A satire of dysfunctional politics and economic disparity.
Chapter IV: Day/Page 37 CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY. . . . “What is it, Pils? What’s wrong?”
“What!” He sweeps the images off his desk, visibly startled to see her. “Oh… nothing. What are you doing here?”
Sofia pulls up a chair and sits down, putting her hand on his shoulder. “What is it?” she says gently. “You look worried.”
He draws a deep breath, exhales. “A supernova flared when they were about two-thirds of the way through the wormhole… I think… I’m not sure. But it’s the only thing I can think of that would cause the kind of readings I’m seeing. Remember that image we saw flash during the test?”
“Yeah. I remember. But what does it mean?”
“I don’t know… maybe nothing. I hope nothing.”
“When will you know?”
“The pods landed three hours ago, so we should get all the data in about eight hours.”
“So at four o’clock tomorrow morning we get the data—then what?”
“Then we find out what we’re dealing with.”
Both are silent.
“What were you doing when I came in and interrupted you?” she asks.
“I was trying to figure out what effect the supernova might have had. But there is no way to know definitively. And even if I could figure out something, by the time I did, we’d probably have the real data back to tell us what really happened, instead of me guessing what might have.”
“And let’s say you did make a guess tonight—is there anything you could do without confirmation?”
“No. Probably not.”
“Then you should go home and get some rest, Pils. You look tired.”
“No, I’m staying here tonight. I have a cot in back I can use.”
“Then I’m staying here, too. Do you mind if I sleep on your couch?”
“Not at all. Actually, I’d appreciate the company.”
Sofia is awakened the next morning by the sound of Pils speaking on the phone. It is early, still, and dark outside.
(I think something’s wrong.)
“Professor, hi, good morning, it’s Pils. Sorry to call you so early. Yes, I’m fine. Well, no, actually I’m not. I think it’s best if you come to the lab as soon as possible. Nothing—I mean, I’d rather tell you when you get here. No, there’s no need to call her, she’s already here. We spent the night together. No, sorry… Not together-together. I didn’t mean it like that. I meant… Oh, forget it, just please come to the lab as soon as possible. We’re both already here. That’s what I meant to say. Ok, thank you. Yes, we’ll be here. Good bye.”
Pils lets out a heavy sigh.
(Yeah, something is definitely wrong.)
Sofia sits up on the edge of the couch, pulls on her boots and runs her fingers through her scalp to smooth out her feathers. She can see Pils sitting in his office with his back to her, staring out the window into the darkness. At the eastern end of the long range of mountains a dim bluish glow backlights the ragged edges of the icy peaks.
She knocks gently on the open door. “Is everything ok?”
Pils swivels around, looks up at her with moist, bleary red eyes, and says softly, “Dr. Thrush is going to die. Because of me she’s going to die.”
END OF CHAPTER IV. TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW IN CHAPTER V. . . .
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by Gregory James
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