[On another world, not so far away a new arrival discovers her new home]
Refugee (R): Wait, a wormhole? What exactly is a wormhole?
Host (H):The wormhole that brought you to this dimension.
R: I swear I have no idea what you’re talking about.
H: Would you like the grand tour? Take a look around?
R: No, really. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
H: Okay. Would you like the tour now?
R: You’re trying to make me look like an asshole.
H: Well, if you want to act like you have no idea of how you got here, I see no reason to waste time arguing with you. Tour?
H: Follow me.
R: Wait. Is this what everyone comes here for?
H: Well, I offer, but sometimes folks choose not to. Some say they want the tour but when they leave out of here and they see things for how they really are it makes them feel kind of…funny.
H: Yeah, funny. You know some of them freak out and we had a few that just totally lost it.
R: Lost it how?
H: Yeah, their brains exploded.
H: Literally, but I don’t think yours do that. Do they?
R: No, I don’t think so.
H: Yeah, different dimensions you know. You just never really know. Tell me a little about where you come from.
R: Well, my planet is called Earth.
H: Really? Gosh, mine too.
R: Okay hotshot, how about dialing back the sarcasm about a thousand?
H: Hmm, so you do think I’m hot, huh?
R: Can you not?
H: Alright, alright, calm down. Wormholes like yours go to other dimension not other planets or solar system. You’re still on Earth, Einstein. But wouldn’t that be freaky to go to another solar system? Wow, just imagine.
R: Yeah, imagine. I guess you’ve been to several dimensions?
H: God, no. No reason to do that. I’d have to be crazy to leave here for something else. I couldn’t imagine anything better really.
R: Well, it’s not like I chose to come here. I liked where I was too.
H: Yeah, right.
R: No, seriously. I don’t know how this happened.
H: I get you might believe that, no one wants to admit they couldn’t hack it and ran away, but either way your arrival doesn’t come from our end. We don’t pluck random people out of the void and drag them here. You have to want to come. Everyone chooses.
R: Not me. I didn’t go to sleep last night thinking about waking up in another dimension, but that’s what happened. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was standing here arguing with you I’d think I was dreaming. I don’t know maybe I am dreaming. It would be better to believe that than feel like some kind of lab rat trapped in a cage.
H: Woah, woah, woah. You’re not a prisoner. You can leave any time you feel like.
R: Well, then why am I still here?
H: Because you want to be.
R: No, I don’t.
H: Well tell your brain that so the wormhole will slurp you back to wherever you came from. It’s your choice. Anyway tell me more about this Earth you speak of.
R: Now you’re just making fun of me.
H: Well, it’s kind of hard not to. You’re so serious. It’s kind of boring. Is everyone like this in your dimension?
R: What because I’m asking questions. I think that’s completely normal when you slip through a so called wormhole into a world of pretentious pricks?
H: Still my beating heart just when I was beginning to write you off. Kitty’s got claws, huh?
R: Save it. Look you have to see it from my point of view. You said I’m not the only one you’ve seen come through here but this is a first for me. This may be normal for you, but it’s not for me. How do I know you’re not pranking me. This could be some huge hoax for all I know.
H: It’s not.
R: Oh, well, there you go. That solves everything doesn’t it? Because you’re soooo trustworthy.
H: Now you’re just being rude. In my dimension our word actually means something. I promise you everything I tell you is true.
R: For the record in my world our word means something too, at least to me it does, and asking questions isn’t irrational or strange. I’m scared okay. It’s kind of hard for me to wrap my head around what’s going on. I’m curious, but I don’t know what’s on the other side of that door, how the hell I got here or how I’m getting back. So I’m kind of freaking the hell out right now.
H: Are you done?
R: No. Yes. Hell, I don’t know. I guess.
H: Good. Now tell me more about where you come from.
R: Does it really matter? I’m here now. I want to know about here.
H: Hmm, nice. Looks like the aftershocks from the wormhole are finally wearing off. Some people can get pretty nasty, but you- you’re different. I’m impressed with you.
