Different Doors

Door 1 – Beach Conference

They took seats at a table in the beach bar and ordered – cool refreshing drinks and simple food to nibble as the world went by and plans were made.

The stories of how they’d each found themselves roving the corridor, finding and leaving places, were set aside for another time. This was a time to look forward, not back and, while lessons can be found in the past, it does no good to dwell too long there.

At his prompting, she reviewed the most memorable of her door worlds, some he knew, many he didn’t.

There was the beach they were sitting on now, with the afternoon storm just starting to build on the horizon.

The empty stone hall, he knew this one, and had visited when it had been full of people dancing, both to music and to political drums. It had been beautiful but strained. Happiness was not to be found in that building.

The grey cubicle farm was unknown to him and he applauded her first use of their transformation power in her infusion of colour and life into the place.

“But why was I able to do it so effortlessly then, when I struggle with it now?”

“I wish I knew. It seems like a strange form of beginner’s luck or maybe beginner’s mind. You have no expectations, no knowledge of limits or rules, so it just flows. When you look back over it and try to make sense of the experience, it all jams up like a dam on a river.”

The couple in the forest, who called her a Chosen One are familiar, they see all the door roamers in this light, “And in their view of how their world works, they might be entirely right.”

“I didn’t do anything there though, I wasn’t with them long enough.”

“They’re used to it. A few people have re-visited them as they’ve gained mastery over their travels and they do seem to have a grasp of wider worlds. Since it’s not unusual for us to bring new ideas and new technologies when we arrive on their doorstep, I believe they have an in-world reputation for invention and wisdom that they enjoy enough to not be fussed by the occasional disappearing traveller.”

“Did you go into the busy inn with all the people having meetings?”

“Yes, I think that world may be connected with that one with the hall. I think it may be a different country but I hear the same names and titles crop up in conversations in both places.”

“You visit both of them often?”

“The pub, and the city it’s in, is a good place for buying provisions and other travellers like us use it as a bit of a hub, so you can pick up some of our news dropped into more general world information.”

She then described the ‘sky world’, floored with clouds and dotted with crystal towers and her disappointment when the door in the tower pulled her back to the corridor instead of further into this curious wonderland.

He had never been to this place, nor even heard it described by the others. An intent was made to visit this land and explore it more fully together.

“How many of us are there in this place?”

“It’s a little difficult to tell. Some people come disappear very quickly after they arrive, I’m not sure if they find what they’re after an leave, or if they come to a bad end, or if they get absorbed by one of the worlds they enter and merge into the general population. There are some travellers who have opted to stop roaming and remain completely within one world but they’re aware – the new ones seem to lose all memory of other times and places.”

“You sound like you’ve had a close encounter with that.”

He nodded, “I arrived here with a friend, we were both here for different reasons, I think his was as much for a bit of fun and adventure as anything else. We went into the first few worlds together. On the fourth one, I was pulled back into the corridor and he wasn’t. As soon as I gained control over my movements, I returned to that world. He was still there, working in the local smithy and courting his daughter. He vaguely recognised me as someone he knew from earlier days, but thought it was a childhood we’d shared in the next town over.”

“He had no recollection of his life before here?”

“None, and it terrified me. My house in my chosen home world is well-stocked with paper and pens so I can write all my recollections down. Nothing seems to have gone missing so far.”

She sat back and ran a review of her memories, everything seemed intact, if distant.

He agreed with the latter assessment when she mentioned it, “The lives we’ve come from are so different to what we experience here, the memories are going to feel a little unreal after a while.”

They returned to a comparison of various visited worlds and he described the one he’d chosen as his home. It was a simple place, set late in the agricultural era. A village on the outskirts of a city large enough that strangers were normal and a merchant with need to travel is not overly remarked on, and only cursory gossip wasted on the unusual items and practices he sometimes brings back from ‘away’.

There were none in her list that felt like a place she wanted to call her sanctuary. The noble proportions of that empty hall still called to her in the same way as the emptiness of her sky world, and she resolved to return, now she knew how to both get there, and stay. But a home? That was yet to be found.

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