What if you found a portal to a parallel universe? What if you could slide into a thousand different worlds, where it's the same year and you're the same person, but everything else is different? And what if you can't find your way home?
-Rembrandt picked up a newspaper and began to flip through it. "Any signs yet?" Wade asked. "We've been gone nearly four years, would we even know if this was home?" Rembrandt replied. He turned the page of the newspaper and spoke, "BINGO!" "What is it?" Wade replied. "Take a look at this." Rembrandt pointed to an article in the paper. "Four year anniversary of San Francisco residents disappearance draws near," Wade said. The two began to read the article:
It was nearly four years ago that five residents of San Francisco vanished and the circumstances behind their disappearance still have people baffled today. Quinn Mallory, Wade Welles, Professor Maximillian Arturo and former R&B singer Rembrandt "The Cryin' Man" Brown vanished without a trace on September 27, 1994. To this day, no leads to their whereabouts have been found, save for the surprise appearance and as abrupt disappearance of Quinn Mallory three months ago.
Mallory appeared on the front porch of his home with an unidentified woman who immediately went into convulsions. She was rushed to the hospital and it was there that Mallory and the woman disappeared in a flash of red light he called "sliding". Several scientists have studied the hospital room where the disappearance took place along with equipment and journals found in Quinn Mallory's basement. yet, this "sliding" he refers to has not been uncovered.
Former classmate of Quinn Mallory, now renowned physicist Dr. Conrad Bennish Jr. has taken it upon himself to uncover the mystery behind the groups disappearance. Speaking of the Einstein-Rosen-Podlosky Bridge, that theorizes that a "bridge" between universes can be created and crossed, Dr. Bennish believes that the group has been transported to another "reality" or alternate Earth. He explains that the bright light that might have been seen at the hospital cold possibly have been a "bridge" between this world and another. At this time Dr. Bennish is still studying the equipment and journals of Mallory, but he hopes to decipher it soon.
In a related story, The Music of The Cryin Man has remained at the number 8 spot on the billboard charts since it was first released nearly three years ago. which proves that good music is only appreciated when the creator of it has vanished.
-"Three years at number 8!" Rembrandt screamed. "I'm still trying to get over Dr. Bennish," Wade replied. Rembrandt looked at Wade and they both spoke in unison, "We're home!" Their antics were not going unnoticed. A young woman walked up and spoke, "Excuse me, but has anyone ever told you you look a lot like Rembrandt Brown?" Remmy smiled and spoke, "I am Rembrandt Brown." 'That's not possible," she replied, "He disappeared four years ago." Rembrandt cracked a wide smile and spoke, "Check out these real tears, baby." As if by cue, tears started to flow out of Rembrandt's eyes. "I'm the Cryin Man." The woman was somewhat taken aback. "If you're really The Cryin Man, sing me a few bars from Cry Like a Man." As Rembrandt belted out a verse from Cry Like A Man, a small crowd began to gather. The Cryin' Man had returned.
-It wasn't long before word of their return leaked out. Wade was reunited with her family. It was a time of reunion and joy. Rembrandt began work on a new song, it would be a tribute to Quinn and The Professor. He called it "These Tears are for my Friends".
-Wade and Rembrandt decided it was for the best to come clean, they told the world their story. The story of Quinn Mallory and his invention, of sliding from world to world and the wonders and nightmares they encountered. They were instantly shoved into the limelight. It really didn't matter, they would have given it all up to have Quinn and Arturo back.
-Wade and Rembrandt were walking to the Mallory home. They had made it a point to visit Amanda Mallory at least once a week since their return. The fanfare had begun to die down and the reporters were finally leaving all three of them alone. Quinn's mother had not given up hope that her son would soon return. Wade and Rembrandt on the other hand , were less hopeful. They knew Quinn was either dead or still sliding with Maggie.
-"Maggie . . . " Wade thought to herself, it hurt to even think her name. She had ruined everything. If they had never landed on her Earth, the Professor would still be alive. And maybe Quinn would have finally given her the chance she had longed for. If not for Maggie, Quinn would be with them right now . . . If he hadn't kissed her . . .hadn't decided to stay with her.
-The two walked through the gate to the Mallory home. As the gate swung open, the familiar squeak that they had longed to hear for years was heard. Wade immediately broke into tears. Rembrandt, seeing the pain she was in, placed his arm around her and pulled her close. He spoke, "It's okay." "No. No it's not okay. I loved Quinn, Remmy. I have for years. Probably since that day we kissed on that Earth we thought was going to be destroyed by the asteroid. Regardless of how we changed, Maggie, all of it, I still loved him and now he's gone." "I know Wade, hell, I wish it had been me instead of him. Nobody would have missed "The Cryin Man", but you and Quinn's mom needed him." Wade looked into Rembrandt's eyes and spoke, "It wasn't suppose to be like this. We were all suppose to make it home. In those years we spent together we became a family. When the Professor was killed, it all started to fall apart and Maggie didn't help matters." "Rembrandt replied, "I know." He shook his head and spoke, 'Let's go see Quinn's mom." The two walked up the steps to the door. Wade rang the doorbell. They heard footsteps approaching the door. The knob turned and the door opened. Rembrandt and Wade were face to face with Quinn Mallory.
