Albert woke up to the discomforting realization that not only did he not know where he was, he had no idea how he had gotten there.

Rubbing his head and sitting up, he jumped at the sight and sound of a half dozen empty bottles and bags rolling off his body. Wherever the filthy hovel where he found himself was, somebody had had an absolute rager of a party there the previous night, but hadn’t bothered to clean up. Well, that wasn’t entirely true; there was an open portal in the middle of the room into which some of the detritus had been halfheartedly shoved, but judging by the smell it wasn’t a proper disposal wormhole. Probably raining trash from Amai upon the heads of some unsuspecting dimension like a mad, drunk, messy God.

This wasn’t the first time Albert had woken up disoriented and confused in an unfamiliar situation, and he had a very foolproof way of finding his bearings.

“Hello down there!” he cried, leaning over the whistling edge of the ersatz trash hole. “Do you have any idea where this is?”

A gruff voice, like ground glass crushed into cement, answered back. “You mean the hole in the sky what’s been raining wrappers and unspeakable fluids on mine garden for the past 24 hours?”

Coughing delicately, Albert nodded even though he was sure whoever was on the other side couldn’t see him. “Yeah,” he said. “If it’s not too much trouble.”

“Tell you what,” the voice said, “you tell me where you and your garbage are from, and I’ll tell you where you are. If I know.”

“This is Amai-of-the-Wormholes, the City at the End, the Grease Trap of the Universe, Endsville, the City of Wormholes, the Universal Sargasso Sea.” That was probably too much information; but then again the place had a lot of names, and Albert wanted to be clear. Assuming he still was in Amai, that is.

“Oh.” The voice sounded disappointed, as if it had expected a far grander pronouncement from the mysterious trash hole. “Where is that then?”

“It’s where all of the lost things in the universe wind up,” Albert said. Stuff like himself, in point of fact, but no point getting exit stencil when he was still trying to get his bearings.

“I know that!” the voice said, annoyed. “Of course I know that, everybody knows that. Amy of the portals. But if you know where you are, why are you asking me?”

Something about the voice finally clicked. Albert was talking through to a version of Igneon, an earth on which humankind had evolved from sentient volcanoes, but one which also coincidently spoke near–perfect English. Now, theoretically, a portal could open to one of the infinite parallel Igneons from anywhere in Amai, but everybody knew that the more volcanic a timeline the greater chance the portal opened up in the Flophouse District.

“Thank you!” Albert called down the trash hole. “That may not seem like much, but you’ve given me all the information I need. I’ll try to close the hole before too much more trash falls on your rock garden.”

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