay for three weeks.

“Oh, Zoë, what on earth happened to the lively, lighthearted, funny sixth grader I know? C’mon, Zoë, it’s not that bad!” her father said from the driver’s seat.

Her mother looked back at her and said. “Zoë, c’mon, really? Please at least try to be pleasant once we get there. Please.”

Zoë sat in stony silence, arms folded, ignoring her exasperated parents. About five minutes passed in silence, then her mother suddenly spoke up.

“Look, we’re here!” she said brightly.

Zoë looked up and glared out the window at the place. It wasn’t a mansion, certainly, but it was much bigger than her own home. She couldn’t help but feel intrigued by the house. It looked to be about three stories high, white and ship-shape. It had a neat little pointed roof with dark shingles. She stared up at its enormous Greek pillars in the front. Then she remembered that she hated it all and sat back in her seat again, scowling. Her father, watching her through the mirror, let out an exasperated sigh, but didn’t say anything as they pulled up. They parked the car and climbed out, but Zoë didn’t move.

They tried to coax her out with words like, “Oh, Zoë, you know it won’t be that bad! Listen, you can have your own room, one with a TV in it, if you will come out now.” Ha! That was almost amusing. Their attempts were futile, and her father eventually just dragged her out.

Zoë tromped along behind them in a foul mood as they approached the front door. Her mom knocked on the door with her knuckles, and almost immediately the door was opened by a tall smartly dressed butler. He murmured a polite “Good afternoon” and led them to a room. “Sir, Ma’am, miss… this will be your room for the duration of your stay. Please feel free to wander as you wish.”

Zoë looked up and scowled at the room. It was nice enough, with a separate bedroom for her and another separate bedroom for her parents. She snarled, “I hate it just as much as I told you I would! Goodbye!” She stormed out, her hands clenched in fists. She felt like crying despite her rage.

Why had they dragged her to this stupid place? Why couldn’t they just stay home? Really, even if her parents had to go, it would be a little better at least if she could just stay at home and have the neighbors check in on her once in a while, like she did when her parents went to Sacramento for two weeks.

Zoë was roused from her furious thoughts when she realized she had walked into a room. A most peculiar room it was, too. It was completely devoid of furniture, except for two mirrors. The mirrors were tall and narrow, stretching from the ceiling to the floor. They rested on the wall right across the room from one another, so that if you looked into one, you saw your reflection as well as a dozen other yous. Zoë thought it was quite a strange arrangement.

***

She crept toward one of the mirrors and tentatively reached out and touched it. “Why am I so nervous? They’re only mirrors!” she thought crossly. She gazed into the mirror, and started counting all the Zoës that she could see. As she got to fifteen, the sixteenth “Zoë” winked at her.

Zoë yelped out loud and backed up quickly, staring at the looking glass. The reflections were all perfectly normal, and she saw infinite Zoës staring in surprise right back at her. She took another step back, then laughed out loud. “Ha! You’re so worked up you imagined that a reflection could wink of its own accord! Zoë, you are cracking!” she scolded herself aloud.

Even so, she leaned in toward the mirror, staring hard at the sixteenth Zoë. “Sixteen… sixteen… sixteen…” she thought to herself. Suddenly, as she laid her hands on the glass she began to topple. Not backwards, not sideways, but straight through the mirror. She teetered for a moment, flailing her arms and screaming, and then she fell through. She landed on her hands and knees, gasping for air. She was filled with utmost terror.

She looked up and saw a confusing and peculiar, yet in its own way terrifying, spectacle. All around her, below her, and above her, were many different Mirror Rooms (for that is what she had begun to call the room with the two mirrors). Stacked atop one another, it was as though you were standing at the door and gazing in – except there were millions of little Mirror Rooms. All was still and quiet. “What is going on?” she asked aloud. Her voice tremored and quaked, and it was three octaves higher than it should have been.

