I can’t imagine anyone ever reading this except me. Apparently, that makes it more of a necessity. It also means, since I’m the only one who will read it, I can skip a lot of things.
Though it’s helpful to remind myself who I am these days.
My name is Dr. Angela Wagner. I am, or was, the head of the Applied Physics division of UNSTAI, the United Nations Scientific & Technological Advancement Initiative. I was born in New York City, near the beginning of the 21st century.
I’m recording this on what is currently my greatest achievement. That’s saying a lot since I helped invent a machine that creates stable wormholes. One would think that would be my greatest achievement, but in hindsight, it was a really fucking bad idea. My actual greatest achievement was putting together a laptop from shit that washed ashore on this island I am stuck on and rebuilding a solar panel to power it.
I did have some help, but before I explain that, let’s back up a little.
Before I got to the island, I was a hotshot scientist. As much as a scientist could be a rockstar, that was me. I spent my time between Geneva, Boston, London, and a bunch of top-secret military bases. I was a real jet setter. I loved my life. I was working on the most advanced piece of science humanity had ever attempted: the Minkowski-de Siter Stabilizer.
Can you guess the rest? Worked on it day and night, something went wrong, something blew up, I woke up on a lovely, if deserted, island in the middle of the Pacific. If my calculations are right (let’s guess they are) I’m not in the same place I was. By that, I mean I’m in another dimension.
That’s the theory at least. The evidence I have gathered involves the tremendous amount of debris that has washed up on the shore of this island. There is far more debris that I’ve seen on any beach at home and every scrap of paper, every can of food’s expiration date, everything, seems to end in the 1990s. I haven’t seen any airplanes or ships in the three years I’ve been here. A couple of birds and lots of fish. Other than that, I’m stuck here with myself on a world that seems to have had an extinction-level event.
The good news is there are plenty of fish. Lots of fruit. A big pool of freshwater that gathers in the center of the island as well as some kind of giant succulent plant that you can poke a hole in and drink your fill from.
Now comes the complicated part. At seemingly random intervals that range from two weeks to three months, another me drops out of the sky.
It’s always in the same spot, just north of the place I made shelter, about 100 meters from the shore, 10 meters above the water. A thin bluish sliver of light appears for 8.5 seconds, and a woman falls into the water.
That woman is always me.
(I say seemingly random intervals because eventually we calculated the frequency. I know when I will fall out of the sky, but I don’t really know what that frequency is based on, just that the math works.)
It has happened twenty times. Well, twenty-one if I include the first time. Who knows if it happened before that. Twelve of those times, the person who fell out of the sky was either already dead or died in the fall. One died a few days after she fell, another died a few weeks after she fell. One sailed away on a raft, never to be seen again.
It was on a hot, rainy morning the first time I saw myself fall out of the sky. I was making a fire to cook some breakfast, and a flash of light caught my eye and then something just appeared, there, in the middle of the sky above the water. A shadow of a person, arms and legs flailing.
I thought I heard something too, like a scream. A second later, there was a splash.
I was in the water before I even knew what I was doing. Swimming out, keeping my head up, spotting the place where the splashing was coming from.
Where she landed was just past the shelf of the island, where the water got darker and colder and scarier. It was a line I had found when swimming. A barrier that frightened me. Still, I had to save her.
She was a sad-looking thing. Hair wet and tangled, shivering, coughing. I dragged her to the beach and put her in front of the fire before I really got a good look at her face. I knew, though. I already knew.
The face that looked up at me was my own. Thinner, frightened, the remains of some eye makeup running down her cheeks.
She looked back at me, her eyes wide with recognition. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t try to explain, I just put a blanket around her and got her some clean water.
I don’t think either of us spoke that first night. It was as if we started talking about it, then we would have to acknowledge the madness of it, so we didn’t.
She was like me. I didn’t know how much, but I quickly saw she was enough like me that everything I did made sense to her. She drank water and cried and then fell asleep. I gave her all the blankets I had, the ones that had washed up that I had cleaned and dried and beat against rocks to soften. I shivered in the cold night hoping she would still be there the next day.
In the morning, she followed me on my daily chores. Using the water that gathered in the big leaves of a tall plant to take a shower. Checking the crab traps and seeing what I could catch in a fishing net. Cooking a fat round fish I didn’t know the name of, but knew was the most delicious.
She liked it too. Her face was somber until she ate it. She looked up at me in shock and smiled. We shared a bunch of tiny bananas.
Then there was gathering the long dried palms that were good for making a roof for the hut I was building. It would need to be bigger, I realized.
Next, we went to the west shore, where the debris seemed to wash up more regularly. I had already started collecting parts for the computer. She saw what I was looking for and added to my bucket of parts. She pointed at a large tire, and I was confused. That’s when she spoke for the first time.
“It, um, that tire could be good as a planter or maybe even the base of a bathtub,” she said, her voice wavering as she went on.
“Yeah,” I agreed.
We rolled the tire back to camp.
“Are you called Angela too?” She asked. I nodded.
“Two months, I mean 60 days. I don’t know when we are exactly, what month, what year.”
She looked around at my little camp. “You did all this in two months?” I shrugged.
“Think of how much we can do together,” I said with a long sad sigh. She sighed, too, like a strange perfect echo.
The next day I woke up early. I watched the sunrise over the impossibly vast ocean horizon. I turned and looked at the other me.
She was peppered with freckles over her cheeks and nose. It was a trait I found annoying in the mirror but looking at her I couldn’t imagine that face without them.
Her skin was a soft brown, from our mother’s dark Cuban side, blended with our father’s medley of European stock.
Her hair was a cute short afro, lightened a bit to a dirty blonde, the way I’d done it back when I lived in Brooklyn. A little knotted and wild from seawater. I couldn’t imagine what mine looked like. I’d chopped it short with the one knife I was able to de-rust and sharpen, but I’m sure it was an uneven mess.
