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I used to question what was going through the minds of criminals on the news. People who committed crimes that would obviously land them a seat in prison, who would kill someone just to serve time for years on end, who would bury themselves in debt and the threat of being caught for smuggling drugs. It could be mere desperation, or just plain stupidity. But I've learned that there's a third possibility: Alternate timelines.

I know, it's a bit of a jump, right? I'm not talking about the Mandela Effect, although there is some possible correlation. You see, I'm not writing this from my original timeline. Or at least, I don't think so, since every timeline I've entered has had some kind of difference I eventually discovered.

I'm probably not so special, going by the Mandela Effect. One day, I decided to get into meditation. When I enter a deep state of relaxation, I picture myself floating in a dark sea of stars, and as I drift towards the star of my choice, I wake up in the next timeline.

It was a bit spooky the first time. I got a phone call that took me out of it, and it turned out to be my boss. Except, it wasn't my boss from the diner - it was my boss from McDonald's. For just a moment, after that call, I humored the idea that maybe I just... hoped to work at the diner. Daydreaming perhaps, or hell, maybe the depression of working at a McDonald's was making me delusional.

I always looked to the Mandela Effect as some crazy internet joke that a large group of people were in on, but now I know there's some truth to the idea of waking up and having the littlest difference change how you view the world.

It happened when I was meditating, so it had to have something to do with the stars. I parked in the parking lot of a McDonald's, not sure if it was the one I was supposed to go to, and just sat there weighing my options. I decided to relax myself while no one was around, and went to that starry sky. This time, I was aware of my surroundings and felt a sense of panic - it was so dream-like, but now I was awake, and wondered how the hell I could come here just by thinking it. I focused and made my way to one of the stars before it could happen.

I found myself sitting in a different car. Checking my phone, there was a text from my boss at the diner, asking if I was going to be there soon. I sighed in relief, but was impressed at the new car I could apparently afford. My diner boss didn't normally need me to come into work this early, so it must've meant that I was now in a timeline where I got promoted. Maybe I had some requirements that better fit the higher positions. Whatever the case, I stayed here for a little while to just... enjoy what I gained.

It didn't last. I never forgot that I came here because of the stars, and I often wondered what the possibilities were. Infinite timelines where the slightest change occurred in my life - infinite chances to try something new, something crazy. In all honesty, I should've just stopped wondering, but that kind of power can corrupt a person.

When I started to have some fun with this timeline travel, it was really just about trying out irresponsible things that I couldn't recover from. Going to a strip club and spending every last dollar, starting a wealthy career in the world of drug dealers until officers started pounding at the door, stalking my annoying bigot of a neighbor until I eventually ended his life.

It was always different, but as I kept going, my crimes escalated, some of which I'm not proud to mention here. I was willing to do anything to get a rush out of life. All that mattered was that I had a way to escape, hide, and meditate my way to another timeline. The version of me in the previous timelines just had to deal with the repercussions themselves. Those versions of me who suddenly snapped and committed all of these crimes that would obviously backfire on them... that's why I think people do these things without a second thought. Some of them must have a way out, so they have no fear.

I don't stay in these timelines very often anymore. It's nothing to do with being caught by the police - I'm a man whose criminal record doesn't exist. And as long as this Mandela Effect gets dismissed as nothing more than some stupid internet hoax, no one would even consider the possibility. No, I'm constantly on the move because I keep seeing this man in every timeline. He stands outside of wherever I live, wearing a black hoodie.

He thinks his face is hidden, but I can see the burn mark on his face. It's the same mark I received in the timeline where I got into an argument with one of the cooks at the diner and had cooking oil splashed at my face. No matter what timeline I'm in, he is a constant... always dressed the same, always looking the same. But every so often, the detest on his face grows darker.

I know that he's probably tried going after me before. Eventually, he'll get to me when I'm the one in that timeline. If you're reading this, I hope you can understand where I'm coming from. If you had this kind of power, would you honestly use it responsibly? If I know myself, then this stalker might be the outlier.