Exposition

It didn’t take long to assemble an audience on the roof.  Most of the talented mages and Chris Fallor were there.  A few were still muttering to each other about the odd ways Zeke had contacted them.  Lee had declined to come, saying that if Tom hadn’t learned how to tell planeswalkers from nonplaneswalkers, his experiments were more important.  In the middle of the crowd, Tom stood on a magically-produced platform, visible to all.  Once everyone was ready, he began to speak.

“Most of you witnessed the discovery of planeswalking yesterday,” he said.  “Ever since the initial incident, I’ve been practicing with it.  I’ve seen at least ten different planes in that time.  It’s all almost exactly like those of us familiar with the concept have heard.  There’s a bit of a problem, though.  See, even though I can visit any world I want to, when I want to go home, I… well… I can’t find it.”

Silence followed this.  He was waiting for a response, but nobody could find one.  James looked like he wanted to say something, but was almost afraid to speak.  Quiet Joe, so called for his taciturnity, was characteristically silent.  Loud Joe, so called only to differentiate him from Quiet Joe, was moving his mouth as if to speak, but no sound was coming out.

“So,” Mike McDonald managed, “to clarify, does this mean you’re confirming we’re really not on Earth now?”  Mike was one of the largest club members, and with his overwhelming presence usually seemed even larger than he was.

“Have you ever seen real magic, wild or otherwise, on Earth?”

Mike thought about this for a moment.  “Right, good point.”

“So, that’s the situation, as it is,” Tom concluded.  “I had hoped we’d be able to go home now, but that’s apparently not possible.  For now, I’m going to keep trying, but I just thought you all should know… we’re probably going to be here for a long time.”

With that, he was finished, so he stepped down off his platform.  The crowd began to break up, everyone still processing this, the muttering becoming deafening as they realized they now had something very important to talk about.  It was several minutes before the roof was something like clear, and several more before the number of people remaining was about the norm.  Tom remained for a while, staring off into space, before deciding to retire for now.

Tom decided to walk ten floors down to his room; the elevator would be preferable, but it was eerie enough that the building was here, let alone the conveniences.  He’d get used to it eventually, but for the time being, he’d take the less worrisome path.  On the second floor, a noise caught his attention.  He paused to observe for a moment, and as he watched, a small explosion blew the door off of Lee’s room.  Chris Fallor followed it, colliding with the opposite door.  Frowning, Tom muttered a spell to return the door to its hinges, and as soon as it was done the door swung open as Lee exited, holding a pencil and notepad.

“That was the worst one yet!” Chris said.  “Look, maybe you should just put the experiments on hold for a while, you’re not making any-”

Lee waved his hand, and Chris disappeared mid-sentence.  He began hastily scrawling notes, and continued for several seconds after Chris had reappeared.

“-progress.  And stop doing that!”

Lee shook his head.  “Can’t do that.  I need all the data I can collect on planar travel.”  So saying, he cast the spell again, and Chris disappeared once more.  Again, he made notes.

“Is it going that poorly?” Tom asked.

“Not at all,” Lee replied.  “Chris is just really negative about this.”  He reviewed the notes, and cast another spell; Tom couldn’t tell if this one had any effect, but Lee took notes all the same.  “I think I’m actually close to-” Here he froze.  He scanned his notes, and rushed back into his room as Chris reappeared, slamming the door behind him.  Banging noises emanated from within, and soon, he returned.

“Guys, I-”

He vanished.

The corridor went completely silent for a full minute.  Tom started to say something, but just as he was about to, Lee returned.

“Figured it out!”

“Seriously?” Tom asked.  “You know how it works now?”

“Mostly.”  Lee waved his hand again and Chris vanished.

“But you still need data?”

“Nope.”

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