She was me. Sleeping calmly. She was beautiful. It’s a weird thing, deeply weird, but the fact that she was beautiful hit me profoundly. Her beauty meant I was beautiful.
It went on like that. We started plans on the computer almost immediately. We worked on the hut. We kept our eyes on the sky.
At some point, we figured out the differences between us. She worked at CERN, which in my world had been transformed into an international agency under the UN. Her parents had gotten divorced earlier, and it seems like that was better than growing up with them fighting all the time.
At some point, I started calling her Doc, because she came down wearing Doc Martens. In turn, she called me Alpha, because I was the first. Eventually, that just became Al.
It was two weeks when the next one came down. We had a raft made of tires ready. I knew something was wrong when we didn’t hear any splashing. She was dead. Best guess was that she was dead before she fell.
We burned her body on the other side of the island. We didn’t talk about it, but we kept her clothes. Dark blue jeans and a black t-shirt with a logo I didn’t recognize.
I saw the guilt in her eyes, just like I’m sure it was in mine as well, but we had needs. That night, after we burned the body, was the coldest on the island since I got there. That night was the first Doc came to me, for warmth.
“Just hold me, okay. I’d do it for you,” she said and pushed me and slipped into my little nest of blankets.
We didn’t really talk about it, but that’s the way it was from then on. The two of us holding on to each other for dear life, crying into each other’s necks until we fell asleep.
And on it went.
One day, weeks later, a half-rotten boat came ashore. We found a radio in fair condition and a calculator along with a small pack of solar panels. Nothing worked, but the parts were a good start. We also found an entire case of Scotch. Glenlivet, what our fathers drank.
We each took a bottle for ourselves and walked along the beach, taking sips and laughing. The universe was weird. We walked close to each other, that way you do when you are kids. When your hands brush each other, and you almost hold hands, but you don’t. I sort of knew what was going to happen and so I assumed she did as well.
“It’s inevitable,” she said as we made our way back to our camp. She was looking out at the setting sun. “The kiss?” I asked the sand.
“We’re bad at the first move. We’ve always been bad at the first move. But it’s getting hard to sleep next to you without more,” she said, but it could have just as easily been me. We sat by the fire, next to each other, our knees touching.
She bit her lip and couldn’t look at me. She looked younger than I felt. She looked pretty, and that was complicated.
“Maybe we will learn to take turns being aggressive. I’m feeling aggressive tonight,” I said and turned to face her.
She smiled at that. I grabbed her by the shirt and pulled her to me. Then her soft lips were on mine.
I remember the first time I was with a woman. College cliche. I remember thinking she was like me, she would know what I needed, how to touch me. She didn’t, but she wasn’t as clueless as most guys.
So background, I am perhaps a 2 on the Kinsey scale. “Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual.” For me, that means I don’t really become romantically attracted to women, but I am often sexually attracted to them. My life, since high school, seemed to be a cycle of monogamy with guys, and then after we broke up a few months of promiscuousness with mostly women, which was often emotionally messy. I broke some hearts, I admit it.
In the last few years, I’ve tried to stop that cycle. Well, except for Daria. But Daria was one of my oldest friends, and when I showed up at her apartment with Prosecco, she knew what was up and took it for what it was.
With Daria, it was laughing and getting drunk and falling into bed. It wasn’t like that with Doc. There was a raw naked need I’d never seen before. Kisses that were fever hot and addictive. The feel of her skin. The smell of her.
We pushed and pulled at each other on the nest of blankets and soft leaves we had made. Our threadbare clothes coming off easily and our skin exactly the same. The same pattern of freckles. The same scar on our elbow. The same.
It’s hard to remember what you like when you are doing it to someone else. I had to keep reminding myself. Wait to touch her nipples. Wait until she is aching for it. Hold her down by her wrists and kiss her neck.
She moaned, and her eyes rolled back, and she was mine the way I was theirs when people had paid enough attention. Then my mouth between her legs the way I wanted it. Sucking on her clit while I fingered her in slow strokes.
The key was steadiness, like the waves, lapping, pushing and pulling, in and out, regular, unstoppable. She rose up, sitting up and pulling my hair, and she came and came.
I remember the poet I dated just after college. Big sad eyes and a brilliant mind. After that first night with him, I sat on his bed, and he just looked at me. He looked at me with this sort of awe in his eyes.
“God, when you come, it’s like you unravel. All the stress you keep in your body and worry that clouds your eyes just gets exorcized,” he said.
And I fell in love with him, but I knew it was a bunch of bullshit. I looked at her smile. She was glowing, looking up at me. Freckles and a flicker of gold in her brown eyes. God, it was true.
And so it went.
Forty-three days later, the next one came down. It was at night. The splash woke us up. Maybe, maybe it was something else. That one was different.
We called her Red from the start. Red hair, like I tried when I lived in London. She was built. She didn’t give up on kickboxing. She was stoic. The place she came from was harder.
Maybe having Doc come first made it stranger. Doc was my double in every way. Red was a few degrees off, and it made everything she did alien.
We still didn’t have to explain much. She was a physicist, just like us. She built the same machine. The same thing went wrong. She worked for the US, though. She seemed confused when we talked about Europe, the UN. Frankly, I could guess what the place she was from was like. I read about the 20s. I knew what could have been.
Those first few nights, we slept separately. Doc looked at me from across the camp with tears in her eyes. Was everything going to change? I wondered to myself “how the fuck had I become the top?”
The next day we left Doc to work on the hut, and Red and I went to collect parts and water. Red’s training was far more in mechanical engineering, which made it odd that she considered herself a physicist.
“Theoretical sciences are frowned upon where I come from,” she said with a steely eye towards the horizon. “They are always asking about applications, about what we can make next.”
I nodded. I wanted to ask more, but she often grew silent when pressed. “Well, there isn’t much room for theory on the island. We don’t even have a chalkboard,” I said with a laugh. She didn’t laugh.
