Eight o’clock Monday evening and here I am, first night on the job, night janitor at UCLA Applied Quantum Physics Laboratory. Quite a mouthful but not a bad job, my new boss, Stanley, took me around this afternoon on an orientation tour. I have this whole building to do, 12 labs in all, doesn’t sound too hard, no chemical spills like the chem labs, just lots of electronics and green boards. Stanley cautioned me specifically about the green boards; never, never erase them or clean them, same with papers I find with doodles on ‘em, leave them be, could be important stuff. I like jobs like this, I’m all alone, no one to hassle me, just do my job and go home, pick up a check every Friday, what could be better? So I worked until midnight and stopped for lunch, then I started the next lab. Kinda strange stuff in here, big metal cone up above pointed down at a table and a swiveling control board next to it. After I cleaned the floor, I noticed the control board was really crummy, must not have been cleaned in a coon’s age, so I got at it. Kinda low and hurts my back bending over like that so I sat on the table and swung it around in front of me. Jeez, they outta make these kids wash their hands before they work this stuff! The only way to clean around this circuit breaker is to flip it on. Hey! Pretty lights! Well, anyhow, this won’t take too long. There now! Much better and this button must be used a lot too, it’s sure dirty, clean around the edges, oops! Pressed the damn thing, Hey what happened! I just fell on my ass and the lights went out! I’ve been stumbling around here for a while now! First, I tried to find the light switch but pretty quick I realized I wasn’t in the lab anymore, I’m outside, I can see stars and the moon is about to set. There should be city lights all around me, but there aren’t, no lights anywhere except stars and the moon! What the hell is going on? I suppose the sun will be up in a few hours and then maybe I can figure it out because this is really spooky! At least I must still be in California, it’s reasonably warm, but I must not be on campus, there is brush and weeds every way I turn! I wonder how this happened? I didn’t feel an earthquake or anything, I was just cleaning that control board….You don’t suppose? Yeah, that must be it, that thing must be a time machine or something. Jeez! You would think they would warn a new guy! Ah! Sunup at last! I must have dozed off a bit, my first night on the job and all. Things aren’t looking up this morning though, I’m still in the brush and weeds, no buildings in sight, no people anywhere. Hmmm, I think I’ll climb up on that hill over there and maybe I can see something, people, houses, something. I didn’t think there was anywhere in Southern California without people around. Oops! Before I go anywhere, I want to mark this place. If I can get back at all, I’m betting it will have to be from this location. I’ll put up a pole here, maybe with a flag on top. Might be a good idea to write a note and leave it too, you never know, maybe they will send someone to look for me. Yeah, there is one of those century plants and it’s old flower stalk is pretty long, I’ll use that, wedge it upright with some rocks, pile more rocks around the base, that will do it. Now, exactly where did I land? This looks like it, I can see where I think I landed, I remember that sharp rock jabbing me when I hit. Fortunately I still have the cleaning rag I was using, red too, I’ll tie that to the top, and I have this double business card from Action Motors courtesy of Syd Harris to write on the back of. Good old Syd, I’ll bet he would be happy to know what a good use I put his card to! Okay, my marker is up, but no breakfast this morning! This little hilltop gives me a pretty good view all around and all I can see is desert brush. The mountains behind LA basin look about right to me and looking west, well I can’t see the ocean, but I’m betting it’s that way. I’m sitting here thinking about this, and I think that I’m in a survival situation. All I wanted to do last night was to do my job and go home and now I may die of thirst or hunger in the damn desert! Well, the first order of business is to find water and I haven’t the faintest idea where to look. Palm trees or cottonwoods usually indicate water but I sure don’t see any. I think I’ll pick a landmark to the west and go that way. Along the way I’ll watch for animal tracks or bees that might lead me to water. II “Hello, Stanley? Josh Miles here, Campus Security, listen Stanley, that new guy you hired, the one that was to clean up in the Applied Quantum Physics Lab, well, he screwed up on his first night on the job! He must have been fiddling with the equipment in one of the labs; Professor Greenbaum called me in a tizzy a while ago and he is madder than a wet hen. He says someone turned on the power last night about 1am and played with the settings on one of his machines, he figures it was your janitor. Better come on over and have a look, I’ll meet you at the lab.” Professor Jeremiah Greenbaum had come in early, as was his custom, and went straight