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George and Marcus in Transit

by Michael Harshbarger

part 1

George and Marcus in Transit #1

(Two men are standing next to each other on a subway train in some city.)

George: Man, I just don’t know about this multiverse thing or alternate reality or other planes of existence, you know?

Marcus: I’m sorry, are you talking to me? I’m not sure what’s—

George: I mean how could there be more than one universe or whatever, you know? Like, these people that say there could be infinite universes with infinite various versions of ourselves going through infinite different lives with small variations.

Marcus: Wait, what?

George: Like, for instance, I am just on this subway car talking to my best friend Francisco...

Marcus: That’s not my name and I don’t even know—

George: Riding downtown and going about my life and whatnot, but in the next universe over I’m riding on a subway car going in the opposite direction and talking to my best friend Sophia. And then in the next universe over I’m riding on a hover train towards Snorglebog with my best friend Xamian, you know?

Marcus: No, not really. Look, I have to—

George: And what about these other planes of existence or other dimensions? Like, do you think there are beings out there that see in four dimensions? You know, like that can smell time or whatnot?

Marcus: I just don’t—

(Marcus lets out a sigh.)

Marcus: I don’t have the slightest clue what is even happening right now.

George: Man, it’s just like, if you think about it, if you can shrink small enough the distance between the nucleus and the electron can be the same as, like, the Earth to the Sun. Or like from me to the nearest non-Sun star. Isn’t that wild? Like, it’s just matter of perspective and how small or big you can make yourself, like Ant-Man and that kind of thing.

Marcus: OK, now you’re mixing weird takes on space-time with the Marvel Universe, do I need to call someone to help—

George: Or like black holes and wormholes and how they are most definitely portals to either another part of the universe or tunnels to other universes and or realities. And we should totally build a civilization within a wormhole, kind of like Halo, where it’s just an everlasting circle. No wait, I think it would look like in Inception when the city folded over on itself.

Marcus: Pretty sure you are referencing Interstellar.

George: Yeah, man, Rust Cohle was so good in that flick, but I totally lost my frickin’ mind when he was younger than his daughter because he was on the planet where a minute equaled like seven Earth years or whatnot.

(The subway train starts to slow down as it approaches a random stop.)

Marcus: Yeah, pretty wild stuff. Listen, I didn’t catch your name. What was it?

George: Petr Cech.

Marcus: It was nice chatting with you Petr, have a good—

George: You bet Francisco, I think we really made some progress today and you should keep taking your meds and you should really work on those problems with the Mrs. and you should really get more exercise...

(The doors open and Marcus sprints out the door and up the stairs and out into the city.)

* * *

George and Marcus in Transit #2

(Two men are standing next to each other on a subway train in some city.)

George: Hey man, welcome back to my office, should we pick up where we left off?

Marcus: Oh, hey, Petr. I’m not sure I can do this again.

George: Petr? Who’s Petr? Is that even a name? I’ve never seen you before.

Marcus: But you just said, “Should we pick up where we left off?” And the last time, you said your name was... never mind. I’m Marcus, what’s your name?

George: George. It’s George Petr Cech.

(Marcus sighs softly.)

Marcus: OK, nice to meet you George.

George: I’m glad you asked. Look, not everyone is cut out to be a ballplayer. Sometimes you have to know your limitations. And you also have to know when it’s time to just try other things. Your ball-handling skills are severely lacking, and I haven’t seen a shooting form this bad since Shawn Marion was alive.

Marcus: Oh no, let’s not do this again. Please. I just want—

George: Listen young man. I know a ballplayer when I see one. You, my height- and speed-challenged friend, are no ballplayer. When you showed up around here I thought I would give you a shot. I give everyone a chance to prove themselves. That is just the kind of guy I am. But you, you aren’t a ballplayer, plain and simple.

Marcus: I actually played a little college ball and can still dunk... nope. I will not be dragged into this nonsense. Please, let’s just ride the rest of the way in silence, I’m begging you.

George: Begging won’t get you anywhere sonny boy; only hard work and a few genetic blessings from the man upstairs. Now, you seem like a good kid.

Marcus: I’m 32.

George: Quit shouting numbers at me. As I was saying, you seem like a good kid. You just need to find an activity, notice I said activity, not sport, you don’t have an athletic bone in your body. You need to find an activity that focuses more on brain power than brawn power, got it? Like chess or Tiddlywinks.

Marcus: Tiddlywinks? Come on, George.

George: Who’s George?

(Marcus looks for a second like he is preparing to strike George. He manages to keep his cool.)

George: I’m just messing. I’m obviously George. And you are obviously Reggie. Listen up, Reggie, what I think would be right for you is some good, old-fashioned hard labor. Build up some muscle and bulk and whatnot. I have this shed that needs building, and you look just like the guy I need to build it.

Marcus: I’m not building your shed, man. Please, you obviously need help or medication or something. Do you have someone that looks out for you, or that you check in with?

George: I look out for numero uno. I don’t need anyone—

(As George is talking, the lights in the subway car start flashing. In the flickering light it appears as though people in the car are taking on strange, terrifying shapes. A searing bright light flashes, momentarily blinding George and Marcus. It slowly fades and they are no longer in a subway car, but a perfectly white orb-shaped structure.)

Marcus: What in the actual fu—

(George turns to Marcus.)

George: My god, it’s full of stars!

Marcus: Oh stop it. That’s not funny. Ever. And definitely not a time like—

(Marcus notices that George is not looking at him, but past him. He slowly turns to see what has caught George’s attention. He peers out a porthole-shaped window.)

Marcus: Well, would you look at that. It kind of does look like it’s full of stars.

George: And one of them is coming to say hello.

Marcus: Uh-oh.

