Good morning, y’all. It’s Saturday again which means time for another chapter in the Infinite Limits series. Today we join newcomer Roo in Outland Six as she learns more about the walls that separate the worlds of Outland.
If you’re also excited to hear the Murder in “Utopia,, audio book, we’re just waiting on Amazon to approve it and that should be ready in the next two weeks or so at the most. In the meantime you can buy a copy of the Murder in “Utopia,, ebook through this link or while your time away writing reviews for the Infinite Limits books you’ve already read (and hopefully enjoyed) on their pages here. Reviews are better than money for a budding independent author, so please do think about it.
That’s enough about me and my stories, though. Let’s get back to Roo and hers. Enjoy:
No one in the worlds understood the fourth dimension as well as Roo did. She was pretty certain of that. And, no, she didn’t mean time. She was talking about dimensions in timespace. Humans could sense three dimensions of space, and time could be thought of as a dimension, but technically that wasn’t quite true, and technically was all that mattered to Roo.
Technically, time was an emergent property. It was a result of changes in space. Without changes in space there would be no way to measure the passing of time. Roo often wondered what it would be like to live in a universe with no changes in space, no time, but it seemed impossible. Nothing existing in such a universe could really be said to be alive. Always she came to the conclusion that, no, without change there is no life.
Maybe that’s why she liked jumping so much. It was never really the act of getting from here to there that appealed to her, it was the act of changing the universe, being alive. That’s why she preferred to call it bending rather than jumping. But no one else understood the fourth dimension like she did, all they cared about was getting from here to way over there in one hop, so jumping it was if she wanted to be mutually intelligible with the rest of the worlds. When Roo was bending, though, she wasn’t doing it to run away, she was taking it upon herself to consciously change the space she occupied, and it was the only time she ever felt truly alive.
“Did you have something to add Miss Sommelier?” came her teacher’s voice, breaking Roo from her daydream.
“Um, no, ma’am,” Roo said, shaking her head. She had no idea what the old lady had been going on about all day and she didn’t really care to find out.
“Well then I’ll ask you not to interru—”
A metallic clanging bell went off, interrupting the teacher’s sentence. Roo jumped out of her desk as quickly as anyone else, and the entire class filed out despite the teacher’s demands that they re-seat themselves and subsequent defeated pleas that they all do their homework when it was clear that none of them were going to. Roo chuckled at the poor old slob as she pushed her way through the mass of nerdlings and outside. She was almost out scott free when she heard her name.
“Roo!” Mike called, running to catch up with her. “Wait up!”
“Hurry up!” Roo called, slowing her pace but not stopping to wait. “I’ve got shit to do.”
“That’s exactly what I’m here about,” he said, catching up with her and pulling her to stop. “What you gettin’ into?”
“Whaddya think?” Roo asked, crossing her arms. She only did one thing with her free time so it wasn’t that hard to figure out what she was getting into.
“Jumpin’,” Mike said. “I wanna come along.”
“Psssh.” Roo scoffed. “First of all, it’s bending, not jumping. I’m not one of those neckbeards who’re in this for the sole purpose of jumping into girl’s locker rooms when they least expect it. I’m in it for something else, something deeper.”
“Yeah, sure.” Mike scoffed back. “What then?”
“For—for…” She thought about the complex enigma that was the fourth dimension and almost fell back into her daydream from class. “For the serene feeling I get when I’m actually capable of shaping the universe I live in. For the awe and wonder I experience when staring into the fourth dimension. For reasons beyond anything your puny little brain could ever understand. That’s why.” She picked up her walking pace, almost to a jog.
“No one understands that crap,” Mike said, actually jogging to keep up with her. “You’re the only one who ever talks about it.”
“I know. That’s why I need to be alone. So git.”
“No, wait.” He stopped her again. “Look. This is for real, okay. I’m—I might be in trouble.”
“Then definitely go away. Trouble’s the last thing I need in my life.”
“No, look. I think you can help me.” The look in his eyes was so desperate it made Roo pity him for a moment. Honestly, he had to be in some seriously deep shit to be coming to her for help. “Ugh, God. Okay,” she said, giving in. “What do you want?”
