Every day I live in fear.
I have a good life. My job, though it doesn't pay spectacularly, is stable and has a very good ratio of money to free time in which to spend that money. I've a girlfriend, whom I've been with since we were both teenagers, and a relatively sizable family of two sons and a daughter.
Now the kids are grown up, my girlfriend and I like to travel. Often we'll just hop on a plane and go visit Prague or wherever for a long weekend. She's self employed and my work has a flexible schedule so it works out well. Life is good.
Every night when I lie down in bed however I know in the back of my mind that this existence can't last. I know that any day now my universe could come crashing down around me. That the threads of my life could unravel and all meaning in everything I've done, all purpose in life itself…it will all come to nothing. We're doomed. It's a fundamental fact that I can't get away from. The world is doomed. One day something will happen which will mean the world just won't be able to function anymore. Everything will change. It will all be over.
It all started many years ago. The 4th of November 2017.
A team of physicists in Heidelberg University were working on god knows what; I'm no physicist, I couldn't understand it if I tried. All I know is that they were throwing around large amounts of energy in a way which nobody had done before.
Their experiment wasn't exactly the sort of thing that would make it into the mainstream press, even within their own very narrow field of physics they had up until that point barely left a mark with what they were trying to do. They were just yet another small team experimenting with a crazy, new power generation theory.
I don't think they themselves ever really expected to have much success with it; they were just doing those experiments to disprove them. That's what science is all about after all.
What they did accomplish though…Well it completely surprised the world, none more so than the scientists themselves.
They turned on their machine and it began humming away, gradually drawing in more and more power; at this point they must have been sorely tempted to pull the plug. If there's one thing a successful method of electricity generation shouldn't do it's draw in a huge amount of electricity.
But they continued. In the name of science they kept their machine going and observed for several minutes as it drew in ever more power, then, quite unexpectedly, it happened.
All of a sudden a flash of light filled the room, and there, right behind their machine was a hole; a hole in the very fabric of our universe according to the scientists, slightly a-circular, around 3 metres in diameter, and wafer thin. At first the scientists must have been terrified. I remember around a decade ago people used to be terrified of the big particle physics thingy (I don't know what they call it!) at CERN in Switzerland creating a black hole that would destroy the Earth. That turned out to just be the public not understanding a thing about physics and being silly; if such a thing had ever been created it would have been so small that it would instantly collapse in on itself. Yet now, here was a genuine hole…
The scientists needn't have been worried. True, when the hole first appeared after the initial flash of light, it did become a jet black featureless void, however, there were no gravitational forces around it. Not so much as a single pencil or paperclip went flying off into oblivion. Gradually, the impenetrable darkness of the hole faded and features could steadily be made out within its surface, within an hour, standing there before the scientists in the middle of their laboratory was a forest.
Well I say in the middle of their laboratory. The actual effect has to be seen to be believed. Through both sides of the hole, could clearly be seen, in full real world 3D, was a forest. The forest had sunlight, depth and was undoubtedly real…yet you could walk around it. Surrounding this small, clear, window onto a verdant, sunlit forest was a physics laboratory. Portals are disconcerting things I tell you, you may believe you can handle it but you can't, no one can, a portal is just fundamentally something which by all rights should not exist, yet it does.
Quite naturally, the scientists were astounded by their discovery.
Their machine had stopped drawing in gargantuan amounts of power by this point, and now hummed away steadily, taking in no more electricity than a standard personal computer. The portal just stood there. Inviting them.
For days the scientists kept their discovery under wraps. They virtually lived in their laboratory as they studied the portal. At first they restricted themselves solely to outside instrumentation, trying to determine whatever readings they could from the portal without actually touching it, but then, on the fourth day they finally dared to send through a remote controlled car, equipped with a video camera. The little car drove right through the portal with no problems whatsoever. The scientists were even able to drive it back out again. Examining the footage from the car it seemed that the effect the portal had on its other side, was much the same as in the lab, only rather than a forest within a lab, the other side had a lab within a forest.
The scientists didn't hesitate. They soon sent through some mice. Then a pig. The creatures became utterly terrified when they saw the portal, screaming to escape; they survived the passage there and back entirely intact however and once away from the 'portal room' showed no ill effects.
It was clear what the next stage was to be- a human. One of the scientists stepped forward, an elderly man if I recall right, somewhere in his mid-70s. I can't help but suspect that the scientists weren't entirely confident of everything going right. The passing of a human through the portal proved to be an anti-climax however. He too was able to pass through the portal and return unharmed. He reported no ill-effects of his little journey, no strange sensations apart from the sudden change in environment between lab and forest. It was as if he had just stepped through a standard, run of the mill, door.
After confirming the portal was safe for humans the scientists thought up further experiments, working with the portal from both sides. Objects could pass through the portal both ways with absolutely no problem, as could radio signals, sound, light, radiation; anything they could care to think of.
The only moment of hesitation the scientists showed was when they finally had the idea of touching the side of the portal with a melon. The fruit exploded; completely torn asunder by the portal, its flesh scattering through both sides.
Touching the thin side obviously wasn't a good idea. 'Danger: Portal' signs were hastily placed around the lab and a rope barrier placed around the portal. One can never be too careful I suppose.
One important question did remain unanswered about the portal: where was it to?
The forest showed a normal day and night cycle completely in line with what the scientists experienced in their lab and its weather pattern, though different to the Heidelberg area, was generally consistent with a German winter. The stars seemed to suggest it was somewhere nearby. To test this theory the scientists tried transmitting radio waves from the other side of the portal; all they received was the transmission which passed through the portal, nothing from the world at large.
It was a real mystery.
The scientists announced their discovery to the world on the 14th of December.
The press went wild.
Theories started springing up like wildfire about where this portal went, and thousands upon thousands of people asked to be granted access to it, ranging from several, rather eminent scientists, through to average people with a sense of adventure, and all the way down to the insane, who no doubt believed that the portal had something to do with their strange little religion, or UFOs, or both.
Studies on the portal continued, this time with the help of scientists drawn from outside the Heidelberg physics department.
Amongst the many crazy theories of where the portal led quite a surprisingly large amount of them guessed right, in January this theory was announced to be the most likely.
It was an alternative Earth; another dimension very similar to our own where history had taken a different course.
By this time scientific teams were going rather far afield on the other side of the portal. Once the scientists had tried turning off the portal machine and then turning it back on again, confirming it always opened to the same forest, a base had even been set up on the other side.