R: I wasn’t really trying to impress you.
H: Don’t ruin it, okay? Let’s go, shall we?
R: Wait, aren’t you going to prepare me? Kind of give me the run down about you know- out there.
H: No, I think it’s better for you to just see for yourself. Then you can ask questions. The only thing I ask is that you direct all of your questions to me and only me. No one out there can know how you came to be here.
R: Why not?
H: Because they’ll think you’re crazy.
R: Wait. What? I thought you said you’ve had people like me before.
H: Yes we have, but we never tell the public. What do you think we’re nuts? Now follow close and don’t touch anything. These walls are hell to clean.
R: About that, does everything look like this?
H: Like what?
R: Like something out of some sci-fi movie. Everything’s so… white and sterile looking just like this.
H: This is just the welcoming area. Now behind this door may be a little more of what you’re used to, but again I have to warn you- don’t touch anything.
R: What’s with the no touching?
H: Can you not? Tell me now if this is a problem and back to the white room we’ll go.
R: Okay, sorry. I didn’t realize it was such a… thing. I can control myself.
H: You’re sure?
H: Good. Voilà. Welcome to our world.
R: I see bad taste is multidimensional.
H: While obeying basic rules of etiquette apparently isn’t.
R: Sorry, but your office is kind of outdated. The couch looks like something from the 50s and the carpet is that shitty shag stuff. Is this your office?
H: No, just the passage way.
R: Well, don’t get all huffy. This is nice, I guess for what it is. What is this?
H: It’s like a buffer between the front of the house and the back. When we walk through this door we will no longer be protected. Stay close and remember don’t ask anyone out there any questions.
R: If someone talks to me can I respond?
H: I don’t see why they would, but sure, just no questions. Understand?
H: Wait, put this on. Here. It won’t bite, it’s just a cloak. Your clothes aren’t too dissimilar from ours, but we ask everyone to wear one. It’s protocol.
R: I look like some kind of dark Jedi knight.
H: A what?
H: Okay, here we go. Oh yeah, ignore the black globs.
R: Black globs!
H: Yes, black globs and don’t touch them.
H: Does it really matter? I just said black globs and don’t touch in the same sentence. Is there really any need for explanation?
R: Uh, yes.
H: Trannit! You really are insufferable. The globs float around from time to time. I’m not really sure what they are, but they can get messy. They do their own thing.
R: What happens if I touch one?
H: Why would you do that?
R: I don’t know if I accidently brush into one.
H: You won’t. They won’t let you. They scare easily.
H: Trust me.
R: But what would happen?
H: They will eat you. They don’t mean to it’s just their fear response.
R: Enough said.
H: Yeah, not good. So ready?
R: Sure. Let’s go. Oh my God!
H: So? Tell me- what do you think?
R: Two suns?
H: Every time. That narrows it down some for me.
H: It narrows down the possible dimensions. Those from dimensions similar to yours always say the same thing. Yeah, we have two suns but one’s just for show. It doesn’t give off any heat just kind of reflects what the sun is doing like a mirror, but it doesn’t make it any hotter or anything. We have no, is it called seasons where you’re from?
R: No fall, summer, winter?
H: Nope. Just mild like this all the time. It’s nice huh?
R: Yeah, and so much brighter and… real.
H: Yeah, that’s what everyone says. It’s all I know, so….
R: Do you have twenty four hours a day? Like a day and night?
H: Twenty four hours? No, but I know what you’re talking about. I do believe I’ve met someone else from your dimension or a similar one not too long ago. They too were on a twenty-four-hour cycle, 365 day cycle, right?
H: Well, our rotation is a little faster, but we do have night and day of course. You know same sunrise and sunset there’s just two of them- one from the east and one from the west.
H: I guess. You see any other differences or similarities?
R: The people look the same just like back home.
H: Yes, it would seem our dimensions have evolved basically the same, but there’s always… differences.
R: From what I see you have the same races we have.
H: But from what I recall from the other person like you your dimension has a pretty brutal caste system.
