(Alternative Realities of a Mona Lisa is a short story I wrote for an English
class in September, 1997. IIRC, I got an 'A' for this =o) questions and
comments to okkaywarner This story is (c) to Larissa Johnson.
Please, do no redistribute!)

PROLOGUE:

It was forty-one years ago, according to someone's clock. An
ambitious young scientist was preparing to escape to someplace far away,
realizing that she was chancing never coming back. The same had been
attempted before her. Yet the journey would always seem a loss, for as the
years went by, and the old died away to let the new and fresh take it's
place, the ones who had gone away, never returned.
The journey was a maze. A maze of the cracks left between the
alternative layers of space; black holes. Ever since men knew of their
presence, they were regarded as the universe's hiding place. A place where
light it's self could not explore. Where sound couldn't linger. The tight
knots of space pulled everything into themselves, including man's eyes, and
imagination. Theorized until someone would go, and find the truth, along
with all of those after him, and none would return.
Travel through the singularity, or the unblemished center of the
black hole. Time travel! New dimensions! A parallel universe! Using
Einstein's theory of E=MC2; or the principle that the faster you travel, the
smaller you become, one could travel through the tiny singularity, into a
worm hole, and out of the white hole at the opposite end of the black hole.
It would have to be much faster than the speed of light, to resist the
singularities extraordinary pressure, and then, the passengers would find
themselves...in an alternative reality!
Repeatedly travel through different black holes in each new
alternative reality, the maze begins. It winds it's self around through
black holes, like the stitching at the side of a spiral binder. The maze
reaches it's most challenging drawback, finding it's way back home.

ALTERNATIVE REALITIES OF A MONA LISA:
By: Larissa Johnson

Not the first to go, but the first to go, and return. The scientist
smiled, her warmest smile since the day of the mission's departure. She had
smiled then as she had said that everything was going to be okay. When she
was lying to herself because she was afraid; so horrified. Now she felt of
pure relief, from the off-place hairs on her head, to the thick callus of her
feet.
It was the third day back on her planet, camping out at the space
station so that she could live without cameras for a little while. She
wished that those camera men had come with her on her mission. They would
follow her anywhere to get their there story, but not into space, and the
slurred existence of time.
The scientist was thinking, "The first two days to rest, but the
third day...to lecture." An exciting day, for today, she would present the
evidence of her life's work for the first time. What a presentation! Those
aloud to attend included a congregation of scientists, officials, and the
King, himself! For once someone was going to listen to her, and it made her
so anxious that she didn't even know what to say.
She dialed a call to the office on the small intercom panel, and
asked, "Hello?"
"Yes? Front office ma'am, how may I be of service?"
"Office, I need to check if my packages have been transported yet.
Number 72305; there should be close to thirty-five of them."
"Ah, yes. They have arrived in board room 324. They are prepared
to begin the presentation."
"Thank you." The scientist said, and she removed her fingers from
the touch pad. Time to face the dream she had triumphed over.
She found the hallways to feel familiar. She could just imagine on
the day she left how the press members were tripping each other to get
through. The departure; and if that was the departure, then this return,
when the press found out about it, was going to annoy her more than uneven
overalls, and kill her faster than pesticide! She would be a celebrity of
newscasts, and tabloids, and she would grow to hate it.
The board room was packed with bodies. People stashed wherever they
could fit, like a storage shed, or a cargo shaft. There was a stand at the
front with a microphone. She could see her presentation packages, and props
stacked up beside it. She took her place, trembling a little, and leaned up
to the microphone. The place was gray silence.
She spoke, "Ladies, Gentlemen," she nodded reverently, "Your
Majesty! I am pleased to now present to you my mission, my work. These
things that I have collected to show you, today, an infinite universe, and an
endless string of realities." She knelt, and hinged away the masking of one
box. "Example 'A,'" she announced holding up a small, rectangular devise.
It's surface was elevated with spongy squares, and gadgets. It looked
somewhat like a computer, but the control panel did not contain letters, but
odd numbers, and symbols.
"This was taken from one reality. They call it a calculator and it
is operated to compute simple mathematical equations. We can assume by this
that our mathematical intelligence is superior to that of this alternate.
"Not only was intelligence a differed factor in many realities, but
so were things such as ability, history, and politics. We came across many
alternative realities which received no regulation from a monarchy."
A voice up roared from somewhere in the crowd, "That makes little
sense! How can it be possible for a country to survive without Leadership?"
"Just because citizens are not ruled under a monarchy does not mean
that they will not be controlled. We found their government systems to be
very successful. They operate on different branches, where individuals take
on certain responsibilities. It seems quite an interesting and bizarre
system.
She dipped her arms back into the opened package, and pulled from it
a large, nicely wrapped folder. "I was able to get a hold of these charts
which show the three main ranks of that government. You may keep them as an
artifact of my presentation." She passed the folders into the audience.
"I would like to now present to you, the remainder of the variables
that I have collected. They are all her in these boxes. I will try to
interpret each of them to you as I see them. Some are familiar, in ways,
but you should keep in mind that they all come from different alternatives in
time and space. Technologies, as well as everything else will vary to us.
They are confidential, and I request that you not bend that rule for
everyone's sake." The scientist presented a small piece of canvas, "Does
anyone here know what this is?"
A voice, "Why, isn't that..."
"The Mona Lisa." The Scientist finished. "It was painted by
Francis Da Vinci thousands, and thousands of years ago. A famous black and
white portrait of Francesco del Gioconda's wife. It is still preserved in
the Crown's Gate museum, one of our very finest. Yet, that is untrue of this
painting. It is, in fact, the same painting in every aspect concerning brush
strokes, and the absence of color, but this one was taken from a whole
different reality then ours. We will call this example from Alternate
Reality 'E,' and there are some distinct differences. Example 'E' was
painted by a man named Leonardo Da Vinci, not Francis. The tittle is also
different. It is called, 'Portrait' instead of Mona Lisa."
Someone said, "What about the size? If that is the actual Mona Lisa
from your Example 'E; Then the size is a variable. Our Mona Lisa Takes up
nearly an entire museum wall!"
"Yes," she said. "It is so strange to realize how even little
details can alter the course that time holds. Just tiny changes in genetics,
situations, so forth...they can all change the entire future of the future."
She pried open another package. It was long, and tall, and filled
with pieces of canvas, and paper. She removed one of them, and said, "This
Mona Lisa is called 'The Smile.' It was painted by Frederick Earlswright.
Notice the waves and stretches of water color. Thin, dull, watercolor brush.
I realize that it is difficult to imagine the Mona-Lisa with color, but this
is what I would look like...in some sort of reality."
She seized another canvas frame, and held it up to the onlookers.
"This was taken from a place that we will call reality 'J.' You will notice
that it is drawn in crayon. This is called The Monna Lisa, but 'Monna' is
spelled with two Ns the name of its painter was Arnold T. Smith. As you can
see, this one is also rather large.
"Now, this next one, example 'Q,' is very small. It is black and
white, and looks exactly like our Mona Lisa, but if you look much closer you
will see the Mona Lisa's smile, and you will notice that it is not a smile.
The Mona Lisa, famous for her smile, is, in fact, frowning in this portrait."
She pulled out another. "Ah," she said. "This one is perhaps the
most disturbing. Painted by Leonardo Da Vinci and titled 'The Mona-Lisa.'
It is painted, fully painted, and a beautiful work of art. What is so
disturbing about it is that we found it carelessly thrown in a trash
facility. The Mona-Lisa, a fabulous painting! One of the most fantastic
artworks ever done, and we found it thrown in a dumpster!"
The scientist cooled her lips for a moment with her breath. "I have
more to show you," she said. She escorted their eyes to another rendition.
"This famous painting, is not a painting." The new Mona Lisa's eyes
splendidly shown. A certain modern glint, not of pastel, or paint. "A
photograph." She said. "This picture was taken before WE would have
considered cameras to have been invented. The reality it comes from is
advanced, because it's inventions began earlier, thus beginning a whole new
pace for science and discovery."
Time progressed in the clustered meeting room Name after name of the
same painter who had a new name for each different reality were exposed until
the last painting had been shown. The walls were thick with them, shrunken
with painted frame, paper, and canvas. The eyes of the crowd watched them
ever astounded by the strange and beautiful samples. Still, the scientist
gave them more to see than art. Packages full of new sights to their eyes,
packages full of old sights, in new shapes, and forms.