No sign of humanity was ever found through the portal. Animal life was by and large what is normal for Germany; with the exception of larger amounts of bears and wolves and…pretty much everything really. It was quite the untouched virgin land. The only really spectacular find came with the leak of a video on the internet of an aurochs sighting.
We now generally believe that this world is one on which for some reason humanity never evolved, many believe that some distant relative of ours could still be moping about somewhere down in Africa, an expedition has yet been sent there even to this day however.
A whole new Earth, one which presumably still had all of its natural resources intact. The world was excited at this prospect to say the least. Dozens of scientific teams, all over the world, were already working to replicate the German experiment, purely for the sake of science. This tantaliser encouraged hundreds more to begin looking into portal technology. Virtually overnight a whole new field of science was born.
On January the 26th the second portal was opened when a large team at Tokyo University were able to successfully tear their own little hole in the fabric of the universe. Expecting to see the first view of an undisturbed Tokyo bay, almost one hundred people were crammed into the room to watch the 'switching on' of the portal.
Much as with the German portal, after an initial surge in energy use and a big flash of light they were greeted with a black hole (a hole that is black that is, not a literal black hole) of their own, much to the dismay of many of the uneducated observers who hadn't even bothered to read up on the Heidelberg experiments.
Such people were in the minority however, others knew they just had to wait and gradually, where before had been nought but a disconcerting pseudo-circle of darkness, Tokyo bay took shape before them…But something was wrong.
The geography seemed correct, the lay of the land really did look like Tokyo bay, but the trees…Those were not of a species native to Japan.
The observers and the scientists all began to chatter amongst themselves, wondering what had gone wrong; one of the scientists walked around the back of the portal to see if things were any different there. That was the last anyone ever saw of him, after a brief scream he was gone. Something had grabbed him, dragged him into the portal, where the lack of subsequent screaming would suggest it had most likely killed him.
The room descended into panic, everyone was shouting. Some wanted to see what had happened to the scientist, others, the smarter majority, wanted to get out of the room as quick as possible. The exits were jammed as the screaming masses tried to force their way out. Screaming was the worst possible thing they could have done. It drew the monsters to them.
The scientists had opened a portal to an alternate Earth, this Earth however was a very different one to the Earth in Germany. This was a planet where not only had man not evolved but seemingly nor had mammal kind. This was a world of monsters; Huge, vicious, tentacled monsters.
We now believe this world to be one where the octopuses are the dominant form of life. Whether this is because they outcompeted mammals or our ancestors simply never evolved is unknown and is likely something we'll never find out. Not that it was of much immediate concern to the people of Tokyo at that time.
The creatures surged through the portal into our world and descended upon the screaming mass of people. The smallest of the monsters stood two metres tall, the largest, when fully erect, closer to eight. The monster's tentacles worked swiftly, grabbing people and throwing them towards their beaks; some were torn apart in a split second whilst other, less lucky souls passed straight down the monster's throat.
The monsters soon made it out of the portal room, chasing the screaming crowds as they dashed for safety. Their size proved a great hindrance in the narrow corridors of Tokyo University and they fought amongst each other to be at the front of the surge towards the prey. This doubtless saved some lives; however possibly cost many others, as some people chose to cower in small rooms rather than flee, believing they would be safe until relief arrived. This rarely worked out well, the invertebrate monsters managing to squeeze themselves through gaps many times smaller than themselves to get at the prey within.
The university was soon abandoned, rapidly followed by the neighbouring sectors of Tokyo, as ever more of the monsters spilled out from the university in pursuit of the new, easy prey that was mankind. It took quite some time for the lumbering local bureaucracy to get around to shutting down all power to Tokyo University; even once this was accomplished it proved to be in vein, as the University's backup generators set to work, keeping the portal open for more monsters to invade our realm.
Thousands died before the onslaught of the beasts before the Japanese Self Defence Force was able to respond. Even then things didn't resolve themselves overnight. Though the Japanese military ranks as one of the best armed and trained forces in the world, the creatures were many, they were fast, and they were smart.
It didn't take too long for the creatures to realise how deadly guns could be. The word seemed to pass rapidly, unspoken amongst the monsters. One minute, throughout the city, they were throwing themselves at fortified positions, the next, every one of them realised this was a tactical error and they began retreating to buildings, to lie in wait for their prey to come to them.
Even as the monsters were finally killed, more of them surged through the portal to take their place. It wasn't until the fourth day of the invasion that the air force was given the go ahead to bomb the university, finally putting a stop to the constant influx of tentacled abominations. This accomplished the Japanese began regaining lost ground, fighting house to house to reclaim their capital. It was over two months before the last of the creatures was finally hunted down, in the depths of Tokyo's sewer system. To this day the JDF still regularly patrol the streets of Tokyo, the creatures laid many eggs during their short time on Earth; eggs that take highly variable amounts of time to hatch, releasing creatures which though only 10 centimetres tall are every bit as vicious as their parents.
Following the Tokyo event many of the world's nascent portal projects had their funding dropped as the public perception of portal technology changed from hope and wonder for what strange new world(s) lay open for humanity, to fear of what frightening new plains may be sitting in wait, ready to assault our world.
You may now be wondering how my great fear can be unveiled, barely one third into my tail. Surely the Tokyo event was years ago? What kind of lunatic is still afraid of that? Suffice to say that is not my fear. I am scared of something far worse than any giant octopus monster. My realisation of the fear that haunts my every moment arose only as the research into inter-dimensional portals continued.
Whilst world opinion had now very much turned solidly against any further portals being opened, this did not stop many scientists from continuing their research, nor many corporations and governments from funding this investigation into new worlds to exploit.
It was only two weeks after the Tokyo portal opened that the third portal was activated, this one at Pasadena, in the USA.
Originally the scientists had planned to start their machine on February the 1st, amidst a big public spectacle, rather similar to that which had been arranged in Tokyo. The terrible events in Japan however had served, if not to stop them opening their portal, to at least postpone its activation and put a little bit of thought into safety. Not much thought mind you, just enough so they could say they had paid attention to safety concerns- a sealed room, kill switches for the portal both ready at hand and in another university on the opposite end of the country, a few armed guards, that general sort of thing. Nowhere near safe enough in my book (they did open the portal after all) but it proved enough to satisfy the government, and the activation was given the go ahead.
Thus even as battle between Earth's first line of defence and alien invaders, still raged on the streets of Tokyo, America witnessed its first portal opening.