* * *

George and Marcus in Transit #3

(Two men are standing next to each other in an orb-shaped structure in some universe.)

Marcus: So, okay, just be cool. For the love of all gods, let me do the talking when that thing gets over here.

George: Whatever you say, Scout. Just make sure we get some Chick-fil-A sauce with it.

(Marcus shakes his head, the bright light slowly approaches the porthole shaped window. Marcus looks away and closes his eyes, George picks at a scab.)

George: Say slugger, what do you think about you and me catching the new Audrey Hepburn motion picture at the Village East Cinema?

Marcus: Man, now is not the time for your nonsense.

(Total darkness envelopes the orb-like structure, no light comes in from the small window, melancholy becomes tangible.)

Marcus: Oh god! What is happening? We have to get out of here! Don’t move!

George: Last time this happened I had to go get Aunt Gracie and help her flip a few breakers and rattle a few pipes, you know? We had to keep the sheep-shearing businesses up and running; had no time for darkness and down time.

Marcus: Shut up! Stop talking right now.

George: Yes, Auntie sounded just like that much of the time. So we get the power back up and running and recommence shearing the sheep, thanking them for their bountiful fur—

(An Impossibly Bright Being envelopes George and Marcus, causing them to drop straight to the floor and cover their heads.)

Marcus: Oh God.

George: Speaking of which, when I visited the recently terraformed Sanctimonious IV, the inhabitants had developed a quite intriguing stable of deities by borrowing largely from early human cave paintings and what appeared to be cut-rate Pokemon characters. The worship services were, surprisingly, very similar to the Power Hour as seen on TV, but with thousands of brightly colored demigods floating in the background. I can only imagine this effect was achieved through mandatory drug ingestion, which I wasn’t about to partake in because my body is a temple and—

Impossibly Bright Being: Does this collection of rudimentary cells ever shut the hole from which it produces these terrible utterings?

Marcus: You have no idea. Wait, what are you and where on Earth are we?

Impossibly Bright Being: Well, you are most certainly not on Earth, which I’m assuming is what you call your poor excuse for a living globe. You two ill-evolved cretins are actually orbiting—

(A searing white light flashes, again momentarily blinding George and Marcus. It slowly fades and they are back in the same subway car from before. Marcus slowly turns to George, who is sitting in a nearby seat reading The New Yorker.)

Marcus (panting): What. Is. Happening?

George: Oh, Francisco, so lovely of you to join us today. Won’t you have a seat and tell the audience why you think the baby is not yours?

* * *

George and Marcus in Transit #4

(Two men are standing next to each other on a subway train in some city.)

Marcus: Look, man. I need you to focus for once in your life. Please tell me you saw the weird glowing entity and recognized that we were in some orb-like structure.

George: Oh, wow. It has progressed quicker than me and the other doctors estimated it would. It looks like we need to proceed with a lobotomy immediately; there really isn’t any hope for our precious Ralph here.

(The subway train’s lights begin to flicker again, this time vague notions of what appear to be deep sea creatures swim in front of Marcus’s eyes. A bright light soon follows. They are in the orb-shaped structure again.)

Marcus: Oh, come on! Really?

George: Now, now. Let’s try to keep a positive attitude as we move through the quest laid before us. Buck up, fella.

(Marcus drops his chin to his chest, utterly defeated.)

Marcus: I just... how could this be happening to me? I just want to get home to see my wife and baby girl. Not only am I caught in some Dollar General version of 2001, but I’m stuck here with you: a human being who is a completely different personality from one second to the next. It’s not even multiple personality disorder; it’s more like infinite personality disorder. I mean, how are you even real? You are almost as unbelievable as this subway-to-orbiting-orb transportation thing we got going on.

George: Shh, shh, shh. It’s OK, guy. We are going to get you through this. You know, this reminds me of my time as a Jehovah’s Witness. Oh sure, everyone goes on about the whole no birthdays or holidays bit. Or the part about only 144,000 of us getting into heaven. Let me tell you, I was built for that door-to-door gorilla marketing stuff. I was breaking records — not just regional or state records, national records — in both being invited into a home AND successful return visits.

When people asked about how some J-Dubs’ children died because their parents refused blood transfusions, I would just smile and say, “At least they didn’t take the tykes to the top of a mountain fully committed to murdering them.” They can relate to that, see, because that’s a run-of-the-mill Bible story, right, so—

(As Marcus just about finishes shutting down completely, the Impossibly Bright Being glides into the orb. This time the occurrence brightens Marcus’s spirits.)

Marcus: Oh thank you god... sir...Na’vi... Get me away from this wacko.

Impossibly Bright Being: SILENCE YOU PRIMITIVE LOUTS. I will not suffer requests or begging from the likes of you. Now, if you would please follow me through this transportation gate, we will embark on The Final Journey.

George: Is that like The Final Countdown by Europe? Are we going to be in a music video? Are we going to step through TV screen à la The Ring, except with a much better outcome?

(The Impossibly Bright Being floats forward and places a wispy finger-like appendage atop George’s head. He immediately goes mute and crumples to the floor. Some unseen force lifts George and floats him towards a door that Marcus never realized was there.)

Marcus: I’m not sure what you have planned for us, but if it includes George and me surviving and being on the same planet, you have to teach me that trick.

Impossibly Bright Being: Not even with a million more years of evolution could you develop that which you just saw. Now, as I was saying, proceed through the door so we may complete our task.

(Marcus follows George’s hovering body through the door. At first, he cannot see anything; just a vast shapeless whiteness. Slowly, his eyes adjust and things come into focus. He stops dead in his tracks, mouth agape.)

Marcus: Holy Christ. Is this a Walmart?

* * *

Proceed to part 2...

Copyright © 2019 by Michael Harshbarger

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