637 & Jade

"Hello, fellow interdimensional traveler," he said. "My name's Jerrick Harrison 637. That is, I was the six hundred thirty-sixth Jerrick contacted by Jerrick 1 in his interdimensional travels. He died a few months ago of an overdose of pinkness, I'm afraid. Now I'm the Prime Coordinating Director of Immortal Octopi, though that doesn't really mean anything much. What's your name, if I may make so bold as to venture to ask?"

"Jade Irepan. We don't use numbers for ourselves, but we do have an organization called Squid Grrlz. We don't have any kind of directors, either. It isn't exactly an organized organization. We just basically Travel for fun. How'd you know I'm not from this dimension, Jerrick?"

"I didn't, but I did know you've been to other dimensions, because of my ID-traveler-detector I've just recently invented. You're the first one it's detected, but I suppose there aren't many such travelers in the world."

"I suppose not. You don't capitalize the 'T' in 'Travel' when you say that, do you?"

"No. Do you?"

"We all do, to distinguish it from other forms of travel."

"I can't hear the difference."

"We can. So, I take it you people Travel for more than just fun?"

"Yes, well, we all have our little projects going on, but we need other people to keep us motivated. But no one really understands us, so we have to motivate each other. ID travel was one of Jerrick 1's projects. So you Jades- I assume all Squid Grrlz are you?- don't have any special projects?"

"Yes, we're all me. And, I guess some of us might have projects, I mean particularly odd things like you Jerricks probably have, but mostly not. But we have fun together, as it's hard for most of us to have any fun with other people. Most other people aren't much like us, and don't treat us too well. Some of us do have some other friends, though. No dimensional Travelers, or anything, but there are a few decent people out of every million or so, I guess. In fact, I fell in love with a guy once who said he was sorry, but he'd always hate himself and feel he wasn't right for anyone in the world, and anyway, he was sure I'd get over it before long. And he was right."

"Still, I'd think you could be friends."

"You'd think that. I thought so, too, but I realized I didn't want to for no apparent reason. I'm sorry about that, but I didn't know him that long, and I expect he doesn't mind. Nothing much matters to him, anyway. All life seems to be to him is varying degrees of depression, I think."

"To my knowledge, no Jerrick has ever been in love or in any relationship or anything."

"Few Jades have, either, very few. I've only been in love the once, myself, and very briefly."

"I have a thought...."

"So have I, but I don't think it should be pursued. Although perhaps Jades and Jerricks should pursue friendships, and if anything more develops naturally...."

"Quite," said Jerrick 637. "Well, perhaps we should contact our respective groups about this meeting. Oh, and have you any manner of ID-communication?"

"Yes, of course. That was a natural enough side-project of Traveling. We all have communicators."

"We have a whole ID-Net, which I'm sure we'd be happy to share with you Squid Grrlz."

"Cool... the Internet is one of all too few things any dimension gets right, so few things normal people develop that are any fun, aside from the various arts. Arts, nature, and friends, those are about all the good there is in any world. Don't you think?"

"I do. Certain shades of insanity and science are nice, too, such as our projects. Though those things also have their darker shades. ...Are all of you the same age?"

"Of course we are."

"We're not. I developed time travel shortly before Jerrick 1 contacted me, and we set up quotas for all Jerricks to recruit for Immortal Octopi, so many of us were recruited at younger ages. The whole thing took five years, and now all living Jerricks are members. Some are dead, but there are still an infinite number of us."

"But that would mean most of you were members before the Jerricks that recruited them were."

"You'd have to talk to some other Jerrick about that, probably 45. The concept just smacks of Smack- with a capital 'S.'"

"If you say so. Anyway, how do you communicate with one another if you're mostly at different points in your lifelines? Or do you just all wait to talk to each other until the point at which the recruitment was completed? Or... what? God, infinity! There are only a few dozen of us, I think. I wouldn't even want to think about knowing all Jades!"

"Of course, no one knows all Jerricks. In fact, no one even knows of that many. Some of us are more famous amongst ourselves than are others, and we each have those who are closer friends than others, for one reason or no other.

"As for communication at different points in our individual lifelines, that... um... well, that might be another question for 45. Or... hmmm... I should know this.... Okay, I did say we're not all the same age... but where time travel is involved, it serves to... complicate matters.... I guess I just never really thought much about it."

"Perhaps a Prime Coordinating Director ought to."

"Perhaps he should. Well, our immortality is supposed to refer to there being an infinite number of us, sideways infinity. Perhaps time travel will make us immortal backwards and forwards, as well. To say nothing of the possibility of creating real immortality, although I don't think anyone's been working on that as yet. Gee, this really has me stumped. I know we meet Jerricks who are different ages without leaving our own times, except during recruitment, which is over now, and we were all born on the same day of the same year; at least I expect so, though I suppose a few of us could have been off by a few days or even weeks or months, early or late (hopefully not months late), but certainly all the same year and mostly the same day. There's more variation in the hour or minute of our births, but I don't know of anyone who wasn't born on the same day.

"Anyway, I'm stumped. The word for this, I should think, is vagaries. Of time travel and/or ID travel, and/or et cetera."

"Okay. I don't suppose it's important. Anyway, tell ya what. Why don't we meet later at this pub I like? I'll bring this world's Jade and maybe a few friends, and you bring anyone else you care to, like 45. Not too many of us, of course, because the tables aren't that big."

"45, sure, and I think 13. We'll be there."

And so they made the arrangements of time and place, and parted company.

part six