The isolated room was enveloped in a flash of light, followed by the appearance of a dark hole in the universe. The armed guards surrounding the room stood tense, weapons at the ready, fully expecting a repeat of Tokyo. As it turns out, they needn't have bothered.
The Pasadena experiment bore more of a similarity to that of the Germans than the Japanese. They too found a pristine primordial forest through their portal. It was a completely new world, utterly distinct from that of the Germans, but boring nonetheless.
Prior to the American portal's activation, several prominent news outlets were up in arms, fully expecting the octopus monsters to be given a second entryway to Earth. Once opened however, the American portal didn't attract much interest from the media at all. It just quietly dropped down to a small mention in the mid-pages of a few newspapers. The media in general was still quite understandably, still concentrating on Tokyo. About the only people the American portal really did interest, were palaeontologists and biologists; this 'Earth 3' as it became known, was utterly free of humanity, as a result its America had never witnessed the mass extinctions that followed the arrival of the Native Americans on our world.
Wait, I stand corrected.
There was another, rather large and important group interested in the American portal- the mineral tycoons, the oil drillers, the gold miners and their ilk.
Literally within a week of the portal being opened a large prospecting expedition passed through, undoubtedly muttering "There's gold in them there hills" as they went.
In the weeks and months that followed several more portals were opened up. The press made a show of acting outraged about this disregard for public safety, and for a while the people supported them. In time however, as one 'boring' world after another was discovered, reporting of new portals quietened down and the stories of new worlds being opened up, slowly retreated down the news pecking order, from front page, down to featured articles, then to a few sentences of mention, and eventually, not even being mentioned at all by the mainstream press.
There were some interesting worlds out there of course; Earth 17, which was uncovered by a team in Aarhus, proved to be a long fabled and (since Tokyo) long feared, 'dinosaur earth'.
The Japanese octopuses proved to have been a rather unique species in their invasion through the portal, even the fiercest of the dinosaurs that inhabited this alternate-Denmark, ran like scared mice from the very sight of the portal.
And then of course there was Earth 42, who can forget Earth 42? The alternate world discovered by my very own, Sheffield University...Well most people can actually. It followed the fairly standard 'Heidelberg template' of a boring, virgin forest. It was local though, and that made it briefly of interest to me. I even managed to get myself a look at it, via a friend in the physics department; I wasn't allowed to go through it, but it was still quite an interesting sight.
What other moderately interesting worlds were there…
Not many. The only ones of note I can remember are 59 and 76. In the case of 76, the world's discovery actually made quite an impact on the media, albeit a very unwelcome one, 59 didn't receive anywhere near as much attention but it sticks in my mind anyway.
Earth 76 is a world shrouded in mystery, out of all the worlds mankind has yet opened portals to that is the one we know the least about, not because of any special features it may or may not have, but purely because of the circumstances of its opening.
The portal to Earth 76 you see was opened in Amsterdam; a city world famous for being constructed on man made land, below sea level. As can be expected, the opening of this portal promptly resulted in the room containing the portal machine being instantly inundated with water and completely flooded, destroying the machine (amidst several million euros worth of other expensive equipment) and closing the portal forever. I love the story of Earth 76. It just really goes to show that you can have all the degrees and PHDs in the world, and it still doesn't mean you have any common sense.
Earth 59 was opened by scientists in…somewhere in India I think.
The reason I found this world particularly interesting at the time, was that it was a world where life had apparently, never evolved beyond the stage of lichen. I photographs of that world up on the wall of my office. My friends call me mad; it's just a bunch of green rocks stretching off into the distance after all. Yet…There's a wonderful stark beauty to be seen in this endless barren landscape. It's really quite pretty.
By the time the number of worlds discovered began to creep past the one hundred mark the physics behind the portal machine were beginning to become well understood, and it wasn't long (Earth 106) before a new 'first' in portal technology was made by a team in Moscow.
Prior to the advances made by these Russian scientists, every portal machine was pretty much limited to opening just one portal. The machines required a very specific amount of energy in order to function; too little and nothing would happen, too much and they would explode. The determining factor behind what world your portal was opened to was largely believed to be something to do with the exact qualities of the materials used to create the machine. Though two machines could be made exactly the same the minute details right down on the atomic level would cause them to open portals to different worlds. Or something to that effect anyway.
There were other factors believed to be involved. Location for instance, was accepted to play a strong part in which world the machine opened its portal to. Experiments in moving portal machines proved that if you took it further than a mile or so from its original location, the portal would open to a new world.
Scientists being scientists of course couldn't just accept these strange events as being 'just because'. The amount of energy being put into the machine, variations in the magnetic field, and god knows what else were suspected to play a role. They weren't sure exactly how to look into this however. That was of course until the Russians and Earth 106. Via refining the fundamental design of their portal machine, the Moscow University team was able to minutely vary the energy used by the machine and make it open a portal to a new world, completely different to its original world of 'New Russia' (Earth 83 to the rest of us, their president was quite public on the idea of expanding into a whole other Earth, just for Russia…).
And so, the race was on.
Portal machines are expensive and complicated pieces of equipment, even to this day they are fairly restricted to 'one per university', they just take up so much time and resources to build. With the work of the Russians however a new lease of life was suddenly breathed into portal science. Portal machines became so much more versatile than the static bridges between two worlds they had been before. The work of the Russians was soon copied and improved upon, as many teams across the world, actively competed to discover as many worlds as possible.
The general public was completely indifferent to this of course. They didn't really see the need for hundreds of vast empty forest worlds. The concept of all these 'other Earths', which could only be connected to each other by a very specialist process worried many people. The fundamental concept was just unnerving at the core. I was of course, one of these people.
I was beginning to see the multiverse for what it was.
Millions upon millions of worlds, worlds of bountiful riches; virgin, untouched territories, the perfect place to build a new home, sheltered from all the pollution and shortages that plagued our Earth. Yet…these worlds were completely separate from one another, many people equated 'the portal age' to a new age of discovery, but that was an imperfect comparison, things were more worrying than that.
In the colonial days you could go away to settle on an island somewhere, but right next door to you would be another island. Ships from home would come and go all the time. It wasn't entirely a one way trip. In theory, you could keep in contact with home, go back even.
With portals meanwhile, things were not so easy. Portals had been closed and reopened to the same worlds in the past but it was a difficult process, portal science remained highly inexact. If the original portal machine responsible for linking your new world to Earth-prime was destroyed then that would be it, you'd be cut off, as good as dead somewhere out there in the multiverse; Forever.