“Well…” Mike looked away, embarrassed now to even be speaking to her, it seemed like. “So, it’s not really for me, okay,” he said. “Or it is for me, I guess, but it’s not me who’s in trouble. And mostly it’s for my brothers, you know, because I couldn’t give a fuck about that inconsiderate asshole who tries to call herself my mom. You know what I mean?” He nodded expectantly.
Roo did not know what he meant, though. She had no clue. So she said it. “No. I don’t. What inconsiderate asshole? What kind of trouble? WTF am I supposed to do about it?”
“Oh—well— Okay, well… Let me start again.”
“Spit it out fast, kid. My patience is running thin and I have an urge to bend.”
“Okay, well… It’s my mom, right. Well, I don’t know how to put this, but she got in with the wrong people, you know. And well—she’s been—she’s been… jumping.” He leaned in close and whispered the last word, not looking as excited about the prospect of “jumping” as he did before. At least he didn’t seem to be in it for the thrill of going through the portals like all those other jumpies.
“Okay,” Roo said. “So what? What am I supposed to do about it? Or are you just here looking for the same thrill your mom’s always after?” She never knew the urge could be genetic.
“God, no. Fuck that. Thrill? Talk to me about thrill when you’re stuck at home, changing your baby brother’s diapers, your other brother crying for food, or mom, you’re not sure because, even though he’s old enough that he should be able to, he doesn’t talk yet, and the whole time your mom is out who the fuck knows where doing who the fuck knows what with some stupid jumpies. No offence, okay. But I’m not personally interested in becoming a jumpie like y’all. Trust me. That’s the last thing I intend to do.”
“Well.” That was a little much, sure, but at least it seemed like the kid meant what he said so Roo would let him get away with the attitude this one time. “What the fuck do you expect me to do about it then?” she snapped, showing a little attitude of her own.
“Well…” Mike looked at his feet, losing confidence already after his rousing speech. “Honestly, I didn’t really think this all the way through yet. I don’t even know what this jumping shit is. That’s why I came to you. You’re the only person I could think of who even knew anything about it.”
“You’re right on that point,” Roo said with a grin. The poor kid didn’t know how right he was. She was probably the only person in all the worlds who actually knew what this jumping shit was all about. Plus, a little flattery went a long way. The only problem was that Roo still had no idea what she was supposed to do about his family problems. “But I still don’t know how you expect me to help.”
“Well, me neither. But you can, right? I mean, you can at least teach me about jumping, or show me how you do it. I don’t know. Maybe that way I’ll figure it out for myself and won’t need your help to find her.”
“Pffft. You know, I’m not sure that’s gonna help you, kid. I mean, what if your mother’s addiction is hereditary? What might happen to you if I teach you how to jump then?”
“Yeah, you know, inherited. Genetic. As in: if your mom has it, so will you.”
Mike scoffed. “That’s fucking stupid.”
“Not really. Actually it’s supported by a lot of evide—”
“I don’t give a shit.” Mike stomped his foot. “I’m not gonna get addicted. I’m gonna help my mom. You got any better ideas?”
“I could just walk away and leave you to figure out all this shit for yourself.” Roo scoffed. “In fact, that’s sounding like a pretty good idea. See ya.” She made to leave but Mike grabbed her by the arm to stop her.
“No. Please,” he begged. “Just—I won’t get addicted, okay. I don’t even want to take part in it at all after seeing what it did to my mom, but it’s the only way I can think to help her. And you’re the only person I can think of to teach me. So… What do you say? Partners?” He held out a hand for her to shake.
Roo slapped it away. “No,” she said, walking on toward the way she had been going before she was interrupted. “We’re not partners. You owe me big for this, and don’t you forget it.”
“Of course, of course,” Mike said, jogging to keep up with her quick pace. “Whatever you say.” He somehow managed to maintain a smile through his heavy breathing.
Roo didn’t say another word until they were there. She led him on roundabouts, doubling back and criss-crossing paths so he would have a harder time remembering where they were. When she was at the right alley, she crossed it then came back through on the other side.
“Shit,” Mike said, hunched over, huffing and puffing. “I never knew jumping was such exercise.”
“Bending is illegal,” Roo said, crossing back to check the other side of the alley again. “That’s your first lesson. What we’re about to do is against the law. We can’t let anyone see us. If the protectors catch us doing this, we’re fucked.”
