"We only have a few minutes before the Eyelids finds us."
Ronin pulls me into a room. There is a camera in the room. I watch as he takes off his jacket and throws it over the camera. Being this close to him was uncomfortable, to say the least. He's found us a storage closet. He presses his back up against the wall. He has this desperation in his eyes. The look of someone who is truly terrifed for his life. It's at that moment that I realize that even if he is wrong about this Parallel Universe, he truly believed it. He believed it with all his heart.
"The Eyelids were the men out there. The men in white. In my world, everything is shared. Nothing is private. The All Seeing Eye sees everything."
He struggles, "Every citizen in almost every country is under surveillance constantly. Every part of their life is shared. Privacy is a concept that does not exist. Leading that Surveillance is the All-Seeing Eye. Every country has one."
"No, we have presidents too. It's more like...a security overseer. He directs the constant surveillance and leads the military police known as the Eyelids. The Eyelids are used to arrest those who seek privacy. The president is a very public job. The All Seeing Eye is very...private."
I look at Ronin. He has lost his total and complete fucking mind.
"You're crazy. I've met a crazy person."
Ronin opens the door and puts my head to the entrance, "See those men out there."
I saw them. They were gazing at a screen. For some reason, they were all in a panic. For some reason, they seemed to be looking for something.
"What about them?"
"Those are Eyelids. They've been triggered. There are getting ready for what may be a potential BLINC."
"No BLINC. A Bilateral Loss In Network Connection. They give us enough time to use the bathroom or shower. Anything besides that and we need to be back on the radar. 10 minutes if you are off the radar and you can just get a warning. An hour off the radar and you are getting a hefty fine. A day off the radar and it's prison time. It only gets worse from there..."
I look out of the room one more time. He's scaring the hell out of me. Those people in white definitely were looking for something. I'd never seen people like this before in any airport. I look at the machines they are using. They were foreign to me. They were alien. The fear that maybe Ronin is telling the truth about all this starts to creep me out.
I close the door.
I press up against the door now, taking Ronin's place before saying all of a sudden, "I'm having a panic attack."
I'm surprised when Ronin seems to get it. I'm surprised when he actually holds my hand. My breathing is getting heavier by the moment. I've always suffered from these severe anxiety attacks. My teeth clench at that moment. It always starts the same way. I sense my heartbeat speeding up as if it's going to burst out of my chest. At the same time, my chest feels tight but also huge; it's like my ribs and lungs have expanded to capacity and are being forced to stay there—and the tension hurts.
"Calm down. Look at me. I used to suffer from those too. Look at me. Calm down. You hear my voice?" Ronin asks, "Listen to my voice. You need to do something to take your mind off of it. Anything. "
I try to block everything out and hear his voice. I have to do something to take my mind off of it. But I can't. I remember the events on the plane. I remember how weird Paris acted. I remembered how strange Monique was. Then my stomach joins the party. It's doing Olympics-level backflips, and I have that gagging feeling in the back of my throat, except I'm not actually gagging so I get no relief.
My thoughts latch onto this new symptom and race ahead of me: Oh f*ck, now I'm nauseated. Where are my ginger pills? They are in my baggage. Is my baggage even in this universe?
Why the fuck do I care about my baggage?
That's when it happens. He kisses me!
I'm shocked when it happens. I feel Ronin kiss me almost immediately. His tongue goes to the back of my throat. His soft lips press up against me. His breath smells so good. His tongue tastes so good. He grabs the back of his head pulling me into him. I'm almost swept off my feet----almost, but then I remember who he is. This is the man who slept with my fucking husband.
"What the hell are you doing?" I state, "Get the fuck off of me."
"It worked, didn't it?" he asks, "I took your mind off of it."
I do realize my breathing has returned to normal. The panic attack has stopped. It's been replaced with another douse of emotion that probably was just as worse.
"Don't ever put your hands on me again."
"Listen I'm trying to help you."
"I don't need your fuckin' help!" I bark.
