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.”
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.”
“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.”