Portal technology advanced ever more as refinements were made to portal machines. Nonetheless, in all the multiverse there was no sign that mankind had ever existed anywhere but here.
That was of course until Cambridge.
Cambridge University had rapidly established itself as one of the leading institutions for portal science. They had manufactured many portal machines, and performed several experiments, which though utterly dull to most of the world managed to relieve my fears about colonising new worlds considerably.
These great feats of science were things which are now considered largely routine, but until then had never been done before; experiments such as using multiple portal machines to access the same world at the same time, precisely mapping energy input levels so that they could open a portal to any of their previously discovered worlds with a push of a button, and varying the size of their portal from a few millimetres (the government was quick to recognise the weapons applications of this one) up to 50 metres.
July the 12th 2026 was just a normal day for most of the world; even the scientists at Cambridge's portal lab weren't expecting anything major.
They had just further optimised one of their portal machines in an attempt to get it to accept a higher energy input. They had done this sort of thing many times before, it was fairly standard procedure. They had no idea that they were about to make a first with just how much energy they were planning to feed into their machine on this day.
The machine started up as per usual and began to draw in power. There was the standard portal opening flash however this time accompanying it was an ear-piercing sound. Almost like a shriek. It filled the air for a brief moment and then it was gone.
The scientists had no idea what was happening, this was virgin territory for them, some scientists and the lab's security personnel demanded the machine be shut down at once whilst other scientists yelled at them to shut up.
Everyone's attention was on the portal, as their eyes adjusted from the flash (always blinding, even with goggles, though somehow never leaving any lasting damage), the black hole gradually appeared before their eyes and then it began to fade…
No one could believe their eyes.
Not the people in the room that day nor anyone watching the TV pictures later that night.
Instead of the Cambridgeshire countryside they could instead see through this portal what was clearly a city; or at least man-made buildings of some kind. Perhaps even an alternative version of the university itself.
But something was very wrong.
The sky was pitch black, angry thunder roared and harsh lightning flashed low to the ground.
This was a city alright; however it was in a state of complete devastation. The buildings were in a state of colossal disrepair, most of their roofs having long since collapsed in on themselves along with a sizable number of walls.
Not a trace of life was anywhere to be seen.
The scientists were so awestruck by the sight before them that they scarcely noticed the frantic clicking sound until the young woman who was supposed to be monitoring it began yelling frantically. The Geiger counter was going crazy.
Mankind had finally discovered itself. But it was a version of ourselves where the worst fears of our fathers had come true.
The world's media went into frenzy. Overnight alternate Earths went from an almost mundane, every-day occurrence to being the hottest topic once more.
There were countless interviews with experts of every kind; anyone even remotely relevant to the story was dragged before a TV camera for their thoughts. There were innumerable angles put on the story, the sane and the insane. What had happened to this new Earth? Could it happen here? How long before we made contact with other humans? Was the devastation at all related to portal technology?
In the months that followed scientists around the world frantically set to work trying to replicate the Cambridge experiments. Prior to the discovery of the irradiated wasteland earth, the funding for portal technology research had been dropping dramatically; we already had more empty earths than we knew what to do with and politicians didn't really see the need for more. The prospect of contacting other human civilizations however brought a new impetus to the research.
For many months nothing new was discovered. Many experiments outright failed as the machinery overloaded, often in a spectacular explosive fashion (which on one occasion cost a small handful of Canadian scientists their lives), others succeeded in discovering little more than standard model primordial earths.
Even Cambridge failed to replicate their experiment. Even reopening a portal to their ruined Earth proved a task far more difficult than it normally would have been.
In late November it was briefly believed that a team had been successful in finding more evidence of human civilization when a team in Krakow travelled through a portal to a new world and discovered what appeared to be ancient ruins. For several days the world held its collective breath with all eyes on Poland. When it turned out that the ancient ruins were nothing more than natural rock formations the anti-climax was immense.
It wasn't until nearly a year to the day after the Cambridge experiment that a large team in Chicago finally managed to open the portal we had all been waiting for. Within minutes of starting up their machine their lab was filled with a flash of light and an almighty shriek followed by the formation of a hole in the universe.
At first the experiment seemed to be a failure. Nothing could be seen through the portal but forest. Many of the scientists, perhaps thrown off balance by the ear-shattering sound that had just echoed through their lab, demanded the machine shut down immediately so that they could get back to their calculations to try and figure out how to do things right. Other, calmer minds however pointed out that the shriek was not normal and that it was coherent with the Cambridge experiment. They should investigate further.
Later that day several scientists and their armed guards (fairly standard procedure even in worlds believed to be primordial) passed through the portal and began to trek in the direction of Lake Michigan; they reasoned that if there were humans in this world that would be the most likely place to find them.
The small group forced their way through the dense woodland for around quarter of an hour before coming to a wall of particularly thick vegetation. Hacking their way through this they emerged into an open field. This seemed somewhat irregular but not massively so…that is until one of the guards pointed out a group of animals in the corner of the field: without a doubt they were not American bison but Eurasian cows.
The group excitedly pressed on, they didn't have far to go before they saw it: a small wooden house surrounded by a fenced off patch of corn. As the group approached the house four small figures scattered from amongst the corn and ran inside the house, moments later two larger figures emerged; men who were aiming what were clearly guns of some kind.
The group from earth prime instantly dropped for cover, all except for one of the scientists. His hands in the air he slowly continued to walk towards the two men, as his colleagues shouted at him not to be stupid he continued on, slowly approaching them. Soon he got close enough to make out their features. They were dressed in ragged green and brown clothes and carried guns which resembled the kind of thing you would see in a museum on our earth; very primitive muskets.
One of the men was clearly pretty young, no more than 18. The other meanwhile looked closer to 50. Perhaps they were father and son? Their faces carried a look of grim determination. The older of the two sported a thick, bushy beard and several minor scars. Their hair was a dark brownish-ginger and their skin largely white with red blotches.
As the scientist approached the two men they examined him and, deciding he was probably not a threat, slowly dropped their guns and broke out into a grin. They began to speak excitedly and motioned for the scientist to enter their home. He understood virtually nothing of what they said; he couldn't even recognise it as being any particular language he knew of. One word stood out though; Eskimo. Or at least he assumed that was what they said.
When interviewed by a prominent news reporter the following day the scientist freely admitted that he was no linguist and that a language expert would have had a better chance of communicating with the two men. When a language expert did travel through the portal several days later he found that the people there spoke a language that was seemingly completely unrelated to any of our world's language families.
It was several weeks before the story of this alternate world eventually emerged and once more the press covered the story in a massive amount of speculation.
