You’re from another planet,” Carla declared, awed.
“Sort of,” Nathan acknowledged. “I guess. In a way. But not exactly.”
Carla harrumphed. “Do you live on a planet?” she barked.
“Is it this one?”
Nathan shook his head, no.
“Then you come from another planet.” Carla topped this statement off with a self-satisfied smile and nod.
“But that’s not precisely true,” Nathan protested. “It’s not so much that I come from another planet as it is that I come from another dimension.”
“You come from time?” Marty piped in, half-facetious and half-disbelieving. Nathan and Carla greeted the statement with their own mixture of confusion and anger, so he felt the need to explain. “The fourth dimension, you know? Time. Isn’t that what scientists say?”
“Scientists are wrong,” Nathan said, letting the words thud their way into the conversation.
“It’s a coexisting reality,” Carla offered. “They must be made of neutrinos or tachyons or something like that, right?”
Carla was, at least, closer. “It’s more that your three dimensions are a very small subset of ours,” Nathan explained. “We’re aware of you, even though you’re not aware of us.”
“You’re like a security guard at the mall,” Marty said. “You can see everyone, because you’ve got video monitors trained on everything, but we don’t know that you exist unless we see the big upside-down silver dome thing that looks like it’s supposed to be decorative and realize that there’s probably a camera inside it. Right?”
“Those upside-down silver domes have cameras inside them?” Nathan asked, shocked. “They are not very good, then. I steal from stores all the time. I guess it’s a fair metaphor, though. It’s easy—well, not that difficult, at least—to come here from Tivoli, because we know where we need to go. Getting back isn’t so easy, because my home lies in a direction that doesn’t so much exist. I mean, it sort of exists, because it must somehow, and I can almost even see it, sort of over there.” Nathan pointed to a space behind, above, and to the left of him, but to get there he twisted and coiled his arms enough to suggest it had at least two more joints than it actually did.
“So it’s a one-way trip,” Marty suggested.
“That’s not precisely true,” Nathan replied, with much the same inflection as before. “It’s more just that I can’t return. There is equipment that will sort of act as a tether to my dimension, or a guiderope, or something. I don’t know anything about how it actually works, just what it does. And that they were pretty clear that my ship wouldn’t have one.”
Marty figured this meant that Nathan was stuck on Earth and might as well just make the best of it, and was about to say so, but Carla was a bit quicker. “Another dimension. What’s it like?”
“It’s like…” Nathan’s brows furrowed and he scratched his cheek in consideration of how to boil the enormity of the question down to a concept that words could possibly convey. “It’s like if you had a tattoo that was of yourself on yourself, but the tattoo was a hundred and twenty-five percent scale.”
Carla gestured with her fingers in an attempt to work out the spatial relations of this declaration. She eventually managed to, in her mind at least. “Hypertattoo,” she intoned, as reverently as a bishop might discuss the Shroud of Turin.
“All very well,” interrupted Marty, significantly less reverently. “But if you can’t get back, then exactly what is it that you want us to do?”
This is something I’ve worked up for Exile Issues, although I’m not sure that I’m going to be using it in anything resembling this form.
The basic story of the book is that Nathan, a man from another dimension, is exiled to ours, and attempts to get back to his. His dimension has four, uh, spatial dimensions, and while it’s relatively simple to get from his to ours, getting back is much harder. This is a first attempt to explain how that works.
Apart from the tattoo line and the security guard line, though, I suspect this won’t make the final cut. I’ve got an idea of how I want to do it; the information will come from the narrator and discuss all of the known dimensions and their attitudes toward those below them.
Also, in metaposty-news: I’ve added a list of links and added a section to announce what I’m reading. The first is because I like them, and the second is mostly to hold myself accountable to constantly be reading. It’s fundamental, right? Both are in the right-hand sidebar.