The Reality Engineer – 2

The in-between is a place that resides in the gaps between realities. It is caught in the middle of the waking and the dreaming, a place that lies beyond the fringes of what the human mind is capable of reaching. It is where the headquarters of the Reality Engineers, the Cranium, is located.
In one of the many doors within Cranium a portal opened. Lewis and Dave stepped out of it and into a long narrow corridor. It stretched on seemingly infinite and was filled with an innumerable number of doors that looked very much similar from the one they stepped out of. The floor was of white marble and the ceiling was made of clouds. In front of them, a man wearing an impeccable black suit and rimless glasses waited.

“Good job on the Eraser,” the man said to Lewis. He then turned his attention to Dave. “And who is this?”

“He’s Dave, our new recruit,” Lewis answered. “I can vouch for him. He’s good.” Lewis then turned to Dave. “This is the Watcher,” Lewis said, indicating the man in the suit.

The Watcher adjusted his rimless spectacles on the bridge of his nose. He had gray eyes that rested beneath thick bushy eyebrows. Dave could not exactly tell how old (or young) the Watcher was since his appearance seemed to change albeit subtly. One moment the Watcher’s face was lined with wrinkles, the next his skin looked smooth and young. The Watcher extended a liver spotted hand towards Dave and said, “I’m sure you’ve been briefed?”

Dave reached for the hand, now blemish free, and answered, “Briefed about what?”.

“Everything,” the Watcher replied. He sighed then spoke to Lewis saying, “Lewis, next time don’t recruit someone without briefing them first. It’s a smudge in my conscience when they die without knowing the what they’ve gotten themselves into. Guide him through the required paperwork then meet me in my office.” The Watcher started to walk away. “Make it quick,” he shouted before he entered into one of the many rooms.

“Brief me about what?” Dave asked. “What risks? Those Eraser things?”

“How about we take a walk?” Lewis said.

Lewis started walking left. Dave quickly followed. From his periphery, he could see other people walking in and out of the various doors but when he turned to get a proper look he would see nothing but empty space. He also heard voices talking, discussing, laughing but, again, saw no one.

“What made you want to do what we do?” Lewis asked.

“I’ve always wanted to do something important, something great,” Dave answered. “I don’t have anything back in…well, in the reality I came from.”

“Reality 553,” Lewis interjected.

“Right. 553.” Dave stopped walking. “How many realities are there?”

“There are ten thousand realities currently logged in our database. We believe there are a lot more realities we haven’t discovered yet.”

Dave started walking again, catching up with Lewis. “Ten thousand, huh? Which reality are you from?”

“That’s classified and this briefing is about you, not me.”

“Secretive guy aren’t you?”

Lewis ignored the remark and said, “We are the Reality Engineers and our sole purpose is to maintain everything in working order – parallel universes, alternate realities, the multiverse all of them are basically the same thing.”

“And this is your secret base?”

“Correct. This is Cranium, our headquarters, it is at the heart of the Multiverse, the nexus of everything. It is outside the laws of all realities and is connected to each and every single one of them via these portals.” Lewis waved a hand at all the doors that lay at regular intervals along the long corridor.

Dave noticed they were now walking upside down, on the ceiling. Lewis approached a door numbered 1023 and opened it. Dave peered inside. A musky odor assaulted his nose. Darkness lay beyond the doorway and from within the darkness he could hear voices chanting in unison. Dave warily stepped inside. It was difficult for Dave to properly describe the place due to the considerable lack of light but what he could make out was it being some sort of stone chamber. Thick pillars surrounded them in a circle and further in was a raised platform where several hooded figures stood in an arc. One of them raised his head and pointed at Dave and the others mimicked the action. Their chanting grew louder as they approached their unwanted guest. Dave felt his pulse racing. He saw that the hooded figures were wearing bull masks and each one held a dagger. Dave hurriedly ran out of the door and slammed it shut.

“What was that?” Dave asked, his chest heaving rapidly.

Lewis shrugged his shoulders. “A different reality,” he said.

“There’s something wrong in there,” Dave said. “That’s not normal. You guys should send someone to fix that reality.”

“What’s not normal in your reality may be the normal in another’s. Cranium central is quiet meaning that no Abstracts are detected.”

“Abstracts?”

“That’s what we call the anomalies that, for some reason, breach the realities.” They were now walking sideways, on the walls, with Dave on the left and Lewis on the right. “There are currently four known kinds of Abstracts – the Erasers, the Vamps, the Worms, and the Insanities.”

Dave walked to another door, this one marked 8756. He reached for the handle and pulled the door open. This time he was standing at the edge of a cliff and in front of him was a huge mountain. He could make out two figures climbing up on its side. One mountaineer looked at Dave and waved a hand. Dave waved back. He closed the door and turned to Lewis.

“Those things, those erasers, where do they come from?” Dave asked.

“We don’t know. Our scientists have done studies but the erasers’ origins are still a complete mystery. We have our hypotheses but nothing conclusive.” Lewis and Dave approached the end of the corridor. “Here we are,” Lewis said.

The door in front of them differed from the rest. This one was black with a huge zero painted in silver on its face. The doorknob was gold in color and was located at the center inside the painted zero. Lewis opened the door and motioned for Dave to step inside.

“Welcome to Cranium central,” Lewis said, walking in after Dave.