It turned out that this family were colonists on the frontier of settlement in the North American colonies of their home nation, which in our world would approximate to western France
In the two year's that followed the full story of this world continued to emerge and despite other interesting events taking place in the meantime I still kept an eye on it, it is quite an interesting world.
Their world's history had followed a completely different course to ours, diverging wildly even in pre-history; the language the men spoke being the descendant of one which, it is believed, became extinct before the dawn of agriculture in our world.
One thing which I found particularly about this world is that its highest technology level approximated only to around our 17th or 18th century, however, in the past a civilization had existed with some examples of technology more akin to our 19th century levels, only to be destroyed by foreigners. This Victorian-level civilization had arisen in what we would know as China. The barbarians that destroyed it had been a mighty coalition of 'Europeans', 'Indians' and steppe peoples.
Apparently this sort of thing had happened several times in the history of this world, with three main centres of civilization existing in Europe, India and China. Each of these areas usually contained many different independent nations and so concentrated most of their attention on competition between themselves, however, when one area began to rise above the others too much, the others would enlist the aid of the powerful central Asian tribes and gang up on it.
It all sounded a bit like a medieval version of 1984's international politics to me.
One big concern that arose in the weeks following the Chicago discovery was from universities in areas that historically were not focal points of civilization. Many in the Americas and Australia worried that perhaps some of the worlds they had previously discovered had actually been home to human civilizations that had just not got around to discovering their continents yet?
Sure, there were always the natives to find, an aboriginal rights group started kicking up a bit of a fuss about that, moaning that it seemed they didn't count as people in the eyes of the scientific community now. However the low population densities of nomadic peoples still meant that it was far more difficult to find any sign of them if they happened to be there.
Several universities in the US even muttered about moving their portal research operations abroad. There was a lot of talk of setting up a new centre for portal research in Iraq due to Mesopotamia being the 'cradle of civilization'; the Iraqi government eagerly seized upon this, encouraging the foreign scientists to come and invest in their country. Few did in the end, perhaps in part due to the next major discovery again coming from the US.
Not a year had passed since the discovery in Chicago when another screaming portal was successfully opened in Boston, granting the world a view of a thriving port that seemed to be from around the turn of the century.
Much like the Chicago world the people living here did not have a culture or language anything like something we knew from our world. Even their very appearance was somewhat alien; very pale skin, white hair and purple eyes seemed to predominate. These people were from an alternative 'British Isles' and though their history was completely different to ours it seemed to have several parallels; in ancient times a large empire centred in Spain had conquered much of Europe only to fall to barbarians from the east, but not before it had left behind the legacy of a centralised religion. Following a brief dark age civilization had arisen once again, and then, around three hundred years ago, launched into a renaissance.
This Albino-Britain (a term that started with low grade newspapers but soon spread into common usage) was the world's superpower having followed a path similar to that of our Britain. From its safe island home it was able to develop its commerce, industry and vast naval power that allowed it to out compete the continental nations at every turn. This world had even seen a sort of Napoleon; emerging as leader of a country that covers most of our modern Poland he conquered the majority of the continent before finally being defeated (thanks to the wealth of the Albino-British).
The major debate following the discovery of the Albino-British dominated world was the question of how we would deal with them.
This question had also came up with the Chicago world, however, since there we had only stumbled onto a few isolated farming settlements on the fringes of civilization it was not as much of an issue. On the other hand with this new Boston portal we had opened directly into one of their word's fifty largest cities, the portal occupying the centre of a broad avenue, causing panic amongst the city's inhabitants.
Should we sell them our modern technology? How could we go about giving them modern medicine? Could our corporations be allowed to operate according to standard procedure in their world? How would this all work legally? Did they have anything to offer us?
The main concern of the Albino-British themselves was the worry of being invaded, quite understandable given their situation. From our point of view this was of course a silly concern, we had the multiverse open to us, why would we try to conquer a world where people already live?
Certain far right groups said that manpower was our main stumbling factor in expansion across the multiverse and so we should conquer any less developed peoples we discover in order to build up our own numbers. Their reasoning for this was the possibility that other multi-verse empires may exist and they wouldn't be so restrained.
Most of the world merely ridiculed these suggestions. I too thought them utterly ludicrous…but for other reasons, really rather unsettling reasons. The fear was beginning to develop. My ideas were still vague and uncertain but nonetheless the worry was there. The idea of multiverse empires invading earth really pales in comparison to my true fear. My big concern is of the very nature of the multiverse itself. When we were just dealing with uninhabited Earths this was not such a big deal, however, now we were dealing with people….It was becoming disconcerting.
But I digress.
Eventually the decision was made that we would try to engage with the Albino-British as we would with any less developed prime-bound nation; we would give them aid to help them up to develop towards our standards of living however in return they would need to allow our businesses to operate as freely as they would a business of their own.
The Albino-British generally welcomed this agreement. Eventually it developed into a full fledged alliance between themselves and our western world. A tourism industry even began to develop; at first strictly our citizens to their world however within the year many of their number also made the trip to visit the great sights of our world.
For their pyramids of Ghzofnor (Turkey) was our pyramids of Giza, for their Klchko'n (Ireland) we have our (considerably less grand) Taj Mahal, for their statue of Yun (Sri Lanka) the closest I can think of is the old Colossus of Rhodes .
It was an expensive trip in the early years, so it was only three years ago that I was finally able to make it through Chelmsford portal-station to visit the Albino-British world. Though I only had the time (and money) to visit a few prime spots in their version of Europe it really was quite the splendid holiday.
Over the years portal technology continued to be refined and more and more new human civilizations began to be discovered. They were all dominated by cultures radically different to our own, their histories having diverted deep in pre-history.
The level of development of these worlds was largely low. None were found with a technology level surpassing that of the Albino-British. Indeed, the greatest number of new worlds discovered seemed to be full of nothing but primitive hunter-gatherers, even in the usual 'civilization hot spots'.
Interestingly there were even several instances of contact being made with alternative members of the homo- family. A band of Neanderthals 'collected' by French scientists caused quite a stir when a debate erupted over whether it was right to take them away from their home and bring them to our world for study. The scientists defended their actions by saying that the Neanderthals were sufficiently different from Homo-Sapiens so as to not be legally counted as people. After a lengthy court case it was decided that the Neanderthals were indeed people and as such it was up to them whether they wanted to stay or not. They all enthusiastically proclaimed they preferred France to their home world; this came as no surprise to me, they had all they could ever dream for here. Their life was no longer a constant, daily battle for survival. Instead it was one of relaxation, wine and cheese. If you're unfamiliar with the story you may think I'm being a Francophobe there but trust me when I say I'm not, those Neanderthals really did develop a major love for wine and cheese.
