He held the timer firmly in his hand. He hoped no one would hear the vortex. They had all been so good to him, but he had to leave. It had been over two years since he had left his life behind, and in the process stranded another man. It was time to go home.
He inputted the coordinates for his world and lifted the timer. The rip in time and space slowly began to form. In mere moments he would jump through the vortex and find himself home.
Chase couldn't turn around, he couldn't look her in the eyes, didn't want to hurt her anymore than he already had.
"I'm sorry Autumn. I'm sorry."
With those words he dove into the vortex.
Autumn Mallory could only watch as it slowly began
to shrink and vanish.
Blinker approached and spoke, "I've shut the slide-shield down, you're free to slide." Jayson raised the timer and spoke, "We've got about a minute . . . Where's Andrew?" "Hold up, I'm on my way," Andrew said. Andrew approached the others and spoke, "Didn't think I'd miss the slide did you?" "Hey where's Chase?" Wade asked. Autumn frowned and spoke, "It doesn't matter . . . let's just go." Jayson raised the timer and fired. A greenish swirling vortex opened. The four prepared to jump when suddenly, "WAIT! That's not really Andrew!"
The four turned to see another Andrew approaching. "He's actually Chase. S4 Quinn jumped me. He thought I was Chase. Now Chase is trying to take my place and slide with you." "What do we do?" Jayson asked. "We take them both, sort it out when we get back to Earth 374." The Andrew standing with the group spoke, "Like hell we will!" He leapt for the other Andrew and the two began fighting.
"We're running out of time. Come on we have to go!" Jayson screamed. Jayson, Wade and Autumn jumped through the vortex. The Andrew that had approached the group raised up and punched out the other Andrew. "Paybacks are a #$%@! buddy." He then jumped into the vortex and it collapsed.
The other Andrew arose from the ground and screamed, "NOOOOOO!" Blinker approached him and spoke, "Chase, you okay buddy?" He replied, "I'm not Chaser . . . I'm Andrew . . ."
Chase was flung from the vortex onto the hard concrete floor. He slowly made his way to his feet and dusted himself off. The walls were covered in dust and cobwebs, the floor filled with trash. Chase knew where he was; it was the last place he had set foot upon on this earth, the Bboard party hall. It was here, during Blinker's Wacky Christmas Post Party that he had successfully taken Andrew's place.
The hall was a wreck. It obviously had not been used in quite some time. Chase walked towards the exit to the hall and opened the door.
"What the hell?"
He looked at his surroundings, The Sliders BBoard, and for a moment he wasn't sure if he was even home.
"What did they do to this place?"
The garish white background screamed out at Chase's eyes, but that wasn't the worst of it. He found himself assaulted by ads on all sides.
"Lemme guess. Helen Keller took over."
Chase began looking around the board. All he had to do was find a Chaser9 post and ride it back to his house. As he approached the post area he noticed a gathering of posters. They seemed to be simply waiting. As Chase surveyed the crowd for a familiar face he noticed something. There was a clear plexi-glass wall in front of the posts. Upon closer examination, it completely blocked the posts off. The posters were trapped!
"What is going on around here?"
It was then Chase saw a familiar face, "Spacetime? Matt! Man is it good to see a familiar face! What the hell is going on around here?"
Spacetime lifted his bottle of Crown to his mouth and took a drink. He glared at Chase and spoke. "What the hell do you want? I thought you couldn't 'trust' me. Oh wait let me guess, come to start another flame war? I've got an idea crawl back into that whole you stay in most of the time and stay away from me freak, cause the next time I see you it's on."
Chase slowly backed away. He had forgotten how much time had passed. There was no telling who was a friend now, let alone if "he" still posted. Until he knew what was going on and who he could trust, Chase decided it was best to just blend in with the crowd, but of course, fate had other things in mind.
The voice came from behind him. He turned around and saw someone who had been a friend, he only hoped that was still true.
"What are you doing here? You almost never make it to the board anymore."
"Oh you know, lurking. You?"