-"Q-Q-Quinn?" Wade was completely taken aback. She flung herself into Quinn's arms and began to cry. Rembrandt spoke, "Q-Ball, is it really you?" "It's me Remmy, I'm home."
-Quinn, Wade, rembrandt and Quinn's mother were sitting in the living room. Quinn and Wade were on the couch. He had his arm around her and held her close.
-Rembrandt spoke, "So tell us Q-Ball, how'd you make it home and where's Maggie?" Quinn replied softly, "She didn't make it." His face grew somber as he spoke. "We didn't slide here after that last world because the timer had been damaged. We landed on a futuristic world, but our window was only about ten minutes. The next world we landed on was infested with Kromaggs. They attacked us. Maggie tried to fight back . . . a Kromagg broke her neck."
-Wade and Rembrandt gasped at Quinn's words. "There was nothing I could do. Just like with the Professor. I couldn't stop them!" Wade spoke, "Quinn, it's not your fault. The Kromaggs are relentless." "What happened next, Quinn?" Rembrandt asked. "They started chasing me. I went to the one place they'd never think to look . . . "my" house. The Quinn of that world had advanced farther than I ever had in his sliding. There were maps of different worlds with coordinates. I grabbed the maps, recalibrated the timer to work with his portal and jumped into the void. I've spent the last month sliding from world to world, and finally last night I made it home." "And I'm glad to have my son back," Amanda Mallory said. "So are we, "Wade replied.
-It was two hours later when the three remaining sliders met in the basement where it all began. "Hard to believe it was almost four years ago we jumped through that portal and landed on Ice World," Wade said. "Yea, and I lost my caddy." The three tried to laugh, but Quinn spoke, "Guys, there's something we should talk about." "What is it Q-Ball?" Rembrandt asked. "I think we all know it's only matter of time before the Kromaggs find this world." "Quinn, do we have to talk about this now?" Wade asked. "Would you rather wait until we have hundreds of manta ships above us?" Wade glared at Quinn. His words had hurt her. He spoke, "Wade . . . listen to me . .please. We were lucky to make it home to our families and loved ones. I just don't want to lose them." Rembrandt spoke, "Look, you're right Q-Ball. We can't ignore the Kromaggs, but can it wait a day or two?" "You're right, Remmy. It can wait for a little while." "Anyway, you two, I've got to be at the studio in the morning to lay down the final tracks on the new album. We'll talk Q-Ball, don't worry. You'll figure something out. You always do." "Thanks Rembrandt."
-The three exchanged good-byes and Rembrandt left. Wade and Quinn were alone in the basement. The awkward silence became a barrier between them. Finally, Quinn broke the silence. "I wasn't sure I'd ever see you again." Wade replied with sarcasm, she was still angry, not just about Quinn' s earlier remark, but about everything. "From the way you've been acting, I didn't figure it mattered." "Look, I know I've been a jerk ever since we lost the Professor, but please understand, it was my fault we were lost for so long. It was my fault we lost the Professor. I had to become harder, had to detach myself from the rest of you because it seems like everyone I care about I lose. First my Dad, then the Professor . . . " She interrupted, "Then Maggie." he nodded. "It opened my eyes though. It made me realize I had to grab hold of the people I cared about and never let them go and do everything I could to protect them." "Quinn, what are you trying to say?" "Isn't it obvious Wade? I love you."
-Wade was stunned. She hadn't wanted to hear those words from Quinn for so long, but now that she finally had, she knew not what to say. She sat down and tried to speak, "Quinn . . . I . . .I-" He interrupted her, "Wade, there's something else." he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. Wade's eyes widened. "I picked this up on the last world I was on. It has a strange gem in it that doesn't exist on any other world. . . what I'm trying to say is . . . Marry me Wade."
-"Quinn, I don't . . . I don't . . know what to say." Quinn cracked a smile, "How about 'YES'?" Wade smiled, "Yes!" She embraced Quinn. It felt so good to have him back and to know he wanted her. Nothing else mattered. "I've got to tell my folks!" Wade exclaimed. "You should do that. go on home, we'll talk tomorrow." Wade exchanged a passionate kiss with Quinn. There was something different yet familiar about it. She just couldn't place what it was.
-Wade left the house and Quinn began to look around the basement. He fired up the sliding equipment and stared at the vortex. "Soon. I'll have my old life back. The fame of inventing sliding, Wade as my wife and no Kromaggs to screw it up this time." And all Quinn Mallory could do was smile
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