(Extra)curricular: When A Big Mistake Is Huge

In Gary Marshell’s 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts portrays Vivian Ward, a Los Angeles “hooker with a heart of gold” who is hired and then courted over a period of 6 days by Edward Lewis a successful corporate raider. During their courtship or business relationship as it were, Vivian is tasked by Edward to purchase clothing that is more appropriate for a woman of means, so no one will suspect that she is in fact a prostitute. When she attempts to make a purchase at a high end boutique, she is turned away in a particularly rude fashion by the women who work there who claim that don’t “have anything” for a woman like Vivian. A day later after purchasing many items elsewhere, including a rather large hat, Vivian returns to the boutique that refused her service and rebukes the women (who oddly don’t remember her at all after one day and a wardrobe change) and claims that they have made not only “a big mistake”, but a “huge” one. And she was more right in that moment then she would ever know. For while the film continued to follow Vivian and Edward’s saccharine and patriarchal romance, the lives of Marie Richards and Charlotte Grober had taken a sudden and drastic turn.

Moments after Vivian was turned away from the store, a dimensional rift burst open in the back room of the boutique releasing a group of masked paramilitary guerrillas from a parallel earth. They had one mission, retrieve the woman known has Vivian Ward and bring her to the high council of an organization known as The Fornix. When they arrived on our earth they bagged the first woman the encountered, mean retail manager Charlotte Grober. Moments later Marie walked into the backroom to retrieve her Chinese chicken salad with mandarin oranges, stumbling upon the inter-dimensional kidnapping and witnessing the birth of Charlotte’s body double from a what appeared to be fleshy tuber on the ground. Her screams of terror were quickly silenced by the butt of a lazar rifle. Marie was bagged as well, replaced with a double, and taken with the guerrillas as they retreated through the breach, sealing it behind them. If the women had not turned away Vivian, the guerrillas may have acquired their target as originally intended.

Marie and Charlotte awoke bound and gagged in the cargo hold of a trans-dimensional freight train barreling through the multiverse. They could see in the darkness that their captors had removed their masks and were not human. Or at least not entirely human. Though the bodies appeared to be humanoid, the faces the women gazed on in horror were more like the cephalopods of our earth. None of the creatures spoke to either woman in a language they could understand, and the only “words” they could make out sounded like a name. Vivian Ward. Neither Marie or Charlotte had bothered to ask the woman’s name who they turned away from the boutique earlier, so to them this name meant nothing. They remained confused, scared, and completely unable to comprehend what they were experiencing. The women did not have any way to keep track of time, there was no daylight to be seen, but in their estimation they were on the train for several days.

Meanwhile on our earth, only one day had passed and Vivian returned to the boutique a new woman in her garishly large hat. When she confronted the woman who appeared to be Charlotte, she was surprised to hear that the woman did not remember her from only day before. Little did Vivian know, the woman she was speaking with couldn’t possibly remember her, this body double had literally been born yesterday. Fornixian Body doubles were only given a cursory knowledge and memories of the people they were impersonating. Memories from the 36 hours before replacement were nontransferable, a bug in the system that Fornix scientists had been working towards solving for 7 cycles. Vivian exited the boutique, returning to her romantic narrative, and the two body doubles glanced at each in cold analytical silence. Who was that woman?

When the dimension hopping locomotive had reached its final destination in Northern Grore in the Grand Marcelina mountain range Charlotte and Marie were transferred to a holding facility at the base of Mt. Vargas with several other detained women from various realms. It appeared as though the Fornix militia were unsure of who exactly Vivian Ward was or what she looked like, as they had captured over 100 female creatures of differing origin and physical shape. After passing through the gateway separating the facility from the outside world, the prisoners were taken to a medical unit to be given a physical and surgically implanted with an ID chip. At this point, Marie and Charlotte were separated from each other during processing, they would not encounter each other again for 2 years, now on opposing sides of the greatest war the multiverse has ever known. They would be instrumental in what would come to be known as The Ward War, one woman as a charismatic revolutionary leader, and the other a brutal enforcer of tyrannical rule. All this spiraling out of a brief moment of refusal and a case of mistaken identity.