“I may be able to fix those solar panels. If we can find a few things. We’ll need to make a kiln. We’ll need to make screwdrivers and clamps,” she said, sorting through some of the trash we found washed ashore.
There was another long silence. I got the urge to hug her, but that seemed like too much.
“Are you two fucking?” She asked an hour later as we walked back to the camp.
“Would that be weird?”
“Would it be weird if two duplicates of me from different dimensions had sex with each other? Is that a trick question?”
I looked at her in shock, and for the first time, she laughed.
“Whatever. I don’t know. My roommate in college used to put a hair tie on the doorknob to let me know. You want to tie a ribbon around the palm tree?” She asked again.
She was trying to be funny. She was trying to be friendly, I realized. She was just so much more guarded than I was, than we were.
“Maybe we can make two huts. That might make things a little more comfortable,” I suggested.
“We should make three. Who knows what will happen. Who knows who will drop out of the sky next.”
That afternoon we all worked on the huts in earnest. Red made a big fire and showed us how to mix together clay and bake it in some buckets we found. Once we started making bricks, things moved much faster. Red was better when she was working. If she had a goal, she seemed happier. Doc seemed to take orders from her naturally, while I worked out spatial questions.
As the sun grew low, we all went into the water and scrubbed away the dirt.
“I think I’m going to go to the north shore. I think I saw a big piece of mirror we can use. We still have about an hour before the sun sets,” Red said, looking up at the sky.
Doc turned to speak up, but I stopped her with a look. Red smiled at us and walked off into the woods.
“What was that?” Doc asked, her eyebrows wrinkled in worry.
“That was Red giving us some time,” I said with a smile.
“She asked me if we were fucking,” I explained.
“Oh,” Doc said with a shy grin. Doc walked back to the camp, sitting on the nest of blankets that was my bed.
“We-I mean, we don’t really talk about it. We never even did it in the daytime,” she whispered.
I saw the shy version of me, the one that I’d become when talking to boys I was dating, girls I was sleeping with, people I had crushes on.
Doc made me protective, aggressive, toppy. I liked it. It was so different from the way I was in other relationships, but it seemed to fit with her. Maybe because it was so easy to guess what she wanted and in the end, I was a giver, I was someone who longed to become what my partner wanted.
I pushed her down on the soft bed and kissed her skin, still wet from the ocean. We seemed to be naked in moments, our bodies wet and slipping against each other. The smell of the ocean, the smell of her sex, then slipping from cool touches to the heat inside of her, my fingers finding those familiar places.
“Now you,” she whispered after I made her come twice.
My gut said no, but then I looked into her eyes. Yes, I wanted to come too, but also I wanted her to feel the way I did when I made her come. It was all an echo chamber in my heart. It was all complicated, but when I laid back and spread my legs for her, it became simple. Her mouth on my cunt was fundamental. It wasn’t physics, it was math. Absolute.
Red came back to find us wrapped up together. She gave me a little smirk and dove into the water.
As different as Red was, she was still us, just as we would have been if our world sucked just a little more. When Doc and I cooked dinner, she showed us the mirrors and other parts she had found. A piece of metal she said she could make into a good knife. Some wire and a broken ship radio.
“Al, this is it. This is the base. We can start here and make a computer. Something. Maybe just a big calculator. We’ll have to see.” I nodded.
“We need a goal. The first problem we can try and solve,” I said, touching the radio. Doc nodded.
“We should figure out the frequency of the falls. It seems random, but we all know it probably isn’t. If we know when the next one is, it will make things a lot better,” Doc said. Red looked confused.
“There was another one, before you. She came down dead,” I explained. Red nodded somberly.
“Thank you, by the way. I don’t think I ever said that. Thanks for getting me,” Red said.
It looked painful for her to be so vulnerable.
“You’re one of us,” I said in almost a whisper. She nodded.
That night, Doc came and slept with me. Again, we didn’t talk about these things. Late that night, I woke up to pitch darkness. The moon was just a sliver. The stars were everywhere. There were no city lights to dim them. I laid there and counted them, and that’s when I heard a little gasp.
I didn’t really need to guess. I knew those muffled moans. When I was a teenager and read dirty stories on my phone and hid under my covers and fingered myself. It was the same sound I heard in the darkness. Red, getting herself off.
I wondered if I should help. I wonder how similar she would be. I wondered if Doc would feel hurt if she woke up and saw.
I decided to wait. I went to sleep.
Two weeks later, another one came down from the sky on fire. Only Red saw her fall, and she shouted at us to get the raft. What was left in the sea, wasn’t much. Still, we brought her to the other end of the island and put her on the pyre. Things like that became tradition quickly.
That night we were silent at dinner. Solemn.
Doc found a pair of binoculars in excellent shape and decided to try and make a telescope. Red made a rudimentary calculator and a solar cell to power it. I couldn’t get my head into science, so I threw myself into building the hut.
I used long pieces of fiberglass from a smashed up speed boat that washed up. I ended up laying out a five-bedroom palace. When I say palace, I mean large mud hut that just barely kept us dry when it rained.
What the hut did more than anything was give us a little privacy. It just felt safer having a roof over our heads.
The next one that came down, none of us saw, but she washed up on the beach, barely alive. We brought her to the hut, we fixed her up as much as we could. She babbled a lot, asked about someone named Peter. She opened her eyes a little, but a few days of fevered sweating and tearful eyes and then she was gone.
Burning her body, I saw Red cry for the first time. Silent tears streaming down her face.
That night we got into the Scotch again. The moon was full and huge and lit up the beach in blue and silver.
We joked, we laughed, we figured out that Radiohead existed for all of us, but the albums were different. Red stood on a big rock and drank from a bottle, throwing pebbles into the ocean.
When she wasn’t looking, Doc kissed me.
“So, I’m just going to come out with it. I’m going to, I mean, could one of you fuck me or something? Is that going to mess things up? I don’t know what your deal is. I just need something,” Red said without looking back at us.
Doc looked at me with a smile, trying not to laugh.
