“Your Better Life” a game show where contestants choose from twelve variant realities in an attempt to find a better version of their life. Based solely on material wealth and physical appearance. The contestants have a chance to pick four of the twelve, if they find a “Better Life” they win a million dollars. The show is a means of funding the Variant Reality Viewing Facilities for Scientific Progress. A worldwide success, the show is the most watched program in the world. Halfway through the 2100s a team of scientists viewed the first variant reality, technically different dimensions, the team looked at a version of themselves that had not successfully tested the same technology as they had just succeeded in. They viewed a dimension where the correct process had not been discovered. That viewing would be dubbed the world’s first “single deviation viewing”. As the science was perfected the spectrum of deviations was extended all the way to an eleventh deviation viewing. The higher the deviation the more principal differences the viewed world would have. In a single “D” viewing the viewer would see a would almost exactly the same as their own. A world were different decisions and events happened within the last year and thus dictate a new outcome, this is known as “one year of difference”. Single “D” viewings yield small scientific discoveries. Double Triple and Quadruple “D” viewings are ten, forty and 100 years of difference respectively. These yield the best results because they show the viewer a worlds vastly different from their own. and are considered viable for “Scientific Surfing” a term for the practice of scouring a variant reality for new discoveries. Anything beyond a fifth “D” viewing is considered not scientifically viable, for the simple fact that the worlds are so different from our own, that any research would be nearly impossible or too time consuming to comprehend. The Sixth to Eleventh “D” Viewings are reserved for Vario Anthropologists Scientists who study worlds where, perhaps, homosapiens are not the dominant creatures on the planet or life on earth was purely plant-based. All these areas of research don’t come cheap, and so the show “Your Better Life” was created.
“A man or woman can have a great life” the host of “Your Better Life” announced to another packed house. He egged on the audience as they started to say his next line, as they had so many times before.
“But if you’re lucky you can find…YOUR BETTER LIFE.” thunderous cheers shook the studio. The ovation muffled only slightly by the green room continued as the contestants were prepped on what they should expect. They were also reminded what the criteria for winning “Your Better Life” was.
“And Remember..,” a short, portly show assistant yelled to the room “If your variant viewings have one of our major sponsors, you will get a prize pack and $5000 cash!” Despite just informing the group if good news she sounded like she was scolding them. A rattle of tinny voices could be heard through the headset hanging around her neck. The light above the stage door lit up, and the contestants lined up like cattle waiting for their chance at a million dollars.
Robert Lynch was fourth in line, a good spot to be in. The show usually had about five contestants per night. And never less than three. He shifted his weight from one leg to the next nervously waiting. One by one the line shortened. He started to hum the tune to his favorite song. beads of sweat started to appear on his forehead. He wished his fiance, Stella, could have been there to see him. She was taking care of her mother while her dad was gone for training though his office.
“If you’re leaking like that now, wait til you get out there in the bright lights.” The fat show assistant murmured.
“Can I get one of you to fix this guy’s face.” She grumbled to the make-up artists, as she waved her hand towards Robert’s face. Before they could powder him the door swung open hand he was thrust onto a ramp leading to the main stage. The white of the lights filled his field of vision. As this pupils adjusted, his name cut into his ears over the loud speakers.
“Robert Lynch, will we see Your Better Life tonight?” The show’s variant specialist had found 12 variant realities and locked in on Robert’s DNA signature before the show had started.
Robert leaned into the mic. “I’ll take V-Ten”
“VEEEE-TEN, V-Ten V-ten, V…One… Zero. Are you sure?” The host played to the audience.
Y-Yeah, V-Ten, Robert restated.
The stage went dark. The audience went silent The giant screen in the middle of the stage displayed a graphic of a metal door with V-10 embossed on it. the doors opened. The screen was black. whispers could be heard across the crowd. Robert stood looking at the blank screen, trying to remember what the show assistant said a blank screen meant. Before he could recall the Host piped up.
