They were together in the parlor again, standing over the device which was now resting on a small wooden table.
James was the first to speak. “So what is it?”
“It prevents quawandry.” Said Redgrove, matter-of-factly.
“Quawandry. You know, it’s that feeling you get when you know you need to be somewhere urgent, but you’re not sure where, and if you travel all the way to somewhere and it ends up being the wrong destination it’s already too late to get the place you were supposed to be so instead you just wander around and hope that if you go enough places it will add up to sort of the same thing.”
“Okay… so it’s kind of like a map?”
“Well, sort of, I guess you could say it functions more like a compass.”
“Oh! Can we use it to find other worlds? Maybe we can just leave this whole mess behind.”
Redgrove threw up his hands. “Why are people always searching for other worlds and alternate dimensions? Of course we could, but look around you! Half the places on earth are like alien planets. The Tiani Mountains! Hoia Baciu! Socotra Island, the Etosha Pan, the Bungle Bungle range in Purnululu! And those are just the natural places. I’ve seen stone heads the size of houses, giant animals drawn in deserts, temples hidden under mountains, and crypts built right into the sides cliffs! You could spend a thousand years travelling and never run out of things to see. Yet for some reason, most people are born and live their whole lives and die within a bubble only 50 miles across.”
“I think I hate you.” Said James.
“Because you’re a fucking know-it-all pompous asshat and I doubt that even half of the shit you say is true. You go on these long rants about how much you know and all the places you’ve been and I bet you just sit at home and read listicles and Wikipedia articles and then act like you’ve been all over the world and read secret scrolls of hidden knowledge that our stupid ants brains can’t even comprehend when it’s just a bunch of idioms and random bullshit knowledge. You’re like a walking toilet reader.”
Redgrove stood in shocked silence, deflated.
“And here’s another thing. I don’t think you’re half as interesting as you think you are. You live in this fancy house surrounded by dusty old books and dime-a-dozen gift shop trinkets from museums and roadside attractions and you wear those idiotic robes like you’re the real life fucking Dumbledore but you just look like a liberal arts teacher cosplaying at a scientology convention. You see, in my experience it’s the people who wear the ‘normal people scare me’ t-shirts who are the most boring of all. I guess that’s why I hate you. Under all your costumes and souvenirs you’re just as shallow as the rest of us.”
Redgrove smiled weakly. “Maybe. Or maybe you’re just projecting. But I don’t ever remember claiming to be special. Either way, look who’s ranting now.”
“Oh shut up!” Said James, and grabbed the object from the table. “Let’s get this over with.”
They held hands like two boys whose mother was forcing them to try and get along, and stepped through the mirror.