The debate over what to do about primitive people continued after this case. Of course primitive people would like to live on our Earth, but was it right to let them do so? On the other hand was it right to let them continue to suffer on their home worlds when we could help them?
It wasn't long before rumours began to emerge from Russia about experiments on
'proto-humans' to discover which would be most suited for work. These were rubbished at the time but it was soon revealed to be true when large numbers of 'homo-rusticus' (a branch of humanity complete dominant on their world which never evolved on ours) were revealed to be happily working as slaves in Siberia.
The international fallout was huge, many countries even cutting off trade relations with Russia. The Russians didn't seem too bothered however; China remained willing to trade on prime and it had an ever growing multiverse empire from which it could draw both resources and now, manpower.
Many interesting discoveries were made during this period. So much so that it soon became impossible to keep track of them all. The only limit to what could be discovered seemed to be the number of scientists who were working on portal projects; a number which seemed to be growing exponentially, where traditionally bookish young boys wanted to grow up to be rocket scientists and zoologists, they now wanted to be portal scientists.
Already portal technology had seriously altered the world in which we lived. From a single Earth with rapidly diminishing resources the price of most raw materials had dropped through the floor. With mines fully established on various off world colonies, the resources available to us seemed nigh-on infinite. Many commented that the world was on the verge of a true golden age.
In the decade that followed portals continued to be opened and new civilizations contacted, however, for many years the only trace of advanced civilizations seemed to be devastated worlds. For the majority seemed to be the result of nuclear warfare in the not too distant past however there was one world that I remember being discovered in which the 'Great Fire' had occurred over a millennium ago and was now nothing more than a myth to the neo-medieval natives of that planet.
Additionally, though nuked out worlds seemed to be most common they were far from the only form of devastated world we found: there was at least one which seemed to have been overrun by grey goo, nanotechnology gone mad. That portal was shut down in very quick order by one of the scientists working on it; I hope she got a medal for that, if some of the goo had got through to our world things could have gotten very bad indeed.
In time we did eventually begin to discover worlds with a roughly modern technology level. The first was a world with a technology level somewhere around our 1960s-1980s; quite an interesting world really, the level of development was largely on a 1980s level however they hadn't gotten around to building microcomputers for some reason, they stuck with huge mainframe machines. What was particularly nice about this world was that they had put a man on Mars only recently; something that our planet Earth has STILL yet to do, the multiverse being seen as the 'true' and 'better' final frontier.
Ever onwards marched the advance of portal science and the number of known worlds grew and grew. The ease of accessing them again, also sharply increased; some of the major colonial world had portals from all over earth prime connecting to them.
The potential of the multiverse seemed truly endless.
The next great breakthrough in portal science was made in Uppsala, Sweden. Nothing too special was expected, the new experimental adjustments they had made to their machine were merely meant to optimise the power flow somewhat so that less power would be needed to open a portal than usual. Quite dull stuff really. But of course, something quite unexpected happened.
When they turned on their portal machine the power draw seemed to be at normal levels, not the reduced level they were expecting, then the screeching noise came, it was unusually noisy; after so many years of screeching portals dampeners had been developed to drastically tone down the noise however the screech was so intense this time around that the dampeners seemed to have little impact.
The shocked scientists pulled themselves back together as the portal opened and the blackness faded. They didn't know what they would find in this world, they had been aiming for a previously uncovered, uninhabited world. The screeching however was usually an indication of a world with humans. Perhaps the louder than usual screech meant that it was an advanced world? None of them expected what they actually saw.
Through the new Uppsala portal could clearly be seen…Uppsala cathedral; the very same instantly recognisable building that the scientists knew from their home city. There was no mistaking it. The castle was there too; just as they remembered it. The city surrounding these two landmarks looked somewhat different…the one big difference that they noticed immediately being that they were sure there wasn't a rugby pitch right where the department car park should be.
Nonetheless…it seemed they had quite unintentionally accomplished a first. They had actually discovered an alternative Uppsala. Not just a city formed by a completely alien people on the location of our Uppsala (such things are very common; cities tend to be founded in certain places for a reason). Rather than the nation of some long extinct people it seemed that they had successfully discovered another Sweden. They couldn't wait to investigate and all but instantly dashed through the portal.
It turned out they had indeed discovered an alternate Sweden. The history of this world diverged from ours well within our recorded history; exactly what had happened to make it different is unknown however from around the turn of the 17th century the details in the history books begin to look different. These differences begin to grow exponentially until, by the end of the century, their history is following a completely different tack to ours.
The Sweden of this new world is fairly similar to that of ours; nothing too special, just a small, wealthy European nation bordered by its friendly neighbours Norway, Denmark and (a considerably larger) Finland. The dominant power in this world's history was the British Republic. At first a militaristic, puritanical, expansionist power which managed to defeat all comers in colonial wars thanks to its control of the seas, it mellowed out by the early 19th century into being a rather progressive world policeman, gradually spinning off its colonies into successful democracies in their own right.
The technology level in this world was lower than ours by about two or three decades; the world had been a largely peaceful place for the better part of two centuries, with no wars, cold or hot, technological progress had been somewhat stunted. All innovation wasn't completely crippled of course, but the funding for things like nuclear power didn't emerge until much later than the 1940s.
Peaceful relations were soon established with this world. Whilst it would have taken several years to cement relations with worlds inhabited by alien cultures, this happened in the course of a few months with this new world due to the ease of communication. With worlds which had diverged from ours in pre-history the only similarities that came about were purely due to 'natural factors', for instance if a people live on a small, frosty island they will tend to eat a lot of fish and build well insulated houses, linguistic similarities were largely coincidental or reliant on onomatopoeia. Through this new Uppsala portal however we had people who were recognisably Iberian, German and Italian. Linguistic differences were largely on the level one would get between Americans and Englishmen in the mid 20th century, some minor oddities in word usage but nothing insurmountable at all.
It was all awfully weird stuff really, and it was only the beginning.
As had happened with all other major advances in portal technology the rest of the scientific community was quick to replicate the Uppsala experiment.
Within a matter of months portals soon began to be opened to alternate worlds that had diverged from ours at recognisable points in history.
In my view this opening of portals to link with world with which we have a common recorded history was the most important step forward in portal technology. It was the true opening of Pandora's Box.
