Amelia took a few moments to get comfortable before she jumped into the 7th dimension. Amelia was always a bit edgy before she went, but she loved it. She likened it to that feeling one gets right before doing anything exhilarating, like jumping out of the chairlift onto a black diamond ski slope or flying through the air on a trapeze.

Barb adjusted the DMT formula, her secret elixir that would take Amelia to the other dimensions. “I think the last time you went , I didn’t give you enough. I’m going to up the dosage.” DMT had been around for years, but Barb had figured out how to use it in a specific formula with other compounds, and how to administer it without intravenous so that the user would be able to bridge the worlds. More importantly, Barb and Amelia’s elixir could be administered without any deleterious effects. Her formula enabled the user to experience the dimension visually, whereas Braxton’s contraption was a more holistic awareness. Both methods had their flaws. Furthermore, Barb and Braxton knew nothing about each other; they happened to have one of those scientific breakthroughs that often happen when tapping into the collective unconscious. 

“Beam me up, Scotty,” Amelia joked, having seen many episodes of the old Star Trek series. This is so much fun, Barb. I don’t know why you won’t let me take you inside with me. After all, this is your rodeo, too.” 

“No, I want this to be perfected before I take the plunge so I can get funded; there can’t be any holes in my theories or methods. Sorry, you’re my guinea pig.”

“I think,” Amelia was beginning to get drowsy, yet simultaneously energized, “ that you’re chicken-shit. I mean, it doesn’t make sense. Why would you have worked on this project if you didn’t want to indulge. And also, they’ll be more likely to fund you if they know you’ve gone in.”

Barb gave her usual argument. “You know perfectly well, why. My goal is to bridge the dimensions so that we can travel through space without the impediment of time. Think whatever you want, dear, but you’re about to be transported.”

Suddenly, Amelia was transported to the 7th dimension. She appeared to be sitting in a comfortable chair in Barb’s office, but she was really elsewhere. Images started to form in her mind’s eye, the third eye, the one that mystics had known about forever, but also the one that skeptics had mocked. 

The vehicle of transport was only one part of the invention. Amelia and Barb had perfected a device that enabled Barb to see what Amelia saw, visually, on a screen. They hadn’t yet been able to activate it holographically, but they were able to capture the images, albeit vaguely, on a screen. 

Avatars flew everywhere. Characters of all shapes, colors and sizes floated, zoomed, jumped, leaped, twirled, and skated through the landscape. Amelia was confused, but fascinated. She didn’t speak verbally, but her thoughtforms were captured by the machine. “I feel like I’m in a video game. This is bizarre. I would have thought that the 7th dimension would be more…I don’t know, esoteric. Or, spiritual, or something. Actually, there’s a lot of noise here, like a constant cacophonous chatter. Not deafening, or even annoying, really, but just…everywhere. Almost like being in a busy city.”

As Amelia was getting acquainted with her surroundings, two etheric entities approached her. “Amelia, welcome.” 

“You speak English?” she asked? 

“Not exactly. We don’t really speak any of your so-called languages. We don’t actually speak the way you three dimensional beings speak. We communicate in thought forms. That is why you are able to understand us now, and vice-versa.”

“Wow! I am having trouble wrapping my mind around this. How does it work?”

The entities chuckled, although it sounded more like a bubble of waves. The odd thing was that as they laughed, the wave bubbles actually appeared and floated off. The ambiance resembled a pool of liquid gelatin. 

“We’re not really sure how it all works. If we were to come to your world and ask you questions such as ‘how did you get here?’ or ‘how did humans develop language?’ or things of that nature, you wouldn’t really be able to answer them either.”

“I was really hoping for some concrete answers,” Amelia replied, “although I suppose that’s rather ironic since nothing here is very solid. This is very … I don’t even know what to feel.”

“Well, what were you expecting?”

Slowly coming to grips with her new reality, Amelia became more coherent and logical in her conversation. “Actually, I suppose I was expecting something like this. I mean, it’s not like there’s never been another human to visit this dimension, but most of them haven’t been able to visit on demand, and everyone has a different version of what’s here. But I have another question – well, okay – I have about a zillion questions, but right now I want to ask, what’s with all this cacophonous noise? I guess I was expecting a more peaceful environment.”