R: At one time, yes. It’s nothing like how it used to be.
H: But it’s my understanding there are places in your world that.…
R: Well, I mean third world countries but first world we don’t do that anymore.
H: Oh? Just how many worlds do you have?
R: Look, we’ve made mistakes but we’ve improved a lot in the past few decades.
R: So I guess you all have it all figured out here.
H: Don’t get snippy.
R: I’m just interested. So everyone here is equal in the eyes of the law?
H: Yeah, for the most part, I guess- everyone except the men.
R: What did you say?
H: Oh, I forgot. You’re from one of those dimensions.
R: Those dimensions?
H: Yeah where the men have all the power and the privilege and women are basically there to serve.
R: Women in my dimension aren’t servants. I mean there are problems still, but we have equal constitutional rights. At least in the West we do.
H: Riiight, well we don’t believe in how did you say? Division of first, second, or third worlds. Our men have certain responsibilities that require special attention. Here the men are equal but they have biological features that limit them from aspiring as high as our females.
R: Like what?
H: Well, they deliver the children.
R: Wait, you mean they give birth?
H: You laugh, but I assure you I’m not joking. Yes, our men get pregnant and they deliver the children. It wasn’t always that way, of course. We have the same biology as you, and all other Earthlings. Many here choose not to remember the generations it took to make the improvements since it was so long ago because it’s been a hard road, but I’d say we’ve evolved… nicely.
R: Evolved like how?
H: Well, it wasn’t exactly by choice. The men, they put up quite a fight initially, but in the end they came around, fortunately not by force.
R: How did they come around as you put it?
H: Don’t sound so suspicious. It was their sex drives that finally did them in. No one had to trick them into anything. It was all too easy actually. Like I said not many people remember it. Also by choice I believe, but the truth is that we were once very much like your world. Where you come from the woman carries the baby for nine months after the man impregnates her right?
H: Then once she gives birth she’s expected to care for the child, kowtow to her man, and maintain the house usually while working just like her mate, right?
R: When you put it that way it does sound kind of unbalanced, but yes that’s how we do.
H: Well, that’s not how we do it here. Here the man is impregnated by the woman .He carries the baby then after he delivers the woman takes over.
R: But how does a man deliver, unless?
H: No he has all his parts, but he also has a uterus.
H: Yeah I know pretty cool, huh? To be honest, I’m not sure exactly how it came to be. Some kind of bioengineering is all I know. An ingenious blue little pill that helped us to evolve into what we are today. Don’t ask where the pills came from, I’d have to kill you if I told you. Joking, I’m just kidding. Truth is I really don’t know. Anyway, I guess the pills were taken for so long they became a part of our DNA. Women still have a uterus too, but it isn’t a functioning one. In fact, it has grown smaller and smaller through the years as the male’s uterus has gotten larger. We suspect a few more generations and it will disappear in women altogether.
R: But how does he deliver?
H: Not vaginally, of course. That’s the tricky part actually. They don’t carry to full term as you would call it. Their pregnancy lasts for three to six months depending on the fetus. It’s constantly monitored up until removal. It takes a lot of doctor visits and testing and markers that the man and the fetus must reach. It’s quite a big commitment actually. Depending on the size of the fetus and the man’s uterus that determines when the pregnancy ends.
R: But how does it get out?
H: Surgery. Yeah surgical removal from the uterus because there is no passage way, and then the fetus is incubated until it reaches term. It generally takes longer for the man to recover from the surgery than it does for the actual pregnancy. Luckily women are there to step in to care for the babies.
R: So the roles are switched?
H: What do you mean?
R: Back home the worry every woman has is that the man might leave her especially after giving birth. Do the men worry about the women leaving?
H: Oh hell no. Women are knocking each other over to get the chance to be a mother.
R: So the instinct to nurture is still there?
H: You can call it that. Let’s just say there’s another incentive. At conception pleasure isn’t, let’s just say pleasure isn’t the incentive for most women. That’s more of a guarantee for the man.
R: Of course.