When contacting 'empty earths' and worlds inhabited by unrecognisable peoples, portal technology had effectively been offering us a substitute for space exploration. We were discovering strange new worlds and civilizations; they were without a doubt alien in the pulp fiction sense of the world. I'd thought it all rather funny really, the major criticism of most old science fiction series was how human the aliens looked; in Star Trek they would tend to just attach play doe to a woman's head and say she was an alien. No one had anticipated just how close to the truth this would prove to be!
With these 'alternate history worlds' things were very different. We had so much in common with them. In the case of the Uppsala world this had proved to be a good thing. It was foolish though to think it would always be so.
We'd had trouble with new worlds in the past. I've already mentioned the Tokyo monsters of course but they were an exception, as I mentioned earlier animals are inherently fearful of portals and even the most potentially dangerous of creatures never posed a threat to other earth.
With alternate civilizations…Well there have been several instances of trouble. On many occasions people venturing through portals have been attacked by the natives, occasionally with rather nasty results. On a few occasions the natives have even passed through a portal and attacked us on our home world. The inherent fear of portals held by all animals doesn't tend to apply to people at all.
Quite a few invasions have been beaten off in portal labs around the world. Usually this proves to be a rather easy thing to do; just shut down the portal from safely outside the portal room and vent in sleeping gas. Occasionally more advanced natives will try something trickier and attempt to steadily infiltrate our world to secure the portal, this though has never worked, and we have become very good at spotting threatening planets and cutting off contact with them before they get a chance to cause any trouble.
Overall inter-dimensional conflict did exist however it had yet to cause any serious problems. Few people really expected things to be much different when it came to recognisably historically divergent worlds. What we failed to predict however was quite how much worse conflict could get when it came to worlds similar to our own.
When it came to hostile, pre-historically divergent worlds, the reasons for the conflict tended to be nothing special. Maybe we didn't worship the right gods, maybe they didn't like trespassers on their land, maybe they wanted our technology, or our women, maybe they were just a hyper-aggressive people which acted the same way on their home world, maybe even the wearing of hats was considered gravely offensive in their culture (seriously, look it up; its amongst Heidelberg's reports).
Whatever their reasons for deciding to attack us, it was nothing personal. With the historically divergent worlds on the other hand things could often be very personal indeed.
The major example of less-than-friendly alternate historical contact came with the first portal of this new era to be opened in Cairo. At first everything seemed to be going fine, nothing too out of the ordinary was found on the other side of the portal. The natives were Greeks of a mid-20th century level of technology and they seemed as friendly as could be expected given that a rip in the very fabric of the universe had just opened in the middle of one of their major cities.
Contact was made by a largely international team led by professors from Cairo's Classical Studies department, speakers of fluent Greek. For several hours all went well, the Greeks began to show our people around their city and expressed a large interest in opening friendly relations with our world, the government officials the professors were dealing with took the whole idea of the existence of the multiverse very much in their stride. Things were going really rather well, that was until two of the explorers from our world decided to speak to each other in Arabic at least. The atmosphere frosted over instantly.
As it turned out this wasn't just a simple case of a Greek Egypt that had existed since time immemorial; it was a totalitarian Greek Egypt that had fought for its very existence since the first millennium, against constant Arab attack and only a generation ago had finally succeeded in wiping out the threat once and for all…
The professors were seized and an invasion through the portal launched promptly. The Egyptians had poorly designed their portal lab, an emergency generator was located just a few rooms away from the portal itself. The Greeks were able to swiftly push through the portal in large numbers and seize the entire university in a matter of an hour. From there they were free to attack the rest of the city. The Egyptian government reacted slowly, more concerned for the professors held hostage by the Greeks than the rest of their city, they took far too long to realise that this invasion would unfold into being the biggest portal disaster since Tokyo. The Greek army though primitively armed was fanatical and was soon able to conquer the whole of Cairo, and push outwards.
Within days news began to emerge of mass executions in the occupied lands, the Greeks publically stating they would cleanse our world of the Semitic threat; that they would chose this exact wording struck me as rather strange. Presumably in their world the Jews had become extinct long ago. In our world however, this was really not the case, and they had just gave the Israeli government all the excuses it needed to get involved in the battle for Egypt, along with the rest of the Arab world.
The Greek numbers were huge and all attempts to close down the portal by destroying the university failed, it seemed that the Greeks had managed to find other portal machines in the university and they had figured out how to link them back to their own world.
The fighting lasted for many months; it proved to be the bloodiest war of the century. Attempts were made around the world to open new portals to the Greek world, none were successful. Someone in the Greek world had apparently managed to invent a portal jammer, something nobody from our universe had yet to do (but then what would be the point? We had no need of one).
Over time the Greek lines were pushed back, until on the outskirts of Cairo a small mosque containing a portal was seized by troops from the 'Holy Islamic Republic of Arabia' (even today I can't help but call them Saudis). The low ranking troops who discovered the portal planned to smash the daemonic machine there and then it was only the quick thinking of their commander which stopped them.
Within a matter of minutes an Israeli team arrived on the scene and took control. The mosque along with several other, seemingly random buildings, dotted around the city were bombed a few hours later. Greek resistance began to rapidly collapse.
What happened that day isn't confirmed even today, though few people suspect anything other than some kind of WMD being used against the Greek world. The only real debate is what kind.
The Cairo incident was far from the only such occasion of historic enemies meeting again via the medium of portal technology. Luckily, it was without a doubt the worst. Over two million people from our world were killed; likely far more on the other side of the portal.
As could be expected from our portal-addicted world, this disaster changed little, and portals continued to be opened. There was a lot of talk about various new security measures to be put in place wherever portals were being opened, some of this was even put into practice, and an international treaty was signed on proper procedure for ensuring portals could be shut down quickly and easily. The impact was minimal; as far as most of the world was concerned it was business as usual for portal technology.
There were quite a few who were angry about this, lots of ranting that if this disaster had happened in a 'white Christian' country things would be different. I very much doubt this however, where portals had helped the world to get over our reliance on finite natural resources the world's economy was now reliant upon portals. In the space of a few decades they had risen from being purely something silly from science fiction stories to being a vital part of the planet's infrastructure. And they were getting ever more advanced all the time.