The two entities glanced at each other as if they had a secret. “This was a more peaceful place until the avatars started to bleed through.”

“What? What avatars?” Amelia asked. When a person isn’t ready for information, it doesn’t soak into the brain. “Am I inside a video game? Is this just a big joke? Have we not crossed into another dimension? Is all our work fraudulent?”

“No, no, Amelia,” they assured her. “This is as real as your dimension. We’ve been here as long as your world has been around, as far as we know. But, humans in the 3-D world have created these things called virtual reality video games that have somehow penetrated this dimension . Thus, the incessant noise and all of these avatars and other creatures that you see floating around.”

Amelia’s head was positively spinning. “What are you saying? Is there any way to get rid of them? This is crazy? Can we do something about this? Do you want them here? Are they real? What?” Amelia was flabbergasted by what she heard.

“No, Amelia. These creatures and avatars are like…” he paused for a moment. 

The other entity jumped in. “They’re like ghosts or apparitions in our world. The problem is, many of us are aware of them all the time, much like your mediums or psychics.”

“But most people in 3-D can’t see or hear ghosts, and even most mediums can only see them sometimes,” Amelia protested. “And if you are aware of them always, doesn’t that make them something other than ghosts? Doesn’t that make them real in your world?”

“No, because we can’t interact with them. They are not actually a part of our world, the same way that ghosts aren’t a part of your world.”

“They are sometimes,” Amelia countered. “When they cross over and create havoc, it’s said that they are haunting us.”

“Well, so far they have not crossed over, except that you can hear them,” one entity replied. 

“I’m kind of in shock,” Amelia said. “If I go back to my dimension now, will you be here when I return?”

“Yes, we know your whereabouts. If you return, we will accompany you.  But we have some questions for you. Is there someone else you are working with? And what is the purpose of your visits? Is this recreational? Are you visiting us the way you would go on a pleasurable journey? 

Amelia attempted to answer all their questions. 

“Where is this Dr. Agostino?” they inquired.

Amelia assured them she would come for the next journey.

“And one more thing,” they asked. “If you can get to our dimension on demand, how many more will be coming? It could get too crowded. We will not be able to accommodate all the humans that might cross over. We’re not sure you were supposed to come here en masse.”

Amelia hadn’t really thought about that. Perhaps it was reckless to offer this opportunity to the public. “This is all new to us. I haven’t really thought it through.” 

“Well, something to think about. I’m afraid we must go now and cannot accompany you any longer. Have a pleasant journey home.”

The following day, Barb went to work as if nothing had happened. Carlyle was gone. The board might be rejecting her proposal, but life must go on. Barb was smartly clad in the latest professional fashion: a blue and black tunic that resembled something from the Star Trek TV series, tight, neon leggings, and stylish shoes made of a new material that cushioned the feet so completely, it felt like you were floating on clouds. They were ‘smart’ shoes and monitored every step, monitored  the terrain, the person’s gait, their weight, the imbalances in their spine, and then adjusted the fit for optimum efficiency, comfort and health benefits. Barb did not know how she could ever have worn anything else. She wasn’t one for much adornment, wearing only enough make-up to make her look presentable, and barely any jewelry, but she did enjoy hats. She had a closet full of them. They were perfect when she was having a bad hair day, which was most days, and helped her look chic, or cute, or dapper or create whatever mood she was feeling that day. This day, she donned a very modern, 21st century chapeau, a glittery cone with a long, single gold feather that resembled an old dunce cap, but it made her appear cheeky and sassy, the look she was aiming for that day, and worked well with her wavy, chestnut locks. 

Braxton turned the corner of the busy street, typically absent-minded and distracted, as were most of the folks these days. He was not expecting to bump into a beautiful woman of Barb Agostino’s caliber. 

“Woah, watch where you’re going, Sir.” Barb snapped, but when she looked up and into the eyes of the man she encountered, something woke up inside her. She was mesmerized by his countenance; a strong jawline, offset by a delicate expression with ample lips that begged to be kissed, and a slightly dark, amber complexion. 

