“May I sit down?” the stranger asked Bob in the Burger King restaurant.
The man set his tray of food and drink on the small table where Bob was eating his chicken sandwich.
“Like that chicken sandwich?” the stranger asked.
“It’s a little dry. But it is fine. Why do you ask?”
“I’ve seen you in here several times.”
“Yeah. I usually come here before going to Lincoln Center for concerts and ballet performances on Saturdays. I’ve noticed something a bit odd. The building across the street seems a little, uh, different. I might be imagining it. In fact, I remember being on Madison Avenue years ago on February 29th and entering I believe it was the General Electric Building. The next time I was on Madison Avenue it wasn’t there. I thought that I should have tried to promote some ideas I had back then because I haven’t had the chance to contact General Electric since that day. Was I imagining the building existed?”
The stranger looked around the room before quietly saying, “It did exist. You shifted into another dimension where it still exists.”
Bob nearly choked on his food when he heard the information.
“Excuse me for breaking the news to you,” the man apologized.
“I thought I was crazy. I suspected that something strange was going on when one day the General Electric building is on Madison Avenue and the next time it is who knows where.”
“General Electric used to be a part of NBC. In this dimension, it was never on Madison Avenue.”
“This might be a weird question. But since you say I shifted into another dimension on February 29th I guess this question might have been expected. How many dimensions are there?”
“Not so loud. They might hear you.”
“They? Who are they?”
“Don’t make a scene in here. Act normal. They are……uh……sort of hard to explain.”
“This isn’t like ‘The Matrix’ or ‘The Adjustment Bureau.’ We call them shift masters. They don’t want people to know there are other dimensions.”
“How many are there?”
“No one knows. I’ve shifted into 17 different dimensions and so far the shift masters haven’t noticed. At least not as far as I know.”
“What would happen if these shift masters found out you were a traveling man?”
“I’ve heard that the people they seize are never seen again. At least I’ve never met anyone who has tangled with them..”
“How do you gain their attention?”
“By acting like someone who doesn’t belong. I know that in New York City there are a lot of people who act as they should be on another planet. But if let’s say, you suddenly find yourself on another planet, would you be scared or would you act like you belonged there? Would people around you notice you didn’t belong there?”
“I see your point. How do you shift between dimensions?”
“Normally it’s accidental like when you entered the General Electric building. That’s why I have this.”
The man reached into his inside jacket pocket and pulled out a device that looked like a small TV remote.
“It took me three years to come up with this thing after dozens of tries. I come from a dimension that is five settings away from this one. But I believe there could be hundreds of dimensions between mine and yours. But I haven’t been able to fine-tune my controller enough to shift to those other dimensions.”
Suddenly, a man that was dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved plaid shirt entered the restaurant. He glanced around as if he were suspicious of some crime and wanted to check if any cop might be around.
He bumped into someone who was carrying a tray of food and caused her to drop it.
“What’s your problem, mister?” she asked angrily.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Where am I?”
“Don’t you know? This is Burger King. Where do you think you are?”
“I thought this was a Burger Chef. It was yesterday.”
“What is a Burger Chef? I never heard of it.”
The man looked at Bob and the stranger desperately. Bob was about to reach out to him, but his eating companion stopped him. Moments later, two men stood up from their tables and approached the man.
“Who are you two?” he asked nervously.
“We’re here to help you. Come with us,” said the larger of the two men.
“I’m not going anywhere with you two.”
The larger man grabbed him and his partner who was wearing white gloves placed his right hand on the back of the man’s neck. The man went limp and had to nearly be carried out of the restaurant. The diners continued eating and drinking as if nothing had happened. The men took the limp man out. Bob and the stranger watched the three leave the restaurant. But after they walked through the door they vanished.
“Yes they were,” said the stranger nonchalantly. “There might be more of them in here. This is a sort of hot spot for shifters. If you want, we could go into the bathroom and shift to another dimension that is a bit more interesting than this one.”
Would you take the stranger up on his offer or would fear of the unknown keep you in this dimension? It’s up to you if you want to continue the story.