The next major advance in portal technology wasn't seen as such a big deal by the world at large when it first happened. From the start however it got me very, very worried. This discovery is best explained through a little story, it's not a particularly well known story, it barely made a dent in the news, and to me however it is terrifying beyond imagining. The fear this story planted in my mind truly dwarves anything to do with the Tokyo monsters, the Greek Nazis, or anything else. This story is truly the route of the fear that haunts my mind during every waking hour. It is with this story that I truly know our current path will ultimately lead to our destruction.
Once upon a time there was a middle aged, French scientist, a fairly well respected figure in the field of Portal Science but completely irrelevant to the general public.
One of the first portals to be opened by his team in Marseille during the '3rd age' of portal exploration was one to what appeared to be a fairly nondescript world.
This world had diverged from ours at some point in the 14th century. France was a democratic republic and had successfully stretched to its 'natural boundaries', the main power of this world was a 'super Germany' which covered practically everything east of the Rhine, well into what we would call Russia.
This world was a peaceful and largely civilized place with a technology level perhaps equivalent to our early 1960s or late 1950s. The explorers from our world found they could communicate with the natives with a minimum of effort and, quite luckily, had opened their portal into an abandoned warehouse thus allowing them to explore the world discreetly and without interference.
Whilst anthropologists, linguists and various other 'soft scientists' scattered across this new world in a fit of glee, the physicists seemed resigned to going back to their lab and opening new portals. Before they did this however, they decided that it would be rather interesting to have a holiday on a world which was shockingly similar to our post-war France. Our middle aged scientist was alone in a nice little café by the beach when he met a woman.
She was a waitress at the café. She was in her late 20s and quite the cliché of a 'beautiful French girl'. The scientist was attracted to her from the start. Quite strangely this beautiful girl was also somehow interested in our scientist. It's not every day a gorgeous young woman falls for a lonely, balding, physicist. He was smitten.
In the weeks that followed a relationship steadily built between the two.
The scientist returned to our Earth periodically, however whenever he had the chance he would go back to this alternative France. He told the woman that he was an international businessman from Italy. Due to his strange, slightly off French, she believed him. Due to the scientist's position at the university he had little trouble coming and going between the two worlds almost as he pleased.
It truly seemed as if inter-dimensional romance was blossoming.
But of course, as usually happens in such stories, something eventually went wrong.
I don't know what it was and nor do I really care, it wasn't important. Maybe she'd just grown bored of him, maybe she had been using him for his money all along, or maybe the scientist had just said the wrong thing. Whatever it was the relationship was over, the two broke up.
The scientist was devastated. He entered into a period of depression, losing all interest in his work. Several of his friends even feared that if they didn't keep a close eye on him he could potentially attempt suicide.
Then he read the scientific paper that changed everything.
The paper was written by a prominent Chinese Portal Scientist and outlined a potential application of portal theory which granted a new lease of life to the Frenchman.
From being a quiet, morose man who purely went through the motions of showing up for work he suddenly came into himself. With utmost dedication he worked night and day at his computer. Within a fortnight he had his 'eureka moment' and asked for permission to open a portal to a new world.
Things had changed since his previous escapades with the waitress. Over his long depression the Cairo campaign had come and gone. Security procedures were tight. Nonetheless he was able to gain full access to a portal machine which, when programmed with his new calculations, opened a portal to an abandoned warehouse both familiar and unfamiliar. It looked identical to how warehouse in the world with the 60s France and the super-Germany had looked when the portal had first been opened there. In that universe however people from our world had long since bought the warehouse and converted it into a secret base for their studies. This version of the warehouse however remained completely untouched.
Without even waiting for the now requisite robotic probes to be sent through the portal the scientist dashed through, yelling his thanks to God for this second chance.
What this scientist had done boded very badly indeed for our very way of life. He hadn't time travelled of course; though that was the enthusiastic initial assessment of some of his colleagues. What he had done was much worse.
Previously our portals had taken us to only wildly divergent worlds.
Even from the same initial point of divergence the many paths that every atom of the universe can take will ultimately create something totally unique. The latest a point of divergence from our history we have been able to find so far was in 1912; so far back as to mean everyone alive on that world is a completely different person to everyone currently living in our universe.
Even within 'groups' of universes we had thus far been unable to find anything too similar. There had been several cases of worlds which had been identical up to a certain point many hundreds of years ago, and then diverging from each other. So far however there had been no examples of worlds where the only difference was, for instance, that one particular man in Kenya had coffee instead of tea on his lunch-break last Monday. In theory these worlds existed of course, it is only from these tiny changes that a ripple effect occurs, causing the big recognisable changes between the universes, the idea of actually discovering a world in the early stage of its divergence however…so far that had remained purely theoretical.
What had happened in Marseille that day changed everything.
The world the scientist had travelled to was home to a large, democratic, republican France, which enjoyed a friendly rivalry with an enormous, super powered version of Germany. Until the scientist from our world showed up there was absolutely no way to tell the difference between this world and the earlier discovered version of it.
Perhaps Jose Fernandez of Madrid had decided to paint his walls a slightly darker shade of green? Maybe Sazuki Tairo from a small fishing village in Hokkaido had chewed his lunch slightly slower on the 12th of October last year?
Whatever the initial difference had been the end result was utterly insignificant. The scientist travelled to the café where he had previously met his old flame and found her hard at work, she didn't recognise this new customer who had just came into the café, it was his first time there. She hoped he would come again though; he seemed a very interesting man…
Few people recognise how potentially dangerous this new discovery could be.
In essence, out there in the contacted multiverse there exist two practically identical versions of every person on that Earth. Now imagine if you will what would be to happen if both of those worlds were to make formal contact with us…
Every day the point of divergence we can contact grows closer. This year it is 1912, last year it was 1884, and a decade ago we were still stuck with pre-history. It won't be long before we contact a world that diverged from ours only yesterday.
Imagine the impact on our world if we were to do that.
All commodities would become useless. All thought would be rendered unoriginal. And this wouldn't just be a one off event. If we were to contact a world that diverged yesterday then it would set off a chain reaction in the universe. With every action by every atom in the universe infinite different dimensions can be created. When the inhabitants of these universes remain blissfully unaware of each other this is no big deal, it's just the way the multiverse works, simple physics.
But we have portal technology. If we continue down our current path then it is only a matter of time before we effectively begin to contact ourselves; an infinite multiverse interacting with an infinite multiverse in an infinite number of ways.
Infinity multiplied by infinity multiplied by infinity.
What does that give?
Portal machines opening into each other, endless variations of the same person, of the same things. Infinite interactions.
It is maddening to even think about it.
That is the fear.
That is the day I dread.
Infinity will destroy us all.