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Lyra had had an excited grin on her face since we began. She said, “So, today, what I’d like to do is—“
“Hang on! How long do you propose to keep me? For that matter, you DO know how to send me back home, right”
“Oh, well, I didn’t think of it. . . but if there’s one thing they teach responsible unicorns to know, it’s to always think out the reversal of your spell before you cast it. Yes, I can. . . but must I?”
“I have responsibilities at home just as you do here. I can make excuses for a day, but much longer than that and my friends and family will be worried, and I don’t want that.”
“Then. . . it’s good-bye?”
“I’d like it not to be. We can set up a time—“ I cut myself off, as a thought occurred to me, something I’d forgot when I’d been explaining world-as-myth to her. “Send me back now!”
“What?! At least let me get a picture or—“
“No, no, I don’t mean—look, work the reversal spell now, then wait 5 minutes or so and bring me back here. It’ll be good practice to make the trip work in the future, and if I’m right, maybe I can stay.”
“You can?! I don’t understand.”
“And I don’t want to get your—and my—hopes up. So please do it and then we’ll plan to get that picture and set up when I can come back.”
“All right. Hold still.” Her horn began to shimmer green, growing in intensity.
Fully awake this time (though I do admit to closing my eyes), I felt after a moment as if gravity were pushing in all directions on all my nerve cells at once, then as if they all hit ground, I looked around, and I was back in my old one-bed-half-bath, and before the part of me that wanted to say it was a silly dream could get a word in edgewise, I ran to complete the task I had set myself. Over to the desk, open the laptop, quick now, her 5 minutes might be only 2, I know I’d rush if it were I bringing her back, good, the browser’s already open, hit the Official US Time web site (Why not just mouse-over the clock? Because I’m an idiot.) Yes! Make sure, run downstairs, get my smartphone, check its calendar and my own, looks good, looks good! Back upstairs and into bed, come on, position might matter, when, for the first time in the better part of a day, I paused and really thought about this.
Had I really just spent a day with a magical unicorn in a parallel world? Was I mad? Had I dreamed it? Was someone playing an inordinately elaborate prank on me? That was when my philosophical training kicked in. If I was mad, then there’s no point in thinking about anything, because I could be wrong. The prank was actually less likely than Lyra and Equestria being real on the Occam’s Razor principle: I was mostly a closet brony, the few people who knew I watched the show and were close enough to me that they might want to prank me didn’t know the details of Lyra’s human fascination, so I threw that out as least likely. And if it was a dream. . .
There was also the possibility that it was real, and that it was a one-time thing, that Lyra’s magic could only focus on me at that particular point in space-time, and that she would try to bring me back and fail. That potentiality and that of it being a dream would produce the same evidence, I would continue to lay there and nothing would happen for five, and then ten, and then fifteen minutes, until I got up and went on with my life. If that was the way it played out, I would choose the latter explanation over that of it being a dream.
What I couldn’t allow myself to do was hope. The world worked that way. Watched pots didn’t boil, washing your car made it rain, and when you’re holding still waiting for a unicorn in another dimension to magic you back there and doubting if it will work, you’d better not hope for it, or the fates will keep you on that bed forever. Relax, and be nonchalant, and maybe they’ll let it happen.
It was sooner than five minutes. The same tugging and pulling all over my body (don’t hope, you fool, it’s just your brain tricking you! Wait and keep your eyes closed) and the same jolt and then I was back in Equestria and Lyra was there and I leaped up and threw my arms around her long pony neck.
“I was right! It worked! I can stay!”
“You can? But, like you said, the other humans are waiting”
“And wait they will. Sit down, let me explain. Our worlds are on different time tracks. My world is like. . .” I racked my brain for an analogy. “It’s like a train that waits for you at the station. You go into town, you do everything you do, and when you get back the train’s still there and it hasn’t gone on. When you sent me back, my clocks and calendars were the same as when you brought me.”
“Oh, I get it, I’ve read about that at least in stories”
“Sure, you’re a smart pony, good, I’m glad.”
“But it doesn’t work the other way. If I do send you back, time still passes here at the same rate, otherwise you wouldn’t have felt the lag at all, you’d have just felt yourself teleporting out and then right back.”
I thought about it. “You’re right, good thinking. Five minutes there, five minutes here, but five minutes here, no time there. At least for me. Maybe if you came to my world it would be the reverse. Or maybe it’s matter-energy based and if I eat enough Equestrian food time will start to move there. We’re in terra incognita. . . or Equestria incognita, but we’ll risk it and certainly I don’t have to go now!”
“You said, ‘If I came to your world.’ Maybe I should try to work a spell like that.”
“Hmm. . . that might not be so good. I think we’d have to keep you secret, or say you’re some kind of trick. Or, maybe I could take you to one of the brony meetups, but if you did any magic there. . . if you could do any magic there. . . it might get awkward. And if you couldn’t you might be stuck.”
“Oh! I didn’t think of that. That would be bad. But I think I know what you mean about keeping secret. Other ponies here think I’m weird for liking humans, and I bet they’d freak if they saw you. I. . . we should probably send you back before my roommate gets home. She’s gone for a long weekend.”
“Yes, and it’s not like I can stay forever. I mean, let’s assume that time really does stand still in my world here. If I stayed ten years I’d still be ten years older, and then if I went home my people would freak. But we have today and now, so what do you want to do?”
“Talk more until I know everything about you and your world!”
We both laughed.