“We are the only people on Earth, I think. This Earth. We all get whatever the rest of us can give. Is that right, Doc?” I asked.
“We’ll give you whatever you need, however you need it. We are all we have,” she said.
Red turned and jumped off the rock, then she pulled off her shirt in one swift motion. She looked vulnerable for the first time, even more than when I had seen her cry.
“I don’t know,” she shook her head in frustration. She was trying to find the words. “Maybe you’re not like this, but I need to be hurt. Nothing crazy, just-” she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“Just fucking hit me. Spank me, pull my hair, twist my nipples, hurt me. Bite me. Then fuck me. Fuck me with your fingers hard,” she said, the whole time with her eyes closed.
“Is that okay to ask?” She said, opening her eyes and locking her gaze with me.
I nodded. It wasn’t alien to me. I had liked to be hit, spanked, played with, but I knew she meant a little more.
“And I want both of you,” she added, looking at Doc as she peeled off her denim shorts.
I looked over and saw Doc’s eyes wide. She nodded slowly, licking her lips. Doc pulled off her own shirt and went to the nest of blankets, pulling all of our makeshift beds together into one pile.
I stood and closed my eyes for a moment. I remember Geoff, the gorgeous boy from London with the wicked sense of humor. I remember asking him to spank me over his knee. I remember guiding his hands to my neck. I remember one day over coffee when he nervously asked if I would do the same. I remembered how complicated it all was, but how I looked at it like a challenge, a problem to solve. I remember the first time I pulled his hair and heard the sound he made, how addictive it was.
When I opened my eyes, I sighed. I really wished I had a strap on.
I don’t think I really understood Red until I hit her. Doc held her arms behind her back, and I slapped Red’s tits, one at a time. Her eyes flashed with what looked like hate. I hit her again and saw rage. I hit her again and moved in to take each of her nipples in my fingers and pinch them, and the sound she made was amazing.
Her eyes went from rage to drugged need. The change seemed to fuel me. I grabbed her throat and glared at her. I slapped her across the face, holding her by the neck.
My eyes met Doc’s for a moment. She was full of wonder and excitement, and she tightened her arms around Red, twisting her arms back.
We descended on Red, throwing her down, holding her down, slapping and biting her, finding catharsis in it together. Finally, fucking her, fucking each other, coming until we were all exhausted.
There was one moment, something I thought about a lot later and laughed, when I was ramming three fingers into Red, fucking her hard, amazed at her reactions, and my arm was giving out. Doc sat behind me and saw this. She pulled at my arm and replaced my fingers with her own. I watched her work Red over with glee.
And so, life went on. We built the computer. We made calculations. A month later, Angie came. A chipper version of us that strangely liked our childhood nickname. Finally Anna, who was named after our grandmother, who we had all nearly been named after.
In between them, there was more death and sex and weirdness. Briefly, there was the wild one who came down and nearly ripped our group apart. She never got a name. She said she knew there was more out there in the world. She built a raft and sailed off, never to be seen from again.
In the end, I was the one who got the computer running. A feverish day of soldering and tinkering and putting together the remains of a hundred bits of electronics. It was only a few days later that Anna figured out the frequency of the portals.
Sitting by the fire, Anna broke down what we knew.
“I think what has been created is some kind of Einstein-Rosen bridge, semi-stabilized in that both points are fixed on some dimensions but dynamic in others. Hence this end of the wormhole seems stable in relative space, but is moving in a predictable pattern in time.
“Given our age and general state, I think the other end is stable in time and space but is moving in a pattern through dimensions. Maybe it can be said it is moving in a pattern through anti-de Sitter space.”
“So various versions of us are encountering the phenomena, and when it encounters one of us who happens to be using some variation of our gravitational inhibitor or whatever each one of us is calling it, it pulls us through the tunnel and plops is out over the water next to this island.”
We all nodded, looking around at the strange crew of identical faces.
“Is there any way to get back?” Red asked flatly. Anna shrugged.
“Even if we had access to our original technology, who knows? There are too many variables, and too many universes. We could, theoretically, maybe get through the portal when it opens next, if we could somehow be 30 feet over the ocean at the exact time, but who knows if the portal even works that way. Even if we did, who knows where we would be?” Doc added.
“It took us a year to make this,” I pointed at the computer.
“It’s less a computer than a word processor and a calculator. We’d never be able to build even the most elemental parts of the machines that brought us here.”
That was pretty much the end of the conversation, though we had many more like it. We put together a life on the island and only occasionally thought about if and how we might get home.
That is until Star came.
One cloudy day we all gathered at the beach and waited. We had calculated to about the minute when the next portal would open, and we had a raft and a little medical station set up. We were on watch like lifeguards. Everyone seemed afraid to blink.
The last few portal openings had been more violent, studded with blue flashes of electricity and the smell of ozone. After Anne came down, the next two were dead bodies and then, nothing came down at all.
We had theorized that the bridge might be deteriorating. We wondered if it might become more destructive or stop altogether. What none of us considered was what we were about to see.
Like before, the blue light flashed, and there were electric crackles and pops. The form of a woman fell from the sky, arms and legs akimbo. She fell and fell and then suddenly, didn’t fall anymore.
She paused, like an old video, in the air a few meters from the water. She just stopped and then, after a moment, straightened herself out so that she was sitting in mid-air in a sort of yogic pose.
She held that pose for a full minute and then she sort of dived down into the water as if she was leaping off the edge of a pool.
The five of us stood on the beach, raft and plans forgotten, as the new one of us swam to the shore.
She wore something like the expensive high tech exercise clothes I saw people wear before I left my home. All black and gray, almost looking like a wetsuit that came down to her knees and elbows. She was barefoot.
She seemed very calm and very beautiful. Her hair was short and dark, unbleached, and unmodified. Her nails and toes weren’t painted. She didn’t seem to be wearing any makeup. Her ears weren’t pierced.
She looked at each of us, amazement in her eyes that was similar but less scared than what I had seen in the others when they came down and realized what had happened.
