A Friday In Another Boston
officially, alternate universes do not exist and the online communities dedicated to charting the differences between them and building devices for round-trip travel are an elaborate work of collaborative fiction
in reality, the machines work and are even relatively safe
when my friend offered me a trip in her new machine, I practically leaped at the chance and began furiously consulting wikis
|Computed delta||3.4 [a]|
|First encountered||December 3, 2009|
|First encounterer||Danny333 |
|• Countries||almost identical|
|• Major currencies||identical|
|• Intra-verse travel||generally requires documentation|
|Tech level||roughly early 2000s|
|Inter-verse travel||largely unknown, with a small community |
we chose "2E" (2 echo), a relatively easy to reach and well-charted universe with few differences from home, but enough to make it interesting
I grabbed my camera, went to the ATM for some cash, wrote a short bucket list, and sat down on my friend's couch to make the jump
I blushed as she reached under my shirt to tape the return beacon, a round printed circuit board with a large gold patch on the back and a few chips and a button on the front, to my chest
"push this button 3 times to come home immediately, or otherwise I'll pull you out 12 hours after you go in. now be a good girl and drink up" she says
being called a good girl throws me off guard so much that I don't complain about the foul, chemical taste of what she later told me as CT contrast, which makes me light up like a christmas tree on the scanner and very easy to pull between universes
I grabbed the coils on the machine, closed my eyes, and kept them closed as I felt like I was being shoved to the right at great speed
when I opened them again, I was standing in the summer sunshine on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street where my friend live
it was 1 on a Friday afternoon in Cambridge, and I had until 1 am to explore and go to an Electric Nectar concert at the Garden
my friend had traded concert tickets with a traveler from 2E and would've gone that day if I hadn't
I took out my phone, put it in airplane mode, since its SIM card wasn't valid there, and opened up the notes app to take a look at my list
I made my way towards Massachusetts Avenue and after walking for a bit, found Central Square
I descend the stairs for the inbound platform and then sigh and turn around after realizing that there's only turnstiles and no fare machine
most of a block later, I found the correct stairs and began my battle with the fare machine and its bill acceptor
several tries later, I slid a "BillyCard" out of the slot and turned it in my hand
with a ding that sounded slightly flat, I tapped my new transit card and crossed the turnstile
liking the way the track curved out of the station, I took out my camera and took a picture right as a red line train pulled in
"hey, nice camera" another girl on the platform said to me
I don't consider myself short, but she stood several inches taller than me and a single look at her made me more than a bit flustered
"same goes for you. what film are you shooting?" I managed to reply while trying not to blush, noticing her Olympus SLR
"Aerochrome! and you?"
"Fuji Superia. .. wait, didn't they discontinue Aerochrome?"
"where did you hear that? last I heard, it's still being made and it's the cheapest E-6 around on account of the weird colors. I don't think I've ever shot Superia though"
"it's a pretty boring 400-speed C-41. .. I should definitely swing by Hunt's over by Kenmore??? and get some Aerochrome" I said, hoping that Hunt's exists over by Kenmore and Fenway Park in this universe
"yeah, they're at Kenmore, right next to that record store"
we both got off at Park Street and headed in different directions
I headed up to the green line platform and carefully studied its branches before catching a B trolley west towards Kenmore
I wandered through the Fens, my bag weighed down with film and cheap CDs I chose mostly based on album covers
it was surreal to be a tourist again in a city I'd lived in for years, but I was having a great time
my stomach growled, and a few minutes later I found myself looking down at a bowl of chowder in the food court of the Prudential Center, thinking about what to do next
the distorted yet familiar subway map I'd seen back in the station called to me, so I made my way to a nearby orange line stop and watched as the city slid past, first as stations in a tunnel and then from a trench
the train stopped at stations I thought of as silver line stops or as places that don't have trains: Lower Roxbury, Nubian, Roxbury, Franklin Park, Dorchester, Mattapan ("change for red line to Ashmont"), and finally Hyde Park
outside of the glass and steel station building at Hyde Park, a sculpture caught my eye: a ten foot tall pair of scissors with a plaque next to it
