We were standing in front of the doors to the Welcome Center, and my hand was resting on the door’s handle. I didn’t know what was behind the doors, but the way Eli and Lawrence where talking, I expected one of us to die as soon as it was opened.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” Asked Eli.
“What do you think? I have no idea what’s behind these doors.”
Lawrence glanced at me and quipped, “Scared?”
“No… yes… I don’t know. Should I be?”
Eli shrugged and said, “I don’t know. Should you?”
“I asked you! Freakin’ old man…”
“Shut up Lawrence!” I was getting annoyed.
Eli started laughing with his face in his palm.
“Both of you suck.”
With Eli and Lawrence chuckling behind me, I gripped the handle and pulled the door open. My heart stopped and I held my breath as I gazed into the open room. It was absolutely empty.
“Well… would you look at that?” A smiling Eli said.
“Gasp! Oh my goodness, nothing is here. Wow, this is crazy!” replied Lawrence.
I was thoroughly confused at this point. I turned to both of them and said, “I really don’t even understand the point of that lie. Why try to scare me?”
“I wasn’t ‘trying’ to scare you,” said Eli.
“Oh?” I asked.
“No, son… just trying to warn you.”
I rolled my eyes as all stepped inside and asked, “Warn me about what?”
Lawrence said, “What’s living in this place.”
Lawrence eyed Eli, and Eli closed the door behind us. Lawrence continued, “Not many people step foot in this place. This place is evil. Dangerous.”
I looked around and saw a large bare room with a reception desk. Around the room there were five doors; not including the entrance. I looked at both of them and said, “I’m assuming the danger is behind the doors?”
They both nodded. I looked again at the doors. The door on the far left was an old, tattered wooden door that looked like it belonged to an outdoor shed. Next to was an old metal door that resembled one that would belong in a warehouse. In the center, there was a typical double door that could be found in most buildings. To the right of it was a rusty iron door with a latch that looked like something out of the early industrial age. Finally, to the far right, there was a door that appeared to lead to a stairwell.
“They’re all locked.” Eli paused and continued, “Well… except the center one. But, son… that’s suicide.”
Lawrence walked forward and said, “Hell, Marcus. 243 tortured souls looking for vengeance for their life that was taken from them.”
Eli put his hand on my shoulder, “Their hate binds the doors to guardians.”
“There are guardians behind the other doors?” I asked.
“Yeah. Except that one.” Eli pointed to the stairwell.
“Where does that go?”
“Don’t know, son. Don’t really care or want to know.”
I threw my hands in the air in frustration, “Then why are we here? Huh? I’m done with this.”
I started walking towards the center doors when Eli said, “Marcus… wait.” He looked at Lawrence, “I told you we would help.”
Lawrence sighed, “…fine.”
I jumped at the shrieks and screams from the vampires outside. We could hear them swarming the outside of the Welcome Center.
Eli looked up and said, “That doesn't sound good.”
All of our heads turned toward the door. Something was pounding on it. From behind it I heard a muffled, “Dudes, let me in.”
Eli and Lawrence looked at each other. Another more desperate, “Dudes! C'mon, let me in!”
“Is that who I think it is?” Asked Lawrence.
Eli nodded and said, “Yep.”
“Can we please leave him out there?”
Lawrence sighed, “Fine. Let him in.”
Eli unlocked the door, cracked it open, reached outside and pulled the man inside, and then quickly closed and locked the Welcome Center's door.
“Thanks, brother.” The man said.
I knew this guy. He was a huge, towering man. He wore jeans, a yellow tank top, and a red bandanna on his head with blond hair coming out the back. He also had a huge blond walrus mustache. I really couldn’t believe I was staring at Hulk Hogan. I stuttered as I said, “H… Hu… Hulk Hogan?”
“Sup brother? Do I know you?”
I shook my head and said, “No.”
Eli pointed his hand to me and said, “Hulk, this is Marcus.”
Hulk shook my hand and almost crushed it as he said, “Glad to meet you dude.” He turned to Lawrence and said, “Larry! How ya been, dude?”
Lawrence grumbled something under his breath. Hulk continued, “Eli-Kenobi, thanks for the help back there. But honestly, I was about to let Hulkamania run wild on them, but then I figured the big Hulkster upstairs wouldn’t like me crushing a whole race between my 24 inch pythons. Y’know, brother?”
Eli nodded and said, “You’re right. God said it is his to avenge.”
I interrupted, “Wait. Eli-Kenobi?”
Hulk excitedly said, “Yeah dude. That’s his real name. Believe it or not, but this dude has some awesome Hulkster powers. He can move things around with his mind by using a thing called 'The Source' and he fights with this awesome high tech sword that’s made of pure light.”
I looked at him blankly and said, “A lightsaber?”
Hulk shook his head and said, “What? No, dude. It’s called a plasmafoil. Although, he denies this, I know he’s saving it for a really tough battle. Ask Larry. Larry knows.”
I looked at Lawrence. By this time, Lawrence had walked away and was cussing under his breath. I turned to Eli with a puzzled stare.