“I was reaching too far,” she said, though it didn’t seem directed to us.
“Are you all called Angela, too?” She asked, and we nodded.
“Yes. Well, most of us. We-um-we have nicknames. It makes it easier. I’m Al, this is Red, Doc, Angie, and Anna.”
“I hated being called Angie. When I was young, I picked the name Star. You can call me that.” We all nodded, the questions hanging in the air.
“Um, we can’t fly,” Doc said simply.
Star’s eyebrows furled. “You’re not trained?” She said, looking very confused.
We looked around at each other.
“We are all scientists, physicists. We all build machines of one kind or another that brought us here. We can’t get back,” I explained.
Star considered that.
“Oh, like mechanical scientists? Physicists? Is that like physical philosophers? You didn’t use an EGG to get here?”
Again, we looked at each other in confusion.
“Let’s go by the fire. It’s going to get cold soon and maybe rain. We build shelter,” Red suggested, and we all followed her.
There were differences in Star. She didn’t have the scar we all had on our elbows. Her skin seemed stunningly clear and tight. Her teeth were very white. She was in fantastic shape. Her body seemed toned like an athlete’s, like our bodies were in high school when we ran track and ate right, only even more so. She walked with a smoothness and a straight posture that made her seem taller than the rest of us.
Around the fire, we started talking about our own worlds. We hadn’t actually talked much about the details of our own realities in a long time, and it was once again a little shocking. Red’s world, how the Nationalists had taken over. How she had only been partially safe because she was such an esteemed scientist.
“People with our color skin started getting deported, even if we were born in the US. It became less ‘deported’ and more ‘shipped to whatever country they thought we belonged in.’ And if the country complained, we bombed them. So yeah, I wasn’t that heartbroken to leave.”
Doc explained that it wasn’t quite that bad where she was from, but it was getting there. Anna seemed confused. Her world seemed progressive, happy even.
When Star spoke, she seemed to be speaking another language.
“Your worlds seem very strange and frightening. Like my world before Viet Nam, maybe, like the 50s or something, before the Stevenson Amendments and the ERA. Anyhow, I work at the Melchizedek Institute. I’m an apprentice, still learning Sacred Movement. That’s, oh, I guess you don’t have anything like that. Your worlds seem like they are still wrapped up in mechanical and digital paradigms. It’s a complex field that involves a combination of pure math, Sacred Geometry, tantra, biofeedback, and other esoteric arts to travel.”
There was silence.
Red spoke first, I could tell she was trying to keep from laughing. “Sorry, that’s, um, those aren’t things most of us believe in.”
Star smiled and looked like she was holding in a laugh too. “I understand. My work is a bit out there even for my world, but-” Star looked around. “But you guys can’t even fly.”
“She’s got us there,” I said flatly.
“I can’t fly either, really. I can levitate a little, but it takes a lot of energy.”
Everyone laughed. Doc stood up. “Can you travel back, do you think? Have you gone to other dimensions before?”
Star looked up at her from her lotus position and thought about that.
“I’ve traveled to what we call Earth 2, Earth 4, and Earth 11. Those are all very close, inter-dimensionally speaking, to the Earth I am from. They are pretty easy to get to with an EGG, that’s a sort of device that we use to travel. I was actually trying to get to Earth 12 without an EGG. That’s the focus of Sacred Travel, moving without anything but your own body,” Star said with building excitement.
Red leaned in. “What are the other Earths like?” Red asked, her eyes wide.
“Oh, they are beautiful. They are sort of similar, all of the other Earths we’ve found. They are just like what we all think of as Earth, only with no people. No buildings, no cities, nothing but nature. Trees and animals, but no humans. Well, that’s what they were when we first discovered them. Now there are small settlements on each of the Earths. Mostly Earth 2, since that is the easiest one to get to. The higher worlds, like Earth 15, well maybe 20 or so people have been to them, so there is nothing there. Even Earth 11 is completely empty, except for one little camp.”
We all nodded, though I think all of us didn’t fully believe. Though we did see her levitate.
Doc, who was still standing, took a deep breath. “Could you take some of us back? Back to your world, I mean?”
Star’s eyebrows furled a little.
“I don’t really know what I can do from here. I don’t know where ‘here’ is. I was trying to travel to Earth 12. I’d never been there. I was focused and in a hyper-meditative state. I was getting there, but then this sort of wave of energy swept over me, and I was suddenly traveling very differently, like I was being pulled. I decided to go with it, because, fuck let’s see what’s out there, you know?”
Doc was crying. I’d never seen her like that. She was shaking. “Okay, okay. But maybe you can? You could teach us to do what you do? Or like, take us with you?”
Star swallowed and seemed to consider her words. “Less than 0.15% of the population can travel inter-dimensionally with an EGG. Less than 0.02% of people can travel without one. Now, considering we may all have the same genetic structure, theoretically you all might be able to travel without an EGG, but I’ve been training since I was about 6 years old to travel. I was only able to use an EGG when I was twenty-two. Then I had to travel that way dozens of times before I could even visualize how to travel without one,” Star said, looking serious for the first time.
“Plus, well, it’s hard to explain, but to get to a place where you can travel, you have to reach a mind-body connection that takes so long and so much work. You basically, I mean, I’m really simplifying this, but you basically change yourself on a genetic level. Like, if you looked at my cells, I’ve gone through a metamorphosis. Psychotherapy and drugs and facing your shadow and coming through the other side changed. Genetically changed,” she said with her voice growing frantic.
Star took a deep breath, calming herself.
“There, there may be a way. It will take some research, though. Okay, so if I can get back to my home or maybe back to another Earth, I’ve been to before, that’s one thing. Can I get back here, that’s another. But if I can go, I can take one of you with me using the Double Yolk method.”
Everyone looked at Star in confusion. She suddenly, strangely, blushed.
“Okay. So like I said, there are a lot of different disciplines involved in interdimensional travel and one of them is tantra,” she started.
