Thursday, August 24, 2023

Microstory 1959: My Funny Valentine

Generated by Google Workspace Labs text-to-image AI software
Leonard Miazga: *lowered voice* Hey, can I talk to you for a minute? In private?
Valentine Duval: Sure, what’s up, dude?
Leonard: Here, over here. So, Reese introduced me earlier, but I should reintroduce myself. I’m Leonard Miazga, but you can just call me Leonard. Do you go by Valentine? Or do you have, like, a hacker name that you prefer?
Valentine: It’s Micro, but Val is fine IRL.
Leonard: Okay, Val. I just wanted to ask—and I don’t wanna be presumptuous. I mean, I don’t know what you were going for. Maybe it was random. Maybe it wasn’t anything. I don’t know. Maybe I just completely misread what you did, and actually nothing happened at all. So I’ll sound like an idiot when I finally get this out. Though I suppose, since it’s taken me so long to get through it, I already do sound like an idiot.
Val: Is this about the wink?
Leonard: Yes, it is. You winked at me, right? I wasn’t imagining that.
Val: You weren’t imagining it. Where I’m from, winking is a way to convey emotional information without words, and—if done correctly—without others knowing that any information is being shared in the first place, let alone what it is.
Leonard: Okay, but...why would we be sharing information? We couldn’t possibly have met before today. Let’s just say that I’m...
Val: A traveler? Yeah, Leonard, I know where you’re from.
Leonard: Because you’re a hacker.
Val: Yes, but there are other signs. You sort of...smell a certain way.
Leonard: Oh.
Val: Not a literal smell. The way you hold yourself, and the way you walk. I knew that you were from another universe. I realized that you were cognizant of this fact after observing you myself for all of five seconds. You act like a stranger in a strange place.
Leonard: So you were just winking because you know my secret. Though, it’s not really a secret. It just hasn’t come up yet. I suppose we’ll have to tell the others sometime.
Val: Yeah. And also I’m like you. I thought you realized that.
Leonard: What? You are? Are you from my world?
Val: *shaking her head* No, I’m from Salmonverse.
Leonard: Oh, I’ve heard of that. I can only specifically recall hearing about two universes, and that’s one of them. How long have you been here?
Val: I got here a couple years ago.
Leonard: How? Did you always know you were on the wrong Earth?
Val: Westfall, just like you. I’m aware of it because I already knew about time travel and stuff, so my mind couldn’t be rewired to account for the strange differences, of which there are many. Did you know they don’t even have a word for toads?
Leonard: *doesn’t care* Huh?
Val: They call them creepfrogs. That’s so stupid. They’re a different species!
Leonard: Val, I don’t care about any of that. I want to know about you. You seem very unsurprised by any of this, and I have a million questions, starting with—
Val: How to get home? You can’t. This is your life now. Y’all best get used to it.

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