“Well folks you know what that means, Roberts other self must be up to something naughty HA HAAA!” The Host glanced quickly to Robert then to the Stage Manager. Robert followed his gaze to the Stage manager. He looked white as a ghost. Robert turned back to the Host, who’s normally jovial expression had turned to a clearly forced smile.
“I guess we’ll have to check back with Var-Robert when he isn’t so preoccupied, Rob… Robby. Pick another.”The crowed cheered, but Robert was confused and took a while to pick. He wondered what had the Stage Manager so rattled. He picked V-One. The stage went dark, this time Robert watched offstage as a flurry of activity was taking place at the variant specialist’s terminals. The screen at center stage displayed V-1. As the doors opened the sounds of confusion flooded the stage from the crowed . The screen was of an empty kitchen, then after a second… Black. As before the Host made a glance to the stage manager who was now over at the variant specialist’s terminals and talking frantically on his headset.
Again the host made some bad jokes. He too, was beginning to sweat. He dabbed his forehead with his handkerchief and prompted Robert to pick again. Now Robert was starting to feel sick to his stomach. Offstage a lot of activity was going on. After several prompts from the Host, Robert chose another.
“Uh, I Guess V…V-4? He said.
The Host, regaining some of his composure, asked Robert why he had picked 4. Struggling for a reason He paused.
“Stella…My fiance. The first time I met her was on January 4th” Robert was trying focus but he had an awful feeling in his gut. The Crowd Oo’ed and Aww’ed, and the stage went dark again for the third time. The door on-screen opened and the screen revealed a variant Reality where Var-Robert was in a large garage working on a 1968 Dodge Dart, it wasn’t his job. This was his garage. the audience watched as the garage door opened and Var-Robert walked out to the from yard revealing a massive house with three other classic cars out front. The Host put his arm around Robert’s shoulder as he gave a sigh of relief.
“Robert. Does this look like a better life to you?” The Host echoed over the mic. As Robert was about to reply a shrill scream broke his concentration. He turned again to the giant screen. Var-Robert was being approached by a dark figure, a man dressed all in black. His face obscured by what looked like a gas-mask with wires, cables and circuit boards connected to it. he was holding his hand out at Var-Robert. The dark man was holding something. Without warning the item in the dark figure’s had extended out and into Var-Robert’s chest. In a split second Var-Robert’s body exploded and the dark figured turned it’s gaze towards Robert. It was as though this person in another dimension were looking though a window at him. The screams from the audience were deafening as the screen went black. Robert was in shock, shaking on stage. The Host was trying to restore order. Just offstage was chaos, people were running back and forth, phones lit up, headsets a buzz with activity. In the rush of activity Robert looked towards the audience, it was quickly emptying. He noticed one man standing perfectly still. The stationary man reached slowly into his coat. Robert’s eyes were locked on the man. From his coat he produced a mask. A mask was adorned with wires & circuit boards. Robert’s eyes began to water. This new dark figure slid the mask over his face and started to slowly walked toward Robert. By now anyone left in the studio was fixed on the dark man, as he walked toward Robert. What Robert didn’t know was that in every variant that he existed in, he was with Stella. Their love transcended dimensions. With every occurrence that Robert existed all events and choices made still led to him being with Stella. Except one, In one variant reality Robert was a brilliant scientist and with Stella at his side he experimented with dimensional viewing and worked toward dimensional communication. In his lust for scientific knowledge he was careless and was responsible for the death of his beloved Stella. Consumed by self hate and sadness he found every variation where his Var-Roberts existed. he then used an untested and extremely invasive dimensional communication node to coerce individuals in each variant reality to create tools to track down and kill all Var-Roberts. The communication node was like having a voice inside your brain whispering ideas into existence. His plan was to destroy a dimensional constant, Robert and Stella’s Love, and in doing so, reboot reality so he and his Stella could be together again. On the stage Robert stood facing the dark figure, puppet of his insane Variant. Knowing the end was soon Robert spoke.
“Stella, I will always love you.”He closed his eyes, his words rung across infinite dimensions. In an instant the brilliant insane Var-Robert’s reality recoiled out of existence. Robert opened his eyes, he was in a nursing home room holding Stella. Her mother had just passed away.