Suddenly, the world began to spin. Faster and faster, all the little mirror rooms swirled around her until they were just a dizzying blur. She screamed and squeezed her eyes shut. She covered her ears, too, though there was no noise. She opened her eyes again and stared at the whirling vision around her. She tried to shriek, but her voice gargled with terror and caught in her throat. Suddenly everything went black. Not like, black-out-unconscious black, but as though you were in a closet with the door closed and someone turned out the light.

***

Zoë stared around her. As quickly as the black had come, it vanished. She was back in the mirror room. Gazing down at her was… herself. What? It was true. Zoë looked up into the eyes of Zoë.

“Are you okay? I’m Zoë 16. Seems you had a tough time!” She laughed. Zoë stared in wonder at Zoë 16. Zoë 16 rattled on, oblivious to the close scrutiny she was under. “What dimension are you from? What brings you to Dimension 16?”

Zoë swallowed. “Um, I… I…”

Zoë 16 said, “Oh, if you’re not going to tell me, then give me your hand! I want to know which dimension you’re from!” She grabbed Zoë’s hand and stared at it. She gazed at it as though looking for something. Then she shrieked and dropped the hand as though it had burned her. “You… you… you’re the Original?”

Zoë tentatively asked, “What are you talking about?”

Zoë 16 whispered, “You aren’t supposed to know! You… you… oh, I’d better tell you. You know the Mirror Room?”

“Yes, I do, but… you call it that, too?” Zoë asked.

Zoë 16 waved her hand impatiently. “Yes, yes. Anyway, each of those are… I mean… um… the reflections…” Zoë 16 sounded flustered.

Then it dawned on Zoë. “Are you saying,” she inquired quietly, “that each of the reflections is a, er, reflection? And I… I’m the, what’d you call me? The Original? You are the sixteenth dimension Zoë, hence the name Zoë 16. You… but wait. What’s with the hand thing?”

Zoë 16 replied, “The ‘hand thing,’ as you call it, is this: each dimension child is born with a birthmark of their dimension number on their hand. See?” Zoë 16 thrust out her hand. Sure enough, the number 16 was printed clearly on her hand.

“I see,” said Zoë. “How did I get here, though?”

“All Zoës, regardless of dimension, have the ability to travel between the dimensions. Did you, by any chance, focus on one of the dimensions and chant their number in your head?” Zoë 16 inquired.

Zoë thought back and replied, “As a matter of fact, I did!”

Zoë 16 grinned. “So, do you want… I mean… would you like to, um, explore other dimensions? And… may I come? Please?” Zoë 16 let out breathlessly.

Zoë smiled. “Of course, and don’t act so inferior, please. We’re all on the same level here.”

Zoë 16 nodded and smiled back. They grabbed hands. The two identical girls gazed into the mirror.

“Five?” Zoë asked.

“Sure, why not?” Zoë 16 replied.

They stared intently at the fifth reflection and chanted in their heads, “Five… five… five…”

Suddenly, the two girls felt a whoosh of air and they toppled through the mirror, still locking hands. Zoë gripped her sixteenth counterpart as she stared at all the “Mirror Rooms.” Then everything went black. Zoë and Zoë 16 waited for it all to turn into the Fifth Mirror Room. The darkness persisted. Zoë leaned in to Zoë 16 and whispered, “Um, what’s going on?” As she spoke the black was transformed to blue. All around her, there was blue, blue, blue. Zoë stared. “Uhhhh…” Suddenly, as fast as lightning, the blue turned to tie-dye. Zoë was really confused. She glanced at Zoë 16, but saw that she’d gone pale.

“Sixteen, what’s going on? Oh, and do you mind if I call you Sixteen?”

Zoë 16 answered in a shaky voice. “Yeah, call me Sixteen.” She took a deep, deep breath. “We are caught between the dimensions, a little glitch, you might call it.”

Zoë gasped. “So, like… are we stuck here short-term, or… forever?”

***

Sixteen gave a nervous chuckle. “Don’t worry… in about five minutes we’ll be okay, but we’ll be in some random dimension. I have no idea which.”