to his office. On the way, he noticed a mop bucket and mop in the hallway outside the Displacement Lab. When he looked in the lab, he noticed the power was on to the Displacer. “That’s odd, we always turn off the power when it’s not in use, and why in the world is all this cleaning equipment cart here?” He turned off the power, then checked the event recorder and was shocked to see that something massing 77.6 kilograms had been displaced at 1:12am. “That’s huge! We have never done anything that big before! Now who could have been working in here last night?” He decided to call campus security right away and try to get to the bottom of this. As the phone was ringing, he vaguely remembered Stanley showing the new night janitor around the labs on the previous afternoon, and by the time he got Josh Miles on the line, he was coldly furious! The nerve of some dipstick janitor playing with his Displacer! He was still fuming when he hung up the phone and said “I hope he was displaced!”, and then it hit him, maybe that’s exactly what happened! Dr. Greenbaum checked all the entrance doors and all were locked except the one he had unlocked when he came in. Then he went back to the lab and stood back to see exactly what was out of place. Everything thing was clean and tidy, even the control board was brighter. That’s it! The control board is clean! That’s what is different! He had noticed yesterday how grubby looking it was and meant to ask on of his grad students to clean it but the janitor did it! “But why in God’s name would he turn on the power?” Then he noticed the main switch on the control panel had a guard around it and would be impossible to clean without turning it on. “That must be it! We normally have the Main Circuit Breaker turned off and locked out in the switch room before we do any adjustments or repairs.” Stanley arrived about ten minutes after Josh and they joined the professor in the lab whereupon Dr. Greenbaum explained what he thought had happened there last night. When he was done Josh asked, “What exactly does the Displacer do?” The professor paused for a bit then said, “As you know, we are investigating some of the quirks implied by quantum physics, to see if the realities agree with the math. Quantum physics implies that we are simply one of many universes, living side by side as it were. We think we have found a way to test that theory and have built this apparatus to do it. So far we have placed a number of objects on the table and applied power to them to displace them into another universe. It seems to work and after a time, the same objects reappear here on the table. The first object was a Matchbox toy car that I had scratched my initials on the bottom of. It reappeared after 12 minutes. We still do not know why objects reappear, but it seems to have something to do with their mass. Later, we rigged up a digital camera with a timer mounted on a rotating platform and sent it through. It arrived back 11 hours and 16 minutes later. We had taken 64 pictures in a circle in the afternoon and evening. They were pictures of an apparently uninhabited desert. This alternate universe appears to be on about the same time schedule that we are, though we did note that the sun set 6 minutes earlier than ours. When we compared the skyline to ours, we found it to be identical except for a small anomaly on one background peak. It appears to be the Los Angeles basin as it would be without our modern civilization. Next, we sent a lab rat in a small cage, and it returned some 6 hours later no worse for the wear. That’s about as far as we have progressed. “Doc, do you think that our janitor might have been displaced?” Asked Josh. Professor Greenbaum replied, ”Yes, I think we can assume that is what happened, though at his mass, I’m extremely concerned about how long he may be there before he is returned to us. He is in a desert, without food or water or any survival tools. I assume that we could displace some supplies to him, but I suspect that would also delay his return to us, or maybe not, who knows? Right now, I think that it is imperative that we keep this matter to ourselves and I think we should try to send him a note and some survival supplies”. At that point Stanley spoke up, “Well as far as I know, he is a loner with no close family or friends, so I don’t think there will be any inquiries for a while. I’ll see if I can get another janitor to start tonight and I’ll caution this one about turning anything on too!” At that point, Dr. Greenbaum declared, “I’ll make sure all the main circuit breakers are locked out before leaving!” After they left, Doctor Greenbaum sat alone contemplating this new development. “Let’s see now, He will need water, and food for at least a week, long sleeve shirt, a hat, sunscreen, a first aid kit…….” He couldn’t help reveling in the fact that at last he had a volunteer in another universe! Well, maybe not a volunteer, but just the same, what a tale he would tell when he returned! If he returns, that was a depressing notion, but after all that’s what you have to expect at the cutting edge of science.