H: It can happen, mind you, but it’s just not necessary for us. But afterwards once the baby is born, breast feeding, which is still a function women provide, includes an extraordinary amount of pleasure for women. Breastfeeding produces an endorphin rush that is much greater and longer lasting than the pleasure males feel during the entire act of conception.
R: You mean each time a woman breastfeeds she orgasms.
H: Compulsively and repeatedly.
H: Yes. In fact we’ve had to create a law limiting breastfeeding to the first three years of a baby’s life. We’ve had to become very strict about that law.
R: So women have become the new men.
H: In comparison to your world I guess you could say that. The only difference is that women here relish the sharing of the responsibility of childcare.
R: I bet. So women lactate year around?
H: They can after a certain age, but eventually they begin to dry up.
R: I knew there was catch.
H: But that’s not until they’re well into their sixties or seventies sometimes later.
H: Nice, huh?
R: I don’t know. It sounds kind of weird.
H: Weird, how?
R: I mean no offense, but it just takes a little getting used to. The idea of women clamoring to breastfeed for the orgasm is a little weird.
H: Any weirder than men clamoring to get away from a child and its mother to get to another woman for a purposeless orgasm that lasts a fraction of the time? Breastfeeding first and foremost is an act of providing nutrition.
R: I didn’t think of it that way. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend.
H: At least no child is left to fend for themselves here. Every man and child is well taken care of, and protected. With women able to work and manage care of themselves and their families there is no acrimony among women and little to no crime.
R: But it can’t all be good. There has to be something that has fallen to the waste side.
H: Well, there is I guess you could say one problem.
R: What is it?
HR: The men. They’re not happy.
R: I bet not.
H: No, I mean they don’t really serve a purpose.
R: But they have the children.
H: Yes, but after that their body has a very slow recovery time, if it ever fully does. When it does finally recover they are encouraged to reproduce again. It’s kind of expected. Once they begin conceiving, they are supposed to continue until they can’t any more.
R: But why?
H: It becomes their only purpose. If they’re not having babies they’re women. And what good is a woman that can’t lactate?
H: Brutal, I know, but that’s how it is. So several men have begun to put it off.
R: You mean not get pregnant?
H: Yeah. They remain chaste.
R: Abstain? Really? No sex?
H: None. And you can always spot them. Just look around.
R: They’re all, well I hate to say it but, chubby except for that one. Wow. And that one. Oh my God, he’s gorgeous.
H: Yeah they’re all gorgeous before they get impregnated. But afterwards when those hormones kick in they turn into cows. Soggy stomachs and flaccid…. It’s kind of gross, actually. It’s a tran shame. And the surgery! God, once you’ve seen it once you can never unsee it. That’s why many of them are kept in the dark about it. They don’t talk about it at least not in public. The older ones do amongst themselves, of course, but the young ones are mostly kept clueless. It really should be easier, but what can you do? So tell me what do you think?
R: It’s all very interesting.
H: Interesting? That’s a non-answer if I’ve ever heard one. C’mon wouldn’t you like to live here? Join us?
R: Um, I don’t know.
H: Wow, most women are jumping at the chance to stay. In fact we’ve had several who have stayed and become major players in our world. Changed it for the better I’d say.
R: Well, I don’t think I would fit in well here.
H: Why not?
R: I don’t lactate.
H: Oh, poor thing. What happened?
R: Well, I’m trans.
R: I’m sorry?
H: I’m a trans woman. It means I was born a man but identify as a woman.
The color drained from the tour host’s face. She pulled a little black box from her pocket and pressed the red button. Instantly they were back in the white room with the white walls.
H: This is where our visit ends.
R: But what, why?
H: There are many dimensions out there but this one is not for you. We are the way we are because of someone like you many years ago only he was a trans man. She sacrificed her life to give us this world and bring empowerment to our gender. We don’t need anyone getting ideas of another way. We will not go back to the dark ages.
R: But what of all your empowerment talk. I thought there was no caste system here? I thought you’d abolished that.
H: We have…for those that matter.