“Shhh.” She held a finger to his mouth. “Now this is my secret lair, okay. So—”
“I’ll fucking leave your ass out here,” Roo said, raising a hand as if she was going to hit him—she never really would have but he didn’t know what she was capable of.
“No, no, no.” Mike put his hands up in defense. “Please. I’m sorry. It’s just, secret lair sounds totally superhero. I like it.”
“Well it’s secret for a reason, okay.”
“Yeah, yeah. I got it,” Mike said, stepping back and looking around at the alley. “So, this is nice. Uh…I guess. But I don’t see how you can jump from here. It’s just an alley.”
This time Roo laughed. “Not here, dumbass. C’mon.” She grabbed his hand, and it was a little sweaty, but she didn’t let go anyway. It was far too late for that. “I’ll show you.” She walked him up to the brick wall, behind one of the dumpsters, and spun him around so she could step closer, putting her face so close to his that she could feel his breath. “Are you ready?” she whispered, looking at his lips instead of his eyes.
“I… Uh…” He fidgeted, staring at her lips, obviously nervous.
“You’ll have to be.” She pushed him, and he fell back, but instead of hitting his head on the wall behind him, he fell through the wall as if it weren’t there at all, landing on his ass with a yelp.
Roo stepped gracefully through the wall, and over Mike, into her secret lair. “Ta da!” she said, taking a bow, then she hunched over laughing.
“Shit,” Mike said, standing and rubbing his ass. “You didn’t have to push me so hard.”
“Sorry,” Roo said, still chuckling. “I couldn’t help myself. I always wanted to do that to somebody.”
“I thought you were gonna…”
“Kiss you? Ha! Yeah right, you sicko. I had you fooled. Kiss you? That’s grody.”
“Yeah…” Mike looked at his feet. “Sure. Gross.”
The secret lair wasn’t much. It was more of a closet. The ground was made out of metal grating, which was loud when you walked and painful to sit on. The cement walls were lined with shelves carrying various supplies—technical bits which came in handy when Roo had rigged the wall unit for the first time but only got in the way now that she was trying to get back to her baby.
“So this is your lair, huh?” Mike said. “It looks like a janitor’s closet to me.”
“It’s not a janitor’s closet,” Roo complained. “It’s a Sommelier’s secret lair. But really it’s a supply closet.” She patted a box of circuits on the shelf that was closest to her.
“So how are you supposed to jump from a supply closet?” Mike asked, still confused.
“We just jumped to get here,” Roo said, crossing her arms. “And we’ll jump again when we go back out to the alley.”
“You mean, that was…” Mike looked at the wall he had just fallen through. “We jumped?”
“Not so great, is it? That’s why I told you I prefer bending to jumping.”
“And I told you I know nothing about either. What’s bending?”
“Bending is when you mold the universe to your liking,” Roo said, imagining the feeling as she described the process. “Bending is reshaping three dimensional space, through four dimensions, in order to transform the world around you. Bending is pretty much the greatest experience in existence, and if you’ve never done it, I’ll never be able to explain to you how great it feels.”
“Sure.” Mike shrugged. “I guess my mom thinks the same way. But I still don’t see what’s so great about it or how you’re supposed to do anything like that from this closet.”
“The key,” Roo said, removing some boxes from one of the shelves so she could get to the metal door behind it, “lies in where this closet is located. It’s not any old supply closet, you see. We’re somewhere between E and F right now. FG, technically, but that’s another story. What matters is that this is a supply closet in the subterranean maze of tunnels where the walls are maintained.”
“Walls?” Mike was looking even more confused than ever. “What are you talking about?”
“The walls. The walls… Hmmm. Okay. So we come from World F, alright. Everything you’ve ever known, every place you’ve ever been, all of that exists, and or takes place, inside of World F, now FG. You follow me?”
“Uh… sure.” Mike shrugged, not looking like he followed.
“Well there are other worlds, too. A through E, of course, and G, which only recently became a part of our world, hence the FG.”
“Okay.” Mike nodded, still obviously not following.
“Anyway. The walls—though they’re not really walls, more like fields or portals or something. Well, they’re kind of like the hole we passed through to get into the lair here.”
“Through the wall…” Mike said.
“Yes. Exactly. But not physical walls. Metaphysical walls. Giant portal walls separating the worlds.”
“And these walls help with jumping how?”