He takes a deep breath. Every time I look at him I see the man who my husband betrayed me with. I hate him. I never wanted to see him again. The pain was so fresh. I hadn't even had a chance to cry about it. I hadn't had the chance to be sad. I'm thrown into this whirlwind that I don't understand and the only person here that seems to know what I'm going through is the last person that I want to be around.
"You do need me," he states, "I know that it may not sound ideal right now but I feel like I'm responsible for bringing you here. I feel responsible for you."
"How? How did you bring me here."
"Time is running out. I can't afford a BLINC. If you get multiple like I do, they start to watch you extra hard," he explains, "We need to talk later. I have to go to a meeting. It's an important meeting."
"You are NOT leaving me."
"I thought you said you didn't need me," he asks before laughing and shaking his head, "Look. You'll be OK. As long as you don't BLINC, you'll be fine. You need to go home. I'll come to find you."
"The place where you live."
"I don't live there. I'm not from here, remember?"
"Listen. If my theory is correct then you switched places with the person you are. You're in the life of someone who has your same face, your same name but has a completely different story. Right now you are going to have to pretend like you are someone else."
The way he says it sounds as though I knew what he was talking about. Everything here looked familiar. The people were dressed in the same way that I would dress back home for the most part. They didn't have some weird accents. They seemed all normal. But this wasn't my home. This idea of surveillance wasn't what I was used to.
"What if I don't?"
"A parallel universe...it's the ultimate BLINC. You are an unknown entity to the All-Seeing Eye. Anything unknown is dangerous. You'd be immediately executed for the betterment of society."
My mouth gets dry. Holy shit. I don't think about it. I can't let another panic attack come on.
"What do I do?"
"Go outside. Find a ride. They'll know where to take you."
I didn't know where I lived in this world. I didn't know where I belonged.
"Everyone knows where you live. In my world, there are no secrets."
They had Uber in this world. The last thing that Ronin does was gets me an Uber before he disappears. I couldn't believe it when he orders it. No special weird tricks. He pulls up his phone and just gets an Uber. A goddam Uber. It's the most normal thing I've experienced so far. I'm sitting in the backseat of the car and sure enough, when I tell the rider that I need to go home, he doesn't ask me for the address. He just puts it in his navigation system and within a matter of seconds, he starts driving.
"How was your flight sir?" the Uber driver is asking.
I was distracted. In the distance, there is a moving billboard. It wasn't a normal billboard though. It was a family. A regular family living a regular life but for some reason, it is being streamed. Within seconds it switches to a man cleaning his house. A few seconds later the stream moves to a couple arguing outside of their apartment.
"It was...different," I respond.
I look at the front of the car. Sure enough, there is a camera on the dashboard. It's watching our every move in the car.
After noticing the camera I smile at the Uber driver all of a sudden wanting to make small talk.
"You like driving Uber?"
It's the kind of conversation I would have with an Uber driver back home. Right now I needed to feel normal. I needed at least a moment where shit wasn't flipping upside down.
"I always wanted to do it. Was scared it wouldn't be safe."
He laughs at the thought, "Funny guy. You know there is no crime. All Seeing Eye watch over me."
He chants the same words that I had heard Monique chant on the plane. It's eerie almost. Ridiculously scary to the point that I am unsure what he means.
"Well, of course, you have the BLINCers. Even worse you have the Blind."
"In my country, we must call it something else."
He looks over at me. The driver seems suspicious, "The Blind is the same in every country. The renegade group who decide to steal their own privacy. Surely you heard of them, Ontario Vaughn."
I hadn't told the driver my name. It seems like it has pulled up somehow on his GPS in front of him. I don't know how. Was it facial recognition? Was it voice recognition? How did the computer know to tell this driver exactly who I was?
I shake my head and whisper under my breath, "What the fuck is going on?"
"Can you repeat that louder, Ontario Vaughn?" the driver asks, "I'm not sure the microphone heard you."
It's at that moment that I'm reminded. I'm being watched. The All Seeing Eye was watching over me.
