Dammit! she cried. Slam! went her fist on the button,.
Maya drew her face near to the doorknob, as if speaking through it would amplify her sentiment. She tried to steady her voice through angry sobs as she demanded that Re exit the bathroom.
Re whimpered an apology from the other side
Then come out, Maya said. I need you here.
No, Re said, I need to take responsibility for this part.
Maya leaned into the door on clawed fingertips. She told Re it would be okay.
That is the stupidest thing you could say, said Re. We aren’t even gonna get into space.
Just come out, Maya insisted.
From inside the bathroom, Re answered, We’re running out of chances to take control of this.
Maya thought about the machine, and what was left of it. She thought about its too-tiny LED screen.
In no order, she remembered seeing:
The elimination of honeybees.
The nukes going off again. And then one more time.
Reform camps, work camps, concentration camps.
The complete eradication of monkeys from Delhi and Chandigarh.
Everyone who can do so taking shelter behind a gate.
Rhinoceroses burning under napalm appliques as white supremacists retreat from stolen lands in East Africa.
Elites of all stripes doing basically the same thing everywhere, getting ready for an escape to space.
Meat processors equipped with laser scalpels to melt the beaks off of chickens like solder.
Everyone in Pacific Standard Time sitting down to tofu dinner, hearing a distant BANG!, and looking to their windows simultaneously to see one bright flash in all directions only half a moment before everything in the entire world turns off.
No one escaping.
The sum is suffering, Re added. We never win.
Maya wept. Re, this isn’t about the whole world. Come out. For me.
There was silence in the bathroom.
She gathered herself, tried to project authority into the other room.
have to do this.
just feels like
You have responsibilities to me.
She pressed her ear to the door. She could hear Re shuffling around. She heard the toilet seat close.
No! she pled. I’ll be right back don’t go alone.
She heard Re draw the shower curtain.
The bathroom door jiggled in its frame as she pulled her weight away from it. She nearly fell down the stairs, two flights of stairs, into the basement, the laboratory.
Maya threw aside the dust rag covering the apparatus she had devised using stolen machine components. On top of the box was a button. Inside the box, the button was connected to a chisel honed to a quantum edge. At the edge of the chisel, in a realm too small to perceive, there was a crumb of circuitry salvaged from the corpse of a computer that had been faster than anything else on the planet. In that realm, the chisel blade hovered like a guillotine over a crystal whose facies flowed in an infinite loop of symmetry.
For only a split second, Maya hesitated. How long was the crystal’s loop?
She announced to the basement, to Re, that she didn’t want to be alone. She drew a long breath–
Dammit! Maya shrieked.
Her fist went slam!
Danny is an ethnographer and natural historian. He teaches anthropology and gender studies in the SF Bay Area. You can find his fiction, poetry, scholarship, and experiments with time at his website, danielallensolomon.com.