In early 1986, the MBTA announced plans to replace the elevated line to Hyde Park with buses, cutting several neighborhoods off from the rest of Boston.Increasingly large scissors became a symbol of protests against the cutbacks after demonstrators brought three foot tall papier-mâché scissors to a press conference announcing the demolition schedule.One group of protestors followed the head of the MBTA, the governor, and the mayor around for a week with scissors emblazoned with "STOP THE CUTS."Perhaps more persuasive was the incident on the night of September 3rd, 1986.Activists, who remain anonymous to this day, disassembled a bus shelter for the new route 49 bus replacing the trolley and lit it on fire directly in front of city hall.Spray-painted on the sidewalk in front of the flaming shelter was "WHERE'S OUR FUCKING TRAINS?"City crews were unable to clean it up until after that morning's rush hour, and thousands of commuters and city workers coming up the escalators at Scollay Square saw it.To the mayor's surprise, public opinion shifted quickly to support keeping and expanding rail service southwards, and he failed to win reelection.In 1987, construction began on a heavy rail line roughly following the path of the elevated line, with full service beginning in 1990.Proposals were made to keep the elevated track as a linear park, but maintaining the rusting structure proved too expensive and it was demolished in 1991.Hyde Park Neighbors' Union, 2006
I spent the next few hours wandering this city that was at once unfamiliar and my home
I checked my watch and discovered it was 6:30, and doors opened for the Electric Nectar concert at 7, so I hurried back to North Station and the Garden, arriving to a mostly empty floor
I looked around, taking in the old stadium and the two nearly-overlapping ranks of seats
I was thinking to myself about how being there made me feel almost a part of history and how it was a shame that the version back home was demolished when someone tapped me on the shoulder
I whirled around to find the girl I met in Central Square Station next to me
she had matte dark red lipstick on and a pair of silver chains hanging from her grommet belt to complete her gothy look
"hey there, camera dork~" she said, making me blush faster than my car goes from 0 to 60
"h-hiii" I replied, trying and failing not to show how flustered she made me
"which band are you more excited for? Electric Nectar is good and all, but I've always had a soft spot for The Long Yeah"
my friend hadn't told me anything about the opener and had only played me a couple of her favorite Electric Nectar tracks before I crossed universes
"I really haven't listened to much from The Long Yeah, but I like Nectar, especially their layered synth stuff like Interstellar Interlude" I replied, hoping that I remembered the name correctly
"oooh. that's a *deep* cut"
"yeah, a friend played for it me and I was hooked. she was supposed to come with me tonight, but she got sick" I said, trying think of a way to steer the conversation away from bands I knew little about
"oh right, how did you think that roll of .. what was it.. Aerochrome? you shot went?" I asked, remembering our conversation earlier that afternoon
"I had a good time in the Common and over by the Esplanade and got some angles that I hope will come out well. how about you?"
"I shot a lot of trains, mostly"
our conversation was cut short by the lights dimming and a chord from a bass guitar
The Long Yeah played a great set and I made a mental note to swing by the merch table before I left
Electric Nectar's set was also excellent, although they didn't play any of the songs my friend played for me
we went out for drinks after the concert
halfway through my drink and in the middle of an infodumpy conversation about camera lenses, I checked my watch and realized how little time I had left in 2E
"tengo que i- I have to go" I said before quickly drinking the rest of my hard cider
"what, already? do you turn into a pumpkin at what?.. 1am?" she asks, checking her watch
"yeah, I'll dematerialize from wherever I am and end up back in Cambridge, probably with a splitting headache"
"ooohhhh, so you're a verse hopper. that explains a *lot*; I thought you just lived under a rock and didn't listen to much music"
"I don't live under a rock; you've just never heard of the bands I listen to" I reply, checking my watch again
it was two minutes to one, so I paid for both of our drinks and she followed me out
she scrawled her phone number on my hand in lipstick and kissed me on the cheek with 5 seconds left
I felt a shove to the left and I was back on my friend's couch in Cambridge with an intense pain in the entire left side of my body
my friend sat at the other end of the couch, sipping a beer
"I see *someone* had a good night in 2E"