Angie’s head snapped up. “Like, sex magic?”
Star’s jaw tightened. “That’s reductivist nomenclature, but yes. Sexual energy is used. If someone who is adept at traveling forms a hyper-intimate connection, they can will their partner through space with them. It’s how many end up on other Earths, though the ethics of some of the partnerships are a bit questionable.”
Red sighed with relief. “Oh, well, that’s fine. I mean, we all fuck all the time. Like, orgies of me.”
Everyone sort of blushed and Star looked around at us with an impressed grin.
“Now that is interesting,” Star said, biting her bottom lip and looking right at me.
Suddenly Star jumped up and paced around the fire. “Orgies of me. Orgies. I wonder.” We all watched her.
“I’ve seen a triple yolk, once. The three of them were really connected, though, and the traveler was really advanced. I mean, but we, we are like the same person almost. I mean, we have the same bodies, and we obviously share biographical similarities, at least on some level. It would be almost like masturbation!” She said with glee.
I shook my head and saw the rest of us shake our heads.
“It’s not like masturbation,” I said.
“At all,” Red added.
“Nope,” said Doc.
She looked confused for a moment and then smiled again, wide and a little playful. “Oh, right, yeah. Interesting. I would need some way to do some large calculations. I know the math, but I don’t know if I can get the sums-” she started.
“We have a computer. Well, not really a computer, but at least a scientific calculator and word processor,” I said.
Star’s eyes opened wide. “Well, that’s unexpected. You build that, with stuff you found on the island?”
We all nodded, pride flashing in all of our eyes. Despite our differences, we all seemed to like praise.
What came next reminded me a bit of when I was thirteen and spent a summer with my aunt out in Phoenix. She was kind of Jesus freak, and every day my cousins would sing hymns and Christian rock songs.
They were the sort of hippie non-denominational Christian variety and they never really made me pray or even sing, but they did want me to talk. They asked me what I believed and growing up with a father who was a brain surgeon and a mother who was a history professor, I didn’t really believe in anything except the scientific method and what it could tell me about the world around me.
“Evidence. I believe in evidence-based thinking.” They smiled and told me about faith. I didn’t much like their ideas.
Being taught by Star was like talking to my cousins, if my cousins had actual proof angels existed. Scoff all you want, we were literally turning water into wine.
It turned out Star could do a lot more than levitate.
She started with the basics, which meant meditation. It was a lot easier than I thought, especially with no phone or television or even job to think about. We had all sort of been doing it already, watching the sunset, sitting near the ocean. She gave us direction, though.
Some of us had scattered yoga training. Star was an excellent teacher though and always ready to learn from us. We were all happy when she got into pure math. Geometry, even Sacred Geometry, still involved a skill set all of us had, and it was a real morale boost when we got to shine.
“I’m glad all of these concepts are the same for us. Avogadro’s Number, Plank’s Constant, Pi, Mass Energy Equivalency,” Star said with her wide smile.
Weeks passed quickly. Two months of training. She had us stop eating fish and had us fast for periods. We did trust exercises daily. We slept in a big pile together.
One of the most surprising rules was “no sex.” Not even masturbation.
“We will get to the sex, but we need to be able to control it. Sex is going to be the power that fuels our travel,” she said cryptically.
We went on with our training. Meditation in the morning, then yoga, then math then we collected fruit and berries and water and combed the island for fungus Star would examine for hallucinogenic properties. We never found any of those.
At the start of the third month, we were all visibly different. We had stopped wearing hardly any clothes. We grew lean and muscular. We started shaving our heads. And so most of the slight differences between us shrank.
I noticed we stopped using our nicknames. There was a new bond between us. We were communicating differently, with fewer words, maybe even with thoughts. Or maybe I was going fucking nuts.
Star gathered us together on a night of a full moon looking a little nervous. “We are going to leave this world in one month. It’s going to be the most difficult thing any of us have ever done. Maybe the most difficult thing we ever will do. You are all amazing me with how well you are doing in your training. The next step is going to be a rough one. Perhaps not all bad but certainly frustrating.”
We all shuffled around the fire, sitting cross-legged, and watching Star.
“So, do any of you know what edging is?” Our collective brows furled as all of us slowly raised our hands.
“Tell me what it is,” she said, looking at Doc.
“It’s masturbating right up to the point where you are going to come and then stopping.” Star nodded.
“And why would someone do that?”
Red smiled. “Well, if you do it for a while, you get hornier and hornier. You constantly feel on edge. Everything becomes more intense. Then, when you finally do come, it’s fucking amazing.”
I liked Red. I liked her kinkiness. The funny thing about liking one of us was that it made you like yourself more too. I was kinky. I knew what it was to edge for a week and write some guy about how horny you were and get teased and tormented. It was hot.
“Well,” Star continued. “We are going to be edging. All of us, all together. We are going to start edging a few times a day. We are going to edge for a month and for the last week of the month we are going to fast. We are going to break ourselves down, and then we are going to come together, and I’m going to guide us off this fucking island. How does that sound?”
Everyone looked worried. “How sure are you that it will work?” I asked.
Star thought about it. “I’m 80% sure I will get to Earth 4. I’m 60% sure some of you will get there with me.”
We all nodded. They weren’t the worst odds.
“Oh,” Star said, walking over to a sheet she had folded next to her.
She draped the sheet off the branches we used to dry clothes and we saw a drawing on it. It was a large egg shape. There was a sketch of a person next to it, showing that the scale was massive. The egg was the size of all of our huts together.
“And we have to build this.”
Maybe it was the conditioning we had been through, but none of us really questioned it. Star looked into each of our eyes, and we each nodded, yes.
“Great, let’s swim,” she said, peeling off her clothes and running into the water with a happy scream.
We all did the same, the moon was high and bright, and it was a clear night. We swam and splashed and laughed for a while until we got tired and came back to our makeshift towels, still giddy from the water and the nervous energy of the announcement.