Zoë groaned. “Fantastic.”

Sixteen gave a grim smile. “Yeah, it doesn’t look too great, does it?”

Zoë didn’t feel like smiling. She opened her mouth to reply, but her words turned into a strangled cry of terror as her world went white. It was a blinding color, and she struggled to close her eyes, but she was frozen. Then the white faded, revealing a Mirror Room identical to the one she had left. She felt pressure on her hand and realized that she had Sixteen’s hand in a death grip. She let go and took a gulp of air.

“Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh,” Zoë said in a strangled voice. It was all she could even say. She was physically incapable of saying anything else until she’d gotten over the initial shock.

Sixteen whispered, “Look.” She was pointing across the room. There was a third Zoë standing there, obviously the native to this dimension. Her gaze was on her two twins across the room.

Sixteen hailed her. “Hi. We got caught in a glitch traveling to Dimension Five.”

The other Zoë rushed over. “Are you okay? I’m Zoë 94, but you can just call me ninety-four if you want.”

Sixteen extended her hand to shake. As Ninety-four took it, Sixteen said, “Zoë 16, or Sixteen for short.”

Ninety-four nodded politely. “And who’s this?” she inquired, turning to Zoë.

Zoë opened her mouth to stammer an awkward reply, but Sixteen answered for her. “She’s the Original,” she said quietly.

Ninety-four gasped. “Oh! Gosh!, you weren’t supposed… I’ve never… never thought… oh, well, then! Nice to meet you!”

Zoë took her hand and shook it, smiling. Sixteen and Zoë bade Ninety-four farewell and approached the mirror.

“Sixteen, where are we going?” Zoë asked. “I should get home.”

Sixteen nodded in agreement. “Yes. To get to your home, you simply use ‘Zero’ instead of ‘Sixteen’ or ‘Eight.’ Okay? So, once we get to the Sixteenth, go to my mirror and say in your head, ‘Zero, zero, zero.’ You’ll be home in no time!”

Zoë nodded.

They headed to the mirror, giving a final wave to Ninety-four. The two girls traveled to the Sixteenth Dimension., where Sixteen waved and walked out the door of the Mirror Room. “My mom’ll be worried if I’m late for dinner.”

Zoë realized that she hadn’t even thought about Sixteen’s parents. She had sort of assumed that the dimensions held only a Zoë and a Mirror Room. She hadn’t even dreamed that her mother was an Original and had twins in the other dimensions. Or her father, or her friends, and extended family. Gosh, she had never thought about other people and places in the other dimensions.

***

She was still thinking as she stepped up to the mirror. She halted her whirling mind to think, “Zero, zero, zero…” She leaned into the mirror, and as she fell she thought, “Oh, I hope I don’t encounter another glitch. I could never do it without Sixteen.” The thought sent her into a panic and she started flailing her limbs, frantically thrashing, trying to make it out of the mirror, but she was already through.

She squeezed her eyes shut, and when she finally opened them she was huddled in the middle of the Mirror Room. She looked around. No Zoës. She felt a wave of relief crash over her, and she headed into her room.

Her parents were talking in their bedroom. She continued toward her bed, but jolted to a stop as she heard her name. She couldn’t resist eavesdropping. “She’s really angry. She may be unpleasant the entire stay,” her mother was saying. Her father started to reply, but she burst in. Her parents jumped.

“Hi guys!” she said brightly. “I couldn’t help but hear you, and I thought you should know that I discovered something that is making me actually appreciate that we’re here!”

Her parents looked taken aback, but pleased. They told her they were proud of her snapping out of it. She smiled and went to her room. Zoë flopped down on her bed. This was gonna be a great three weeks.


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2 Responses to “Through the Dimensions”

  1. Grandma March 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    YOU ARE AMAZING! Wish I could take credit for it but am afraid not. Way to go and keep it up. Love, Grandma

  2. Tim Carabello March 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    How creative. I love the other dimensions in our lives. Can’t wait for the next chapters.

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