I am pulled up to a house that I don't recognize. It's a nice house. Nothing spectacular but nice and quaint. It seems like someplace I would like to live.
As I walk to the front of the house, I feel nervous. I am about to knock on the door but something makes me think. These people didn't have crime. So did that mean that they kept their doors open? As I turn the knob all of a sudden I realize I'm completely right about it. The door is open. The lights are off in the house.
I walk into the house just feeling ...weird.
I don't know why my heart is beating fast at that moment. I was feeling...well...watched. I take two steps in and turn on the lights when all of a sudden I feel someone grabbing me! The person grabs me from behind. They are strong.
I struggle to push them off me, backing up into the wall and pushing off as hard as I can!
"GET OFF ME!" I'm screaming at the top of my lungs.
That's when I push off and realize who it is.
"Just wanted to surprise you, baby...damn."
I look at the figure standing in front of me. It was a ghost. To me, it was a ghost, at least. The man that walked stared back at me was an exact version of someone I had lost. A replica of my hidden deepest regret. He lifted his head. His face had the same structure as the man I knew, high cheekbones and symmetrical. He had the same deep brown eyes and deep brown skin with red undertones like roasted chestnuts. He was still slender, toned and still maintained this perfect grace and elegance in the way he stood.
"Is everything OK, my love?" he asks me.
Around his eyes were laughter lines in just the right amount. Those were different. I supposed that he was often happy, but at that moment he was deadly serious. In his hand, he clasped my worried palm and my heart skipped a beat. Photographs entered my mind of the man who I had lost. I lean in and smell him. I take in his cologne and his essence hoping it would assure my mind this wasn't a dream. His face split into the grin I had imagined him to wear often. Then he came over in fast easy strides, took my hand, and offered me his mouth to kiss...
"I've missed you."
My lips press up against his.
"You were only gone for two days," he states seeming confused.
"It seems like a lifetime ago."
He smiles at me with his laughter lines, "Well damn. I'm glad you are on vacation then. We can spend as much time as you want together."
"Take me upstairs," I tell him.
Maybe it's the betrayal of Ezra and the vulnerability of it all. Maybe there is some deep tension from everything that has gone on today that I need to release. I want to believe it's all of those things. The truth is a little bit more complicated though.
I regretted leaving Adrian. I regretted when he killed himself. I regretted marrying a man because I thought I would find some amazing passion with him, only to find out I should have always stayed with Adrian.
Adrian grabs me.
He throws me over his shoulder.
"My pleasure," he tells me with that same deep, sultry voice that I had grown to miss over the years.
Within a matter of seconds, I'm in a room that doesn't look familiar to me. To the right, there are pictures of me and Adrian. They were memories that I had never had. Adrian begins kissing down the length of my body. It's as though he's trying to make out with my Hanes underwear. It happens right before he buries his face in my inner thigh, a go-to move I remember he did often when we were together when he was trying to simulate oral sex.
He wanted me to beg for it.
"Please..." I moan desperately.
He throws my legs up over my head. He drives his tongue inside of me, shattering any barriers that we had between our two bodies. With every lick, he begins to control my body with a perfect command. It's raw, intense, absolutely delicious noises of pleasure.
"Damn you taste so good today," he tells me.
He leans up and thrusts one finger inside of me, bending it as though he's digging for something deep within my prostate. He crooks it and hits a spot that makes me moan with a force that I feel will cause me to orgasm without even touching myself. I shudder. My legs are quacking and he feels how much I want him as he begins to undress. His body is still the same but his dick...it looks bigger. It falls to the side smacking up against my quaking legs. His face is glowing as he sees my reaction to him.
He enters me. Slow, but hard. Steady but forceful.
"Make it last."
"Whose ass is this?"
"Whose ass is this?"
He turns me around without barely putting in any effort. I'm in the doggy position. He leans over me though pressing his cheek up against my cheek and his stomach up against my back. I arch against him. As though entertaining the lie that his dick wasn't enough he manages to work two fingers inside of me at the same time. It was a little uncomfortable at first as he stretches out my hole but soon I'm moaning something fierce as he pushes me to my limits.