“Okay, so we’re going to do something before we go to bed. Something we just discussed. I want everybody to lay down on our big bed pile over there, a few inches apart. Lay on your backs,” Star said, as if she were telling friends at a sleepover how to play a new game.
It wasn’t exactly true that none of us had sex in the three months. We had snuck off in pairs or threes. Hell, even Star had given in a couple of times, at least for kisses. Still, those were rare and random. In general, we had all been celibate. The fact that we were going to do something sexual was causing palpable excitement.
Maybe it was the tension of doing something, anything, sexual after so long mixed with the nervousness of some new part of our training, but everyone seemed to be fidgeting and shaking as we laid there.
“Oh, so try to think of this like guided meditation,” Star said.
All the sounds seem amplified as I laid there. The soft and ever-present crashing of waves in the distance, the crackle of the fire, Star’s voice, and our breathing.
Star laid down next to me, and the six of us looked up at the sky and the light of the constellations.
“So everyone take someone’s hand. Red and Anna, Doc and Angie, and Al, you take my hand.”
“Put your other hand between your legs.”
“I’m going to guess what works for me will work for you. I mean, physically at least. I want you to put two fingers just above your clit and press down, a little hard and make circles.”
At home, so long ago it was hard to remember, I would sit at my computer and do the same thing. Starting above my clit, pressure that swelled, then moving down a little at a time.
“Now move down, a little at a time,” Star spoke my thoughts.
I felt my hips lift up a little. It was all going very fast. Star’s hand was warm, and holding it made me hungry for more of her. I wanted to touch her breasts. I wanted to kiss her as I got myself off.
“Slow,” Star said, her voice getting lower.
“Let yourself enjoy it. Don’t think about a goal. Don’t think about coming. Just think about what you are doing right now. Think about the circles. Think about the person next to you. Feel the warmth radiating from their bodies. Think about how they are touching themselves the same way you are touching yourself. Reach out with your mind to them. Is it your fingers or theirs? Is it your clit or theirs?”
Suddenly I heard faster breathing near me.
“Slow, Red, slow!” Star said sternly.
“If you have to, you can stop or move back up, but find an anchor. We aren’t coming tonight. That is one thing we aren’t going to do.”
I heard Doc whine. I could feel their warmth. I could smell them too. My smell multiplied by five. Saltwater and sweat and our pussies. It was everywhere. I stopped the circles. It was too much.
“Can you feel your orgasm out there? I want it to be like a beacon we are going to get as close as we can get, but not touch. How close can we get?” Star said softly.
It went on and on. Honestly my mind sort of shorted out at one point. So much intensity. So much pleasure that was nearly there!
After a while, when all of us were squirming and moaning, Star stood up.
“Okay, day one is done! Think about the energy you are producing right now. Think about how your body is shaking and your legs are wobbly and how primed you are. We are going to need that. We are going to use that!”
What she got in return were five angry huffs. In the middle of the night, Red came to me. Spooned me and pressed her tits against my back.
“Please, I need something,” she said in a desperate whisper.
“Go to bed,” I replied, though I admit, I wanted it to. Just the thought of her fingers inside of me.
The next morning we were grumpy, and meditation was difficult. By lunch we were okay. Star and Red gave us instructions on certain kinds of mud and leaves to get for the egg-shaped thing we were to build. As we gathered that, they started on a frame made of bamboo.
We worked so much faster than before. All of us were in the same zone. Everything seemed like it was on fast forward. As the sun started towards the horizon, I felt a pang of anxiety about what was to come. Or not come.
Again, we held hands, different people next to us, but the cycle was the same. It was both easier and more difficult. It was certainly faster. We were all at that edge in only a few minutes.
So began the hellish month. Working hard all day and suffering through the frustration of our nighttime routine.
Red built a sort of kiln, which she had talked about making for a while. She and Star had us making mud and dry leaf mixtures that they then baked. We used that for the base of the egg.
Star explained that we weren’t building an actual EGG. It was just a large sort of sensory deprivation chamber for us all to go in. It would help us travel.
“Don’t think of it like an EGG. Think of it like a Nest.” We did, and that’s what we called it.
That night she had us edge twice. I was already feeling stupid with need. Sometimes during the day I just got spacy and found myself rubbing my breast absentmindedly, or squeezing my legs together to try and find enough pressure for something, anything.
Star caught me once and with a smile, pulled me over her shoulder and carried me right into the ocean. “Nature’s perfect cold shower!”
It went on and on. Twice, three times, once in the morning and once at night. We were all going crazy.
Red would get aggressive sometimes. She started little fights. Once she wrestled with me for an extra banana. It was mostly playful, but there was something else there. A need to touch more.
Two weeks in, the edging changed.
“Tonight, we are going to try something new. We are going to partner up and edge the other person. You are going to do the same thing you do to yourself, but to them. You are going to figure out when they are close, and then you’ll stop. Just like when you do it to yourself, you want to get as close as you can.”
I didn’t know if it was more tortuous or less. I got paired with Doc, my oldest friend and lover. I’d missed her body. I’d miss her sweet submissive streak. I missed the way she made me toppy and bossy.
I was to go first. I spooned with Doc, getting my body as close to hers as I could, and rubbed. Those cruel little circles. My other hand was on her right breast. My mouth was on her neck. I closed my eyes and reached out for her mind. There was so much need there. So much want. Her ass pushed back at me, and she begged me to fuck her. She begged for one finger, just one, to slip into the wet mess of her cunt.
I pulled my hand away. She got so close. I felt her orgasm coming like a train. I opened my eyes and saw Star watching me from across the line of writhing bodies. She smiled and nodded.
Honestly, by the point when we started fasting, I hardly noticed. Every part of me was already hungry.
The giant Nest was almost done. We made a big fire inside and covered the frame with mud. The low fire cooked mud all day and we built upon it. It was less an egg and more of a dome.
Three days before takeoff, Star gathered us around the fire again.
