Retrace your steps, they said. That was the way to recover what was lost even if it was your own way. Albert tried to cast his mind back.

“I was with Stuart King,” he said. “Wait, why was I with Stuart King? What was Stuart King doing here?” Not an unreasonable question; Stuart King was an actor famous across the multi-verse for being the best and definitive actor to play General Cousteau. While they were many variations of the show that could be picked up from within Amai, that particular Stewart King was the definitive one even for people that had come from a reality with its own version on account of his magnificent beard. Of all the possible Stuart Kings, but There was only one that had both a beard and the role of General Cousteau.

“That’s all well and good, yes,” Albert said, massaging his temples, “But what would I have been doing with actor like that? I was a nobody where I came from and I’m even more of one here in Amai.”

The convention! There was a convention in town, a science fiction and fantasy convention. Guests had been invited, abducted, and tricked into showing up from all sorts of alternate futures, pasts, and divergent timelines. Someone had clearly had the clout, or the gall, to get General Cousteau himself–the best one–to show up. Yes, that made sense. Stuart King had acted in a science fiction TV show, so this sort of thing would be second nature to him. It might not even have been his first multi-versal con.

But, again, what had that to do with lowly Albert? A science fiction fan, sure, but those were not uncommon in Amai. How could Stuart King have have anything to say to a lowly taxi driver like –

“I was his ride!” Albert cried. “He was using me to get from his portal to the convention.”

Like dead leaves bobbing up in a spring pond, murky memories of the previous 24 to 48 hours began to resurface.

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