Eli made a disconcerted face and said, “Marcus… ummm… it’s difficult to explain. I’m not sure if you’ll understand.”
“Fine. Lawrence, will you grab us some chairs behind the desk?”
Lawrence nodded and brought four chairs. Well all sat down and faced Eli.
Eli began, “I guess it’s best you know what’s going on. Marcus, how much do you know about parallel dimensions?”
“Like time travel and quantum physics?”
“Sort of. A bit different, though.”
“Well… where I come from, before the war, ‘Hulk Hogan’ was long-running crime drama that came on every Monday night. Hulk was played by an actor named Terry Bollea. In the series, ‘Hulk’ was a cop that used his maverick style of policing to bring justice. It was actually a really, really good show. Lawrence here… again, in my world… was one the central characters of the most financially successful series of books about vampires and werewolves called ‘Twilight’. And, son, let me tell you how good this series was. Gritty. Dark. Violent. Edgy. The author’s prose was a masterpiece. Simply flawless. Unfortunately, the war happened, and the final book was never finished.”
I was staring at Eli blankly.
“So, son… what this means is… is, well Lawrence?”
Lawrence looked up and said, “In my world, Eli was a renowned war hero. Hulk was a soap opera star…”
Hulk interrupted, “Yeah dude. In my world, Eli is this awesome dude from the greatest sci-fi series of all time called ‘Book of Wars’. And Larry here, well Larry is a cartoon dude that I grew up watching as a kid. Yeah, see, Larry would always get chased by a vampire named Tom, but the stupid vampire could never catch him. Larry would always trick Tom. Dude, I miss watching Tom and Larry. I used to watch it every Saturday.”
Eli said, “You see, Marcus… all of our universes contain alternate versions of ourselves. We all know each other from our own respective universe. Hulk. Lawrence. Conan. Indiana. Kratos. Link. Robin Hood. I could go on and on. But…”
He stopped and looked at Lawrence and then looked down.
“But what?” I asked.
Eli looked back up, “But… we don’t know you. We’ve never heard or seen you before in our lives.”
There was an awkward silence before Eli continued, “And… what’s even weirder is that you know us.”
Lawrence looked at me and said, “Marcus, it just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t add up. Your presence defies everything we know about parallel dimensions.”
“Meaning?” I asked.
Eli said, “Look son, we’re not trying to come across hostile, it’s just odd, that’s all. Let me try to explain this. Here look.”
Eli pointed to a plank on the wood floor, “See this piece of wood? Look at the lines in it. See? They all flow one way, some cross, some don’t, but they all have something in common. They are all on the same piece of wood. So, explain to me how a line can be on this piece of wood and not be on the piece of wood at the same time? It just doesn’t add up.”
“I don’t know, Eli.” I was starting to feel cornered. I paused for a second and continued, “Look, all I know is that I woke up here without any recollection of how I actually got here. I can’t remember my life before waking up. But, I know all of you. And where you came from… in my world. Eli and Lawrence, you’re both movies. Hulk, you’re a professional wrestler.”
Sensing the frustration in my voice, Eli said, “Marcus, we’re not attacking you here. We know you aren’t at fault in anything. We all know who is behind this.”
I shook my head and said, “Watcher.” I paused again and said, “Eli explain this parallel dimension thing a little more and what Watcher is doing.”
Eli smiled and said, “Sure. Well, what we know is that all of us were removed from our worlds. Just up and vanished, practically. I was walking one moment, and then POOF I was here. Same for everyone else.”
Hulk and Lawrence both nodded in agreement. Eli continued, “Best we can tell is it works likes this. See, all of these parallel dimensions are existing by each other. Think of it as a line. Sometimes these lines cross each other… sometimes lines cross multiple lines. Well, what it seems is that all the lines, how every many there are, have all crossed and met to form a single line. This single line has become Watcher’s world. And, he is making the rules.”
I was still staring at Eli when Lawrence spoke, “And, we’re not happy with this world. We all want to go back to our world… no matter how bad it was before. We just want to go back where we belong, and where things make sense.”
Eli nodded and said, “Yep. But, we can’t do that with Watcher alive. As long as he’s alive, he can keep us here as long as he wants to. Doing whatever he wants to.”
“So, that’s why you’re helping me then?” I asked.
Eli shrugged, “Sort of. Not all of it. I listen to God. God tell me that you’re the key. You’re the key to get out of this mess.”
Lawrence said, “I believe Eli’s God. He’s never been wrong yet.”
Hulk said, “Yeah, brother. I trust Eli-Kenobi. I mean, he’s a master of The Source.”
Eli lifted his brow, “So, you’re going to help us, Hulk?”
Hulk stood and pointed, “You know it, brother!” He then flexed and yelled, “Tell me, Watcher, whacha gunna do when Hulk and his friends run wild on you?”
“I hate when you do that.” Lawrence scoffed.
Hulk smiled and turned to me and asked, “Hey, dude, got any weapons?”
“Yeah. Maul or axe?”