The meeting prepared to adjourn, and the scientist wished them all
well, and then she said, "In five to seven weeks, I am scheduled to come
back and speak to you once again. I will spend my time in the library doing
extensive research in order to bring you a better report on the Black Hole
Expedition. Adjourned!"

The corner research desk in the library always seemed to be reserved.
A laptop computer seemed to stand at permanent post, a pile of CD-ROMs
stacked next to it, casually. A women was always there. Thinned-framed
reading glasses, with tired eyes. As quiet as closed book. She was always
biting her bottom lip, frowning, just a little bit, and thinking, with brown
hair in her face. Just always there, but those who came across her as they
walked by, didn't know the stranger, and didn't guess that in a few weeks,
everyone would have heard about her.
She pierced her cheek with her finger nail, examining yet another
case report. Another research compact disc. She yawned, and thought about
being somewhere else. Realizing that her own family must be dead. The house
that she used to live in was torn down, and the things she left behind in a
storage center...they were probably stolen. "What do I have to look forward
to? When I first left this place, did I think that I wasn't coming back to
the same place I left." She could have cried about it, but she had already
cried. "The crew...I wonder If they regret leaving in the first place?
Did they find their relatives? Are they happy?"
Her thoughts wandered, and she felt dizzy, and preliminary.
Everything was wrong. A memory blurred, and she felt a tear or two of loss
on her cheek. The library shadows completed her. She closed off the files
and thought about going home, but not home, a dim hotel room in the face of
the town she didn't recognize. Maybe it wasn't to late to see her family
again. She could take a worm loop, through a black hole into the past
and...
It was no use. It was now, and there wasn't much else. She was going
to close the laptop down, but she stopped, and let ideas fall over her. She
saw herself toying with an online service. She brought up the Internet on
her laptop, and looked up a name. Her own name. As the results appeared,
she read the headings to herself. She accessed pieces her own life, and read
them, over and over. "Who is this?" It had seemed that this entire time
there was something wrong. She didn't understand. This person...it was her
own name, but she couldn't recognize the life. The story was the same, but
the main character...
Could it be? The thought struck her. This wasn't home. She realized
what it was. An alternative reality. Where was home? Had herself gone to
where she was supposed to be? She let her head fall into her hands,
confused. "What do I have to look forward to? When I first left this place,
did I think that I wasn't coming back to the same place I left?" Over an
intercom she heard someone say, "The library will be closing in fifteen
minutes..."