Chase noticed something was different about sleepingtiger, it wasn't until he saw her Dominion BBoard clearance badge that he realized what it was. Her handle had changed.
"Tigs?" he thought to himself.
"Oh, pretty much the same, just checking out some posts. Hopefully the wall will come up in a minute and I can make my way back home."
"The wall? What's that all about?" This was his chance to get the info he needed.
"It's all part of the upgrades. Ever since then, the board is unavailable for certain periods of time. They tell us ‘due to high volume' but I don't buy it. You should really come around more often. You'd know these things."
"Yeah, you're right. Guess I need to work on that."
Tigs smiled, "Oh, we all know how busy you are these days. After all a lot has changed for you."
Chase tried to smile, "Yeah . . . it sure has."
The plexi-glass wall began to lift and the posts were accessible.
"Got to go, don't know how long this will last. See you around the board, Chase! Oops, almost forgot, better switch over to my Liquid Sunshine handle if I want to get out of here."
There was a bright flash of light and Tigs was replaced by Liquid Sunshine. She dove towards the vortex that opened in front of her post and was gone.
"Liquid Sunshine? Tiger has multiple handles? Can so much have changed in two years?"
Chase made his way to the posts, it took some time, but he finally found a Chaser9 post. It was a little more than a week old and was on the previous page, but it would do nicely. He quickly glanced at the post title "Happy Birthday Earth 374!" At least Andrew was keeping up with that. The vortex opened in front of the post and Chase jumped in. In a matter of moments he would be back home.
"I guess Andrew decided it was finally time to move."
The door to the room opened and in walked Andrew. He saw Chase and spoke, "You. I knew it was only a matter of time."
"This is where I belong Andrew."
Andrew shook his head, "My name's not Andrew. I'm Chris Deaver, known on the bboard as Chaser9."
"I don't think so Andrew. That's me."
"Not anymore Chase, not anymore."
Chase grinned, "You gonna stop me from taking back what's mine?"
"You forfeited any rights you had to this life when you stole mine! You may not believe it but you did me the biggest favor in the multiverse. You created me! You know what my life was like! I had lost everything. Here, when I became Chris, I gained so much. A family, a mother and father . . . a brother. I won't let you take it away from me."
"This life doesn't belong to you."
"It does now, Chase."
"Stop calling me that! My name is Chris!"
"Not anymore." Andrew smirked.
A voice came from outside the room, "Honey is everything okay in there?"
"What?" Chase was puzzled, who could this be.
A young woman entered the room. She saw Chase and Andrew and her eyes widened.
"It's him isn't it? She asked.
Andrew nodded his head. "Chase meet Jessi Deaver . .
. my wife."
The Return pt.2
Some days it seemed that Andrew was the perfect friend, always there when I needed him and always full of good advice, but somewhere along the way, Andrew became me. He had all my traits, my insecurities, my hopes and dreams. Sometimes he'd win, sometimes he'd lose, but most of all, he experienced every shred of pain I ever felt . . . Why? Because, for all intents Andrew Summers was me . . . I created him.
I was 14 years old and dealing with all those wonderful feelings that most adolescents begin to notice. Simply put, I was in love . . . with a woman who would never give me the time of day.
It was rough, very rough. It was bad enough having a father who thought I was a failure, for no other reason than because I wasn't athletic, couldn't stand sports. You see, I was a writer . . . or at least I wanted to be a writer. I'll admit, just as I do now, that my abilities aren't the greatest in the world, but someone saw something in my wild imagination that led me to believe that if I kept trying I would succeed. What does this have to do with Andrew? Everything.
As I mentioned before, I was in love. Unrequited teenage love is probably the most agonizing thing in the world. It's bad enough your body is going through hundreds of changes that cause you to question your own self worth, but when you care for someone and they don't care for you it's more than agonizing, it's unbearable.