“Bending. Not jumping. The walls are where space has been bent already. The people who live in E are the ones who first discovered how to do it, and they bent and curved space everywhere in order to separate the worlds into how they exist now. Hell, the same people bend space to move our elevators, fill the 3D printers, and perform countless other little actions we never notice every single day. Bending is part and parcel to every aspect of human life and…and… And I’m sorry. I get a little carried away. I could go on talking about it forever. Is any of this getting through to you at all, though?”
“So these walls or whatever,” Mike said. “Whatever it is that separates these different worlds. You’re saying that this room here is where they come from?”
“This room is in the world where the hardware that bends space exists. If you went out that door right there, you’d find a maze of tunnels that went further than you could explore in one lifetime. There are so many miles of portal walls it’s ridiculous. And I can jack into them all from right here.” She swung the metal door open as she said it, revealing her masterpiece.
The box she had opened was really a circuit breaker, but Roo knew that more than electricity ran through the breakers in this world. From here she could use the touchscreen tablet she had implanted—thanks to the supply closet—and a one handed keyboard—from the same place—to access every part of the wall system and bend the worlds to her heart’s desire—not without some annoyance from security bots, of course, but they were nothing she was incapable of finding, tracking, and hiding from with ease.
“That’s it?” Mike said, scoffing. “That’s all you use. It looks like a half a computer. It doesn’t even have a full keyboard. I bet the graphics are shit.”
“Graphics aren’t the point.” Roo scoffed. She flipped on the touch screen with a swipe then tapped out a few shortcuts to bring up the blueprint for all of F. “You see that?”
“Yeah,” Mike said, yawning. “It looks like a map. Bo-oring.”
“That map is the blueprint for every single wall in F. That’s the map of your entire world, bucko. Everything you’ll ever experience, all on one shitty computer screen.”
“Yeah, sure. Like your life’s better.”
Roo tapped some more shortcuts. “It is,” she said as more blueprints came up, dwarfing F. “This is my world. This and beyond because I know even these can’t be the end of it. That’s what bending gives me that you don’t have, kid. I’m free to traverse all the worlds.”
“Sure you are. Free just like my mom is to ditch me with her kids. The same kids who prolly need me to do some menial shit for them right now. Thanks for your help, Roo. I guess. I mean, you at least helped me understand how much of an arrogant ass my mom might turn into if she keeps on doing this jumping—or, oh, sorry, bending thing—much longer. So I guess that helps. See ya.” He made for the closet door then turned around, remembering that it wasn’t the way they had come in. He stood there confused, and Roo felt bad for how she had acted. He was right. She was lording her superiority over him. She had brought him there so she could help him, not lecture him and show off, and that was just what she was going to do.
“Wait,” she said. “I’m sorry. I— Maybe there is something else I can do. Do you— Or did your mom, rather, ever mention where she was going or anything like that? That would be the easiest way for me to find her.”
“You think you can find her?” Mike was smiling now. He looked like he couldn’t believe this change in luck.
“Maybe,” Roo said. “I’m not making any promises. But if you have something to get me started, I might be able to help. There aren’t a lot of jumpers, especially in F, so she shouldn’t be too hard to locate.”
“Oh, well… She never really bragged about where she was going or anything,” Mike said. “She mostly tried to keep it a secret.”
“Yeah, okay. But I need something to work with, right? I can’t go out there searching blindly. That would be pointless.”
“What am I supposed to say?”
“Ugh. I don’t know.” This was getting to be too much. Maybe she shouldn’t have agreed to help this fool after all. If he wasn’t going to do something—anything—to help her, she wasn’t going to be able to help him even if she wanted to. “Anything,” she said. “Like, did she have a code word she uses when she was going out bending? Something like that.”
“No.” Mike shrugged. “Not really. She always just says she’s gonna go hang out with the girls.”
“That’s exactly what I’m talking about!” Roo scoffed.
“Oh, well, yeah, then. She always says she’s going out with the girls. That used to mean she was going to get a drink at the bar, but I’ve been checking there and she hasn’t been going.”
“What bar?” Roo asked, tapping and swiping on the touchscreen.
“Uh, I don’t know. The one down the street from me. Do they even have names?”
Could this kid maybe think for himself for once? Ugh. “Well what street do you live on?”
“Banks and Corporate.”
Roo typed it in. The map on the touchscreen zoomed in to that particular portion of F. “North, south, east, or west,” she said.