Braxton apologized immediately. “I am so sorry, I’m such a clutz.” When his gaze met hers, something inside him melted and he almost lost his ability to speak intelligently. He couldn’t take his eyes off her eyes, the color of milk chocolate silk, with eyelashes so naturally long that they almost touched the lenses of her glasses. He stared at her face, with her perfectly straight Grecian nose, round cheeks and chestnut-colored hair that seemed to float around her face in a soft fluff. She was breathtaking. 

Taken aback by this sensation, Barb stumbled over her words, something she rarely did. “That’s…okay. I feel … I feel like I know you somehow.”

Braxton stammered as well. “I know what you mean. You feel so …            I mean, you look so familiar. Maybe we were supposed to bump into each other.”

Barb didn’t even hesitate to ask. “Do you want to go for a drink or something? Or coffee? Am I being too presumptuous?” It was not something she would ask a stranger she bumped into in the street, but she almost felt like she was in a trance, and she was compelled to ask him.

Braxton was transfixed. “No, no, I’d love to. I happen to be going nowhere in particular.” That was a bit of a fib, since he was on his way to meet Lyle, but that didn’t seem as important as this encounter. 

A bit of reality set in for Barb. “Um, you had nowhere to go?”

“I mean,” Braxton corrected himself, “I didn’t have anywhere to be. I was on my way home and I have no pressing appointments at the moment. So, yes, I’d love to go somewhere for a drink.”

“I know a great, old fashioned bistro nearby,” Barb offered, taking anyone she could find to her favorite place.

“Lead the way,” Braxton responded. “I’m Braxton, by the way. Braxton Schaeffer.”

“My name is Barbara Agostino. Dr. Barb Agostino.” For some odd reason, she felt the need to include her accolade. 

Barb and Braxton settled into a booth, preferring the comfy benches to the stark, backless bar stools. 

“If you don’t mind, I’ll order for us,” Barb offered. 

“Not at all,” Braxton replied. “It’s fun not to think once in a while. And I’m sure you know what’s good here. Thanks.”

“Two cosmopolitans with a twist, and a plate of garlic humus. 

“So, you’re a scientist?” 

“Yeah, imagine running into another scientist on the street corner.” 

“Do you believe in kismet?”

“I don’t know what I believe. I think it’s all up for grabs. I’m constantly exploring reality. I rarely come to any foregone conclusions, and just when I think I’ve got anything figured out, the answers change. So, kismet? Maybe. What do you mean?”

Braxton readjusted himself on the bench, stretching his legs across his bench, turning sideways, leaning back on the wall. “I mean, I think we were supposed to meet. Somewhere, in another dimension, they’re writing our stories and we are the characters that are meeting on page 24, let’s just say.”

Barb considered this. “Interesting. What if these authors in that other dimension deleted those pages? What if we stepped into some other story and we’re not supposed to be here? What if we met on page 24, but we weren’t supposed to meet until page 39? Would we be screwing with the timeline?”

“You certainly ask a lot of questions. But they’re great questions.”

“I’m a scientist. It’s what I do.”

Braxton countered with, “I’m a scientist too. That’s why I’m cool with your questions. I love them, actually. As you were saying them, I was thinking that those pages couldn’t be deleted because … well, here we are. And we’re making all this up anyway, aren’t we? Seriously, though. It’s not just a line I’m giving you. I felt something when I looked into your eyes the first moment we met. I know it’s crazy, but science can’t explain everything.”

Barb let her guard down finally. “Okay, I can’t deny it. I almost felt a chill go through my body. Like you were entering me.” She immediately realized how that sounded. “ Omigod! I mean …” her cheeks turned red.

“Well, I could crack a great joke right now,” Braxton said, remaining straight-faced, “but I know exactly what you mean. Like I was entering your soul, somehow mind-melding with you, not through the computer cloud. It’s like…”

In unison, they repeated, “I know you.”

Time stood still. Neither of them knew what to do. So they just sat and stared at each other for a moment, deeply, profoundly. Neither of them were used to silence, except in meditation, or floating through the air with a parachute, yet somehow, the silence between them was exactly perfect.

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