I realized, due to some advice from a friend, that the best way to deal with my pain was to write about what had happened. It was suppose to be a form of closure, but of course it didn't work like that. In that short story, that I entitled "A Tale of The Heart" I created my first "avatar". His name was Scott Walker (He later showed up in an Earth 374 episode, "Playing Cupid" married to a woman who represented the avatar of my first love.) and he was me. It was a simple matter of me writing about my experiences with Rachel and then altering all of the names.
"A Tale of the Heart" was a success on some levels but a dismal failure on others. Everyone who read it saw the emotion and meaning behind it, but that was lost on the two people who it was meant for. It didn't instill in me any sense of closure, and Rachel realized a few things she hadn't before, but was more worried about trying to figure out who all the avatars were then actually seeing the meaning of the story.
I know. Andrew. I'm getting to that.
It was during this time that I revived "my" personal version of Star Trek. A slight parody that became serious called "The Voyage". It was basically me as captain of a starship with people from school serving under me. Oh and it took place twenty years in the future (which put it at about 2010).
I had been working on "The Voyage" since I was about 10 and whenever I would start back on it I would update it a bit. Add new people, basically whoever was prominent in my life at that time. Anyway, I added Rachel's best friend April to the mix. Me and her were actually friends, so we were talking about it. She wanted a husband, a rich doctor husband. Well, he was a doctor at least. Thus was born the first Andrew Summers.
That version of Andrew was featured in several "episodes" of "The Voyage" including the prequel tale "The Academy" my attempt to explain how we had all ended up on a starship.
It was 1992 when the second Andrew was born. Once again rejection from a woman led me to do something I never considered. I created a town. It had a back history including founders, families, road names . . .just about everything. The town was the fictitious Lockridge, Arkansas. It was where Andrew Summers lived.
The second Andrew was a lot like me in many ways. He shared my dreams, my aspirations and for the most part my family history. The only difference, he always won. Where I failed he succeeded. He gained the love of the women who had rejected me (or at least their avatars). He had friends who supported him and stood by him, regardless of what happened. And no one thought he was a freak.
The "Lockridge Chronicles" as it came to be known ran for a few short stories and faded away for awhile. It got to the point where my friends started making fun of Andrew and the entire Lockridge idea. So I shelved it. I would come back to it occasionally, adding new depth to Andrew's life. When my parents separated and divorced, his parents separated and divorced. When my grandmother died, his grandmother died. Through it all he remained strong and handled those situations in the way I wished I could have handled mine. The only difference? Andrew was married. He married the true love of his life and he was happy, content, a million miles away from me.
I want to say it was 1996 when the idea of Andrew Summers: Traveler first crept into my mind. It was a grand sci-fi idea that poked fun at most sci-fi conventions. He traveled from world to world exploring the changes in history. I had over a dozen worlds mapped out. Insane things like Hitler's grandchild ruling a world of paradise, my ode to Planet of the Apes or of course Fascist Clown World. The only one that ever came to fruition was the POTA nod. It served as a "Pilot" to an ongoing series. Of course that wasn't even finished until 99.
The entire gist behind AS:T was going to be Andrew. A man who lost everything (his world was destroyed by a comet while he was off-world training to become a Traveler) exploring the unknown and constantly running into faces and places that would remind him of all he had lost. Another epic I never finished.
By 1997, I had settled into my job at Wal-Mart. I had been there for nearly three years and had just come out of the worst year of my life filled with a lust for something better. it's funny, you always tell yourself it's going to get better. No matter how many things in your life change, no matter how much heartbreak you suffer, you always tell yourself it's going to be okay.
Well, 97 was not okay. Time and time again I was reminded that nothing had really changed. No matter how much older I grew everyone only remembered "Crazy" Deave. It seemed I would never find happiness. And thus, the fourth Andrew was born. This Andrew was me. Slap another name on him, call his workplace Value-Mart and the stories begin anew.
That Andrew became the player in several short stories. "It's All Happening Again," "Solitude," "Talking to Alyson" and of course "Saying Goodbye".
Time and again, this Andrew's heart was broken. He could never know happiness. He was me, and I could never know happiness.