“What direction is the bar in? There’s one a block away in every direction.”
“Uh. I don’t know. To the right.”
Are you serious? “Okay, which building do you live in then? Exact address.”
“4307 Banks St.”
“Okay… Let me just…”
The world around Roo drifted away. There was nothing left but her and the computer screen. She was flying a bird’s eye view over Banks street when a commotion caught her eye. Movement. Bending. Something on a grand scale. Not as grand as the walls themselves, but magnificent for FG. A bigger bending than Roo had ever seen in FG. Bigger even than any bending she herself had ever done. Her intention to help Mike disappeared in her curiosity to see what was producing so much change.
She zoomed in to get a closer look. It was made more beautiful with proximity. It was amazing the way all the paths swooped so close to FG then looped back around and braided themselves together, producing six connections so near one another. It seemed mind bogglingly impossible. To be able to hold each portal in place all at the same time without losing a single connection must have taken four or five benders at once.
She zoomed closer. The world was in constant flux now, the entire universe for all she could see. The paths were jumping and bouncing, but only between each portal. None escaped the home base in FG.
Roo’s curiosity got the best of her. She couldn’t help herself. The excitement was too much to handle. She reached out and touched one of the little paths, and with just that tiny nudge, everything crumbled.
She zoomed out fast, hoping not to be seen. The paths danced faster now. Their motion seemed panicked. One of them jumped to the alley outside of her lair and she gasped, almost breaking from the fourth dimension to see if they had found her.
No. No, no, no. She did not need this. Whoever these people were, she didn’t want them outside of her door. She gave in to her desire entirely and started poking and prodding now, bending without remorse.
It was difficult at first. Whoever was doing the bending from the other side fought hard against her. Roo couldn’t blame them. They must have thought that she was still interfering when all she wanted to do was make things right again. It took some goading on Roo’s part to finally make them give in and accept her help, but eventually they did and finally Roo could sigh a deep breath of relief, sitting down on the metal grating in the hopes that everything was finally back to normal.
“Fuck,” she said. “That was madness.”
Mike scoffed. “You’re telling me.”
Roo looked back at him, finally aware of her immediate surroundings again, to find his eyes wide and forehead sweaty.
“I don’t know what you were doing,” he said, “but it seemed intense. I called your name a few times and nudged you, but you wouldn’t respond.”
Roo chuckled. “Sorry. When I get in the zone, there’s nothing else in the worlds.”
“Yeah. I could tell.” Mike shook his head. “I guess that’s probably how my mom gets with it, too. Huh? I guess that’s why she can so easily forget about me and my brothers.”
Roo blushed, breaking eye contact with him to slam the metal circuit box closed and restack the boxes in front of it. “Probably,” she said, as she did.
“Probably? And I guess you didn’t find my mom, either. Is that right?”
“Uh…” Roo shook her head.
“Alright, well, that’s cool. I guess that’s what I get for asking a jumpie for help. I’ll just— I’ll see you in class, or whatever. Peace.” He held out his hand first, to test the wall, but when it went straight through, he closed his eyes and half-jogged out of her secret lair.
Roo felt bad for letting him down—even though she owed him nothing in the first place. She stacked the rest of the boxes as quickly as she could then rushed out of the lair to try to catch up with him, yelling, “Mike, wait!”
She didn’t have to yell, though. When she stepped out of the lair, Mike was still there, being held from behind by some dirty clothed person who was pointing a huge gun at his face. Roo stopped in her tracks and put her hands up.
“Freeze, fucker,” the woman said, pointing the too big gun between Roo and Mike. “Don’t move a muscle.”
Roo didn’t even move one to speak.
“Who are you?” the woman with the gun demanded. “Where the fuck am I?”
“You’re in F,” Roo said, raised hands trembling. “Or—er—FG. Who are you?”
“FG?” the woman repeated, getting flustered and waving the gun. Mike looked like he was going to piss himself. “What the fuck is FG?”
“You don’t know?” Roo tried to smile so the woman would calm down but her lips only trembled. It wasn’t the first time a gun had been pointed at her, but she had never even seen one this big.
“Who are you?” the woman demanded, pointing the bazooka—practically—at Roo now. “Don’t push me. Now’s not the time to piss me off.”