I'm so close.
That's when he says, "I love you, Ontario."
He's cumming. I can feel it before I hear the deep hard grunts as the warmth fills my insides. And that's when I came, moaning, tossing my head back and kissing him---passionately and without any regard for Ezra.
"Oh my God..." I state.
The sex was amazing. For so long I wondered what it would be like to relive those moments of passion between Adrian and I. All the regret that I had buried under me for choosing Ezra seems to all be resolved at this moment. For the first time in a long time, I felt happy. I wasn't making myself happy like I did when I was with Ezra. I was truly happy.
"Oh my---who?" He asks.
It pulls me back into reality at that moment when he says that. Did this world not have a God? I can feel the tension coming back but I won't allow it to steal that emotion. Whatever is going on right now doesn't matter at this very particular moment. At this very particular moment, I just needed time to rest. I needed time to unwind.
"Can we just lay here for a minute?"
"Of course baby. Of course, we can," he states.
With that Adrian holds me. When he holds me I feel complete. I feel more complete than I've felt in so many years. I knew I didn't live here before today but the way I felt in this room, I didn't mind. I have a quick flash feeling and forget that this is not my home.
I wake up at that moment. I look up and almost immediately I see a red light in the room. A red light is just blinking. Were we...were we being recorded the entire time we were having sex? Fuck----I'd forgotten again! I had completely forgotten.
"You up sleepy head?" he asks.
"So earlier..." he states, "Damn..."
I want to sit there at this moment and just talk about the amazing sex we had but, "Was that camera working earlier?"
"Of course. It's against the law not to have working cameras," he asks at that moment, "What's up with the weird questions today."
"That was the only question I asked you."
"I'm talking about the convo you had with the Uber driver," Adrian responds sitting on the edge of my bed, "I saw that on the stream earlier."
I stop myself. I want to ask him if he was spying on me. A part of me wants to be offended but I stop myself just in time. It was clear that he had seen the video of me and the Uber driver somehow. How much had he also not seen?
"Was I what?"
"Nevermind," I state, `I've been out of it lately."
"I can tell. I'm not complaining though," he tells me, "You never put it on me like that. Not ever. That was the most amazing sex we ever had."
I smile at the thought. Was it wrong? I knew that this wasn't my Adrian. This Adrian belonged to someone else. Or was it really someone else? Was the Ontario who belonged to this world me or someone else entirely different? Was having sex with his Adrian wrong?
"We can always go again," I wink.
He laughs, "I wish. We have company."
"You remember. My brother is in town."
There is a pause. I stop and think about it for a minute, "Ronin."
"Yeah," he states, "So you do remember after all. He's already downstairs."
"That isn't what you said before. Glad you had a change of heart. I remember you saying you wouldn't want Taured scum in your house."
"Listen. Today is a new day," I tell Adrian, "Let's just forget about everything I said before."
He smiles, "I like that. But we do have to remember some things...especially with him here. You know we can never be safe around people from Taured. I'm sure you are aware how much of a threat Taured is. What kind of country doesn't allow for surveillance?"
That was the problem with Taured?
Didn't they allow surveillance?
"He's still your brother, though, right?"
"Your memory really is getting bad isn't it," Adrian asks me, "You don't remember how I told you me and Ronin were related?"
"Jetlag," I complain, hoping this was something that actually happened in this parallel universe.
He seems to understand, "My family adopted Ronin from his poor Taured scum grandfather. The only reason we did it was because we needed some insight on what it was like behind the secrecy of Taured.
I'm hoping since he's in town today I can grill him about Taured. I'm sure he still keeps up with them."
The way that he is describing Taured was almost like people would describe North Korea or something.
"What happens when you find out what you need to about Taured?"
"Well, we go to war to conquer the radical nation of Taured. And oh yeah...I'll have to kill off my adopted brother Ronin as well."
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