Someone once read all of the aforementioned short stories and asked me, "Are they all the same Andrew?" The answer is yes. All of those horrible things happened to the same Andrew. Why? Because they all happened to me. Why didn't Andrew go insane? Simple, because I was still sane. If I could deal with the torment, so could he.
Which leads me to Autumn Mallory. I created her not only to be Quinn's sister, but my own version of the perfect woman. If I ever encountered Autumn, I would have fallen in love with her at first sight. Which is exactly what happened . . . but let me rewind a little bit.
understand why certain events transpired I should explain
something. I've never had any luck with women. It's
almost always a one sided thing where I have feelings for
someone and they just don't feel the same way. Once it
wasn't, but I just pushed her away. Too afraid to get
So it was late 99. I was trapped in a cycle of depression, when Blinker had an idea. A Christmas Post party on the bboard.
Now understand, the rules of reality don't exactly apply at the bboard. Anything can happen . . . anything. Which is why I wasn't really shocked when characters from my Earth 1014 and Earth 374 serials showed up . . . but why did it have to be him?
Autumn and Andrew had showed up from Earth 374. Andrew was my exact double (almost. He wore glasses and his hairstyle was a little different, but we looked and sounded exactly the same). I danced with Autumn and did the one thing I swore I'd never do again. I fell in love with "my" perfect woman. So I threw caution to the wind, disguised myself as Andrew and went back to Earth 374 with Autumn. Leaving Andrew to live my shattered life.
Now it's two years later. Things changed on Earth 374. I wanted to come home. I needed to come home, but what do I find when I get here?
Andrew. He's grown accustomed to being me . . . and he's married, to a woman who probably would have been my wife if I'd stayed here.
The Return pt.3
I wanted to. It was what I needed to do, but "home" wasn't quite what I expected.
Andrew told me the details of his life once he took my place. He adjusted as best he could. He started college and ended up taking a job at The Great Satan (Wal-Mart), strangely enough he climbed the corporate ladder there a lot faster than I did. He went through a really bad relationship before he met Jessi. Once he met her, everything changed. He embraced this life and all the wonders it had. He was honest with her, told her his story . . . and for some reason she actually believed him.
The two got married and began a wonderful life together, the specter of my return hanging over them, but not so much as to impact their lives. And now here we are, I've come back, intent on living the life I lost, but deep in my heart I know I can't. I know what I have to do. For the first time in my life I think I realize things about myself that I’ve never cared to notice.
"I can't stay here." The words came quickly.
Andrew and Jessi were both shocked.
"I can't stay here. You have a wonderful life. You deserve that Andrew. After all I put you through, you and the other "avatars" the least I can do is let you be happy."
Andrew was in shock, could Chris have changed that much?
"What will you do?" Jessi asked. "Go back to Earth 374?"
"No. I can't go back there. You see the difference between Andrew and me is that he told you. I never told Autumn I wasn't Andrew. She eventually figured it out on her own. That's why I left. I'd hurt her deeply. She didn't deserve that."
"What then? You have to go someplace."
"Andrew. I think we both realize what has happened. I'm no longer the "basis" for the design. You are. I'm simply another "avatar" and my future is up to you."
So what happened then? Andrew got to writing. I never saw what he wrote. I wanted to be surprised. it's better that way.
I was ready to transport myself to the board so I could slide out, when Andrew spoke.
"You don't have to do that. Try it. It will work here."
I raised my timer and pressed a few buttons. A beautiful cylindrical vortex formed in front of me. I turned to Andrew and Jessi and spoke.
"Andrew. You know I'm sorry. If I'd only known."
"I understand, but don't be sorry. You've given me so much." Andrew looked to his wife and smiled.
I stepped towards the vortex. There was one last thing to do. "Thanks . . .Chris."
Andrew smiled and I jumped into the vortex. What came next was completely unexpected.
I found myself in some sort of limbo. Surrounded by visions of all of the other Chris Deavers in the multiverse. I could see their lives. I could see their "happy endings."
Somewhere out there is mine, and someday I'll find
it . . .