“I’m Roo.” She smiled without trembling this time. “I’m probably your only hope of ever getting home. You’ll want to let my friend go or you’ll never see it again.”
The woman scoffed. “I don’t think you’re in the position to be giving orders. What do you think, boy?” She put the barrel of the gun right up to Mike’s cheek and he shook his head, crying as he tried to get away from it.
“No,” he begged. “Please.” A little puddle formed in the front of his pants.
“I don’t think you even know what position you’re in,” Roo said, chuckling, trying not to piss herself, too. “Where do you think you are?”
“I—” The woman hesitated. Roo thought she was going to shoot Mike right then and there, but to her relief, the woman dropped the gun and pushed him away instead. “I don’t know. Where am I?” She let her gun dangle over her shoulder, and Roo let out a loud sigh of relief.
“In FG,” Roo said after catching her breath. “Like I said. Which I believe is your world, too. In fact, I don’t think we’re too far from your home base right now.”
“You know where the Family Home is?” the woman asked hopefully.
“If that’s what you call it,” Roo said.
“I don’t find this funny,” Mike said, stomping a foot. Roo had almost forgotten that he existed. “She pointed a gun at me!”
The woman raised her hands in defense, readjusting the gun’s strap on her shoulder. “Hey,” she said. “I’m sorry. You came out of nowhere and tackled me. What did you expect me to do?”
“Yeah, well…” Mike looked at his feet. “You pointed a gun at her, too,” he said, pointing at Roo.
“Well she appeared like a ghost through the wall of that building,” the woman said, pointing at Roo, too. “It was creepy. What do you expect?”
Roo chuckled. “She’s got a point.”
Mike scoffed, covering the pee stain on his pants. “Well, I still don’t think it’s funny.”
“That’s because you pissed yourself,” the woman said, chuckling herself.
Mike’s face turned a deep crimson. “Alright. Fuck y’all,” he said, waving a hand and trying to leave.
Roo and the woman burst into laughter at the same time. Roo tried to control herself, though, saying, “No—Mike—Ha ha—Wait! Let me—Ha ha ha!”
He stopped to let them control their laughing even though he didn’t turn to look at them. “And it better not be another joke,” he said. “Or else I’m leaving for real this time.”
“No,” Roo said, controlling herself. “I think I know where your mom is. And I think I can help you, too,” she added for the woman who was still wiping tears of laughter from her eyes.
“I just need to know how to get home,” the woman said, composing herself.
“And I just want to get my mom back,” Mike said, trying to cover the stain on his pants.
“And I think I can do both at the same time,” Roo said. “If your mom’s jumping in FG, she’s probably doing it with whoever, uh… I’m sorry…”
“Oh, uh, Kara,” the woman said, ticking off a weird salute. “Single name basis oughta be fine for now.”
“Right,” Roo said. “Your mom’s probably jumping with the same people Kara here is jumping with.”
“The Human Family,” Kara said. “Y’all should think about joining up. Your abilities—well—” She stifled a chuckle at Mike. “—your abilities could be useful,” she said, looking at Roo.
“Human family,” Mike said, his eyes widening. “I think my mom did say something about that.”
“If she’s human, then that’s the best thing for her,” Kara said.
“Right,” Roo said, with raised eyebrows. “Whatever. But you came through with a group, didn’t you? You weren’t alone?”
“What’s that to you?” Kara asked suspiciously.
“You want to get back to your family don’t you?”
“Then tell me. Did you come alone?”
“No. Of course not. We’re a Family. We do nothing—”
“And do you know all your Family’s names?” Roo asked.
“Mike, what’s your mom’s name?”
“Huh?” He looked like he hadn’t been following the conversation. Roo was starting to wonder if either of them were.
“What is your mom’s name?” she repeated, slowly.
“Oh, uh, Melody.”
“Melody what?” Roo said, losing patience.
“Uh, Singer. Melody Singer.”
“Melody Singer,” Roo said. “Is she a part of your family?”
“I don’t know.” Kara shook her head, shrugging. “Maybe. Why?”
“Well I think it’s time we find out.”
# # #
And so there it is, dear readers. Chapter 46 in the ongoing Infinite Limits story and chapter 4 in book 3, Dividing by Ø. Don’t forget to leave your honest reviews on my Amazon page here, and have a great weekend, y’all.
We do nothing alone.