Day 03: The Homecoming

A knock on the door announced Frank’s pres­ence. Not that Ben knew it was Frank, he only found that out when he opened the door. “Oh, hi, Frank,” he said when he did.

Hi, Ben. I saw your car out­side. When did you get back?”

Just this morn­ing. Come in,” he said as he opened the door wide and stepped to the side. Frank walked in. “I need to let every­body know but I haven’t been down to the stor­age units yet. My laptop and everything are still packed up.”

Should have popped round to ours, we’d let you hop on the inter­net for a while.”

I’ll bear that in mind. I want to get settled quick though, rather than hav­ing everything hang around for ages.”

Yeah, I know what you mean. It doesn’t feel like home until you’re com­fort­able there. I always need a couple of days after a hol­i­day, and I only go away for a couple of weeks at most.”

Frank had wandered into the kit­chen, which was bar­ren of pots, pans, knives, forks and any­thing that might make a kit­chen actu­ally usable. There was still a table, com­plete with chairs, a fridge and a cooker, but what good they were alone, Frank didn’t know.

It’s been crazy. The time away was amaz­ing, but get­ting back was a massive pain. I think I’ve man­aged to pass through enough time zones to can­cel out the jet lag.” He saw Frank look­ing around. “Yeah, it’s pretty bare here. Like I said, I need to head down to the stor­age units and grab my stuff, then unpack it all.”

Well, I can head off if you want, I was -”

No, no! It’s good to see a famil­iar face. I’ve got a few beers in the fridge. I only just plugged it back in so they’re still warm.”

You get back and the first thing you do is buy beer?”

No, no,” Ben laughed, “They’ve been in there since I left. I knew that the first thing I’d want to do when I got back was have a beer so I planned ahead.”

I don’t know if that’s bril­liant or just worrying.”

If you don’t want one, then you only have to say.”

I’ve settled on brilliant.”

Yeah, I was pretty impressed with the idea too.” Ben took two luke­warm cans from the fridge and passed one to Frank.

Want me to help you unpack some stuff?”

It’s just dirty clothes and souven­irs I’ve got with me here.”

We could go and grab your boxes.”

Ben waved a hand dis­missively, “nah. I’ll do it tomor­row. It’s get­ting late. They’ll shut before I’ve loaded everything into the car.”

Have you got any bedding?”

I’ve got my sleep­ing bag and my mat­tress is still on the bed.”

All set then.”

All set.”

There was a moments pause, then Frank asked “want to show me some of the souvenirs?”

Yeah, def­in­itely. I didn’t want to ask in case you had no interest in them and ended up sit­ting through two hours of me telling you how a par­tic­u­larly piece of pot­tery was mod­elled on the fore­skin of a priest and why that is cul­tur­ally sig­ni­fic­ant in a cer­tain country.”

Do you have a piece of pot­tery mod­elled on the fore­skin of a priest?”

No. They were too expens­ive.” Ben moved into the liv­ing room, fol­lowed by Frank, who sat on the sofa whilst Ben walked over to the suit­cases piled in the corner and moved them around until he could get to one in the middle.

How did you cart all of them around?”

Oh, you’ll see. It was thanks to one of my souven­irs, actually.”

An ele­phant?”

No.”

Your own, per­sonal team of sherpas?”

Again, no.” Ben opened the suit­case and took out a small statue of a women car­ry­ing a covered pot. “This one was actu­ally pretty inter­est­ing. I found it in a ditch outside -”

Did it help you carry all that stuff?”

This? No, this is a -”

Right, let’s come back to it after you’ve shown me whatever amaz­ing device gif­ted you with the strength of ten men.”

Yeah, fine. But you will find that one inter­est­ing too.”

I’m sure I will, it’s just that you’ve piqued my interest already.”

Ben rum­maged around in the suit­case some more until he drew out a glass cube about the size of his fist. Inside, pinks, yel­lows, blues and oranges undu­lated around and through each other, pro­du­cing strange, mixed pat­terns and shapes.

It looks like some­thing you’d see in a film when the main char­ac­ter starts tak­ing drugs,” said Frank.

Yeah, but watch this.” Ben walked over to a door lead­ing to a cup­board. He opened it and place the cube on the floor within, tap­ping the sur­face of it twice and then step­ping back and shut­ting the door. “Now give it a few seconds and,” he opened the door, “voila!”

The door­way now opened onto a can­vas covered in the mov­ing yel­low, pink, blue and orange patterns.

What the hell?” said Frank.

Wait, that’s not the best thing.” Ben picked up a suit­case and pushed it into the door­way at about chest height. Once it was com­pletely past the door frame it hovered where he’d left it. He reached out and tugged on one edge, send­ing it into a gentle spin.

How the hell does that even begin to work?” asked Frank, stand­ing up and mov­ing over to the door. He stuck his head inside and looked around. From this side, the door frame looked like it was hanging in the weirdly col­oured space. He couldn’t see bound­ar­ies in any dir­ec­tion. Not even the swirl­ing col­ours were stuck to any­thing; they were just there.

Well, have you ever heard,” Ben asked, “of the mul­ti­verse the­ory being applied to an object allow­ing for a volume that’s greater than the sur­face area should allow?”

No,” said Frank.

Me neither. Appar­ently it has some­thing to do with that though. Like, you cre­ate a uni­verse inside another uni­verse, which gives you space which, for all intents and pur­poses, might as well be infinite.”

Where did you get all that?”

It came with a book­let but I’ve lost it.”

Well, it’s impressive.”

I know, right?” Ben shut the door, “Want to get a takeaway? I haven’t had deep fried chicken in eight months.”

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