Jeremy Packert Burke’s story “So, You’re In an Alternate Universe” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 26 August 2016.
Of course alternate universes are an old trope in scifi, but usually we see someone we know leave a situation we know and end up somewhere . . . different. Probably much worse. This is the case in anything from It’s A Wonderful Life to Rick and Morty. There’s an episode of Buffy, “The Wish,” in which a character inadvertently wishes herself into a Buffy-less version of her hometown, and we see her running around telling people how wrong the vampire-ridden version of Sunnydale is, how the demon versions of ordinarily lovable characters are distortions, not the real deal. I wondered what it would be like to be on the other side, to be one of the people being told the world that you’ve always lived in is wrong, that it’s untrue. Things spiraled from there into the whole confusion-as-metaphor-for-growing-up thing that Buffy (and the author Kelly Link, too, who was a major inspiration to the story) does so much of. There are a lot of people I stopped being friends with around the time I was fourteen or fifteen. People you’ve known for your entire life can feel like someone entirely different at that age, can feel like your world and their world are completely separate. I just literalized that sense. What if they were really were from a different world? How would you know? Would you trust them? Would they still, in a very literal sense, be your friend?
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