“So this is what is going to happen. Tomorrow, we are going to finish the Nest and let it bake. In three days, we are going to fill the Nest with water, about two feet high. Then we are going to get into the nest and pull the door closed. We are going to all sit in a row with our arms around the person in front of us. We are going to meditate. We are going to concentrate. Then, we are going to connect as much as we possibly can. We are going to form one consciousness. Then, I’ll take it from there.”
We all nodded.
Then she repeated the same thing, a little slower. She said it four times. She looked around, and we all repeated it. We said it again. We said it twenty times. We said it until the sun went down.
The next day we said it as we worked. We corrected each other if we missed a word. We said it with the same inflections. We said it like a mantra. The only thing that changed was the number of days.
The final day I found myself crying because I stubbed my toe. Angie yelled at Doc for kicking sand on her towel. Even Star’s eyes looked red.
Still, we worked. We made a line to carry buckets of water from the ocean. It was long hard work to fill an area the size of the next with two feet of water. We must have worked on that for five hours.
I caught Star looking out at the water and felt comfort in how similar our bodies were. The differences had fallen away, even from me and the seemingly perfect version of me.
“Star, I wonder. Would it be possible to bring the computer?”
She looked at me and smiled.
“Unfortunately not. Only organic matter can travel. I was able to bring my clothes because they are specially made for travelers. Most of you will show up on the other side naked.”
I frowned. “I’ve been writing, on the computer. I’ve been writing the details of what’s happened since I got to the island,” I said, looking down at the sand.
“I know. I’ve read. Between calculations. It’s helped me connect to you, to all of you.”
I swallowed, my eyes feeling hot and wet.
“I remember. I mean, it’s part of my training. I remember everything. When we get to the other side, we can write it all down again, together,” she said with a smile. I nodded and held her hand.
When the sun set, we knew it was time. Our stomachs were rumbling, and our nerves were raw. We stipped off our ragged clothes, perhaps for the last time and stood in front of the Nest waiting. Six identical skinny brown-skinned girls with stubbly heads.
“Before we go in, we have to ‘activate’ ourselves. We have to tap into that power we have been cultivating. Everyone partner up,” she said, pulling us over to someone and pushing us together.
“Now kiss. Really kiss. Do whatever you want. Get each other going!” She said with a laugh, reaching over to me and kissing me.
Chapped lips on chapped lips, but I didn’t care. I had somehow forgotten about the edging and what it had made me, but one touch of her skin and I was back there, back at the precipice.
“Hah, careful!” I heard Red say with a laugh. A little moan, a little giggle. I put my hands on Star’s ass and squeezed.
“We never really got to fuck, did we?” She whispered in my ear.
“Not for real. I never showed you what I could really do,” she said, taking my nipple in her strong fingers and pinching while she kissed me.
“If we make it out of here alive, I promise I will,” she said.
At that moment, for some reason, I was sure that we were going to die. The feeling was flat, though. If we died, we died trying.
Finally, we marched into the Nest. It was dark, and it smelled like smoke and dirt. The water was muddy and thick. We sat down, and it covered our legs. We held on to the person in front of us. I was confused, I didn’t know who I was holding or who was behind me. Something in me let go of the need to figure it out. We were one.
Someone sealed the Nest and joined us. The only sound was our breath echoing. It was pitch black. We began our meditation cycle. It was immediately different, strange, and intense. The world was only my breath, our breath, the breath of this new “us.” The water seemed to pull at me, pulling the tension out of my muscles. The electricity of the kisses still buzzed on my lips.
“Think about the kiss,” I thought to myself, or did I say it? Was it someone else’s words?
We went from meditation into something else. There were no instructions, I just leaned forward, and the person behind me leaned into me, and we got as close as we could.
The person behind me cupped my breasts, and I did the same to who was in front of me. We kissed each others’ neck. We bit and growled and moaned. A tiny splash and a hand was in the water between my legs. No building, no circles, just wet fingers on my clit and then shockingly inside of me.
I was dizzy, I was numb and electric, I couldn’t open my eyes or were they open? The breathing was everywhere and the heartbeats. Our heartbeats, frantic and fast but, changing. My body a lightning rod, a leaf on the wind, a nova. The orgasm came, maybe, or something. Consciousness was blurry and difficult to understand.
I focused on the heartbeats as they went from six to four, beating pumping syncing, closing the distance between us, faster friction merging one. Quantum. Distant stars. Star. All of us, we were Star, and then nothing.
Sometimes you miss something so much you stop even remembering what it was like to have it. That was bread. Warm, fresh, bread. Dipped in salt and olive oil.
Star explained, at some point, the complexities of why we could get to Earth 4, but not the Earth she was born on. She could go on, she explained, and she might at some point, but until we were all ready to be apart, we would stay on Earth 4.
There were people there. At least fifty. They had a few little stone houses. They had a mill and a well and all kinds of things, and it was fucking glorious because they had bread and olive oil and fucking zucchini and tomatoes and it was all amazing.
In the end, four of us made it. Though she tried hard to work through it and she was the most emotionally mature person I’d ever met, it really fucked Star up to lose two of us.
We got new names eventually. It felt strange to keep our island nicknames. I decided to be Stella, kind of like Star. We spent the first few days crying and the next few days fucking our brains out. Then the few days after that fucking any guy who was down to get fucked by four hot identical women. A whole bunch of them were.
Dick was novel, but in the end, less interesting than I remembered.
After a month, we started the process of deciding where we might fit in the new world. The four of us build a house. We were connected in some new way and didn’t like being apart for too long.
Angie, who had become Lucy, decided she wanted to be a medicine woman. Red, who was called Micheal, started building wagons. I decided to follow my physicist heart and learn as much as I could from Star.
I wanted to learn to travel, no matter how long it took or how much I had to unlearn. Star never questioned it for a minute and announced that night that I was her apprentice.
Eventually, I did learn to travel, in my own way. In a new way. But that’s another story.